Why Is My Angelfish Not Moving? (5 Effective Solutions)

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Recently, I noticed my angelfish was less active, just lying at the bottom of the tank. It didn’t move, no matter what I did.

Initially, I didn’t worry too much, but as time passed, my concern for my fish’s well-being grew. This led me to search for more information.

In this article, I’m going to discuss why angelfish might become inactive, how to address this problem, and the signs that suggest your angelfish could be stressed or in trouble.

Let’s get started.

Is Not Moving in Angelfish Normal?

Not moving in angelfish is not typically normal and can be a sign of stress or illness. Healthy angelfish are usually moderately active, gracefully swimming around the aquarium.

It’s important to monitor water quality and observe any other symptoms to ensure the well-being of your angelfish.

Why Isn’t My Angelfish Moving?

There could be a couple of reasons behind an angelfish that stopped swimming. Here’s what you should know:

1. Water Quality Issues

Water quality is a fundamental aspect of fish health, and poor water conditions can severely impact an angelfish’s well-being.

Angelfish are sensitive to changes in their environment, making water quality paramount for their health.

  • Ammonia and Nitrite Levels: Elevated levels of ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish, leading to lethargy and immobility. Prolonged exposure can cause severe stress and even death.
  • Incorrect pH Balance: Angelfish thrive in a specific pH range (6.8-7.8), and deviations can cause stress, leading to reduced movement and activity.
  • Identification Tip: Look for signs like rapid gill movement or discoloration of the water, which indicate water quality issues beyond just the lack of movement.

2. Parasitic Infections

Parasites are a common issue in aquarium fish and can lead to various health problems, including decreased mobility.

Angelfish are susceptible to several types of parasitic infections.

  • Energy Depletion: Parasites feed on the host’s nutrients, draining the angelfish’s energy and resulting in reduced movement or lethargy.
  • Physical Impairment: Some parasites, like anchor worms, physically impair the fish by attaching to their body, hindering their ability to swim normally.
  • Identification Tip: Apart from immobility, look for symptoms like white spots, frayed fins, or unusual spots on the body indicating a parasitic infection.

3. Bacterial Diseases

Bacterial infections can be serious in angelfish, leading to various symptoms including a decrease in mobility. These diseases often require prompt attention and treatment.

  • Systemic Infection: Bacterial diseases can affect the internal organs, leading to systemic infection and weakness, hence reducing the fish’s mobility.
  • Muscular Damage: Some bacteria cause muscular damage, which directly impacts the angelfish’s ability to move or maintain buoyancy.
  • Identification Tip: Check for symptoms like ulcers, swollen eyes, or abnormal growths on the body, which are indicative of bacterial infections besides lack of movement.

4. Stress or Environmental Changes

Stress in angelfish can be triggered by environmental changes, impacting their behavior and movement.

Even small changes in their environment can cause significant stress, leading to decreased activity.

  • Abrupt Changes: Sudden changes in temperature, lighting, or water flow can cause stress, leading to a noticeable decrease in the angelfish’s movement and activity.
  • Territorial Disputes: Introduction of new fish or changes in the aquarium setup can lead to territorial stress, causing the angelfish to become less active and more secluded.
  • Identification Tip: Besides reduced movement, look for signs like hiding, loss of appetite, or clamped fins, which are indicative of stress due to environmental changes.

Also Read: Stress In Angelfish

5. Nutritional Deficiencies

Proper nutrition is crucial for the health and activity level of angelfish. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to a variety of health issues, including reduced mobility.

  • Lack of Energy: Insufficient or imbalanced diet leads to a lack of energy, manifesting as reduced swimming activity and general lethargy in the angelfish.
  • Muscle Weakness: Deficiencies in essential nutrients like proteins and vitamins can cause muscle weakness, directly affecting the fish’s ability to move effectively.
  • Identification Tip: Other than lack of movement, observe for signs like thinning, fading colors, or a sunken abdomen, which indicate nutritional deficiencies in the angelfish.

Also Read: Angelfish Laying On Its Side

How to Help an Angelfish That Stopped Moving

To help your angelfish swim normally again, please follow these steps:

1. Improving Water Quality and Conditions

Optimal water quality is crucial for angelfish health. Regular monitoring and adjustments are key to maintaining a healthy environment.

  • Regular Water Testing: Use an aquarium test kit weekly to maintain ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, nitrate below 20 ppm, and pH within 6.8-7.8, adjusting as needed. My recommendation: API Freshwater Master Test Kit (link to Amazon).
  • Frequent Water Changes: Perform 25-30% water changes every week, using dechlorinated water at the same temperature as the tank to minimize stress and remove toxins.
  • Proper Filtration: Install a filter rated for at least 1.5 times your tank’s volume, and clean or replace the filter media every 3-4 weeks to ensure optimal water cleanliness.
  • Temperature Consistency: Maintain a stable temperature between 76-82°F, using an adjustable aquarium heater, and monitor daily with a reliable thermometer.

Also Read: Angelfish Water Parameters

2. Treating Parasitic Infections

Addressing parasitic infections promptly is vital for the health of angelfish, as these can severely impact their movement and general well-being.

