Can Angelfish And Catfish Live Together? (7 Must-Know Tips)

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Angelfish and Catfish are favorites for home fish tanks. But is it okay to put them in one tank?

What do you need to think about if you want to keep them both? How about how you set up the tank, the kind of water they need, and how they eat?

I’ll go over all this topics in this article, so by the end, you’ll know what you need to do. Let’s dive in.

Can I Keep Angelfish and Catfish Together in the Same Tank?

Yes, Angelfish and Catfish can often live together in the same tank, provided the conditions are appropriate.

  • Temperament Match: Angelfish are generally peaceful but can be territorial during breeding; similarly, many Catfish are peaceful bottom-dwellers, making them compatible tank mates.
  • Water Parameters: Both Angelfish and some Catfish species thrive in warm, slightly acidic to neutral pH water, with temperatures ideally between 76°F and 84°F.
  • Size Considerations: Smaller Catfish species, like Corydoras, are suitable companions for Angelfish, while larger Catfish may outcompete or intimidate them.
  • Environmental Needs: Angelfish require vertical space for swimming, and Catfish need hiding places; a spacious tank with ample decoration can satisfy both species’ needs.

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish vs. Catfish: Behavior

The first factor worth considering is the Angelfish’s and Catfish’s natural behavior. Here is what you should know:

1. Angelfish: Natural Behavior

Angelfish are known for their regal swimming patterns and can sometimes display semi-aggressive behavior, especially when breeding.

They are cichlids by nature, which means they can be both territorial and hierarchical within their social structure.

  • Social Hierarchy: Angelfish establish a pecking order within their group; larger individuals often dominate over smaller ones, affecting feeding and swimming spaces.
  • Territorial During Breeding: When breeding, Angelfish become highly protective of their area and can exhibit aggressive behavior towards other tank mates.
  • Interaction with Environment: Angelfish actively engage with their environment, often seen grazing on algae or picking at plants and decorations.

2. Catfish: Natural Behavior

Catfish behaviors vary widely among species, but many are nocturnal and spend a significant amount of time foraging at the bottom of their habitat.

They generally have a peaceful demeanor, but some species can grow quite large and may inadvertently harm smaller tank mates.

  • Bottom Dwellers: Catfish typically scour the tank floor for food, which helps keep the substrate clean and can reduce the need for frequent gravel cleaning.
  • Nocturnal Activity: Many Catfish are most active at night; this can reduce competition for food and space with Angelfish, which are diurnal.
  • Species-Specific Behavior: Certain Catfish, like the Pictus Catfish, are more active swimmers, while others, such as the Corydoras, are gentler and less intrusive to Angelfish.
Bristlenose Pleco

Ideal Parameters for Angelfish and Catfish

In this table, we compare the ideal water parameters for Angelfish and Catfish side by side, with a third column representing a shared tank environment suitable for both.

ParameterAngelfishCatfishBoth Types
Temperature76°F – 84°F72°F – 80°F76°F – 80°F
pH Level6.5 – 7.06.0 – 7.56.5 – 7.0
Water Hardness3 – 8 dKH4 – 15 dKH4 – 8 dKH

1. Angelfish: Ideal Parameters

Angelfish thrive in a stable aquatic environment that closely mimics their natural Amazonian habitat.

They prefer warm, soft, and slightly acidic water which is crucial for their health and vitality.

  • Optimal Temperature: Angelfish require temperatures between 76°F and 84°F; consistent temperatures towards the higher range promote breeding behavior.
  • pH Level: The ideal pH level for Angelfish is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.5 to 7.0, which helps in maintaining their immune system and coloration.
  • Water Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water, measured at 3 to 8 dKH, is necessary for Angelfish to minimize stress and encourage natural behavior.

2. Catfish: Ideal Parameters

The ideal parameters for Catfish can vary significantly depending on the species, as Catfish come from diverse environments ranging from fast-flowing streams to stagnant ponds. 

However, many common aquarium Catfish species can adapt to conditions that are also suitable for Angelfish.

  • Temperature Flexibility: Catfish are generally adaptable, but prefer temperatures between 72°F and 80°F; this overlaps with the range Angelfish enjoy.
  • pH Adaptability: Many Catfish species can thrive in a pH range from 6.0 to 7.5, accommodating the slightly acidic conditions that Angelfish prefer.
  • Water Hardness Variance: While some Catfish can tolerate a wide range of water hardness, a general range of 4 to 15 dKH is safe, which means they can cohabit with Angelfish without special adjustments.
Cory Catfish

Angelfish vs. Catfish: Tank Setup

This table provides a concise comparison of tank setup requirements between Angelfish and Catfish, including what would be best for a tank housing both.

