Do Angelfish Eat Plants? (With 8 Examples)

I love having plants in my aquarium. However, quite often, I’ve noticed my fish nibble on them until they are eventually destroyed. Since I am a fan of angelfish, I began asking myself: do angelfish eat plants? Will they be an issue in my tank? That was when I started to research and read what other people had experienced. In fact, I have spent half a day doing so.

Angelfish do eat plants, particularly when they are bored, malnourished, or used to eating vegetables. However, plants serve angelfish primarily for hiding and egg-laying during their breeding phase. Therefore, comparing to other kinds of fish, they are less likely to eat plants.

If you wish to decorate your tank, I will list in this article eight types of plants that angelfish aren’t likely to eat. I will also present the possibility of using fake plants. Eventually, I’ll show you what kinds of fish you shouldn’t be introducing if you wish to keep your vegetation intact. 

Will Angelfish Eat Plants?

Angelfish can eat plants. But this isn’t a common occurrence. 

Angelfish love plants. In fact, an angelfish tank isn’t complete until you have added some plants. Freshwater angelfish are accustomed to tropical locations, so plants and vegetation are quite common in the habitats they frequent in the wild.

Angelfish use plants as a hiding place. They will hide from predators or in ambush as they prepare to attack other creatures. So they are not in the habit of eating plants. However, they do take advantage of them. That being said, as was mentioned above, angelfish can still eat plants.

Most angelfish enthusiasts have seen their angelfish nibble on their plants on more than one occasion. A select few will tell you that their angelfish always destroy every plant they insert. 

The factors driving angelfish to attack plants will vary.

In some cases, they are merely bored. Some people will encourage you to solve this problem by introducing new angelfish to the aquarium. The idea is to keep your pre-existing angelfish distracted. But others believe that, in such cases, the new angelfish will simply learn to eat your plants from the old angelfish.

“Angelfish will sometimes destroy plants. It’s not necessarily diet, sometimes it’s just boredom. You might try getting your angel a buddy…”

Mangala, plantedtank.net

You will hear people suggest that diet matters. Certain angelfish will turn to plants if their meals do not include all the components they require to live healthy lives. In the absence of flakes and pellets, they will consume the plants.

“Angels as they are maturing try a lot of things once, and in the case of plants may need something they aren’t getting from the food.”

SnakeIce, aquaticplantcentral.com

It has also been suggested that young angelfish tend to experiment. Every so often, they will nibble on the plants in the tank out of sheer curiosity. All this is speculation, presumptions generated by people who started looking for explanations after angelfish destroyed their plants.

If you spend enough time trawling the internet, you will find more than one breeder who believes that angelfish can be unintentionally taught to lust after plants.

For instance, if you start feeding them vegetables, and then you stop, if they have developed a taste for the stuff, they will turn to the plants in the aquarium as a substitute. 

Do angelfish eat plants? Yes, but only in a few cases. Nobody knows why. Plants are not necessarily a staple for them.

Plants That Angelfish Probably Avoid Eating

Healthy angelfish require plants. You cannot avoid them. It isn’t merely a matter of providing them a hiding place, though, that is definitely important. Plants can help the creatures feel safe.[1]Opens in a new tab. But even more importantly, plants provide viable surfaces for angelfish to lay eggs.

If you don’t have them, start making plans to add plants to your aquarium. If you are looking for plants that will not only benefit angelfish but which they are also unlikely to eat, consider the following:

1. Amazon Sword

Every fish owner who wants to breed angelfish must get some Amazon sword plants in his aquarium.[2]Opens in a new tab. They have long leaves that provide the perfect surface for your fish’s eggs, particularly if the plant is positioned in front of another taller species that will protect it.

The Amazon sword plant doesn’t require much. The key is to anchor the roots well while leaving the crown free above the substrate. Amazon sword plants can grow up to 20 inches with the right care. 

If you have enough light in the tank, they will also flourish, so much that you might have to trim them regularly to keep them under control. As far as suitable plants for your fish are concerned, you cannot go wrong with the Amazon Sword.

2. Water Sprite 

The water sprite plant grows slowly. This is one of its advantages. It can reach 13 inches in height. So you should keep the size of your tank in mind before deciding to introduce it. But it grows at such a slow pace that you won’t have a problem keeping it under control with some trimming.

The plant is popular because it has long, narrow, leafy stems that form a thick wall. This is attractive to angelfish because they can swim through it to hide. It gives them privacy when they need it, especially if they want to lay eggs away from prying eyes. The Water Sprite plant will encourage breeding, keeping your new angelfish eggs and fry safe. 

3. Java Fern

The Java fern is another slow-growing species, so you don’t have to worry about the plant running amok. It can reach 13 inches in height. So you need to trim it accordingly if your tank lacks the necessary space to contain it.

The Java fern has thin leaves. So angelfish appreciate it because they can swim through the leaves with relative ease. 

That being said, the leaves are hardy enough to support angelfish eggs during mating. Some angelfish can rest of them if the need arises. The plant is firm and leathery, capable of surviving in a variety of conditions.

If you let the plant get big enough, your fish can use it to hide. So it serves various purposes. The plant is a decent match for tanks with both angelfish and driftwood because it can be attached to the driftwood. 

4. Wisteria

Unlike the Java Fern, you can’t just tie the water wisteria to some driftwood. You must root it in the gravel. Because it can reach 20 inches in size, this is one of those plants that is best utilized in a larger space. But plenty of people have chosen to plant water wisteria in smaller tanks. They make an effort to trim it regularly. 

Angelfish love the plant because it has bright green leaves (with narrow protrusions) that provide adequate hiding places, especially if you give them the space to grow taller. 

