Can Angelfish And Firemouth Cichlids Live Together?

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Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids are popular choices for freshwater aquariums. However, the question arises: can they coexist peacefully in the same tank?

Considerations are necessary for maintaining them together, such as the specifics of their tank environment, water requirements, and dietary needs.

When I first started keeping these fish, I was completely unaware of these considerations. This is the reason I’ve written this article – to share my learnings with you.

Let’s dive into the details.

Can I Keep Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids Together in the Same Tank?

No, Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids should not be kept together due to their incompatible needs and temperaments, which often lead to stress and aggression.

  • Behavioral Differences: Angelfish are generally peaceful but territorial, whereas Firemouth Cichlids exhibit higher aggression, potentially leading to conflicts and stress for the Angelfish.
  • Environmental Requirements: Angelfish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 6.0-7.5), contrasting with the Firemouth’s preference for more alkaline conditions (pH 7.0-8.0), complicating habitat management.
  • Feeding Habits: Firemouth Cichlids are aggressive feeders and may outcompete Angelfish, who require a varied diet, including live food, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies.
  • Size Disparity: Adult Angelfish grow up to 6 inches, smaller than Firemouths (up to 7 inches), increasing the risk of the larger Firemouths bullying or harming the Angelfish.

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish vs. Firemouth Cichlids: Behavior

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

Angelfish: Natural Behavior

Angelfish are generally peaceful but can show territorial behavior, especially during breeding. They often form monogamous pairs and display complex social interactions.

  • Social Hierarchy: In a group, Angelfish establish a social order, with the largest or oldest often dominating, leading to minor conflicts in smaller tanks.
  • Territorial During Breeding: During breeding, Angelfish can become territorial, claiming areas in the tank, often a significant portion in smaller setups.
  • Subdued Aggression: Angelfish aggression is usually limited to mild chasing or fin nipping, particularly in overcrowded or undersized tanks.

Firemouth Cichlids: Natural Behavior

Firemouth Cichlids are known for their assertive behavior and vivid displays, especially during mating rituals.

They are territorial and can be aggressive, particularly in confined spaces.

  • Territorial Displays: Firemouths often exhibit bluffing behavior, flaring their gills to appear larger and deter rivals, especially in tanks under 30 gallons.
  • Aggression During Breeding: Mating pairs of Firemouth Cichlids become highly territorial, vigorously defending their spawning area.
  • Hierarchy in Groups: In a community setting, Firemouths establish a hierarchy based on size and strength, leading to frequent skirmishes in smaller or crowded tanks.

Ideal Parameters for Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids

This table outlines the optimal water temperature, pH level, and hardness for both Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids, along with suitable parameters for a tank with both types.

ParameterAngelfishFiremouth CichlidsBoth Types
Temperature76°F – 84°F (24°C – 29°C)75°F – 86°F (24°C – 30°C)76°F – 84°F (24°C – 29°C)
pH Level6.0 – 7.57.0 – 8.57.0 – 7.5
Water Hardness3 – 8 dKH8 – 15 dKH8 – 8 dKH

Angelfish: Ideal Parameters

Angelfish thrive in specific water conditions that mimic their natural Amazonian habitat. 

Maintaining the ideal temperature, pH, and water hardness is crucial for their health and well-being.

  • Temperature Requirements: Angelfish prefer a warmer water temperature, ideally between 76°F and 84°F. This range is crucial for their metabolism and immune system functioning.
  • pH Level: The optimal pH level for Angelfish is between 6.0 and 7.5, slightly acidic to neutral. Consistency in pH is important to prevent stress and health issues.
  • Water Hardness: Angelfish thrive in soft to moderately hard water, with a hardness range of 3 to 8 dKH. This mimics their natural Amazon River conditions and supports their health.

Firemouth Cichlids: Ideal Parameters

Firemouth Cichlids, native to Central American rivers, require different water conditions compared to Angelfish.

They need specific temperature, pH, and water hardness levels to maintain their health.

  • Temperature Preferences: Firemouth Cichlids are comfortable in temperatures between 75°F and 86°F. Stable temperature within this range is vital for their digestive and reproductive health.
  • pH Level: These cichlids prefer a slightly more alkaline environment, with an ideal pH range of 7.0 to 8.5. Consistent pH closer to 8.0 is ideal for breeding Firemouths.
  • Water Hardness: The optimal water hardness for Firemouth Cichlids is between 8 and 15 dKH. This range is important for their overall health and mimics their native river habitats.

