Angelfish and Loaches are popular choices for people with freshwater aquariums. But is it okay for them to live in the same tank?
What should you consider if you want to keep them together? You’ll need to think about how much room they need, the type of water that’s best for them, and their diet.
I know how confusing it can be when you’re just starting out with these fish—I was there once. That’s exactly why I put together this guide, to help you understand what to do.
So, let’s get started.
Can I Keep Angelfish and Loaches Together in the Same Tank?
Yes, Angelfish and loaches can live together in the same tank, but there are considerations to keep in mind.
- Temperament Compatibility: Angelfish are semi-aggressive and can be territorial, unlike most loaches who are peaceful bottom dwellers; tank size can mitigate conflicts.
- Water Parameters: Both species thrive in slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 6.5-7.5), but exact temperature needs may vary, with Angelfish preferring 76-82°F.
- Dietary Habits: Angelfish are omnivorous and may compete with loaches for food; ensure a varied diet that reaches the bottom for loaches to feed adequately.
- Habitat Structure: Angelfish need vertical space for swimming; loaches require hiding spots, so a well-structured aquarium with ample room is essential for cohabitation.
Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates
Angelfish vs. Loaches: Behavior
The first factor worth considering is the Angelfish’s and loaches’ natural behavior. Here is what you should know:
Angelfish: Natural Behavior
Angelfish display a mix of territoriality and social behavior in their natural habitat. They often claim areas of dense vegetation or driftwood as their own, especially during breeding times.
- Territorial Instincts: Angelfish can become aggressive to defend their space, often seen in tanks when new fish are introduced or during mating seasons.
- Schooling Fish: Despite territorial moments, Angelfish are naturally inclined to swim in groups, which can be a majestic sight in a well-planted aquarium setting.
- Interactive Behavior: Angelfish may recognize their owners and can be trained to accept food from hands, showing a higher level of interaction than many fish species.
Loaches: Natural Behavior
Loaches are generally known for their peaceful and social nature. They are bottom dwellers that exhibit interesting behaviors such as ‘playing dead’ and swimming upside down.
- Social Dynamics: Loaches enjoy the company of their kind and are rarely aggressive; they’re known to form hierarchies within their groups without much conflict.
- Active Foragers: They spend much of their time scavenging for food, which can be beneficial for keeping the substrate clean in a community tank.
- Nocturnal Activity: Many loach species are more active at night, which can complement the daytime activity of Angelfish, reducing competition for space.
Ideal Parameters for Angelfish and Loaches
Understanding the ideal parameters for both Angelfish and loaches is crucial for their health and wellbeing, especially when they are sharing a tank.
|Temperature||76-82°F (24-28°C)||75-85°F (24-29°C)||76-82°F (24-28°C)|
|Water Hardness||3-8 dKH||3-10 dKH||3-8 dKH|
Angelfish: Ideal Parameters
Angelfish require specific water conditions to thrive, with a preference for warm, slightly acidic water. Consistency in water parameters is crucial to avoid stress and promote the health of these elegant fish.
- Optimal Temperature: Angelfish prefer a tropical range of 76-82°F (24-28°C), which is vital for their immune system and overall metabolism.
- pH Level: They require slightly acidic to neutral water, with an ideal pH range between 6.5 and 7.5, mimicking their Amazonian river basin origins.
- Water Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water, measured at 3-8 dKH, suits Angelfish best, as it supports their gill function and electrolyte balance.
Loaches: Ideal Parameters
Loaches are adaptable but they do best in water conditions that replicate their natural riverine habitats, which are typically soft and slightly acidic to neutral.
- Temperature Range: Loaches are comfortable in a wide temperature range but prefer between 75-85°F (24-29°C), which can overlap well with Angelfish needs.
- pH Preferences: A pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 is ideal for loaches, allowing for a healthy environment that supports their mucous-covered skin.
- Water Hardness: They thrive in softer water conditions, ideally between 3-10 dKH, which helps in maintaining their delicate barbels and scales.
Angelfish vs. Loaches: Tank Setup
The tank setup for Angelfish and loaches shares some similarities, but also requires specific elements to cater to each species’ natural behaviors and needs.
|Tank Setup Component||Angelfish||Loaches||Both Types|
|Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate||0 ppm; <20 ppm nitrate||0 ppm; <20 ppm nitrate||0 ppm; <20 ppm nitrate|
|Tank Size||At least 29 gallons||Minimum 30 gallons||At least 55 gallons|
|Foliage||Broad-leafed plants||Fine-leaved plants||Varied plant types|
|Decorations||Driftwood, tall decor||Caves, smooth rocks||Combination setup|
|Filter||Powerful, gentle flow||Robust filtration||Robust, gentle flow|
|Substrate||Aesthetic choice||Soft, sandy||Mixed types|
|Pump||If large tank||Gentle water pump||Moderate flow pump|
|Lighting||Moderate||Subdued||Moderate to subdued|
Angelfish: Tank Setup
Setting up a tank for Angelfish involves creating a stable environment that mimics their natural habitat, with attention to water quality and vertical space for swimming.
