Angelfish Care Guide: Tank Setup, Feeding, Breeding & More

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I love raising angelfish. They have a calm and peaceful demeanor that makes them a great fit for almost any type of aquarium.

When I first started with this species, I had numerous questions. How do you take care of them? What’s the proper tank setup? And what about the water conditions?

In this article, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide for angelfish. I’ll address all your needs from start to finish to ensure your angelfish receive the top-notch care they deserve.

Before we get started, here’s a basic table summarizing how to care for angelfish:

AspectKey Detail
Tank SizeMinimum 30 gallons, tall for angelfish.
Temperature76-86°F, stable with heater.
Water Acidity (pH)pH 6.8 to 7.8.
Ammonia/Nitrite/NitrateAmmonia/nitrite at 0 ppm, nitrates < 20 ppm.
Heater3-5 watts per gallon with safety features.
Air Pump/BubblerEnhances oxygenation and water circulation.
FilterThree-stage filtration, suitable flow rate.
PlantsLive plants for natural environment.
Light8-10 hours per day, suitable for plants.
Hiding SpotsNatural décor for stress reduction.
Food TypeBalanced diet of flake, pellet, live/frozen, vegetables.
Feeding AmountSmall portions to finish in 3-5 minutes.
Feeding Frequency2-3 times daily for adults, more for juveniles.

Angelfish: Quick Overview

Angelfish are a popular and graceful addition to many freshwater aquariums. They are known for their unique shape and variety of colors, making them a favorite among aquarists.

  • Distinct Shape: Angelfish have a distinct triangular body shape, with long dorsal and anal fins that give them a dramatic appearance. They can grow up to 6 inches in length.
  • Color Variations: These fish come in various colors, including silver, black, gold, and marbled patterns. Selective breeding has led to even more color varieties.
  • Temperament: Generally peaceful, angelfish can be semi-aggressive, especially during breeding. They do well in community tanks but may nip at smaller fish.
  • Water Conditions: Preferring warm water, angelfish thrive in temperatures between 76-86°F. They require slightly acidic to neutral pH levels, around 6.8 to 7.8.

Also Read: Facts About Angelfish

Common Types of Angelfish

There are several types of angelfish, each with unique characteristics and color patterns. Knowing the different types helps in selecting the right one for your aquarium.

  • Silver Angelfish: The most common type, characterized by its silver body with black vertical stripes. It’s the classic look that most people recognize.
  • Marble Angelfish: Known for their striking, random marble-like patterns, these fish vary greatly in color and pattern, making each one unique.
  • Koi Angelfish: Resembling Koi carp, these have a mix of orange, white, and black colors. They are very popular due to their distinct and vibrant appearance.
  • Zebra Angelfish: Characterized by more pronounced vertical stripes compared to the silver angelfish. They often have 4-6 bold black stripes.
  • Black Lace Angelfish: A darker variant, with a deep black coloration that covers more of the body. They are elegant and have a mysterious look.
  • Gold Angelfish: These have a beautiful golden hue, often with a slight iridescence. They can vary from pale yellow to a deep orange-gold color.
Silver Angelfish
Marble Angelfish
Koi Angelfish
Zebra Angelfish
Black Lace Angelfish
Gold Angelfish

How to Care for Angelfish

Let’s start by getting a good understanding of how to take care of angelfish, beginning with their tank setup:

Angelfish Tank Setup

To begin, let’s make sure your angelfish tank is properly set up:

1. Tank Size

When setting up an angelfish tank, size is crucial for their health and happiness. A larger tank not only provides more space but also helps maintain stable water conditions.

  • Minimum Size: Angelfish need a minimum tank size of 20 gallons, but a 30-gallon tank is recommended for optimal swimming space and health.
  • Height Matters: Due to their tall body shape, angelfish tanks should be taller rather than wider, providing ample vertical space for swimming.
  • Group Housing: If housing a group of angelfish, consider a tank of 55 gallons or more to prevent territorial disputes and stress.
  • Space for Plants: Larger tanks provide more space for live plants, which are beneficial for angelfish by providing hiding spots and maintaining water quality.

2. Temperature

Temperature control is vital in an angelfish tank to mimic their natural tropical habitat. Proper temperature ensures healthy metabolism and immune function.

