Why Is My Angelfish Not Eating? (5 Practical Solutions)

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A while ago, my dad looked after two young Angelfish. At first, everything was fine, but then one fish stopped eating.

We tried different things and looked up information to find out why. This made me want to write this article.

Why do Angelfish stop eating? Is it normal? How can you get them to eat again? And how long can they go without food?

I’m going to talk about all these things here. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Is It Normal for Angelfish to Stop Eating?

No, it is not normal for angelfish to stop eating altogether.

Angelfish are typically voracious eaters and a sudden lack of appetite can be a sign of stress, poor water quality, or illness.

Consistent refusal to eat is unusual and should be monitored closely, as it can indicate underlying health issues.

Why Is My Angelfish Not Eating?

Here are the probable reasons your angelfish may have gone without eating for an extended period:

1. Water Quality Issues

Angelfish are sensitive to water conditions, and poor water quality can lead to a loss of appetite.

A sudden change in parameters such as pH, temperature, or ammonia levels can stress them, impacting their feeding behavior.

  • Toxicity: Elevated levels of ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates can be toxic to angelfish, suppressing their appetite and causing lethargy or gasping for air at the water’s surface.
  • Parameter Fluctuations: Sudden changes in pH or temperature can shock angelfish, leading to stress and reduced interest in food.
  • Identification Tips: Besides appetite loss, look for signs like discoloration, listlessness, or hiding, which often accompany poor water quality.

2. Stress or Environmental Changes

Stress, due to factors like aggressive tank mates or a change in the aquarium setup, can make angelfish refuse food.

It’s essential to ensure a stable, stress-free environment for these sensitive fish.

  • Bullying: If housed with aggressive or fin-nipping fish, angelfish may become stressed and stop eating due to constant harassment.
  • Habitat Disruption: Major changes in the tank, such as rearranging decor or introducing new fish, can stress angelfish, leading to a loss of appetite.
  • Identification Tips: Look for skittish behavior, hiding, or visible signs of injury which can be indicators of stress in angelfish.

Also Read: Stress In Angelfish

3. Disease or Parasites

Angelfish are prone to various diseases and parasitic infections, which can lead to a decrease or cessation in eating.

Common issues include bacterial infections, ich, or internal parasites.

  • Infection Symptoms: Diseases like ich or bacterial infections often result in a loss of appetite, along with visible symptoms like white spots or fin rot.
  • Parasitic Impact: Internal parasites can cause malnutrition and anemia in angelfish, leading to a gradual decrease in food intake.
  • Identification Tips: Besides not eating, look for symptoms like erratic swimming, bloating, or unusual feces, which often accompany diseases or parasites.

4. Inadequate Diet or Feeding Practices

Angelfish require a varied diet, and inadequate or monotonous feeding can lead to a loss of appetite.

They thrive on a mix of flakes, live food, and vegetables, and a lack of diversity can affect their feeding behavior.

  • Nutritional Deficiency: A diet lacking essential nutrients can weaken angelfish, making them less inclined to eat and more susceptible to diseases.
  • Overfeeding Issues: Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and digestive problems, causing angelfish to eat less or refuse food.
  • Identification Tips: Look for signs of bloating or unresponsiveness to different types of food, which can indicate dietary issues.

5. Old Age or Genetic Factors

As angelfish age, their metabolism slows down, and they may eat less.

Additionally, genetic factors can predispose some angelfish to have a weaker appetite or health issues affecting their feeding.

  • Metabolic Changes: Older angelfish might eat less due to a slower metabolism and decreased energy requirements.
  • Genetic Predispositions: Certain genetic traits can make angelfish more prone to health issues that affect appetite, such as swim bladder disorders.
  • Identification Tips: Observe for reduced activity levels and changes in body shape, which can indicate old age or genetic health issues.

Also Read: Why Is My Angelfish Not Moving?

Addressing an Angelfish’s Lack of Appetite

Here are some steps you can take if your angelfish stops eating altogether:

1. Improving Water Quality and Tank Conditions

Ensuring optimal water quality is key to addressing an angelfish’s lack of appetite.

Regular monitoring and maintenance of the tank’s environment can greatly impact their health and feeding behavior.

  • Regular Testing: Perform weekly water tests, maintaining ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, and nitrate below 20 ppm, using reliable aquarium test kits for accurate results. I personally got the API Freshwater Master Test Kit (link to Amazon).
  • Frequent Water Changes: Conduct 25-30% water changes every week, using a gravel vacuum to remove waste and debris, which keeps the water clean and balanced.
  • Proper Filtration: Use a high-quality filter that turns over the tank’s water volume at least 4-5 times per hour, ensuring efficient waste removal and water circulation.
  • Temperature Control: Maintain a stable water temperature between 76-82°F (24-28°C), using an aquarium heater with a thermostat to prevent fluctuations.

Also Read: Angelfish Water Parameters

2. Reducing Stress and Environmental Adjustments

Stress reduction is essential for the health of angelfish. Making careful adjustments to their environment can improve their comfort and encourage normal eating habits.

  • Tank Setup: Provide ample hiding spaces with plants or decorations, creating a natural and secure environment for your angelfish to reduce stress.
  • Lighting and Noise: Maintain a consistent light cycle with about 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, and keep the aquarium in a quiet area to reduce stress.
  • Routine Maintenance: Establish a consistent maintenance routine, avoiding sudden changes in the aquarium that can startle or stress your angelfish.
  • Compatible Tank Mates: Choose peaceful and compatible tank mates to prevent bullying, ensuring your angelfish feels safe and unstressed in its environment.

