Angelfish are extremely popular these days, mainly because they are an incredibly beautiful species that are pretty easy to care for.
But what about their semi-aggressive nature? Can they actually attack and even eat other fish from time to time? Which species are more prone to fall victim, and which won’t?
In this article, I’ll discuss all these questions and more, so you leave with all the information you need. Let’s get started.
Can Angelfish Eat Other Fish Species?
Yes, angelfish can and sometimes do eat other fish species, especially if they are small enough to fit into the angelfish’s mouth.
It’s important to choose tank mates wisely to prevent this predatory behavior.
- Susceptible Size: Fish under 2 inches are at risk, as angelfish, which can grow up to 6 inches, often consume species that can easily fit in their mouths.
- Slow Movers: Species with slow or impaired mobility are prime targets; angelfish, being adept swimmers, can easily outmaneuver and prey upon them.
- Color and Fins: Brightly colored or long-finned fish can attract unwanted attention from angelfish, who may nip at or chase these conspicuous tank mates.
- Hiding Inefficiency: Fish that lack the instinct or ability to hide effectively are more likely to be eaten, as angelfish are skilled hunters that exploit poor camouflage.
Based on that, here are some fish species that aren’t likely to be eaten or nibbled by angelfish:
- Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)
- Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus)
- Clown Loach (Chromobotia macracanthus)
- Boeseman’s Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani)
- Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii)
- Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)
- Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus cirrhosus)
- Blue Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus)
On the other hand, here are some fish species that are more delicate and vulnerable to angelfish:
- Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
- Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
- Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
- Fancy Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
- Zebra Danio (Danio rerio)
- Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)
- Endler’s Livebearer (Poecilia wingei)
Also Read: What Do Angelfish Eat?
Do Angelfish Prey on Their Own Kind?
Yes, angelfish can display aggressive behavior towards each other, especially when there is competition for resources or space.
They do not typically eat other healthy, adult angelfish, but may attack and sometimes consume smaller or weaker conspecifics under stress.
- Size Disparity Issues: Adult angelfish can reach up to 6 inches, and larger individuals may see smaller tank mates, under 2 inches, as prey or competitors, leading to aggressive interactions.
- Fry Predation: Newly hatched angelfish, barely measuring a few millimeters, can be eaten by adults if not promptly moved to a separate nursery tank after spawning.
- Breeding Aggression: During the spawning period, angelfish become very protective of their area and may lash out at any intruder, including smaller angelfish, which can result in injury or death.
Is it Common for Angelfish to Consume Their Offspring?
No, it is not uncommon for angelfish to consume their offspring, especially in community tanks where the parents might feel insecure.
Angelfish parents sometimes eat their eggs or fry, particularly if they are inexperienced or stressed.
- First-Time Parenting: Novice angelfish parents, often under a year old, might mistakenly eat their eggs or fry, not recognizing them as their own due to inexperience.
- Stress Response: If the breeding pair feels threatened by tank mates or disturbed by changes in the tank, they may consume their fry, which can number in the hundreds, to start over in a more secure environment.
- Poor Water Conditions: Suboptimal water conditions can lead to stress or confusion, prompting angelfish to eat their eggs or fry instead of caring for them.
Are Angelfish Known to Nibble on the Tails and Fins of Other Fish?
Yes, angelfish are known to sometimes nibble on the tails and fins of other fish, particularly if they are long-finned or slow-moving.
It’s a behavior often observed in community tanks where angelfish are present.
- Fin Nipping Tendency: Angelfish possess a natural predilection for fin nipping, especially in tanks with high competition for food or mates.
- Selective Aggression: Long-finned species like bettas or guppies are most susceptible due to their flowing fins, which are tempting targets for angelfish.
- Stress Response: Overcrowded or stressful conditions can exacerbate fin nipping, as angelfish may display increased aggression when feeling threatened.
- Breeding Behavior: Angelfish are more likely to nip fins during breeding season, as they become territorial and may view tank mates’ fins as intrusions.
Is it Safe to House Angelfish with Different Fish?
Yes, it is safe to house angelfish with different fish species, provided that their size, temperament, and environmental needs are compatible to prevent stress and aggression.
- Size Compatibility: Mid-sized fish that are neither small enough to be prey nor large enough to intimidate angelfish make safe tank mates.
- Temperament Matching: Peaceful to semi-aggressive fish that share a similar temperament to angelfish tend to coexist without incident.
- Environmental Needs: Species with similar water parameter requirements, such as temperature and pH, ensure a harmonious tank where stress is minimized.
What Steps Can I Take to Stop My Angelfish From Attacking Each Other?
To stop your angelfish from preying on each other, you need to manage the tank environment and the fish community carefully.
Proper tank size, structure, and careful observation of fish behavior are key factors.
- Adequate Tank Size: Ensure at least 20 gallons for a pair of angelfish, adding 10 gallons for each additional angelfish to provide enough territory.
- Regular Feeding Schedule: Feed your angelfish 2-3 times a day with high-quality flakes or pellets to satiate them and reduce aggressive hunting behavior.
- Diverse Diet: Incorporate live or frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp to fulfill the angelfish’s natural predatory instincts.