  • Ideal Range: The optimal temperature range for angelfish is between 76-86°F, with 78-80°F being ideal for most setups.
  • Use a Heater: Employ a reliable aquarium heater to maintain a consistent temperature, as fluctuations can stress angelfish.
  • Thermometer Check: Regularly check the temperature with an accurate aquarium thermometer to avoid unexpected changes.
  • Heat Distribution: Use a water circulation system or place the heater near the filter output for even heat distribution throughout the tank.

3. Water Acidity

The pH level of the water is a critical aspect of an angelfish tank setup. Angelfish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions.

  • pH Range: Angelfish thrive in a pH range of 6.8 to 7.8, with 7.0 being a comfortable median for most.
  • Testing Kits: Regularly test the water using pH testing kits to ensure the environment remains stable and safe for the angelfish.
  • Natural Adjustments: Use driftwood or peat moss in the filtration system to naturally lower the pH if necessary. My recommendation: Dr. Moss Malaysian Driftwood (link to Amazon).
  • Avoid Sudden Changes: Ensure any adjustments to the pH level are done gradually to prevent shocking the fish.

4. Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate

Maintaining proper levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate is crucial for the health of angelfish, as these can become toxic at high levels.

  • Zero Ammonia/Nitrite: Ammonia and nitrite levels should always be at 0 ppm, as they are extremely toxic to angelfish even at low concentrations.
  • Nitrate Control: Nitrates should be kept below 20 ppm. Regular water changes and live plants can help manage nitrate levels.
  • Frequent Testing: Use a water testing kit to regularly monitor these levels, especially in newly set-up tanks or after adding new fish. I personally got this API Freshwater Master Test Kit (link to Amazon).
  • Biological Filtration: Invest in a good quality filter that provides efficient biological filtration to convert ammonia and nitrites into less harmful nitrates.

5. Heater

A heater is essential in an angelfish tank to maintain a stable, tropical water temperature. Angelfish are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, which can lead to stress and illness.

  • Appropriate Wattage: Choose a heater with the right wattage for your tank size—approximately 3-5 watts per gallon of water.
  • Adjustable Thermostat: An adjustable thermostat is crucial for fine-tuning the temperature to suit your angelfish’s needs.
  • Safety Features: Look for heaters with safety features like automatic shut-off to prevent overheating. That’s why I picked the Fluval E300 Advanced Heater (link to Amazon).
  • Submersible Design: A fully submersible heater ensures even heat distribution and is less obtrusive in the tank setup.

6. Air Pump, Bubbler

While not always necessary, an air pump or bubbler can be beneficial in an angelfish tank. They enhance oxygenation and water circulation, contributing to a healthier environment.

  • Increased Oxygenation: Air pumps and bubblers increase oxygen levels in the water, crucial for angelfish health.
  • Water Movement: These devices help circulate water, ensuring uniform temperature and preventing stagnant areas in the tank.
  • Stress Reduction: Gentle water movement from bubblers can reduce stress in angelfish by mimicking natural environments.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Bubbles add a visual appeal to the tank and can be soothing for both the fish and the aquarist.

7. Filter

A quality filter is vital in an angelfish tank to remove waste, toxins, and maintain clear water. It’s the cornerstone of a healthy aquarium environment.

  • Three-Stage Filtration: Choose a filter that provides mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration for comprehensive water quality.
  • Appropriate Flow Rate: The filter should have a flow rate suitable for your tank size, generally 4-5 times the tank’s volume per hour.
  • Regular Maintenance: Clean and replace filter media as recommended to ensure optimal performance and avoid ammonia spikes.
  • Gentle Current: Ensure the filter creates a gentle current, as angelfish prefer calm waters and can be stressed by strong water movement. An excellent starting point can be the Fluval C4 Power Filter (link to Amazon).

8. Plants

Live plants in an angelfish tank provide more than just aesthetic value. They contribute to the ecosystem by improving water quality and offering shelter.

  • Natural Environment: Plants mimic the natural habitat of angelfish, providing comfort and reducing stress.
  • Water Quality: Live plants help absorb harmful chemicals like nitrates and contribute to oxygenation.
  • Hiding Spots: Plants offer hiding and spawning sites, which is especially important for breeding angelfish.
  • Choose Wisely: Opt for plants like Java Fern or Anubias, which thrive in the same water conditions as angelfish and require minimal care.

9. Light

Proper lighting is crucial in an angelfish tank to regulate their biological rhythms and to support plant growth if live plants are present.

