Do Angelfish Need Hiding Spots? (With 7 Creative Ideas)

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Angelfish are pretty straightforward, and arranging their tank isn’t too complicated. However, one question I often get is whether they actually need hiding spots, and if so, what kinds.

Do angelfish need hiding spots? Can they do just fine without them? How do you arrange them properly? And what would be the cost of all that?

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

Do Angelfish Need Hiding Spots?

Yes, angelfish do need hiding spots. Providing such spaces can significantly enhance their well-being and health.

  • Natural Behavior: In the wild, angelfish use plants and other structures to hide from predators and rest. Mimicking this environment helps reduce their stress.
  • Territorial Needs: Angelfish can be territorial, especially during breeding. Hiding spots allow them to establish territories and reduce aggressive confrontations.
  • Breeding Privacy: When angelfish breed, they prefer secluded areas. Hiding spots can provide the necessary privacy, increasing breeding success rates.
  • Stress Reduction: A clutter-free aquarium can be overwhelming. Having hiding places offers a refuge, reducing the chances of stress-related illnesses and improving their lifespan.

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Setup

Hiding Spots Ideas for Your Angelfish

Here’s how to create engaging and effective hiding spots for your Angelfish:

1. Driftwood Arches

Driftwood arches not only provide a naturalistic touch to the aquarium, but they also offer Angelfish a comfortable spot to hide and rest.

With their unique shapes and grooves, these arches can be a focal point of the tank and a haven for your fish.

  • Natural Aesthetics: Driftwood mimics the natural environment of Angelfish, making them feel at home. A piece can range from $10 to $50, depending on size and intricacy.
  • Stability for Plants: Driftwood can serve as an anchor for moss and other plants, enhancing the aquarium’s look. Tie Anubias or Java Fern for a picturesque scene.
  • Water Conditioning: Some driftwoods can release tannins, slightly acidifying water which can be beneficial for some tropical fish. However, always monitor your water parameters.

My recommendation: Zoo Med Tag Mopani Wood (link to Amazon).

2. Broad Leafed Plants

Broad leafed plants like Amazon Sword or Anubias offer large surfaces for Angelfish to lay behind.

These plants are not just for aesthetics; they provide essential hiding spots that make Angelfish feel safe and secure.

  • Spacious Leaves: With broad leaves, these plants offer Angelfish an immediate refuge. Depending on the variety, costs may vary from $3 to $15 per plant.
  • Easy Arrangement: Position them near the back or sides of the tank, allowing fish easy access while maintaining an organized layout.
  • Natural Breeding Ground: Angelfish often choose the undersides of these leaves for laying eggs, promoting natural breeding behaviors.

Also Read: Aquarium Plants for Angelfish

3. Rock Caves

Rock caves, when properly arranged, can serve as excellent hideaways for Angelfish. These structures are versatile and can be both a decorative and functional element in the tank.

  • Diverse Options: You can find pre-made rock caves or DIY with slate or lava rocks. Costs vary, but expect to spend $5 to $30 based on size and complexity.
  • Flexible Design: Stack rocks in a stable manner to create multiple hiding spots, making sure there are no sharp edges that might injure the fish.
  • Temperature Regulation: Rock caves can offer cooler spots in the tank, which might be appreciated during warmer periods. Always ensure there’s good water flow around them.

My recommendation: Reptile Rock Hide Cave (link to Amazon).

4. Ceramic Hideouts

Ceramic hideouts are a fantastic addition, providing both aesthetic appeal and a safe refuge for Angelfish.

Being non-toxic and inert, they don’t alter water chemistry, ensuring a safe environment for your aquatic buddies.

  • Varied Shapes and Sizes: Ceramic hideouts come in a plethora of designs, from caves to logs. Prices range from $5 to $40, depending on detail and size.
  • Neutral Aesthetics: Their neutral colors blend seamlessly with other decorations. Place them among plants or near driftwood to integrate them into the tank landscape.
  • Easy Maintenance: Ceramic is simple to clean and doesn’t decay over time, ensuring a long-lasting hideout for your Angelfish.

My recommendation: JIHAQUA Aquarium Ceramic Cave (link to Amazon).

5. Floating Plants


Floating plants like Water Lettuce or Frogbit create a shaded sanctuary at the water’s surface, which Angelfish might appreciate.

They provide an extra layer of cover and enhance the tank’s overall environment.

  • Natural Cover: Floating plants offer a shaded region, replicating natural river conditions. These plants typically range from $2 to $10 for a bunch.
  • Beneficial for Water Quality: These plants absorb excess nutrients, which can combat algae growth, keeping the tank healthier.
  • Self-propagating: Floating plants often reproduce rapidly, so start with a few and let them multiply to provide ample cover.

6. PVC Pipe Sections

PVC pipes, while not the most natural-looking, offer a cost-effective and efficient hiding solution. They’re especially useful for breeding tanks or quarantine setups.

  • Affordable Solution: A foot-long section of PVC can be as cheap as $2 to $5, making it an economical choice.
  • Customizable Sizes: Pipes can be cut to desired lengths to fit specific tank needs. Arrange them horizontally or vertically for varied hiding spaces.
  • Easy to Clean: PVC is non-porous and doesn’t harbor bacteria as easily. Simply remove and rinse as needed.

7. Terracotta Pots

A favorite among aquarists, terracotta pots are versatile and provide an earthy touch to the aquarium setting. Angelfish can use them as hiding spots or even breeding sites.

