Are Angelfish Difficult to Keep & Care For?

A few days ago, I asked myself whether or not angelfish are difficult to keep. That was right after my friend bought a few, and unfortunately, they haven’t survived in his aquarium. Since I had a different experience with my own, I began researching the internet to see why growing angelfish might be hard. In fact, I’ve spent more than six hours doing so.

Yes, angelfish are difficult to keep since they require a delicate ambiance, which involves choosing the right aquarium substrate, vegetation, and feeding schedule. Also, angelfish are bound to a strict pH range, and their water should be replaced at a precise frequency. 

Nevertheless, it is still possible to grow this species with great success, if you take the necessary steps. Later on this article, I will cover what you should precisely do, and what could happen to your fish if you don’t.

Why Angelfish Are Relatively Difficult to Keep

Although taking care of angelfish could be challenging, there are a few measures you can take to make things easier. I will now elaborate on the possible difficulties which are unique to angelfish and how you should face them.

1. Specific Substrat Requirments

The substrate of the aquarium has much more significance than just aesthetics. It has a direct impact on the filtration process as well as water chemistry.

Needless to say, when you’re trying to create the right ambiance for angelfish, it is essential to choose the right substrate. While some fish may grow with any substrate, angelfish are more delicate. In their case, you should stick to gravel or sand.

Gravel

You might be wondering, is gravel the right choice? Sure enough, it can be a magnet for collecting waste. However, it is also straightforward to clean.

When you think about it, the waste should be attached to the substrate instead of floating in the water. Hence, gravel is one of the primary choices when it comes to angelfish care.

Sand

To understand this choice of substrate, you have to look at the history of angelfish. They are native to the Amazon basin and rivers of South America.[1]Opens in a new tab. Also, the rivers across South America have abundant sand. That is why these fish are more comfortable with the sandy substrate.

2. You Should Use The Right Vegetation

The vegetation is another factor that affects angelfish. If you are familiar with Amazon rainforests, you would know that it consists of ample vegetation.

One of the primary reasons why angelfish flourished in such a vegetative environment was because they had plenty of spots to hide from their natural predators. Due to this very reason, their population thrived.

Even though they are not at the same risk inside an aquarium, they still feel most comfortable when there is ample vegetation around. 

When these are the angelfish’s conditions, they remain stress-free, and as a consequence, thrive inside the aquarium. While many fish aren’t that spoiled about it, angelfish require vertically growing plants that feature broad leaves. 

The plant options can include:[2]Opens in a new tab.

  • Java fern
  • Jungle Vallisneria
  • Water Wisteria
  • Water Sprite

Most of these have broad leaves and grow vertically, which helps angelfish hide behind them and feel as in their natural habitat. When choosing the vegetation, it is always a good idea to add rocks and some driftwood. They provide the fish with a proper place to lay eggs.

Also, once you add these to the aquarium, you can reduce the stress by keeping their habitat similar to their natural one. 

3. They Must Have The Right pH Levels

From my experience, freshwater fish could naturally grow without measuring the precise water pH levels. However, the angelfish I bought got sick when I neglected this factor and died as a consequence. For that reason, I researched the web a little deeper. 

The PH level, which is suitable for angelfish, is between 6 to 8.[3]Opens in a new tab. However, if you want to encourage breeding, the PH level should be exactly 6.8.[4]Opens in a new tab.

The question is, how to ensure the ideal pH level?

PH home testing kits are available with the help of which you can measure the pH levels of the aquarium water. However, you should measure these levels only 24 hours after you fill the aquarium with water.

If the pH levels are in the desired range, you need not worry. However, in case you want to change it, there are a couple of ways to do so.

  • If you want to increase the pH level, you can add things like crushed coral, shells, or even chemicals available for the same purpose.
  • Similarly, there are chemicals available for lowering the pH level, as well. If you want to do it naturally, you can add wood to the aquarium. You can also use a reverse osmosis filter to achieve the desired range. A few other options which can lower the PH level include almond leaves and peat moss.

If the pH level of the aquarium is proper, it will be much easier to grow angelfish for an extended period.

4. Strict Feeding Schedule

Now that the conditions inside the aquarium are perfect, it is time to look after the diet. Angelfish should have a diet consisting of byproducts of meat.[5]Opens in a new tab. That is why you should go with things like:

  • Small insects
  • Shrimp
  • White worms
  • Blood worms

When these are the vital aspect of the diet which you should feed them, but you should also supply them with premium flakes like:

  • Color Flakes
  • Tropical Flakes
  • Tropical Granules

You should not overly rely on a single type of feed. You should stick to mid-water and surface feeds, which will keep them healthy and help them grow at a rapid pace.

Observe Your Angelfish Right After Feeding

Once you start feeding the angelfish regularly, the question which you might often have is, how much should you feed your fish?

The answer lies in observing your fish after feeding it. Only once you watch and find out when the fish stop eating, you can recognize what the right measurements are.

Generally, there are a few rules you can follow. These include:

  • The requirement of live food among the angelfish reduces with age.
  • You should feed young angelfish 3-4 times a day.[6]Opens in a new tab. Once they reach their full-grown size, you can cut it to 2-3 times a day.

