The first question which popped to my mind when I got my first angelfish was how long do they actually live. Since they bring so much beauty and peace to the tank, I just wanted them to last forever. That was when I began to research that topic a little deeper. The results I found were quite surprising.
Angelfish live up to fifteen years in the wild. However, their lifespan reduces in captivity to approximately 8-10 years. Providing the right temperature (76-82 °F), pH (6.5-7.5), and water hardness (5-13) may prolong their lifespan. However, a stressful environment may lower it radically.
|Scientific name||Average Lifespan||Ideal Temperature|
|Pterophyllum Altum||10 Years||24 – 28 °C (75.2 – 82.4 °F)|
|Pterophyllum Leopoldi||7-8 Years||25 -28 °C (77 – 82.4 °F)|
|Pterophyllum Scalare||5-9 Years||23.9 – 25.6 °C (75 – 78 °F)|
As we move forward in this article, I will present to you a few methods which are likely to make your angelfish live longer. On the other hand, I will share with you some common mistakes to avoid so that their lifespan doesn’t shorten.
How Long do Angelfish Live?
Angelfish are everywhere these days. People love them because they have beautiful bodies with vibrant colors. They also breed quite quickly. If you place a male and female angelfish in a tank, it will take them mere days to produce fry.
That being said, depending on the type you get, angelfish require time and effort to maintain. And that makes people wonder how long they live. They want to know that the resources they expend in rearing and caring for their fish will bear fruit for a long time.
No one wants to pour their heart and soul into the breeding of creatures that die in mere months. They want to know that their pets have years of fun and excitement to offer.
Fortunately, the lifespans of angelfish do not disappoint. Angelfish can live for over 15 years in the wild. Typically, you would expect that figure to decline drastically in captivity. But even in a tank, your angelfish can live for ten years. In fact, that 15-year lifespan can be achieved within the confines of a tank, especially if you make every effort possible to give your angels the best conditions.
Ultimately, the lifespan of an angelfish is tied to its conditions in the tank. The worse the conditions, the shorter the lifespan. The healthier the conditions, the longer the lifespan. This is also true for the size.
The average size of an angelfish is 6 inches. But an angelfish that lives to see its tenth birthday could just as easily reach 12 inches or more. The reverse is also true. Many angelfish only live for a few years, barely exceeding the 6-inch mark because their owners are incapable of providing the appropriate conditions.
How to Make Your Angelfish Live Longer
As a fish owner, you have the power to determine how long your angelfish lives. But how can you exercise that power? To be more specific, what can you do to make your angelfish live longer? Your options include the following:
1. Take Genetics Into Account
The average fish owner can’t account for genetics. Some fish have short lifespans because of their DNA. No amount of proper feeding and care can change that. If you do what you can to give your angels a good life and they still die before hitting the ten-year mark, don’t presume that you did anything wrong.
Sometimes, the fisher owner is to blame. But in other cases, the angelfish had inferior genes that would have prevented it from living longer regardless of the measures you took. But again, the average fish owner cannot account for genetics. There are no physical signs on an angelfish, proving that its genetics will prevent it from living a long life.
You can only keep this consideration in mind. However, you can also take some action. When you purchase your angelfish, buy them from aquariums where the rest of the angels seem quite large. That would increase the chances that your particular one carries the desired genes.
2. Pick The Most Healthy Angelfish
While you cannot identify the genetic quality of an angelfish at a glance, you can undoubtedly determine their physical health by only looking at them. Before you can start worrying about giving your angel the care it needs to live a long life, you must first acquire a high-quality angelfish.
If you don’t have the experience required to differentiate between high-quality and low-quality fish, find a trustworthy fish store, one that has a reputation for selling only the best fish on the market. You can trust such stores to tell you the truth about the quality of the fish you want to buy.
This will also resolve the genetics issue. A decent fish store will only stock angelfish from a healthy gene pool. If you have some experience with angelfish, take the time to study the angels before you buy them. Look for deformities on their bodies, especially the fins. The fins can tell you volumes about the health of an angelfish.
3. Choose The Proper Tank
Once you have a suitable school of angelfish on your hand, find them a decent tank. The size matters. Start with 20 gallons. That is the minimum size. The more angelfish you have on hand, the larger the tank should be.