  • Economical and Accessible: A standard pot can range from $1 to $10, and they’re readily available at garden centers.
  • Design Flexibility: You can lay them on their sides or bury them partially in the substrate. Just ensure the hole at the bottom is sealed or small enough to prevent fish from getting stuck.
  • Natural Texture: Terracotta provides a rough surface, which can be useful for beneficial bacteria colonization, aiding in the tank’s biological balance.

My recommendation: 4 Inch Terracotta Pots (link to Amazon).

Why Is My Angelfish Always Hiding?

If your Angelfish is always hiding, it’s typically a sign of stress or discomfort in its environment.

Various factors, ranging from water conditions to tank mates, can trigger such behavior, and it’s essential to pinpoint and rectify the underlying issue.

  • Water Quality Issues: Fluctuations in parameters like pH, ammonia, or nitrite levels can stress fish. Regularly test the water, aiming for a pH of 6.5-7.5 and zero ammonia and nitrite for Angelfish.
  • Aggressive Tank Mates: Some fish species can bully or chase Angelfish. Observe interactions and consider separating aggressive individuals or choosing more compatible species.
  • Inadequate Hiding Spots: Angelfish need hiding spots to feel secure. Ensure you have ample plants, caves, or driftwood, especially in a community tank.
  • Bright Lighting: Excessively bright or prolonged lighting can be stressful. Try to mimic natural daylight cycles, using dimmable lights or floating plants to diffuse intensity.
  • Illness or Parasites: A sick fish often seeks refuge. Check for visible signs like spots, faded colors, or erratic swimming and consider consulting a vet or fish expert.

Also Read: Best Substrate For Angelfish

How to Tell if Your Angelfish Is Hiding Because It Is Stressed

Determining if your Angelfish is hiding due to stress involves keen observation and understanding its typical behavior.

While hiding can be a natural behavior at times, prolonged seclusion coupled with other signs often indicates stress.

  • Erratic Swimming: Stressed Angelfish might dart around the tank or swim aimlessly. Such behavior, especially near the surface, could suggest water quality issues.
  • Color Fading: A stressed Angelfish can display faded or darkened colors. Healthy Angelfish should have vibrant, consistent coloring without sudden changes.
  • Loss of Appetite: If your Angelfish refuses to eat or shows diminished interest in food, it’s often a stress indicator. Ensure you’re feeding a varied, balanced diet and note any prolonged fasting.
  • Visible Signs of Distress: Look for clamped fins, rapid breathing, or spots on the body. These can suggest illness, parasites, or severe environmental stressors.

Tips for Reducing Stress in Angelfish

Reducing stress in Angelfish is essential for their health and longevity.

By understanding and meeting their needs, you can create a calm, stable environment that promotes their well-being.

  • Stable Water Conditions: Regularly test the water. Aim for a pH of 6.5-7.5, temperature of 78-82°F (25-28°C), and keep ammonia and nitrite levels at zero.
  • Soft Lighting: Too bright lights can stress them. Use dimmable lights or maintain a 10-12 hour light cycle, incorporating floating plants to diffuse excess brightness.
  • Provide Hiding Spots: Offer multiple hideaways like plants, caves, or driftwood. This allows them to seek refuge and feel secure in their environment.
  • Maintain a Calm Environment: Avoid sudden movements or loud noises around the tank. When making changes inside the tank, do so gradually and with minimal disruption.
  • Compatible Tank Mates: Choose peaceful co-inhabitants. Avoid known aggressors like some cichlids or barbs, and always research compatibility before adding new fish.

Do Angelfish Need Caves?

No, Angelfish don’t necessarily require caves, but they do appreciate hiding spots in their environment.

While caves can be a good addition, there are other alternatives that Angelfish might find just as comforting.

  • Natural Instinct: In the wild, Angelfish use plants and other structures for shelter. Caves mimic these natural hideaways in captivity.
  • Breeding Behavior: When breeding, Angelfish like to have secluded spots. Caves can provide the necessary privacy and protection during this time.
  • Stress Reduction: Having a place to retreat can help reduce stress, especially in community tanks where there might be more active or aggressive fish.

Do Angelfish Need Lots of Room?

Yes, Angelfish do require ample room because of their size and temperament. As they mature, sufficient space is vital for free swimming and properly arranged hiding spots.

  • Tank Size: A pair of adult Angelfish need at least 30 gallons. For more or community setups, opt for larger tanks.
  • Vertical Space and Arrangement: Aim for tanks 18 inches high or taller. Position hiding spots at various levels, leaving the center and front open for swimming.
  • Balancing Hiding Spots: Hiding spots are key, but don’t overcrowd. Ensure open spaces between plants, driftwood, and caves to reduce territorial issues.


For those of you who are just skimming through, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish benefit from hiding spots for stress reduction, breeding privacy, and mimicking their natural environment.
  • Creative hiding ideas for Angelfish include driftwood arches, broad leafed plants, rock caves, ceramic hideouts, floating plants, PVC pipe sections, and terracotta pots.
  • If an Angelfish is constantly hiding, it could indicate stress or discomfort from factors like water quality, aggressive tank mates, inadequate hiding spots, or illness.
  • Signs an Angelfish is stressed include erratic swimming, color fading, loss of appetite, and visible signs of distress.
  • Angelfish don’t necessarily need caves but do appreciate various hiding spots; they also require ample room, with adult pairs needing at least 30-gallon tanks.