Do Angelfish Care For Their Young? (5 Must-Know Tips)

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Angelfish can be quite tranquil, swimming around the tank without showing any signs of aggression. But how are they as parents?

What if you are expecting a new batch of angelfish eggs to hatch? Can you trust your adult angelfish to take care of their babies? Or should you separate them?

In this article, I’ll discuss all these questions and more, so you leave with all the information you need. Let’s get started.

Do Angelfish Care for Their Young?

Yes, angelfish do care for their young, but their level of care is quite specific and somewhat limited compared to other species.

They exhibit interesting parenting behaviors that are fascinating to observe.

  • Egg Guarding: Angelfish protect their eggs from predators, continuously fanning them to provide oxygen and prevent fungal growth.
  • Pre-Hatching Care: Before hatching, they clean the egg-laying surface, like a leaf or stone, to reduce infection risks and boost survival.
  • Post-Hatching Supervision: Once the fry hatch, angelfish continue to guard them, often herding them around the tank for protection.
  • Feeding Assistance: Initially, angelfish parents may produce a nutritious secretion for the fry to feed on, supporting their early growth.

Also Read: Angelfish Fry Care

How Long Do Angelfish Take Care of Their Young?

Angelfish take care of their young for a relatively short period, typically until the fry become free-swimming, which is about 5 to 7 days after hatching.

During this time, the parents guard the eggs and newly hatched fry, ensuring their safety and providing initial nutrition.

Once the fry start swimming independently, they are often left to fend for themselves, marking the end of parental care.

How to Encourage Angelfish to Care for Their Babies

To encourage angelfish to care for their babies, there are several key factors you should consider to create an ideal environment for both the parents and the fry.

1. Maintain Optimal Water Conditions

Ensuring the right water conditions is critical for the health of angelfish and their ability to care for offspring effectively.

Stable and clean water mimics their natural habitat, promoting instinctual parenting behaviors.

  • Stable Temperature: Keep the aquarium’s temperature consistently between 78-84°F (25-29°C). Use a reliable heater and regularly check the temperature.
  • Regular Water Changes: Perform 10-15% water changes weekly, using a gravel vacuum to remove waste and uneaten food.
  • Balanced pH Levels: Maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, using a pH testing kit and adjusting as necessary. I found the API Freshwater Master Test Kit (link to Amazon) to be incredibly accurate.
API Freshwater Master Test Kit

2. Provide Ample Food Supply

Adequate nutrition is vital for angelfish parents and their fry. A well-fed angelfish is more likely to exhibit strong parenting behaviors and produce healthier offspring.

  • High-Quality Diet: Feed angelfish high-quality flakes or pellets twice daily, ensuring they contain essential nutrients. I personally use these TetraCichlid Cichlid Flakes (link to Amazon).
  • Variety in Diet: Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms for added nutrition.
  • Feeding Fry: Provide newly hatched fry with specialized fry food or finely crushed flakes to ensure proper growth.

3. Ensure a Stress-Free Environment

A calm and stress-free environment is essential for angelfish to successfully care for their young. Minimizing disturbances helps in fostering a safe space for the fry to grow.

  • Adequate Hiding Spots: Include plants and decorations to create hiding spots, giving both parents and fry places to retreat.
  • Limit Tank Traffic: Keep the area around the aquarium peaceful, avoiding loud noises or sudden movements.
  • Consistent Light Cycles: Maintain regular lighting schedules, mimicking natural day and night cycles to reduce stress.

4. Isolate the Breeding Pair

Isolating the breeding pair of angelfish is a crucial step in ensuring they can effectively care for their offspring.

It prevents other tank mates from disturbing them or preying on their eggs and fry.

  • Separate Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank, about 20-30 gallons, to provide a peaceful environment for the pair.
  • Gradual Transition: Move the pair gently to the breeding tank to reduce stress, using a net or suitable container.
  • Monitor Health: Regularly check the breeding pair for signs of stress or illness, ensuring they remain healthy to care for their fry.

