Can Angelfish And Jack Dempseys Live Together?

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Angelfish and Jack Dempsey fish are popular choices for freshwater aquariums.

But can they live together peacefully? What should you consider to make sure they can coexist? This includes their tank size, water conditions, and diet.

When I first started keeping these fish, I didn’t know much about this. That’s why I wrote this article – to share what I’ve learned with you.

Let’s get started.

Can I Keep Angelfish and Jack Dempseys Together in the Same Tank?

No, it’s generally not advisable to keep Angelfish and Jack Dempsey fish together in the same tank. Their differing needs and behaviors often lead to incompatibility.

  • Temperament Mismatch: Angelfish are peaceful and can be timid, while Jack Dempseys are aggressive, potentially leading to stress or harm to the Angelfish.
  • Environmental Needs: Angelfish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 6.0-7.0), unlike Jack Dempseys, which thrive in slightly alkaline conditions (pH 7.0-8.0).
  • Size Discrepancy: Jack Dempseys can grow up to 10 inches, much larger than Angelfish, potentially leading to bullying or predation in the shared space.
  • Dietary Differences: Angelfish require a diet rich in both plant and animal matter, while Jack Dempseys need a more protein-heavy diet, complicating shared feeding regimes.

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish vs. Jack Dempsey: Behavior

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

Angelfish: Natural Behavior

Angelfish, known for their elegance and grace, exhibit a calm and somewhat sociable behavior in aquarium settings.

They often swim slowly, showcasing their distinct, fan-shaped fins and prefer a harmonious environment.

  • Social Structure: Angelfish typically establish a loose hierarchy within their group, but this rarely involves serious aggression, making them suitable for community tanks.
  • Territorial During Breeding: When breeding, Angelfish become more territorial, guarding their eggs and fry diligently against intruders but generally remain non-aggressive.
  • Interaction with Environment: Angelfish are known to interact gently with their environment, often exploring plants and decorations without causing disruption.

Jack Dempsey: Natural Behavior

In contrast, Jack Dempsey fish are known for their robust and aggressive behavior.

They are territorial and can often be seen asserting dominance over other tank mates, especially in confined spaces.

  • Aggressive Territory Claims: Jack Dempseys are known to claim and defend territories aggressively, often chasing or attacking other fish that encroach on their space.
  • Preference for Hiding Spaces: They often prefer environments with ample hiding spaces, where they can retreat but also tend to ambush unsuspecting tank mates from these hideouts.
  • Bold Feeding Behavior: During feeding times, Jack Dempseys exhibit bold and sometimes aggressive behavior, often dominating food sources and outcompeting less aggressive fish like Angelfish.

Ideal Parameters for Angelfish and Jack Dempsey

This table outlines the ideal water parameters for both Angelfish and Jack Dempsey, including suggested parameters for a tank housing both species.

ParameterAngelfishJack DempseyBoth Types
Temperature76°F to 84°F (24°C to 29°C)72°F to 77°F (22°C to 25°C)76°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C)
pH Level6.0 to 7.07.0 to 8.07.0
Water Hardness3 to 8 dGH8 to 12 dGH5 to 10 dGH

Angelfish: Ideal Parameters

Angelfish thrive in a specific water environment that closely mimics their natural Amazonian habitat.

They prefer stable conditions with a balance of temperature, pH level, and water hardness that is crucial for their health and well-being.

  • Optimal Temperature: Angelfish require a warm water temperature, ideally between 76°F to 84°F (24°C to 29°C), to maintain their metabolic rate and immune system effectively.
  • Preferred pH Level: The ideal pH level for Angelfish is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, which helps in mimicking their natural Amazon river habitat.
  • Water Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water, with a hardness range of 3 to 8 dGH, is best suited for Angelfish, ensuring they have the ideal mineral content for their health.

Jack Dempsey: Ideal Parameters

Jack Dempsey fish, originating from different environments than Angelfish, have their unique set of ideal water parameters.

They are more adaptable to a range of conditions but still require specific care for optimal health.

  • Temperature Range: Jack Dempseys can tolerate a wider temperature range, ideally between 72°F to 77°F (22°C to 25°C), which is slightly cooler than the preferred range for Angelfish.
  • pH Level Suitability: They thrive in a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, usually between 7.0 and 8.0, which is higher than the optimal range for Angelfish.
  • Water Hardness Preference: Jack Dempseys do well in moderately hard to hard water, with a hardness range of 8 to 12 dGH, which supports their robust nature and health needs.