They are sensitive to water conditions, so a meticulous approach to filtration and tank maintenance is essential.
- Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate: Maintain ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm; nitrates should be less than 20 ppm to prevent stress and illness in Angelfish.
- Tank Size: A tall tank of at least 29 gallons is recommended for Angelfish to accommodate their vertical swimming needs and territorial behavior.
- Foliage: Angelfish prefer densely planted tanks with broad-leafed plants like Amazon swords, which provide hiding spots and mimic their natural cover.
- Decorations: Include driftwood and tall decorations for Angelfish to establish territories and to reflect their native river environment.
- Filter: Use a powerful filter with a gentle flow; Angelfish do not appreciate strong currents, which can hinder their graceful swimming.
- Heater: A reliable heater is necessary to keep the water within the ideal temperature range of 76-82°F for Angelfish health.
- Substrate: A finer substrate can be used; however, Angelfish are not bottom dwellers, so the choice of substrate is more aesthetic than functional for them.
- Pump: If the tank is large, an air pump can help ensure even water temperature and adequate gas exchange for Angelfish.
- Lighting: Moderate lighting reflects the diffused light of their native Amazonian waters and promotes healthy plant growth for Angelfish.
Loaches: Tank Setup
Loaches require a tank setup that considers their bottom-dwelling nature, with a focus on substrate quality and places to hide.
They are more sensitive to nitrogenous waste due to their scavenging habits, so water quality is paramount.
- Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate: Loaches need pristine water, with 0 ppm ammonia and nitrite; nitrate levels should be kept low, ideally under 20 ppm to protect their sensitive barbels.
- Tank Size: A minimum of 30 gallons is suggested, as many loach species are active and enjoy space to explore and forage on the bottom.
- Foliage: Loaches enjoy tanks with soft, fine-leaved plants that they can brush against without damaging their delicate skin and barbels.
- Decorations: Smooth rocks and caves are vital for loaches to hide and rest, ensuring they feel secure in their environment.
- Filter: A robust filtration system is critical to manage waste from their constant scavenging and to maintain high water quality for loaches.
- Heater: Loaches enjoy similar temperatures as Angelfish, so a heater that maintains a stable temperature between 75-85°F is ideal.
- Substrate: A soft, sandy substrate is best for loaches to protect their undersides and barbels as they sift through the bottom.
- Pump: A gentle water pump will help replicate the slow-moving streams loaches are accustomed to, without creating stressful conditions.
- Lighting: Subdued lighting is preferable for loaches, creating a calm environment and encouraging their natural behavior to emerge during daytime hours.
The Dietary Requirements of Angelfish and Loaches
Angelfish and loaches have different dietary needs that must be met to maintain their health, which can be managed with careful feeding strategies in a shared tank.
|Dietary Needs||Angelfish||Loaches||Both Types|
|Food Types||Flake foods, live/frozen, vegetables||Sinking pellets, algae wafers, meaty treats||Varied diet to cover all needs|
|Quantity||Small amounts 2-3 times a day||Amount they can finish in minutes, 1-2 times a day||Controlled portions for both|
|Feeding Schedule||Morning and evening||Late afternoon/evening||Adjusted to meet both schedules|
Angelfish: Ideal Dietary Requirements
Angelfish are omnivores with a penchant for variety in their diet, requiring a balance of plant and animal-based foods.
They need high-quality food to maintain their vibrant colors and robust health.
- Food Types: Angelfish diets should include flake foods, live and frozen foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp, and vegetable supplements to ensure balanced nutrition.
- Quantity: Feed Angelfish small amounts that they can consume in about 30 seconds, two to three times a day, to prevent overfeeding and tank pollution.
- Feeding Schedule: Consistent feeding times in the morning and evening help establish a routine that Angelfish will recognize and eagerly anticipate.
Loaches: Ideal Dietary Requirements
Loaches have a varied diet in the wild, which should be replicated in the aquarium to keep them healthy and active.
They are bottom feeders and scavengers, so their food needs to sink to the substrate.
- Food Types: Loaches enjoy sinking pellets, algae wafers, and occasional meaty treats like tubifex worms or snails, which provide the nutrients they need.
- Quantity: Loaches should be fed an amount they can finish within a few minutes, once or twice a day, to avoid leftover food that could decompose and degrade water quality.
- Feeding Schedule: Regular feeding in the late afternoon or evening aligns with their nocturnal nature, allowing them to forage and feed when they are most active.
Loaches Species Most Suitable for a Tank With Angelfish
Certain loach species are indeed well-suited to share a tank with Angelfish, particularly those that share similar water parameter requirements and have peaceful dispositions.