Tank Setup AspectAngelfishCatfishBoth Types
Ammonia0 ppm0 ppm0 ppm
Nitrite0 ppm0 ppm0 ppm
Nitrate< 20 ppm< 20 ppm< 20 ppm
Tank Size20+ gallons10+ gallons30+ gallons
FoliageDense, tall plantsVaried, floor coverDense, varied plants
DecorationsTerritory structuresHiding spotsCombined elements
FilterLow currentRobust systemModerate current
HeaterStable 76°F – 84°FStable 72°F – 80°FStable 76°F – 80°F

1. Angelfish: Tank Setup

Angelfish require a carefully maintained environment due to their sensitivity to water quality and need for space to accommodate their tall body shape.

A well-planted tank with vertical space and stable water conditions is essential for the wellbeing of Angelfish.

  • Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate: Ammonia and nitrite levels must be at 0 ppm, and nitrate should be kept below 20 ppm to prevent stress and disease in Angelfish.
  • Tank Size: A minimum of 20 gallons is required for a pair of Angelfish, but larger groups will need at least 55 gallons to allow ample swimming space.
  • Foliage: Dense foliage, especially tall plants like Amazon Sword and Vallisneria, provide cover and mimic the natural habitat of Angelfish.
  • Decorations: Smooth-edged decorations that reach toward the upper parts of the tank give Angelfish places to establish territory and reduce aggression.
  • Filter: A high-quality filter that does not create excessive current is crucial, as Angelfish prefer calmer waters.
  • Heater: A reliable heater is necessary to maintain the 76°F to 84°F temperature range that is optimal for Angelfish.
  • Substrate: A finer substrate is preferred to mimic the soft riverbeds of their habitat and support plant life.
  • Pump: If a pump is used, it should provide gentle water movement to aid filtration without disturbing Angelfish with strong currents.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting reflects Angelfish’s natural environment and highlights their colors; too intense lighting can cause stress.

2. Catfish: Tank Setup

The tank setup for Catfish should cater to their diverse species-specific needs, focusing on bottom terrain and water quality, as many Catfish are bottom dwellers and sensitive to poor water conditions.

  • Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate: Zero ammonia and nitrite with nitrate levels below 20 ppm are also essential for Catfish, as they are often more affected by poor water quality.
  • Tank Size: Catfish range in size from the small Corydoras to the larger Plecostomus, requiring tanks from 10 gallons to over 100 gallons, respectively.
  • Foliage: Catfish appreciate the shelter provided by live plants like Anubias or Java Fern, which can be attached to decorations on the tank floor.
  • Decorations: Caves, driftwood, and other hiding spots are crucial for Catfish to feel secure and reduce stress.
  • Filter: A robust filtration system is vital to handle the waste Catfish produce, especially for larger species.
  • Heater: While some Catfish prefer cooler temperatures, a heater that keeps the tank between 72°F and 80°F will accommodate both Catfish and Angelfish.
  • Substrate: Sand or smooth gravel is preferred for Catfish to protect their barbels while they forage on the bottom.
  • Pump: An air pump providing gentle circulation helps maintain oxygen levels without disturbing the bottom where Catfish reside.
  • Lighting: Dimmer lighting conditions are generally better for Catfish, especially for nocturnal species, to encourage natural behavior.

The Dietary Requirements of Angelfish and Catfish

This table compares the dietary needs of Angelfish and Catfish, while providing a column for the requirements when both are living in the same tank.

Dietary AspectAngelfishCatfishBoth Types
Food TypesFlakes, live food, vegetablesSinking pellets, vegetablesVaried diet, suitable pellets
QuantitySmall amounts 2-3 times per dayEnough for 15-30 min per dayEnough without overfeeding
Feeding ScheduleMorning, midday, early eveningEvening or nightTwice daily at spread intervals

1. Angelfish: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Angelfish are omnivores with a preference for high-protein foods, which is essential for their growth and color vibrancy.

Their diet should be varied to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients and to mimic the diverse diet they would have in the wild.

  • Food Types: Angelfish benefit from a mix of flake food, frozen or live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms, and vegetable matter.
  • Quantity: Feed Angelfish small amounts that they can consume in under five minutes, 2-3 times per day, to avoid overfeeding and tank pollution.
  • Feeding Schedule: Consistent feeding times each day are recommended; for instance, morning, midday, and early evening, to regulate their digestive systems.

2. Catfish: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Catfish dietary needs are varied across species, but most are scavengers that benefit from a diet rich in proteins and vegetables.

For bottom-dwelling Catfish, sinking foods are essential as they seldom feed at the surface.

  • Food Types: Catfish require sinking pellets or wafers, along with supplemental foods such as blanched vegetables and occasional live or frozen treats.
  • Quantity: The quantity should be enough that it can be eaten within 15-30 minutes to prevent leftover food from decomposing and affecting water quality.
  • Feeding Schedule: Most Catfish are nocturnal, so feeding them once a day in the evening or at night aligns with their natural feeding habits.

Catfish Species Most Suitable for a Tank With Angelfish

Certain Catfish species are more suitable for cohabitation with Angelfish due to their peaceful nature and similar environmental requirements.