The leaves will hold and hide angelfish eggs, keeping them protected from any threats that might want to consume them. Make sure you have plenty of light. Wisteria plants need a lot of it to mature and to maintain their health. 

5. Anubias Nana

If you are looking for a plant for your fish to swim through – those above will do. If you want a plant to cover the front of the tank merely, you might as well go with Anubias Nana. It will immediately catch your eye.

You can plant it in the substrate if you want, but it will also float if that is your preference. However, that isn’t the aspect that sets it apart. People tend to notice Anubias Nana because it looks a lot like the plants that grow on land. It doesn’t have the grass-like appearance for which most water plants are known. 

Angelfish might not necessarily swim through it, but they can still use it for cover. So they will value the plant all the same. Make sure you expose the plant to light. Otherwise, it might not grow.

6. Java Moss

It won’t take you long to realize that Java Moss shouldn’t be planted in the sand or gravel. The fact that it has rhizomes means that you have to tie it to something. Once in place, it will start growing, eventually covering everything.

As the name suggests, when it grows, Java moss produces a mossy carpet. It doesn’t require much care. You don’t have to worry about the plant taking much of your time or effort. It doesn’t even need that much trimming. 

It grows slowly, but with enough time, it will provide the sort of soft surface that angelfish appreciate. That is because angelfish will be able to either rest on it or lay their eggs upon it.

7. Hornwort

This is the type of plant that you pair with other species in your tank. It grows quite rapidly, so regular trimming is essential. Otherwise, it will take over your aquarium. The Hornwort is the sort of tall plant that you use to protect angelfish eggs that have been laid on another plant such as the amazon sword. 

8. Vallisneria

Anyone with a large aquarium is encouraged to get some Jungle Vallisneria. This is basically tall grass. The leaves are green, quite thin, and they end in a point. You need a large aquarium because it can grow up to 6 feet. The rate at which it grows is quite rapid, so you need to trim it regularly if space is a problem.

Large aquariums are preferable because they will allow the plant to reach its full height. Vallisneria is the perfect plant for angelfish because it provides a fantastic environment for the creatures to play in. They can use it to hide from fish and humans alike, swimming through it to secure the privacy they desire. 

What to Expect When Introducing These Plants to Angelfish

People grow plants like the ones above because angelfish need them to thrive. And it is generally assumed that angelfish will not eat these plants. But that isn’t a guarantee because no one knows why some angelfish eat plants in the first place.

There is also no way to identify the angelfish that will eat plants and the ones that won’t. Some angelfish will attack plants like the ones above while they are maturing. But after a while, they will lose the taste for them.

Some angelfish will eat plants all their lives because that is what they prefer. Others won’t touch them at all. There are no scientific means of quantifying the desire to eat plants in angelfish. If you are worried that your angelfish might eat your plants, your only choice is to experiment.

The key is to keep trying different plants until you find a species they can’t be bothered to eat. Once you find the species, you can start planting it. 

Will Angelfish Eat Fake Plants?

No, angelfish cannot nibble on fake plants. Therefore, if your fish keep eating your plants, one solution is to use artificial ones. But some people wonder whether they are appropriate. For the most part, your fish are not going to care. They just want something to swim through, hide, and lay their eggs.

Fake plants are a decent alternative. Indeed, if you have the means and your fish are not a threat, live plants are the better choice. They will keep growing and blooming so long as the conditions are right.

In other words, they undergo changes that might be interesting to watch. They also filter the water and control the levels of CO2.[3]Opens in a new tab. But the fact that they keep growing means that you have to keep trimming them.

They need the right lighting and water conditions to thrive, and even when you provide the right conditions, they can still die due to disease. When plants die, they release toxins that could endanger the other inhabitants of the tank.

Fake plants do not get diseases. Fish won’t eat them, and neither do they require trimming. Because they don’t grow, the lighting and water conditions do not matter. However, they still provide an adequate environment for fish to breed and hide. 

There are arguments to be made for either side. So you can use your personal tastes and preferences to choose between the two. 

Which Fish Are a Danger to Plants?

You now know that angelfish are not necessarily dangerous to plants. Some of them eat plants. But it isn’t a behavior for which they are known. However, there are fish that could pose a threat to your plants if you chose to add them to your tank. The most notorious include:[4]Opens in a new tab.

  • Silver Dollar – People love these because they are easy to care for. Typically reaching 6-inches in length, silver dollar fish are voracious eaters, capable of destroying all the plants in an aquarium within the space of a few days to a week.
  • Buenos Aires Tetras – Even though they are just two and a half inches long, these fish love plants. They are a threat to most planted tanks because they can eat most aquatic plants.
  • Monos – Every breeder understands the danger Monos present. Plants are their primary food. So if you don’t give them vegetables in sufficient quantities, they won’t hesitate to eat all your plants.
  • Goldfish – These will also look to plants for sustenance. But their destructive tendencies can be controlled if you fill their tanks with plants that grow at a rapid pace.

Conclusions

Do angelfish eat plants? Well, yes. However, they are more likely to take advantage of them when they are seeking a hiding place. They may also use them as an egg-laying surface before fertilization.

While these are the two primary purposes of plants when it comes to angelfish, they may still occasionally nibble on them. They might do so when they aren’t fed right or perhaps bored a little. Frankly, the real reason behind it is quite a mystery. 

References

  1. https://aquariumtidings.com/angelfish-care/
  2. https://www.thesprucepets.com/best-live-plants-for-angelfish-4588961
  3. https://www.aquascapeaddiction.com/articles/best-fake-plants-for-aquarium
  4. https://www.ratemyfishtank.com/blog/fish-to-avoid-for-planted-freshwater-tanks
  5. Amazon Sword Image – Flickr
  6. Anubias Nana Image – Flickr

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