The best candidates are smaller, less aggressive loaches that won’t encroach on the Angelfish’s territory or compete aggressively for food.
- Kuhli Loach: These peaceful, eel-like loaches are great companions for Angelfish due to their docile nature and preference for the bottom of the tank, reducing territory clashes.
- Zebra Loach: With a maximum size of around 4 inches, Zebra Loaches remain small enough not to intimidate Angelfish and are known for their peaceful temperament.
- Dwarf Chain Loach: Ideal for their playful nature and small size, Dwarf Chain Loaches can coexist with Angelfish without disturbing their space.
- Yoyo Loach: Yoyo Loaches are known for being particularly peaceful; they grow to a size that is noticeable but not threatening to Angelfish, fostering a harmonious tank environment.
How to Introduce Your Angelfish to a Tank with Loaches
Introducing Angelfish to a tank with loaches should be done carefully to ensure minimal stress and territorial disputes.
It’s important to closely monitor the interactions and environmental parameters during the initial period.
- Quarantine First: Isolate the Angelfish in a quarantine tank of at least 10 gallons to observe for signs of stress or illness, ensuring they’re healthy before joining loaches.
- Tank Parameters: Match the water temperature and pH closely with the main tank, gradually adjusting the quarantine tank’s conditions over a week to the main tank’s parameters.
- Observation Period: During quarantine, observe the Angelfish’s behavior and appetite daily as indicators of health, to ensure they are thriving before the introduction.
- Gradual Introduction: Use a transparent divider in the main tank so that Angelfish and loaches can see each other for 3-4 days to reduce aggression upon full contact.
- Environmental Enrichment: Rearrange tank decor and plants to create new hiding spots and break lines of sight, helping to prevent territorial disputes between Angelfish and loaches.
Tips for Keeping Angelfish with Loaches
When keeping Angelfish with loaches, it’s essential to create an environment and routine that caters to the needs of both fish species to ensure a peaceful cohabitation.
- Balanced Diet: Offer a mix of flakes, pellets, live and frozen foods twice daily in small quantities that can be consumed in 3 minutes to cater to both species’ needs.
- Proper Tank Size: Opt for a tank that’s at least 55 gallons to provide sufficient space for Angelfish to swim and loaches to explore without encroaching on each other.
- Peaceful Co-Inhabitants: Select loach species like the Dwarf Chain Loach, which grows to about 2 inches and is less likely to compete with Angelfish for territory.
- Structured Habitat: Arrange the tank with driftwood, caves, and plants to create distinct layers and niches for both Angelfish and loaches to claim as their own.
- Regular Monitoring: Check the tank’s ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels weekly with a goal of 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite, and less than 20 ppm nitrate.
- Health Checks: Examine your Angelfish and loaches during feeding for signs of disease or stress, like refusal to eat or erratic swimming, which require immediate attention.
- Stress Reduction: Maintain a consistent light cycle of about 12 hours to mimic natural conditions and use dim lighting to reduce stress for both Angelfish and loaches.
Also Read: Can Angelfish And Discus Fish Live Together?
Best Tank Mates for Angelfish and Loaches
The best tank mates for Angelfish and loaches are peaceful, non-territorial fish that can coexist without competing for resources.
It’s essential to choose species that will not nip at the Angelfish’s fins or outcompete the loaches for food.
- Corydoras Catfish: These peaceful bottom dwellers are excellent companions; they won’t disturb Angelfish and share similar water parameter requirements with Loaches.
- Dwarf Gourami: A gentle surface dweller that cohabits well with Angelfish, Dwarf Gouramis add color and activity without threatening the Loaches’ territory.
- Mollies: Mollies are peaceful fish that occupy the middle level of the tank, which minimizes interaction with bottom-dwelling Loaches and territorial Angelfish.
- Harlequin Rasboras: These schooling fish are peaceful and fast enough to avoid Angelfish while being top to middle tank swimmers, leaving Loaches undisturbed.
- Bristlenose Plecos: Ideal for being non-aggressive; Bristlenose Plecos clean algae without infringing on Angelfish or Loaches’ space due to their nocturnal nature.
- Rummy-Nose Tetras: They form tight schools, providing a dynamic display without stressing Angelfish or Loaches, and require similar water conditions.
Also Read: Can Angelfish And Gourami Live Together?
For quick readers, here’s a short summary:
- Angelfish and loaches can cohabit when their space and dietary needs are carefully managed, with a structured habitat being crucial.
- While Angelfish are semi-aggressive and territorial, loaches are peaceful bottom dwellers, necessitating a tank that provides hiding spots and vertical swimming space.
- Both species require slightly acidic to neutral water with similar temperature and hardness parameters, though specific needs slightly vary.
- A minimum tank size of 55 gallons is recommended to accommodate the swimming and foraging behaviors of both Angelfish and loaches.
- Suitable tank mates include non-territorial and peaceful fish that do not compete for food or space with Angelfish and loaches.