  • Natural Day/Night Cycle: A consistent lighting schedule helps mimic natural day and night cycles, important for the angelfish’s health.
  • Intensity and Spectrum: Choose lights that provide a spectrum suitable for plant growth and pleasing to the eye.
  • Avoid Excess Light: Too much light can cause stress in angelfish and lead to algae growth. Typically, 8-10 hours of light per day is sufficient.
  • LED Options: LED lights are a popular choice for their energy efficiency and longevity, and many offer adjustable settings.

10. Hiding Spots

Providing hiding spots in an angelfish tank is essential for their well-being. It offers a sense of security and a retreat for stressed or shy fish.

  • Natural Décor: Use rocks, driftwood, and caves to create naturalistic hiding places that add to the tank’s aesthetic. My angelfish absolutely love this Jabukosu Aquarium Cave (link to Amazon).
  • Breeding Behavior: Hiding spots are particularly important for breeding angelfish, offering a safe place for laying eggs.
  • Stress Reduction: Adequate hiding spots can significantly reduce stress in angelfish, leading to better health and coloration.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: While hiding spots are important, ensure they don’t overcrowd the tank or restrict swimming space.

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Setup

How to Feed Angelfish

When it comes to feeding angelfish, it’s important to consider three important factors: the type of food, the amount, and how often you feed them:

1. What do Angelfish Eat?

Angelfish are omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both plant and animal matter to stay healthy. A varied diet is key to ensuring they get all the necessary nutrients.

  • Flake and Pellet Food: High-quality flake and pellet foods should form the base of their diet, providing essential nutrients. My recommendation: TetraCichlid Cichlid Flakes (link to Amazon).
  • Live and Frozen Foods: Supplement with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia for protein.
  • Vegetable Matter: Include blanched vegetables like spinach or zucchini, as angelfish need plant matter for digestion.
  • Avoid Overfeeding: Be cautious with portion sizes, especially of richer foods, to prevent water quality issues and health problems.

2. How Much do Angelfish Eat?

Determining the right amount of food for angelfish is critical to avoid overfeeding and maintain tank health. They should eat only as much as they can consume in a few minutes.

  • Small Portions: Feed small portions that angelfish can finish within three to five minutes to prevent overeating.
  • Monitor Eating Habits: Observe your angelfish during feeding to adjust portion sizes according to their appetite and needs.
  • Variety is Key: Vary the type of food each day to ensure a balanced diet and keep the angelfish interested in their meals.
  • Avoid Leftovers: Any uneaten food should be removed to keep the tank clean and reduce the risk of ammonia spikes.

3. How Often do Angelfish Eat?

Feeding angelfish the right frequency is as important as the type and amount of food. It helps mimic their natural feeding patterns and supports their health.

  • Regular Schedule: Feed adult angelfish two to three times a day at regular intervals to maintain a consistent feeding schedule.
  • Juveniles Eat More: Young, growing angelfish require more frequent feedings, ideally three to four times a day.
  • Consistent Quantities: Keep the quantity consistent at each feeding to avoid fluctuations in water quality.
  • Skip a Day: It’s beneficial to skip feeding one day a week to aid in digestion and mimic natural feeding variations.

Also Read: How To Feed Angelfish

How to Pick Tank Mates For Angelfish

Choosing tank mates for angelfish involves finding species that can coexist peacefully and thrive in similar water conditions.

It’s important to consider the temperament, size, and environmental needs of both the angelfish and potential tank mates to ensure a harmonious aquarium.

  • Similar Water Parameters: Choose fish that thrive in the same water conditions as angelfish, particularly a temperature range of 76-86°F and a pH of 6.8-7.8.
  • Peaceful Temperament: Opt for fish with a peaceful or semi-aggressive temperament that won’t bully or be bullied by angelfish.
  • Appropriate Size: Tank mates should be neither too small to be eaten by angelfish nor too large to intimidate them. A similar size range is ideal.
  • Non-Fin Nippers: Avoid species known for fin-nipping, as angelfish have long, flowing fins that are susceptible to nipping.
  • Swimming Level Variety: It’s beneficial to choose species that occupy different areas of the tank to minimize competition for space and resources.