You need to remember that even if you’re feeding them excessively, they will consume the food and, as a result, become overweight. 

That is why it is essential to observe the fish and find out when they slow down on the consumption or when they gain weight. Accordingly, you can modify the feeding schedule.

Personally, I observe them at least 15 minutes after feeding them to understand the proper threshold better when it comes to feeding. At least that is what I do when the fish are relatively new. It tells me the limit of feed as per their need rather than as per the schedule.

5. Their Tanks Must be Regularly Cleaned

Many aquarium owners think that once they have installed the filter in the aquarium, their job is over. However, it is not valid.

When you have angelfish in your aquarium, you need to be sure that you clean the water at least once a month. However, angelfish are vulnerable to frequent water replacement, as you will see later on. 

One thing which you need to understand is that you should replace the water in parts. Rather than changing the whole aquarium water, it is better to change only 25% of it, monthly.

Another thing to remember is to check the pH level after replacing the water. It will ensure that the living conditions for the angelfish remain in the ideal range.

What Complications Would Happen to Angelfish Due to Lack of Care?

Now that you are aware of what you need to do to take care of your angelfish, it is essential to understand what can happen in-case you fail to do so. In particular, I will highlight some of the diseases which this species often suffers from due to lack of care.[7]Opens in a new tab.

1. Dropsy

Dropsy is a bacterial infection. In case the immunization system of the angelfish is not up to the mark, it can suffer from this infection. The symptoms include:

  • Protruding eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual scales

The low immunization power can be due to unclean water, improper diet, and excessive stress.

Treatment

Dropsy is treatable only during the initial stages. During the initial phase, you can add antibacterial medicine to the diet of the fish. You need to place them in different tanks consisting of Epsom salts while treating them. Adding 1/8th teaspoon of this salt in 5 gallons of water should do the work.

2. White Spot Disease

White Spot disease, as the name itself suggests, is characterized by white spots on the skin of the fish. The fish also tries to remove the spots by rubbing against various surfaces in the aquarium. The cause of this disease is increased stress as well as frequent changes in the temperature of the water.

Treatment

White spot disease requires anti-parasitic medicine. You can also aid the recovery by raising the water temperature to 86 F.

3. Fin Rot

Fin rot is again a bacterial infection that affects the fins of angelfish. When this infection advances, it makes it difficult for the fish to swim. Also, the fish fins appear as if they are caught. Unclean aquarium conditions are the primary reason for this disease.

Treatment

Fin rot requires you to reduce the fish population, start antibiotic therapy, and change up to 50% water.

4. Herpesvirus Infection

Herpesvirus infection is a result of excessive stress. One of the primary causes of stress is frequent water changes and improper diet. Overcrowding is another cause of this problem.[8]Opens in a new tab.

Treatment

For Herpesvirus infection, clinical medicine is the only solution.

These are some of the common problems which angelfish can suffer from if you fail to look after them. While the treatments for all of these conditions might be different, but the causes are similar.

As long as you take proper care of the angelfish in your aquarium, they won’t suffer from these diseases or medical conditions. That is why I highly suggest you follow my 5 step guide above to take care of angelfish. Once you do so, taking care of angelfish in your aquarium will not be a problem.

What Fish Are Easier Than Angelfish?

If you are a beginner, you probably shouldn’t start with angelfish right away. Unless you are persistent and willing to take the extra steps, you should stick to beginner-friendly freshwater fish instead.

In such a case, you better look for a species that can thrive in a wide range of aquarium conditions, and that would be friendly to other kinds of fish.

From my experience, Neon Tetras and Guppies are a great choice. They usually get along and do not require any additional measures, such as a heater or pH meter. You could also try Mollies, Sword Tails, and Betta Fish[9]Opens in a new tab.. They are widely prevalent and easy to grow.

Nevertheless, do not underestimate relatively easy-to-grow fish. Each kind requires minimal measures to survive, and you should make proper research beforehand either way.

Conclusions

Angelfish are easy to keep and maintain in your aquarium as long as you create the right ambiance, which includes clean water, a healthy diet, and proper vegetation.

The step-by-step guide above will help you ensure that angelfish can thrive as species in your aquarium. Make sure that you follow it strictly so that your beloved fish will be able to thrive in their new, unfamiliar environment.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterophyllum
  2. https://www.aquascapeaddiction.com/articles/best-aquarium-plants-for-angelfish
  3. http://www.thinkfish.co.uk/article/angelfish-fish-species
  4. https://animals.mom.me/proper-ph-range-for-angelfish-12269625.html
  5. https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/freshwater-angelfish/#Freshwater_Angelfish_Care
  6. https://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-an-Angelfish#Feeding-and-Caring-for-Your-Angelfish_sub
  7. https://smartaquariumguide.com/angelfish-diseases-parasites-remedies/
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222350600_Viral_diseases_of_aquarium_fish
  9. https://fishkeepingadvice.com/13-best-freshwater-fish/

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