5. Offer Suitable Breeding Substrates

Providing appropriate breeding substrates in the tank can encourage natural spawning behaviors and facilitate better care of the young.

Angelfish prefer to lay their eggs on flat surfaces.

  • Flat Surfaces: Include items like broad leaves, flat stones, or slate pieces where angelfish can lay eggs. My recommendation: AQUA Angelfish Breeding Cone (link to Amazon).
  • Clean and Accessible: Ensure these surfaces are clean and easily accessible for the angelfish to lay and guard their eggs.
  • Strategic Placement: Position these substrates in quieter areas of the tank, away from strong currents or bright lights.

Do Angelfish Make Good Parents?

Angelfish parenting skills can be quite varied, with some showing excellent care and others exhibiting less favorable behaviors.

It’s a balance of instinctive nurturing and situational responses that define their role as parents.

  • Learning Curve: New angelfish parents often struggle with their first few batches of fry, sometimes eating them due to inexperience or stress.
  • Environment-Dependent: The quality of care can significantly diminish if the tank conditions are not optimal, leading to stress-induced neglect or aggression.
  • Selective Care: In larger community tanks, angelfish might not always effectively protect their fry from other fish, leading to a higher risk of the fry being eaten.
  • Parental Variability: Some angelfish pairs are naturally better at parenting, displaying consistent care across multiple breeding cycles, while others never fully adapt to their parental role.

What Percentage of Angelfish Fry Survive?

The survival rate of angelfish fry can vary greatly, typically ranging from 5% to 30%, depending on various factors like tank conditions and parental care.

In optimal conditions with experienced parents, the survival rate can be on the higher end, but it often falls due to common challenges.

  • Parental Experience: Experienced angelfish parents tend to have higher fry survival rates, sometimes up to 30%, compared to inexperienced parents who might have lower rates.
  • Tank Conditions: Ideal water parameters and cleanliness can boost survival rates, but poor conditions can drastically reduce them, often below 10%.
  • Predation Risk: In community tanks, the risk of fry being eaten by other fish is high, significantly lowering survival rates.
  • Disease and Stress: Common issues like fungal infections or high stress levels in the tank can lead to a steep decline in fry survival, often causing most to perish.

Also Read: How To Keep Angelfish Fry Alive?

When Should I Separate Parent Angelfish from Their Fry?

You should consider separating parent angelfish from their fry when signs of stress, aggression, or neglect become evident, typically about a week after the fry start free-swimming.

This separation helps ensure the safety and better care of the fry, especially if the parents start exhibiting harmful behaviors.

  • Aggressive Behavior: If you notice the parents becoming aggressive towards each other or the fry, it’s time to separate them to prevent harm.
  • Fry Being Eaten: In cases where parents start eating their fry, immediate separation is necessary to save the remaining offspring.
  • Overcrowding Stress: When the tank becomes too crowded, causing stress for both parents and fry, separation can alleviate this and promote healthier growth.
  • Fry Independence: Once the fry are free-swimming and begin to feed independently, they can be separated to ensure better survival chances in a controlled environment.

When Can I Introduce the Babies to the Community Tank?

You can introduce angelfish fry to a community tank once they are large enough to not be considered prey by other tank inhabitants, typically when they reach about half an inch in size.

This usually occurs around 6 to 8 weeks of age, depending on the growth rate and conditions in their current tank.

Before introduction, it’s crucial to acclimate the fry gradually to the community tank’s conditions to minimize stress and ensure a smooth transition.


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish exhibit specific parenting behaviors like egg guarding and feeding assistance, but their care is limited compared to other species.
  • Angelfish care for their young for about 5 to 7 days post-hatching, after which the fry are left to fend for themselves.
  • Creating an ideal breeding environment with stable water conditions, ample food, and stress-free surroundings encourages angelfish to care for their offspring.
  • Angelfish parenting skills vary, with some showing excellent care and others less so, depending on environmental conditions and experience.
  • The survival rate of angelfish fry varies greatly, influenced by factors like parental experience, tank conditions, and predation risk.