For example, stick to peaceful species like:

  • Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras spp.)
  • Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)
  • Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)
  • Mollies (Poecilia spp.)
  • Rummy Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus)
  • Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
  • Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus spp.)

On the other hand, avoid aggressive species including:

  • Betta Fish (Betta splendens)
  • Red Tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor)
  • Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
  • African Cichlids (Various species from African lakes)
  • Tiger Barbs (Puntigrus tetrazona)
  • Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata)
  • Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates

3. Treating Diseases and Parasites

Seachem PolyGuard (link to Amazon) is a versatile medication effective against various fish diseases, including those affecting angelfish.

When angelfish exhibit symptoms of disease or parasites, using a product like PolyGuard can be a crucial part of the treatment plan.

  • Effective Against Multiple Issues: PolyGuard is particularly effective in treating fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections, making it a comprehensive choice for a range of illnesses.
  • Dosage and Treatment Duration: Follow the specific dosage instructions on the PolyGuard packaging, typically treating the tank for a period of 5-7 days, or as directed.
  • Water Quality Maintenance: While treating with PolyGuard, continue to monitor and maintain water quality, as medications can affect water parameters; adjust as needed for the health of your fish.
  • Post-Treatment Care: After completing the treatment, perform a water change and consider using activated carbon in the filter to remove any residual medication from the aquarium.

Also Read: Angelfish Diseases

4. Optimizing Diet and Feeding Methods

A balanced and varied diet is crucial for angelfish health. Optimizing feeding methods can stimulate appetite and ensure they receive the necessary nutrients.

  • Varied Diet: Offer a mix of high-quality flakes, frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp, and occasional fresh vegetables, ensuring a balanced intake of nutrients.
  • Feeding Schedule: Feed small amounts 2-3 times a day, allowing the fish to consume all food within a few minutes, preventing overfeeding and maintaining water quality.
  • Observing Eating Habits: Regularly observe your angelfish during feeding to adjust the food type and quantity based on their preference and appetite.
  • Soaking Dry Food: Soak dry food in water for a few minutes before feeding to make it easier to digest, which can be especially beneficial for older or weaker fish.

Also Read: How To Feed Angelfish

5. Special Care for Aging or Genetically Predisposed Fish

Older angelfish or those with genetic predispositions require special attention. Adjusting their care can help manage appetite issues and maintain their health.

  • Adjusted Diet for Seniors: For older angelfish, provide easier-to-digest foods like finely chopped vegetables and soft, high-quality pellets, catering to their slower metabolism.
  • Monitoring Health Closely: Keep a closer eye on aging or genetically predisposed fish for any signs of illness or changes in behavior, allowing for prompt care.
  • Reduced Stress Environment: Ensure a peaceful and stable environment, avoiding drastic changes in the tank setup and maintaining consistent water parameters.
  • Gentle Handling: When necessary, handle aging or sensitive fish with extra care to minimize stress and physical strain, using soft nets and avoiding abrupt movements.

How Often Should You Monitor Your Angelfish Eating Habits?

You should monitor your angelfish’s eating habits daily to ensure they are feeding regularly and maintaining a healthy appetite.

Observing them during feeding times helps in identifying any changes or issues early on.

It’s also important to note their response to different types of food and adjust their diet as needed for optimal health.

Do Tank Mates Affect Angelfish Eating?

Yes, tank mates can significantly affect angelfish eating habits.

Aggressive or overly active tank mates can intimidate angelfish, causing them to eat less or avoid feeding altogether.

It’s important to choose compatible, peaceful companions to ensure a stress-free environment for angelfish.

How Long Can Angelfish Go Without Food?

Angelfish can typically go without food for up to a week, but this is not ideal for their health. 

Prolonged fasting can lead to health issues and a weakened immune system. It’s essential to address any feeding issues promptly to maintain their well-being.

Also Read: Why Is My Angelfish Not Growing?

What Do Angelfish Like to Eat?

Angelfish enjoy a diverse diet that includes both plant and animal-based foods.

They benefit from a mix of high-quality flake food, live or frozen foods, and occasional vegetable matter for a balanced diet.

  • High-Quality Flake Foods: Feed a small pinch of flake food 2-3 times a day, ensuring it’s consumed within a few minutes to prevent overfeeding.
  • Live and Frozen Foods: Offer live or frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp 2-3 times per week, as a protein-rich supplement to their regular diet.
  • Vegetables: Provide small pieces of blanched vegetables like spinach or peas once a week, as a source of fiber and essential nutrients.
  • Varying the Diet: Rotate different types of food throughout the week to maintain nutritional balance and keep the angelfish’s interest in feeding.
Brine shrimp


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish not eating is a serious concern, often due to stress, poor water quality, illness, inadequate diet, or old age.
  • To solve this, improve water quality, reduce stress, treat diseases, optimize diet, and provide special care for aging or genetically predisposed angelfish.
  • Regular monitoring of eating habits and compatible tank mates are crucial for angelfish health.
  • Addressing feeding issues is essential, as angelfish can only safely fast for about a week.
  • Angelfish prefer a varied diet of high-quality flake foods, live/frozen foods, and vegetables for optimal health.