If you are interested, here is an article I’ve written on how big of a tank do you need for angelfish. I mentioned there a useful technique to calculate the ideal dimensions, depending on the number of angels you possess. Also, if you are looking for a new tank, here are my aquarium kits recommendations. That would save you a lot of time and money down the line and prevent you from making the wrong decisions.
If you can’t afford to buy a generously sized tank, reduce your population of angelfish. You are better off keeping one angel in an aquarium with ample space than multiple angels in a container that will crowd them.
Stuffed tanks induce stress in angelfish. And fear will affect the health of your angels, reducing their lifespan drastically. Try to prioritize aquariums that are tall rather than long. This gives your angels more space to swim comfortably.
Don’t base the size of the tank you wish to buy on the size of angelfish before they mature. Like most creatures, angelfish grow broader with age. A container that was previously large enough to house young angels could become overcrowded once they develop. Consider the angelfish’s adult size whenever you go tank shopping.
4. Maintain Ideal Water Conditions
You cannot hope to maintain the health of your angels or to lengthen their lives without keeping the water in their tank within the appropriate range of parameters. That means providing the right temperature (76 degrees F-82 degrees F), pH (6.5-7.5), and hardness (5-13).
Angels are hardy creatures that can survive slight variations in these parameters. But if your goal is to keep them alive for as long as possible, you shouldn’t force conditions that are not ideal upon them. Maintain the perfect temperature, pH, and hardness, and your angels will reward you by living for many more years.
If you aren’t familiar with water hardness, here is an article I wrote regarding whether angelfish like hard or soft water. I also mentioned there a few simple steps to keep the solutes in the proper concentration. That will have a direct effect on your angelfish’s lifespan.
Also, keep in mind that not all water heaters are ideal for angels. They require a steady water temperature, with minimal fluctuations. Frankly, it took me a while to realize that. Here is an article where I wrote about my ultimate aquarium heater. That was the only one which kept my water steady, without exceeding half a degree upward or downward.
5. Get a Few Plants
Angelfish live in planted locations in the wild. Hence, I encourage you to reproduce these conditions in your tank. That means introducing plants with broad leaves. Angelfish need plants to spawn, and the leaves provide appealing breeding platforms.
They also use plants to hide from enemies. Foliage makes them feel safe, not to mention allowing them to find privacy, escaping the prying eyes of their owners and tank mates. The absence of foliage attracts stress and anxiety in fish, affecting their health and lifespan in the long run.
If you have a say in the matter, you should choose live plants. Artificial plants are more convenient. They don’t require pruning, and neither do they fall prey to diseases. But live plants will keep the tank properly oxygenated.
They can also be trusted to reduce the quantity of waste in the aquarium. If you cannot feed your fish for one reason or another, the angels can just as quickly eat your plants. This will keep them from starving. Live plants are more beneficial even though they require more effort to care for.
Some of the more common varieties include the Amazon sword, which is low maintenance. It has broad leaves, but it doesn’t require much trimming. Java fern grows very slowly, but it offers decent coverage for angelfish. Vallisneria is cheap, but it can become a bush if you treat it appropriately.
Along with Hornwort and Anubias Nana, you should think about the amount of care required and the size when selecting a plant for your tank. Fortunately, suitable plants for angelfish tanks are not that hard to come by. Also, if you are worried, here is an article I wrote on how to prevent your angelfish from eating plants. Make sure you read it before buying expensive vegetation that might be destroyed.
6. Consider Decorations
While angelfish can survive with plants in their tank and nothing else, you are also encouraged to add decorations. You don’t need anything fancy and expensive. Just add some smooth river rocks that won’t snag the fins of your fish.
Their presence will improve the appearance of the tank, giving it a natural look. But angelfish can also use decorations for spawning and hiding. On that matter, I would suggest getting elements that feature similar colors as your angelfish. That would help them camouflage and reduce stress accordingly.
7. Provide The Right Amount of Food
Keep your angelfish adequately fed. This should start from the moment they become free swimmers. Angelfish fry must be fed enough to ensure that they grow into healthy fish. And once they mature, be sure to feed them three times a day.
Give them a decent mix of meat and vegetables. Feed them for 30-60 seconds. The goal is to give them merely as much food as they can consume within that period. It is never a good idea to provide angelfish too much food.
