Do Angelfish Lay Eggs? (3 Must-Know Facts)

Disclosure: When you purchase something through my affiliate links, I earn a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Angelfish hold a special place in my list of favorite fish, captivating me with their stunning looks and resilient character.

Yet, there’s a lot of curiosity about how they reproduce. Are they egg-layers, or do they give birth to live young? What’s involved in their mating rituals?

In this article, I’m diving into these questions to give you a comprehensive understanding, ensuring you walk away as an angelfish breeding expert. Let’s dive in.

Do Angelfish Lay Eggs?

Yes, angelfish do lay eggs. They are a species of fish known for their fascinating breeding behaviors.

  • Breeding Behavior: Angelfish typically choose a flat surface, like a leaf or tank decoration, where the female lays rows of tiny, adhesive eggs.
  • Egg Appearance: The eggs are small, translucent, and can number from a few dozen to several hundred, depending on the age and health of the fish.
  • Parental Care: Both parents often guard and tend to the eggs, fanning them with their fins to provide oxygen and prevent fungal growth.
  • Hatching Time: After laying, the eggs usually hatch in about 60 hours, depending on water temperature and conditions in the tank.

Also Read: Angelfish Eggs Care

Understanding the Breeding Process in Angelfish

Learning how the angelfish breeding process works is a crucial step.

This includes knowing how to tell male and female angelfish apart, spotting when they are carrying eggs, and watching how they act when they mate.

1. Identifying Male and Female Angelfish

Distinguishing between male and female angelfish can be challenging but is crucial for understanding their breeding process.

  • Body Shape: Generally, male angelfish tend to have larger, more angular bodies with a pronounced nuchal hump (forehead area) compared to females.
  • Papilla Shape: During breeding season, the breeding tube or papilla of a male is pointed and narrow, while a female’s is broader and blunter.
  • Fin Differences: Males often have longer and more pointed dorsal and anal fins than females, which can be observed as they mature.
  • Behavioral Clues: Males might display more territorial and aggressive behaviors, especially during breeding season, which can help in identification.

2. Behavior During Mating

The mating behavior of angelfish is a complex and fascinating process, involving distinct rituals and interactions.

  • Pair Bonding: Angelfish often form monogamous pairs; these pairs exhibit synchronized swimming and stay close together within the tank.
  • Territorial Behavior: The breeding pair becomes territorial, often defending a chosen area of the tank aggressively against other tank mates.
  • Cleaning Ritual: Prior to laying eggs, the pair selects and meticulously cleans a flat surface (like a leaf or tank ornament) for egg deposition.
  • Courtship Displays: You might observe specific courtship behaviors, such as the male and female gently nipping each other or swimming in unique patterns.

3. Recognizing Signs of Egg-Laying in Angelfish

Identifying when angelfish are ready to lay eggs is key to understanding their breeding cycle.

  • Increased Aggression: The breeding pair might show increased aggression towards other fish, often intensifying as they prepare to lay eggs.
  • Surface Selection: Look for the female inspecting and cleaning a flat surface in the tank, indicating she’s preparing it for egg-laying.
  • Egg Appearance: The female will lay rows of tiny, jelly-like eggs, which are adhesive and often a pale, translucent color.
  • Parental Behavior: Post-laying, both parents guard the eggs vigilantly, fanning them with their fins and occasionally picking at them to remove unfertilized ones.

Also Read: How To Tell If Your Angelfish Is Pregnant?

The Hatching Phase

The hatching phase of angelfish is a critical period where the fertilized eggs develop and eventually hatch into fry.

This phase typically spans several days, marked by distinct stages and changes in the eggs and fry.

  • Egg Laying Completion: Once the female finishes laying eggs, they appear as small, jelly-like spots, typically taking about 60 hours to hatch in ideal conditions.
  • Initial Development: Within the first 24 hours, you can observe a clear division in the eggs as they start to develop; unfertilized eggs turn white and are often removed by the parents.
  • Eyes and Tails Visible: By the 48-hour mark, the eyes and tails of the embryos become visible in the eggs, indicating healthy development.
  • Hatching Process: The fry, in a wiggler stage, break free from the eggs around 60 hours after laying, initially attaching to the laying surface before becoming free-swimming.

Feeding Angelfish Fry

Feeding angelfish fry appropriately is essential for their growth and survival, requiring a gradual transition from smaller to larger food types as they age.

It’s important to provide nutrient-rich foods at regular intervals, adjusting the quantity and type as the fry develop.

  • Initial Days (0-5 days): For the first few days post-hatch, angelfish fry can be fed infusoria or a liquid fry food, several times a day, as they are too small to eat larger foods.
  • Week 1-2: After the first week, introduce newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia), a highly nutritious food, feeding small amounts multiple times a day for best growth.
  • Weeks 3-4: As the fry grow, incorporate finely crushed flake food or specialized fry food, gradually increasing the size of the food particles.
  • Month 2 onwards: After two months, the fry can generally eat the same food as adult angelfish but in smaller sizes; continue feeding several times a day for steady growth.
Cultured infusoria

Setting Up a Breeding Tank for Angelfish

Setting up a breeding tank for angelfish is a detailed process that involves several steps. Here’s what you should do:

1. Select an Ideal Tank Size

The right tank size is essential for the comfort and health of breeding angelfish.