When selecting Catfish to share a tank with Angelfish, it’s essential to consider size, temperament, and activity level.

  • Corydoras Catfish: Small and peaceful, Corydoras make excellent tank mates for Angelfish and help keep the tank clean by eating leftover food.
  • Bristlenose Pleco: The Bristlenose Pleco remains small enough not to intimidate Angelfish and is beneficial for algae control in the tank.
  • Otocinclus Catfish: Otocinclus are known for their algae-eating habits, and their small size and peaceful nature make them compatible with Angelfish.
  • Pictus Catfish: While slightly more active, Pictus Catfish can coexist with Angelfish if given enough space to roam and hide.
  • Dwarf Suckermouth Catfish: These Catfish are beneficial for cleaning duties and are too small to pose a threat to Angelfish.
  • Upside-Down Catfish: Unique in behavior, they add interesting dynamics to the tank without disturbing Angelfish, as they tend to swim in different water columns.

Also Read: Can Angelfish And Cory Catfish Live Together?

Otocinclus Catfish

How to Introduce Your Angelfish to a Tank with Catfish

Introducing Angelfish to a tank with Catfish should be done cautiously to ensure a stress-free acclimation for both species.

It’s vital to monitor the water parameters and the behavior of the fish during the initial introduction phase.

  • Quarantine Period: Keep the Angelfish in a separate quarantine tank for at least two weeks to observe for any signs of disease or stress before introduction.
  • Water Parameter Adjustment: Gradually adjust the quarantine tank’s water parameters to match those of the main tank where the Catfish reside, to minimize shock.
  • Visual Introduction: Place the Angelfish in a clear, floating acclimation container within the main tank to allow both Angelfish and Catfish to get accustomed to each other’s presence.
  • Monitor Interactions: After release, closely watch the Angelfish and Catfish for signs of aggression or stress, intervening if necessary to prevent injuries.

Tips for Keeping Angelfish with Catfish

Maintaining a peaceful aquarium with both Angelfish and Catfish requires attention to the tank environment and the specific needs of each species.

Regular observation and proper tank management are key to ensuring the cohabitation is successful.

  • Adequate Space: Ensure the tank is large enough (at least 30 gallons) to provide ample swimming room for Angelfish and hiding spots for Catfish.
  • Feeding Stations: Set up multiple feeding areas to prevent competition for food, which can be particularly important if larger Catfish are present.
  • Habitat Complexity: Create a complex environment with plants and decorations to provide territories for Angelfish and hiding places for Catfish.
  • Water Quality: Maintain high water quality with regular testing and water changes to keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in check.
  • Species-Specific Needs: Choose Catfish species that are known to be compatible with Angelfish, like Corydoras or smaller Plecostomus species.
  • Observation: Monitor the fish regularly for signs of stress or aggression, as early detection can prevent harm to either Angelfish or Catfish.
  • Balanced Diet: Offer a varied diet suitable for both Angelfish and Catfish to ensure all nutritional needs are met and reduce competition for food.

Best Tank Mates for Angelfish and Catfish

Selecting the best tank mates for Angelfish and Catfish requires careful consideration to maintain a harmonious community aquarium.

Ideal companions are those that share similar water parameter requirements and exhibit non-aggressive behavior.

  • Tetras: Neon and Cardinal Tetras are peaceful fish that thrive in the same water conditions as Angelfish and Catfish, adding colorful movement to the tank.
  • Dwarf Gourami: With their calm demeanor and mid-water swimming habits, Dwarf Gouramis coexist well with bottom-dwelling Catfish and territorial Angelfish.
  • Mollies: Mollies are adaptable and peaceful; they occupy the top and middle sections of the tank, thus not intruding on either Angelfish or Catfish territories.
  • Harlequin Rasboras: These small, schooling fish are known for their peaceful nature, making them suitable companions for both Angelfish and Catfish.
  • Loaches: Kuhli Loaches, with their bottom-dwelling lifestyle, can cohabit peacefully with Catfish and are too elusive to bother Angelfish.
  • Siamese Algae Eater: This fish contributes to algae control and maintains a low profile, avoiding conflict with both Angelfish and Catfish.

Also Read: Can Angelfish And Zebra Danios Live Together?

Siamese Algae Eater


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish and Catfish can cohabit if the tank is spacious and has areas for both species to thrive, such as vertical swimming space for Angelfish and hiding places for Catfish.
  • While both species can share similar water conditions, they must be monitored to ensure that parameters like temperature and pH levels are maintained within a range that supports both.
  • Dietary needs for Angelfish and Catfish differ, but a balanced feeding strategy can meet both species’ requirements without inciting competition or overfeeding.
  • Peaceful Catfish species, such as Corydoras and Bristlenose Plecos, are particularly well-suited as tank mates for Angelfish due to their size and temperament compatibility.
  • Careful introduction and regular monitoring of behavior and water quality are essential when Angelfish are living in a tank with Catfish to prevent stress and aggression.