Angelfish vs. Firemouth Cichlids: Tank Setup

This table provides a detailed comparison of the tank setup requirements for Angelfish, Firemouth Cichlids, and a combined tank, including aspects like tank size, decorations, and filtration.

AspectAngelfishFiremouth CichlidsBoth Types
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate0 ppm ammonia/nitrite, <20 ppm nitrate0 ppm ammonia/nitrite, <30 ppm nitrate0 ppm ammonia/nitrite, <25 ppm nitrate
Tank SizeMin. 20 gallons per fishMin. 30 gallons for a pairMin. 75 gallons
FoliageDense foliage like Amazon swordsLess dense, some open areasBalanced foliage and open areas
DecorationsSoft-edged decorations, driftwoodRocks and cavesMixed decorations for both
Filter3-4x tank volume per hour4-5x tank volume per hour4-5x tank volume per hour
Heater76°F – 84°F (24.4°C – 28.9°C)75°F – 86°F (23.9°C – 30°C)76°F – 84°F (24.4°C – 28.9°C)
SubstrateSoft, fine substrateCoarser substrates like gravelMixed fine and coarse substrates
PumpGentle water movementModerate to strong flowModerate water flow
LightingModerate lightingBrighter lightingBalanced lighting

Angelfish: Tank Setup

Setting up an ideal tank for Angelfish involves creating an environment that closely resembles their natural Amazonian habitat.

Key elements like water chemistry, tank size, and appropriate decorations play a significant role in their health and happiness.

  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: Angelfish require a tank with ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm, and nitrates below 20 ppm, to avoid stress and health issues.
  • Tank Size: A minimum of 20 gallons is essential for a single Angelfish, with an additional 10 gallons for each extra fish to provide ample swimming space.
  • Foliage: Dense foliage, including live plants like Amazon swords or Java ferns, provides hiding spots and mimics their natural environment.
  • Decorations: Soft-edged decorations and driftwood are preferred to prevent injury. Avoid sharp or rough objects in the tank.
  • Filter: A high-quality filter that can handle 3-4 times the tank’s volume per hour is vital for maintaining clean water and removing waste.
  • Heater: A reliable heater is necessary to maintain the water temperature between 76°F and 84°F, crucial for Angelfish health.
  • Substrate: Soft, fine substrate like sand or fine gravel is ideal, as it allows Angelfish to sift through it without harm.
  • Pump: An air pump providing gentle water movement ensures adequate oxygenation, especially in larger tanks.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting that simulates a natural day cycle is best for Angelfish, avoiding overly bright lights that can cause stress.

Also Read: Can Angelfish And Jack Dempseys Live Together?

Firemouth Cichlids: Tank Setup

Firemouth Cichlids require a tank setup that caters to their active and territorial nature, ensuring a healthy and stimulating environment.

Their setup differs from Angelfish in several aspects, including substrate and decoration preferences.

  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: Like Angelfish, Firemouth Cichlids need ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm, but they can tolerate nitrates up to 30 ppm.
  • Tank Size: A minimum of 30 gallons is recommended for a pair of Firemouth Cichlids, with larger spaces reducing territorial aggression.
  • Foliage: Firemouths prefer less dense vegetation than Angelfish, with some open swimming areas and a few hiding spots.
  • Decorations: Rocks and caves are essential for Firemouth Cichlids to establish territories and hide, preferably smooth to prevent injuries.
  • Filter: A robust filter capable of cycling the tank’s volume 4-5 times per hour is necessary to handle their higher waste production.
  • Heater: A heater to maintain a temperature range of 75°F to 86°F is crucial for their well-being and breeding.
  • Substrate: Coarser substrates like gravel are suitable for Firemouths, allowing them to exhibit natural digging behaviors.
  • Pump: An air or water pump providing moderate to strong water flow replicates their natural river habitat and helps keep the tank clean.
  • Lighting: Brighter lighting is preferred for Firemouth Cichlids, which helps showcase their vibrant colors and stimulates their natural behavior.

The Dietary Requirements of Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids

This table compares the dietary needs of Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids, including food types, quantity, and feeding schedule, along with guidelines for a tank containing both species.

AspectAngelfishFiremouth CichlidsBoth Types
Food TypesFlakes, brine shrimp, bloodworms, vegetablesCichlid pellets, bloodworms, brine shrimpVaried diet suitable for both
Quantity3 min feeding, twice a day2-3 min feeding, twice a day3 min feeding, twice a day
Feeding ScheduleMorning and eveningMorning and late afternoonRegular times, twice a day

Angelfish: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Angelfish require a varied diet to maintain their health and coloration, mirroring their omnivorous nature in the wild.