- Sight Barriers: Use plants and decorations to break the line of sight and create separate territories, reducing direct confrontations.
- Harmonious Grouping: Keep angelfish in either a pair or a group large enough to dilute aggression, usually five or more.
- Observation and Isolation: Monitor your angelfish for signs of aggression and be prepared to isolate or rehome the aggressor if necessary.
Tips to Stop Angelfish from Snacking on Their Tank Mates
To deter angelfish from snacking on their tank mates, choose the right community and maintain conditions that minimize stress and aggression.
- Selective Companions: Stock the tank with fish that are fast swimmers and similar in size to your angelfish to reduce the chance of predation.
- Feeding Enrichment: Provide a variety of food, including algae wafers and vegetable flakes, to keep the angelfish well-fed and less interested in tank mates.
- Spacious Layout: A larger tank, with a recommendation of 30 gallons or more, gives smaller fish room to escape and evade the angelfish.
- Plenty of Hiding Spots: Arrange the tank with caves, driftwood, and dense plant life to offer refuges for smaller or timid fish. My recommendation: Majoywoo Natural Driftwood (link to Amazon)
- Stress Minimization: Keep the tank environment stable with consistent water quality and temperature to reduce stress-induced aggression.
- Observation Routine: Regularly watch for signs of nipping and intervene early with additional feedings or tank adjustments if necessary.
Also Read: Do Angelfish Eat Snails?
What’s the Reason Behind Larger Fish Preying on Smaller Ones?
The reason larger fish prey on smaller ones is primarily instinctual, driven by the natural food chain hierarchy in aquatic ecosystems, and the opportunistic feeding behavior of fish.
- Natural Instincts: In the wild, size often determines predator-prey dynamics; larger fish have evolved to see smaller fish as food sources to maintain energy efficiency.
- Opportunistic Feeding: Larger fish are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat whatever fits in their mouth, including smaller fish, to sustain their dietary needs.
- Territorial Dominance: Predation on smaller fish can also be a display of territorial dominance, ensuring the larger fish maintain control over the best habitat and resources.
Here are some common questions fish owners typically have regarding the eating habits of angelfish:
Will Angelfish Eat the Waste of Other Fish?
No, angelfish will not typically eat the waste of other fish. They are primarily carnivorous and their diet does not include waste material, which lacks nutritional value.
- Dietary Preferences: Angelfish prefer a diet of live, frozen, or flake foods high in protein and will generally ignore detritus, including waste from other fish.
- Health Risks: Consuming waste could expose angelfish to harmful bacteria or parasites, posing a risk to their health, which their instincts naturally avoid.
- Cleaning Crew: In a well-maintained aquarium, the cleanup role is often left to other inhabitants such as snails or bottom feeders like catfish, not angelfish.
Also Read: Do Angelfish Eat Fish Poop?
Do Angelfish Feed on Dead Fish?
Yes, angelfish may feed on dead fish, as they are opportunistic eaters and might not distinguish between live prey and carrion.
However, this behavior is not preferred and can be harmful to their health due to the potential for disease and water contamination.
It is important for aquarists to remove deceased fish promptly to prevent such occurrences.
Which Fish Shouldn’t Share a Tank with Angelfish?
Fish that are small, slow-moving, or have long flowing fins should not share a tank with angelfish as they can be seen as prey or may be bullied.
Aggressive fish that may attack or outcompete angelfish for food should also be avoided to prevent conflict.
- Tiny Species: Neon Tetras and other small fish less than 1.5 inches can easily be eaten by angelfish, which can grow up to 6 inches.
- Fancy Finned: Fish like fancy guppies with delicate fins are likely to get their fins nipped by angelfish, leading to stress and potential infections.
- Slow Swimmers: Species that are not quick and agile, such as discus or some types of goldfish, may be stressed or outmaneuvered for food by angelfish.
- Aggressive Fish: Aggressive or territorial species like some cichlids can injure angelfish in conflicts, and thus should not be housed together.
- Bottom Dwellers: Small bottom dwellers, such as dwarf shrimp, may be harassed or eaten by angelfish due to their vulnerable positioning in the tank.
- Similar Shape Competitors: Fish that resemble angelfish, like some cichlids, may trigger territorial aggression from angelfish, leading to fights.
- Fin Nippers: Fish known to nip fins, such as barbs, can stress angelfish by damaging their long, flowing fins, which are a hallmark of the species.
For quick readers, here’s a short summary:
- Angelfish can eat other fish, particularly those small enough to fit in their mouths or those with slow mobility, bright colors, or long fins.
- Suitable tank mates for angelfish include larger, fast-swimming fish that are not easily targeted, like Silver Dollar and Congo Tetra.
- Aggressive behavior and even cannibalism among angelfish can occur, especially towards smaller or weaker individuals, during breeding, or due to stress.
- To maintain peace, angelfish should be housed in spacious, well-structured tanks with compatible fish, and owners should monitor for aggressive behaviors.
- Angelfish’s predatory behavior is instinctual, and while they won’t eat other fish’s waste, they may consume deceased fish, which requires aquarist intervention.