  • Identification and Diagnosis: Observe for symptoms like white spots or frayed fins and use a magnifying glass for closer inspection; consult a vet or aquatic specialist for accurate diagnosis.
  • Medication Treatment: Administer Coppersafe (link to Amazon) following the manufacturer’s instructions, typically one teaspoon (5 ml) per 4 gallons of water, to treat parasites effectively.
  • Duration of Treatment: Maintain the treatment for at least one month as Coppersafe remains active in the water for this period, ensuring the complete eradication of parasites.
  • Water Condition Adjustment: Ensure the tank’s pH is between 7.0 and 8.0, as Coppersafe is most effective in this range, and avoid using carbon filters during treatment.

Also Read: Angelfish Diseases

3. Addressing Bacterial Diseases

Bacterial diseases can be detrimental to angelfish, often resulting in reduced movement. Prompt and appropriate treatment is essential for recovery.

  • Accurate Diagnosis: Look for symptoms like ulcers or abnormal growths; a sample of tank water and a photograph of the affected fish can help a vet diagnose the specific bacterial disease.
  • Appropriate Treatment: Apply PolyGuard (link to Amazon) according to the instructions, typically one measure (included) per 10 gallons of water, ensuring effective bacterial disease treatment.
  • Treatment Duration: Treat for a period of 5-7 days, and if necessary, a second treatment can be administered after a 48-hour break to fully address the infection.
  • Post-Treatment Care: After completing the treatment, perform a water change and use activated carbon to remove residual medication, ensuring a return to a healthy environment.

4. Reducing Stress and Environmental Stability

Stress reduction is crucial for angelfish, as stress can cause lethargy and decreased movement.

  • Consistent Environment: Keep water temperature stable at 76-82°F and lighting consistent; sudden changes can stress angelfish, leading to inactivity.
  • Adequate Hiding Spaces: Arrange plants and decorations to create hiding spots, offering security and reducing stress-induced immobility in the angelfish.
  • Limit Handling and Disturbances: Minimize tank cleaning frequency and avoid unnecessary handling to prevent stress, which can lead to decreased movement in angelfish.
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Choose tank mates carefully, avoiding aggressive or overly active species; compatible companions can reduce stress and encourage normal activity in angelfish.

For example, stick to calm species like:

  • Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras spp.)
  • Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)
  • Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus cirrhosus)
  • Rummy-Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus)
  • Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
  • Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)
  • Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

On the other hand, avoid species that can stress your angelfish, including:

  • Tiger Barb (Puntigrus tetrazona)
  • Red Tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor)
  • Betta Fish (Betta splendens)
  • African Cichlids (Various species within Cichlidae family)
  • Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
  • Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
  • Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus)

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates

5. Enhancing Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet is essential for the overall health and activity level of angelfish.

  • Varied Diet: Feed a mix of high-quality flakes, frozen foods like bloodworms, and occasional live food to ensure a balanced diet, promoting activity and health.
  • Regular Feeding Schedule: Feed small amounts 2-3 times daily; overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and health issues, affecting angelfish movement.
  • Nutrient-Rich Foods: Include foods high in vitamins and proteins; these nutrients are crucial for muscle development and overall vitality, encouraging movement. I personally use the Seachem Nourish (link to Amazon).
  • Observation of Eating Habits: Regularly observe eating habits; changes can indicate health issues, impacting mobility and requiring adjustments in diet or care.

Also Read: How To Feed Angelfish

Other Signs Indicating Your Angelfish Is Stressed

Recognizing signs of stress in angelfish is crucial for their well-being, as stress can lead to health issues and behavioral changes.

Apart from the lack of movement, there are other indicators that your angelfish might be experiencing stress.

  • Loss of Appetite: A stressed angelfish often shows a decreased interest in food, ignoring even their favorite meals, which can lead to weight loss and weakened immunity.
  • Color Changes: Stress can cause angelfish to lose their vibrant colors, leading to a pale or washed-out appearance, which is a clear sign of discomfort or distress.
  • Frequent Hiding: If your angelfish spends most of its time hiding behind plants or decorations, avoiding other fish, it’s likely feeling stressed or threatened in its environment.
  • Clamped Fins: Angelfish with clamped fins, where they hold their fins close to their body instead of spreading them, indicate discomfort and stress in their current surroundings.

Also Read: Why Is My Angelfish Not Eating?

Do Angelfish Have Seasonal Changes in Movement and Activity?

Yes, angelfish can experience seasonal changes in movement and activity.

During colder months, they may become less active due to lower water temperatures, mimicking the natural decrease in activity seen in many fish during winter.

Conversely, in warmer seasons, their activity levels can increase as the water temperature rises, making them more energetic and lively.


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Inactivity in angelfish is abnormal and can indicate stress or illness, necessitating close monitoring of water quality and other symptoms.
  • Common causes of immobility include poor water conditions, parasitic infections, bacterial diseases, environmental stress, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • To address these issues, improve water quality, treat parasitic and bacterial infections, reduce stress, and enhance diet and nutrition.
  • Signs of stress in angelfish, besides lack of movement, include loss of appetite, color changes, frequent hiding, and clamped fins.
  • Seasonal changes can also affect angelfish movement; they may be less active in colder months and more energetic in warmer seasons.