  • Minimum Size: Opt for at least a 20-gallon tank for a pair; however, a 30 to 40-gallon tank is preferable for more space and better fry survival rates.
  • Horizontal Space: Ensure the tank is long rather than tall, as angelfish prefer horizontal swimming space; a tank with dimensions like 36” x 18” x 12” is ideal.
  • Fry Space: A larger tank, such as 40-gallon, provides room for fry to grow, reducing the need for immediate transfer and minimizing stress.

2. Install Necessary Equipment

Proper equipment setup is crucial for a stable and safe breeding environment.

  • Quality Filtration System: Install a gentle sponge filter to keep water clean without strong currents; sponge filters are safer for fry and eggs. My recommendation: Pawfly Aquarium Nano Bio Sponge Filter (link to Amazon).
  • Heater: Use a reliable heater to maintain a stable temperature between 78-80°F, crucial for egg development and fry growth.
  • Breeding Surfaces: Add flat surfaces like broad leaves, slate, or ceramic tiles for angelfish to lay eggs; these should be positioned at an angle. This AQUA Angelfish Breeding Cone (link to Amazon) worked great for me.

3. Ensure Perfect Water Conditions

Maintaining ideal water conditions is key to successful angelfish breeding.

  • Water pH and Hardness: Keep the water slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6.5-7.0) and soft, with a hardness level around 5-10 dGH.
  • Regular Water Changes: Perform regular water changes, about 10-15% weekly, to maintain water quality and remove harmful toxins.
  • Temperature Consistency: Ensure consistent water temperature, as fluctuations can stress angelfish and affect egg development.

4. Provide Appropriate Breeding Surfaces

Angelfish prefer specific types of surfaces for laying eggs, making the right choice essential for successful breeding.

  • Flat, Smooth Surfaces: Provide flat, smooth surfaces such as broad leaves, slate pieces, or ceramic tiles, positioned vertically or at a slight angle.
  • Height and Accessibility: Position these surfaces at a height easily accessible to the angelfish, ideally in a quieter part of the tank to ensure privacy.
  • Multiple Options: Offering multiple potential breeding surfaces can encourage spawning and give the angelfish a choice, enhancing breeding success.

5. Maintain Balanced Diet and Water Quality

A balanced diet for the breeding pair and pristine water conditions are pivotal for healthy spawning and fry development.

  • Nutrient-Rich Diet: Feed the breeding pair a variety of high-protein foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and quality flake or pellet food to ensure optimal health.
  • Regular Feeding Schedule: Stick to a regular feeding schedule, providing small, manageable portions 2-3 times daily to maintain water quality and fish health.
  • Water Quality Monitoring: Regularly check and adjust the water parameters, ensuring ammonia and nitrite levels are at 0 ppm and nitrate levels are below 20 ppm.

Do Angelfish Breed Easily?

Angelfish are known to breed relatively easily in well-maintained aquarium conditions.

They are a popular choice for aquarists interested in breeding because of their straightforward breeding process.

However, successful breeding requires attention to water quality, diet, and providing a stress-free environment.

What Do Angelfish Eggs Look Like?

Angelfish eggs are small, round, and have a jelly-like appearance.

They are typically laid in neat rows on a flat surface and range in color from transparent to a light amber hue.

The eggs turn white if they are infertile or if fungus develops on them.

What Should I Do If My Angelfish Lays Eggs?

If your angelfish lays eggs, it’s important to provide the right environment for the eggs to hatch and the fry to develop.

You can choose to leave the eggs in the community tank or move them to a separate breeding tank for more controlled conditions.

  • Monitor Water Conditions: Keep the water clean and stable, with a temperature around 78-80°F and a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0, which are ideal for egg development.
  • Protect the Eggs: If left in a community tank, consider adding a divider or protective cover to safeguard the eggs from other fish.
  • Consider a Separate Tank: For better survival rates, transferring the eggs to a breeding tank with a sponge filter can prevent other fish from eating them.
  • Care for the Fry: Once hatched, be prepared to feed the fry with suitable food like infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp, gradually transitioning to fine crushed flakes.
My API Freshwater Master Test Kit

Angelfish Offspring Count: What to Anticipate?

When breeding angelfish, you can expect a wide range in the number of offspring, typically between 100 to 1000 eggs per spawning.

The exact number depends on factors like the age, health, and size of the angelfish pair. Not all eggs will hatch, and not all fry will reach adulthood, so expect some natural attrition.

Do Angelfish Eat Their Own Fry?

Yes, angelfish can eat their own fry, especially in a community tank where the fry are more vulnerable.

This behavior is more common if the parents are stressed, inexperienced, or if there is a lack of adequate food.

To protect the fry, it’s often recommended to either remove the parents post-hatching or raise the fry in a separate tank.

Also Read: Do Angelfish Eat Their Eggs?


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish lay eggs on flat surfaces like leaves or tank decorations, and both parents tend to the adhesive, translucent eggs, which hatch in about 60 hours.
  • Identifying male and female angelfish involves noticing body shape, papilla shape, fin differences, and behavioral patterns, especially during the breeding season.
  • Angelfish mating behavior includes pair bonding, territoriality, a cleaning ritual for the egg-laying surface, and distinct courtship displays.
  • During the hatching phase, angelfish eggs develop visible embryos in 48 hours and hatch in about 60 hours, requiring a stable tank environment and careful monitoring.
  • Successful angelfish breeding requires a well-maintained tank, understanding of their breeding behaviors, and providing appropriate care for both the eggs and the resulting fry.