Angelfish vs. Jack Dempsey: Tank Setup

This table compares the tank setup requirements for Angelfish and Jack Dempsey, and suggests a setup for a tank containing both.

FeatureAngelfishJack DempseyBoth Types
Tank SizeMinimum 20 gallons for a pairMinimum 55 gallons for a singleMinimum 100 gallons
FoliageDense, tall plantsMix of open spaces and dense areasBalance of open spaces and dense plants
DecorationsVarious for shelter, not crowdedLarge rocks, driftwood, cavesAmple caves, moderate decorations
FilterHigh-quality mechanical and biologicalPowerful filter for larger bioloadVery efficient, large capacity filter
HeaterRequired, 76°F to 84°F (24°C to 29°C)Required, 72°F to 77°F (22°C to 25°C)Required, 76°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C)
SubstrateSoft, fineMix of sand and gravelCombination of fine and coarse substrates
PumpGentle water flowStronger circulationModerate flow with good circulation
LightingModerateModerate to strongModerate, favoring plant growth
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate0 ppm Ammonia and Nitrite, <20 ppm Nitrate0 ppm Ammonia and Nitrite, <20 ppm Nitrate0 ppm Ammonia and Nitrite, <20 ppm Nitrate

Angelfish: Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for Angelfish requires attention to detail to replicate their natural Amazonian habitat.

This includes not only the right size and water parameters but also specific considerations for foliage, decorations, and equipment to ensure their comfort and health.

  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: Maintaining ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm and nitrates below 20 ppm is crucial for Angelfish, as they are sensitive to water quality.
  • Tank Size: A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended for a pair of Angelfish, with larger tanks needed for groups, allowing adequate swimming space.
  • Foliage: Dense, tall plants, both real and artificial, are preferred, offering hiding spots and mimicking their natural environment.
  • Decorations: Angelfish enjoy a tank with various decorations that provide shelter and boundaries but ensure enough open space for swimming.
  • Filter: A high-quality filter that offers both mechanical and biological filtration is essential to keep the water clean and oxygenated for Angelfish.
  • Heater: A reliable heater is needed to maintain the water temperature between 76°F to 84°F, crucial for Angelfish health.
  • Substrate: A soft, fine substrate is preferable, as Angelfish often forage at the bottom and prefer a more naturalistic bottom layer.
  • Pump: A water pump should provide gentle water flow, as Angelfish do not prefer strong currents.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is ideal, replicating the dappled light of their natural habitat, while also promoting plant growth.

Jack Dempsey: Tank Setup

Jack Dempsey fish require a robust setup that can accommodate their larger size and more aggressive nature.

Their tank setup should focus on providing ample space, hiding areas, and a stable environment to cater to their needs.

  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: It’s vital to keep ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm and nitrates low, as Jack Dempseys are also sensitive to poor water quality.
  • Tank Size: A minimum of 55 gallons is recommended for a single Jack Dempsey, as they need ample space to establish territories.
  • Foliage: They prefer a mix of open spaces and dense plant areas for hiding, with hardy plants that can withstand their robust nature.
  • Decorations: Provide large rocks, driftwood, and caves for Jack Dempseys to claim as territory and to provide hiding spots.
  • Filter: A powerful filter is necessary for a Jack Dempsey tank, ensuring efficient cleaning and aeration, given their larger bioload.
  • Heater: A heater is required to maintain a consistent temperature between 72°F to 77°F, ideal for Jack Dempsey fish.
  • Substrate: A mix of sand and gravel works well, allowing them to exhibit natural digging behaviors without harming themselves.
  • Pump: A stronger pump may be needed to ensure proper water circulation, given the larger tank size and bioload of Jack Dempseys.
  • Lighting: Moderate to strong lighting is suitable, as it supports plant life and highlights the vibrant colors of Jack Dempsey fish.

The Dietary Requirements of Angelfish and Jack Dempsey

This table details the dietary requirements of Angelfish and Jack Dempsey, along with considerations for a tank that has both.

AspectAngelfishJack DempseyBoth Types
Food TypesFlakes, brine shrimp, bloodworms, vegetablesCichlid pellets, earthworms, crickets, feeder fishVariety of flakes, pellets, live and frozen foods
QuantitySmall amounts 2-3 times a dayOnce or twice a day, enough for a couple of minutesModerate amounts, separate feeding zones
Feeding ScheduleConsistent, typically morning and eveningRegular, once or twice a dayRegular and consistent for both species

Angelfish: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Angelfish have specific dietary needs that should be met to maintain their health and vibrant colors.