For example, here are a few species that can live with angelfish:

  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Mollies
  • Platies
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Bolivian Rams
  • Harlequin Rasboras
Corydoras catfish with angelfish

On the other hand, I would avoid species like:

  • Goldfish (different temperature and water requirements)
  • Neon Tetras (often too small and can be eaten by angelfish)
  • Barbs (tendency to fin-nip)
  • Betta Fish (similar finnage and can be aggressive)
  • African Cichlids (different water requirements and aggressive behavior)
  • Oscars (too large and aggressive)
  • Guppies (small and bright colors might attract angelfish aggression)

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish with betta fish

How To Breed Angelfish

Breeding angelfish involves creating a conducive environment and closely monitoring their behavior.

Once a pair is formed, they require a separate breeding tank with specific conditions to encourage spawning.

  • Separate Breeding Tank: Use a 20-30 gallon tank for the breeding pair, ensuring privacy and a controlled environment.
  • Ideal Water Conditions: Keep the water temperature around 80°F and pH levels between 6.5 and 7.0, using a heater and testing kits.
  • Flat Spawning Surface: Provide a flat surface like a broad leaf or a piece of slate, positioned vertically, for egg laying. My recommendation: AQUA Angelfish Breeding Cone (link to Amazon).
  • High-Quality Diet: Feed live or frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms to improve the pair’s health and increase fertility.
  • Monitor Behavior: Watch for signs like cleaning the spawning surface and side-by-side swimming, indicating readiness to spawn.
  • Regular Water Changes: Perform 10-15% water changes weekly to maintain cleanliness and ideal breeding conditions.

Also Read: Angelfish Breeding Guide

Caring for Angelfish Eggs

Caring for angelfish eggs requires maintaining optimal water conditions and protecting the eggs from potential hazards. Consistent monitoring is essential to successfully raise the fry.

  • Fungus Prevention: Add a mild antifungal agent like methylene blue to the water at recommended doses to prevent fungus.
  • Adequate Filtration: Use a sponge filter or cover the intake of a standard filter with a fine mesh to protect eggs and fry.
  • Maintain Water Quality: Perform weekly water changes of about 10-15% to keep the environment clean and stable for the eggs.
  • Temperature Control: Keep the breeding tank at a steady temperature of about 80°F to ensure optimal conditions for egg development.
  • Lighting: Provide a soft, subdued lighting setup to mimic natural conditions and reduce stress on the eggs and parents.
  • Egg Monitoring: Regularly check the eggs for signs of hatching, which typically occurs within 60-72 hours at optimal conditions.

Also Read: Angelfish Eggs Care

How to Raise Angelfish Fry

Raising angelfish fry requires a dedicated approach, focusing on optimal water conditions, appropriate feeding, and regular tank maintenance.

As the fry grow, they need increasingly larger spaces and a varied diet to ensure proper development.

  • Initial Feeding: Start feeding with freshly hatched brine shrimp or commercial fry food, as these are small enough for the fry to eat.
  • Frequent Feeding: Feed the fry small amounts several times a day (about 4-5 times) to support their rapid growth and high metabolism.
  • Water Quality: Maintain pristine water conditions with weekly changes of 10-15% of the water volume, using a gentle siphon to avoid harming the fry.
  • Gradual Diet Change: As they grow, introduce finely crushed flake food and micro worms to diversify their diet.
  • Separate Tanks: Transfer the fry to larger tanks as they grow, starting with a 10-gallon tank and increasing as needed.
  • Monitor Growth: Regularly observe the fry for growth and health, separating any aggressive or overly large fry to prevent bullying.

Also Read: Angelfish Fry Care

Angelfish fry

Common Angelfish Diseases

Just like any other fish, angelfish can be susceptible to different illnesses. Let’s talk about some of the most common ones:

1. Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich, or White Spot Disease, is a common and highly contagious parasitic infection in angelfish.

It appears as small, white cysts on the skin, gills, and fins, and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

  • Causes: Caused by the protozoan parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, often due to poor water quality or sudden temperature changes.
  • Symptoms: Look for white spots resembling salt grains on the body, erratic swimming, rubbing against objects, and labored breathing.
  • Treatment: Treat with copper-based medications or raise the water temperature gradually to 86°F for a few days to speed up the parasite’s life cycle. My recommendation: Fritz Mardel Coppersafe (link to Amazon)
  • Prognosis: With early treatment, the prognosis is good, but severe cases can be fatal if not addressed promptly.