They benefit from a combination of high-quality flakes or pellets, live or frozen foods, and vegetable matter.

  • Food Types: A mix of high-quality flakes or pellets, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and blanched vegetables like spinach or zucchini caters to their omnivorous diet.
  • Quantity: Adult Angelfish should be fed an amount they can consume in about three minutes, twice a day, to prevent overfeeding and water quality issues.
  • Feeding Schedule: Consistent feeding times, usually morning and evening, help regulate their digestive system and mimic natural feeding patterns.

Firemouth Cichlids: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Firemouth Cichlids, primarily carnivorous, require a diet rich in protein to maintain their energy levels and vibrant colors.

They do well with a variety of foods, including pellets, live or frozen prey, and occasional plant-based foods.

  • Food Types: Pellets or flakes formulated for cichlids, supplemented with live or frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp, provide balanced nutrition.
  • Quantity: Feeding Firemouth Cichlids an amount they can finish in two to three minutes, twice daily, helps maintain optimal health and water quality.
  • Feeding Schedule: Regular feeding at the same times each day, ideally in the morning and late afternoon, aligns with their natural predatory instincts.

Tips for Keeping Angelfish with Firemouth Cichlids

While keeping Angelfish with Firemouth Cichlids is challenging due to their differing temperaments and requirements, it can be managed with thoughtful planning and attention to detail.

A harmonious environment is achievable with a strategic approach to tank setup and fish interaction.

  • Large Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended, allowing enough space to reduce competition and stress between Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids.
  • Separate Territories: Use plants and decorations to create distinct territories within the tank, such as rock caves for Firemouths and leafy areas for Angelfish, to reduce aggression.
  • Careful Introduction: Introduce the species to the tank at the same time or add Firemouth Cichlids first, as Angelfish are generally more adaptable to new tank mates.
  • Compatible Tank Mates: Include other peaceful and similarly sized fish to create a diverse community, reducing the focus of aggression between Angelfish and Firemouths.
  • Balanced Feeding Zones: Establish separate feeding areas for each species to prevent competition for food, using different tank levels or tank corners.
  • Regular Monitoring: Closely monitor fish behavior, especially in the initial weeks, to intervene if signs of excessive aggression or stress appear.
  • Water Quality Management: Maintain optimal water parameters for both species, with a balanced pH around 7.0 and consistent water temperature, to reduce environmental stress.

More Suitable Tank Mates for Angelfish

Angelfish can coexist peacefully with a variety of other fish species, provided these tank mates are not overly aggressive or small enough to be considered prey.

Choosing the right companions for Angelfish involves considering temperament, size, and environmental needs.

  • Corydoras Catfish: These bottom dwellers are peaceful and pose no threat to Angelfish. They help in keeping the tank clean by scavenging for leftover food.
  • Dwarf Gouramis: Dwarf Gouramis share similar water requirements with Angelfish and are known for their peaceful nature, making them compatible tank mates.
  • Mollies: Mollies are adaptable, peaceful fish that can thrive in the same water conditions as Angelfish, and their active swimming adds dynamism to the tank.
  • Bristlenose Plecos: These algae eaters are non-aggressive and occupy different tank areas than Angelfish, reducing the chance of territorial disputes.
  • Rummy-nose Tetras: Rummy-nose Tetras are schooling fish that add movement to the tank without bothering Angelfish, thriving in similar water conditions.
  • Boesemani Rainbowfish: With their vibrant colors and peaceful temperament, Boesemani Rainbowfish can coexist well with Angelfish in a spacious, well-planted tank.

Also Read: Can Angelfish And Goldfish Live Together?

Bristlenose Pleco


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids are incompatible tank mates due to behavioral differences, with Angelfish being peaceful yet territorial and Firemouths more aggressive.
  • Their environmental needs differ significantly; Angelfish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water, whereas Firemouths thrive in more alkaline conditions.
  • Feeding challenges arise as Firemouth Cichlids are aggressive eaters and may outcompete Angelfish, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies for the latter.
  • The size disparity between adult Angelfish and Firemouth Cichlids increases the risk of bullying or harm, as Firemouths are generally larger.
  • Despite these challenges, a harmonious tank with both species is possible with a large tank, separate territories, and careful management of feeding and water quality.