They require a balanced diet consisting of both plant and animal matter, reflecting their omnivorous nature in the wild.

  • Food Types: Angelfish benefit from a varied diet including flakes, pellets, frozen or live brine shrimp, and bloodworms, along with blanched vegetables.
  • Quantity: Feed Angelfish small amounts two to three times a day, ensuring they can consume all food within a few minutes to prevent overfeeding and water contamination.
  • Feeding Schedule: Consistent feeding times, typically in the morning and evening, help regulate their digestive system and keep them in optimal health.

Jack Dempsey: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Jack Dempsey fish, being more carnivorous, require a diet rich in protein to support their robust nature and growth.

Their feeding regimen should include a mix of high-quality commercial foods and live or frozen prey.

  • Food Types: A diet for Jack Dempseys should include cichlid pellets, earthworms, crickets, and occasional feeder fish, providing the necessary protein and nutrients.
  • Quantity: Jack Dempseys should be fed once or twice a day, with enough food that they can finish in a couple of minutes to avoid overfeeding.
  • Feeding Schedule: Maintaining a regular feeding schedule helps in managing their aggressive behavior during feeding and supports their overall well-being.

Tips for Keeping Angelfish with Jack Dempsey

While keeping Angelfish with Jack Dempsey fish is challenging due to their different needs and temperaments, it’s not impossible with careful planning and management.

Creating a harmonious tank environment requires specific considerations to cater to both species’ needs.

  • Large Tank Size: Opt for a very large tank, at least 100 gallons or more, to provide ample space for both Angelfish and Jack Dempseys to coexist without feeling overcrowded.
  • Multiple Hiding Spots: Incorporate plenty of caves, plants, and decorations to create numerous hiding spots and visual barriers, reducing direct line of sight and aggression.
  • Strategic Feeding Areas: Set up separate feeding zones at opposite ends of the tank to minimize competition and aggression during feeding times between the species.
  • Careful Monitoring: Regularly monitor the tank for signs of stress or aggression, especially in the initial weeks, to intervene promptly if necessary.
  • Balanced Water Parameters: Maintain a water pH around 7.0 and temperature at about 78°F to accommodate the preferences of both Angelfish and Jack Dempseys.
  • Stress Reduction Techniques: Employ methods like dimmed lighting and calm tank surroundings to minimize stress for both species, especially crucial for sensitive Angelfish.
  • Consider Tankmates Carefully: If adding other fish, choose species that are compatible with both Angelfish and Jack Dempseys, avoiding overly aggressive or timid species.

Also Read: Can Angelfish And Firemouth Cichlids Live Together?

Possible Tank Mates for Angelfish

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

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

  • Corydoras Catfish: These bottom dwellers are peaceful and non-aggressive, making them ideal companions for Angelfish in a community tank setting.
  • Dwarf Gouramis: With their calm demeanor and similar water parameter requirements, Dwarf Gouramis can coexist harmoniously with Angelfish.
  • Mollies: Mollies are peaceful and adaptable, able to thrive in the same water conditions as Angelfish, making them suitable tank mates.
  • Boesemani Rainbow Fish: These active and colorful fish are peaceful enough to share space with Angelfish without causing stress or competition.
  • Bristlenose Plecos: Known for their algae-eating habits, Bristlenose Plecos are peaceful and beneficial tank mates for Angelfish, helping keep the tank clean.
  • Loaches: Many loach species, like the Kuhli Loach, are peaceful and occupy the bottom of the tank, making them good companions for mid-water dwelling Angelfish.

Also Read: Can Angelfish And Silver Dollars Live Together?

Dwarf Gourami


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish and Jack Dempsey fish generally should not be housed together due to significant differences in temperament, environmental needs, size, and diet.
  • Angelfish prefer a peaceful environment with slightly acidic to neutral water, while Jack Dempseys are aggressive, needing slightly alkaline conditions.
  • Angelfish require smaller tanks with dense foliage and various decorations, whereas Jack Dempseys need larger tanks with ample hiding spaces.
  • Dietary needs differ significantly: Angelfish need a mix of plant and animal matter, while Jack Dempseys require a protein-heavy diet.
  • If attempting to house both species together, a very large tank with separate feeding areas and multiple hiding spots is essential to minimize stress and aggression.