2. Fin Rot

Fin Rot is a bacterial infection that affects the fins of angelfish, leading to fraying and discoloration. It’s often a result of poor water quality or injury.

  • Causes: Often caused by poor water conditions or a bacterial infection, sometimes due to damage from fin-nipping fish.
  • Symptoms: Fins appear torn or frayed, discoloration at the edges, and in severe cases, the fin may erode close to the body.
  • Treatment: Improve water quality and treat with antibacterial medications specifically designed for aquarium use. A sensible starting point is to consider using Seachem PolyGuard (link to Amazon).
  • Prognosis: Good if treated early, but delayed treatment can lead to permanent fin damage or systemic infection.

3. Hexamita (Hole-in-the-Head Disease)

Hexamita, or Hole-in-the-Head Disease, manifests as pits or lesions on the angelfish’s head and body. It’s primarily related to dietary deficiencies and poor water quality.

  • Causes: Linked to poor water quality, nutritional deficiencies, and prolonged exposure to high-stress conditions.
  • Symptoms: Small pits or holes on the head and later on the body, weight loss, and lethargy.
  • Treatment: Improve diet with high-quality foods, enhance water quality, and treat with metronidazole-based medications.
  • Prognosis: Recovery is possible with early intervention, but severe cases can cause irreversible damage or be fatal.

4. Popeye Disease

Popeye Disease in angelfish is characterized by the swelling of one or both eyes. It’s usually an indication of an underlying bacterial infection or injury.

  • Causes: Can be caused by a bacterial infection, injury, or poor water quality leading to fluid buildup in the eye socket.
  • Symptoms: Bulging of one or both eyes, cloudiness, and sometimes accompanied by other signs of illness like lethargy.
  • Treatment: Address underlying water quality issues and treat with appropriate antibiotics if a bacterial infection is suspected.
  • Prognosis: Good if treated early; however, severe cases can result in permanent eye damage or loss.

5. Fungal Infections

Fungal infections in angelfish present as cotton-like growths on the skin, fins, or gills. These infections are often secondary to other health problems.

  • Causes: Typically occur in compromised fish due to poor water quality, injury, or existing diseases lowering the immune response.
  • Symptoms: White, fluffy growths on the skin, fins, or gills, lethargy, and reduced appetite.
  • Treatment: Improve water quality and treat with antifungal medications specific for aquarium use.
  • Prognosis: With prompt treatment, the prognosis is generally good, but delayed treatment can lead to systemic infection.

Also Read: Angelfish Diseases

Identifying And Treating Stressed Angelfish

Stressed angelfish exhibit distinct behavioral and physical signs that indicate discomfort or poor health.

Recognizing these signs early is crucial for providing timely care and preventing further complications.

  • Color Changes: Angelfish may lose their vibrant colors and appear pale or washed out when stressed, a clear sign of discomfort.
  • Erratic Swimming: Look for unusual swimming patterns like darting around the tank or swimming at the surface, indicating distress.
  • Loss of Appetite: A stressed angelfish might show a reduced interest in food or stop eating altogether.
  • Hiding Behavior: Frequent hiding or reluctance to come out, especially in normally active fish, can be a sign of stress.

Here are some ways to help reduce stress in angelfish:

Treating stressed angelfish involves identifying and rectifying the underlying causes of stress. Creating a stable, healthy environment is key to their recovery.

  • Improve Water Quality: Regularly test and maintain optimal water parameters (pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels).
  • Reduce Tank Aggression: If aggression from tank mates is a factor, consider rearranging the tank or separating aggressive fish.
  • Provide Hiding Places: Adding plants or decorations can offer safe hiding spots, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Minimize Disturbances: Keep the tank in a calm area, avoid sudden movements or loud noises, and maintain a consistent light schedule.

Also Read: Stress In Angelfish


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish, known for their distinct shape and color variations, make peaceful and elegant additions to freshwater aquariums.
  • Proper care for angelfish involves attention to tank setup, water conditions, and tank mates to ensure their well-being.
  • Feeding angelfish a balanced diet in appropriate quantities and at the right frequency is crucial for their health.
  • Selecting compatible tank mates based on temperament, size, and water parameters is essential to maintain a harmonious aquarium.
  • Breeding and raising angelfish require specific conditions and monitoring, while being aware of common diseases and stress signs helps maintain their health and vitality.