First of all, overfed fish produce too much waste. Waste will corrupt the tank water, changing its parameters. Secondly, overfeeding can make your angels sick. And sick angels don’t live long. Feed them the right amount. If you keep observing uneaten food in the tank after mealtimes, you can conclude that you are giving your angels too much food.
If you feel uncertain, here I wrote about how often you should feed your angelfish. I also went through the ideal portions size and what kinds of food is the most healthy for them. When you are considering lifespan, proper feeding schedules and diet are mandatory.
8. Reduce Stress
As was mentioned above, stress is bad for fish. Stressed angelfish don’t live long. Stress can emanate from sources like underfeeding, overfeeding, full tanks, the presence of ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, diseases, etc. Also, if your angels share an aquarium with violent fish, the constant conflict will also cause stress.
The presence of foliage can reduce such violence by allowing angelfish to hide from their tormentors. But this isn’t a permanent solution. If the tank mates bullying the angels are still present, the stress will persist (even if the angels are hiding successfully behind the plants and decorations you provided).
Sometimes, the best way to extend the lifespan of your angelfish is to take it out of a community aquarium. Keep it in a separate tank with four or five other angelfish where it can leave peacefully. You may also try removing the harassing fish. That is entirely up to your preference.
Common Mistakes That Will Reduce Your Angelfish Lifespan
1. Making Your Angelfish Too Lonely
As I mentioned earlier, you should strive for a peaceful environment for your angelfish. That is particularly true when it comes to aggressive companions. However, the other side of the coin may also present an issue. As I mentioned in a different article, angelfish can get lonely and even depressed.
The most common sign for that is when your angelfish swims at the bottom of the tank. You will also notice that its colors fade, and the stripes might even entirely disappear. It will also avoid eating or at least show less interest in food.
You shouldn’t isolate your angels entirely. That might lessen their lifespan. Instead, try eliminating the stressing factors. If you’ve noticed a larger fish harassing your angel, put it in a different tank while keeping your angelfish with the rest of the tank mates.
2. Your Aquarium Isn’t Properly Lit
Many fish owners believe that light scares their fish. Therefore, they try to limit it and keep it to the minimum. Well, the opposite is right when it comes to angelfish. Obviously, the light changes shouldn’t be abrupt. However, a sufficient amount of illumination will make your angels flourish.
As I previously mentioned in this article, light leads the inner clock of your fish. It allows them to distinguish between day and night, which is crucial. However, angelfish benefit from it more than others because they require vegetation. A sufficient amount of light will allow your plants to thrive, providing oxygen and hiding spots.
3. Not Using an Oxygenator
Water features 95 percent less oxygen, comparing to air. Some fish owners are used to goldfish that can survive in such conditions without any filtration. However, that isn’t the case with angelfish. They need some kind of diffuser to live longer. Reduced oxygen concentration will have a dramatic effect on their lifespan.
If you are interested, here I mentioned how to keep your angelfish properly oxygenated. I also elaborated when diffusers could be dangerous for your angels, and what steps to take to avoid that.
4. The Currents Are Not Well Balanced
Angelfish do like currents, that is a given. That is mainly due to the Amazon Basin, which is their natural habitat. That, in turn, featured a sufficient amount of currents that oxygenate the water and allow the angels to thrive.
However, sometimes the filters or water pumps are placed wrong. That will result in harsh currents that tire your fish and prevent them from reaching the food. Keep in mind that you place the diffusers in a way it doesn’t directly flow on your angels. If you can, create an angle or put them behind decorations. Water currents are essential for angels, although too much of those may lower their lifespan.
Angelfish are lovely creatures that may live up to ten years in captivity. In the wild, they naturally live longer and may reach fifteen years. However, providing the ideal conditions will make it possible to exceed the ten years limit.
The key here is to resemble their natural habitat as much as possible. To do so, you will have to consider factors like water currents, temperature, food, light, and so on. However, sometimes you may do everything right, but genetics will determine the final results.
Even if your angelfish haven’t reached their maximum potential, you shouldn’t give up. It could be that your angels were sick in the first place, or their genes had a lower potential. Either way, keep going until you finally succeed.