Countless times I’ve seen my angelfish spawning. However, it was challenging to prevent the newborns from dying. It was only a year ago was when I dug into the topic more deeply. Luckily, I’ve found a few techniques to keep the angelfish fry alive.
Keeping angelfish fry alive involves these steps:
- Raise either the fry or the angelfish parents in separate tanks.
- Choose a peaceful environment for the tank, away from human traffic.
- Stick with relatively gentle sponge filters.
- Keep the water temperature around 80-degree F.
- Replace 10% of the water daily.
- Introduce vegetation to provide the angelfish fry with hiding spots.
- Feed the fry with vinegar eels or micro worms, which are both nutritious and tiny.
These seven steps should increase angelfish fry survival rates. However, each one features its own nuances. As we move forward, I’ll elaborate on each technique and show you what I use to grow my angelfish fry successfully.
Keeping Angelfish Fry Alive
Angelfish are mature enough to spawn within the first nine months of their lives. They tend to reproduce every ten to fourteen days. And it usually takes three days for the eggs to hatch. During that time, the angel parents will care for the eggs, protecting them from tank mates that might eat them, removing fungus and debris, and also eating infertile eggs.
But what happens when the angelfish fry finally enter the picture? How do you keep them alive? In an ideal situation, this is what typically happens:
- When the eggs hatch, the fry remain attached to their yolk sac. You don’t have to worry about feeding them at this point. They can survive on the yolk sac, which they will eat until it disappears. This is when they become free swimmers.
- At this point, you can start feeding them brine shrimp. They must be fed two or three times a day. They need a lot of nutrients to survive. Otherwise, they will waste away. You also have to change their diet as they grow.
For instance, you can start with baby brine shrimp when the fry first hatch. But after three weeks, you should switch to adult brine shrimp. Some people depend too heavily on flakes and pellets. And while such food is perfectly acceptable for angelfish fry, you should only use it as a supplement rather than the main meal.
- If you feed them as required, your fry should reach 16mm in size within two months. At this point, you don’t have quite as much to worry about. While you have the option of raising your fry away from their parents, you should know that angelfish don’t spawn as much when they have fry in the tank.
In fact, they won’t spawn while caring for their fry. Not until the present batch has grown and no longer requires their assistance will they finally produce more eggs. If you prefer to raise your angelfish fry separately, don’t be too surprised if your angels inundate your tank with new eggs and fry every few days.
The process detailed above describes the ideal situation. But there are many fish owners whose conditions are not perfect; people whose fry keep dying for reasons they cannot quite fathom. If you count yourself among these individuals, there are several steps you can take to reduce the death toll among your angelfish fry, including:
1. Keep The Fry Out of The Community Tank
If you wish to guarantee the safety and security of your angelfish fry, keep them out of a community tank. You can separate the parents before they even lay the eggs, giving them their own breeding aquarium.
You can also take the fry away, leaving the parents in the community tank. To do this, you must provide your angelfish parents a slate upon which they will lay and fertilize their eggs.
Separating the fry is a simple matter of taking the slate with its eggs out of the community tank, placing it in a separate container (2.5-10 gallons), and waiting for the eggs to hatch.
The approach you take will depend on the temperament of your angelfish parents. If they are peaceful, the fry can stay with them in a separate tank. Also, if the other creatures in the community tank are friendly, you can choose to keep the fry in the shared aquarium, trusting their angelfish parents to protect them.
If the parents are volatile enough that you think they might eat the fry, take them away. If you go with this approach, consider that the fry take about twelve months to grow and reach maturity. I’ve discussed that in this article I wrote, and even showed a few tips to make them grow faster.
2. Maintain a Peaceful Environment
If you have chosen to leave the angelfish fry with their parents, keep the tank in a peaceful, quiet location – away from extensive human traffic. Avoid harsh noises and lighting. Such disturbances will cause the sort of stress that could compel your angelfish parents to eat their fry.
Some fish owners will go so far as to place a plastic covering over the tank. But this tactic has challenges associated with it. You have to add peepholes that are strategically placed to enable you to observe the activity in the tank. Otherwise, every time you remove the plastic, you could startle the angels.
Regarding lighting, I highly suggest that you take a look at an article I wrote about whether or not angelfish like light. In there, you’ll find a few techniques I’ve learned that keep my angels calm, even when turning the bedroom lights on and off.
3. Get a Balanced Filter
Regardless of whether you have your fry in their own tank or the same tank as their parents, you have to use the right sponge filter. You need clean water that is free of waste, uneaten food and debris to maintain the health of your fry. Otherwise, the resulting buildup of substances like ammonia could cause them great harm.
This is where the filter enters the picture. It should be powerful enough to keep the water clean but not so powerful that it sucks the fry in. Some filters are not powerful enough to suck your fry in, but they produce such a powerful flow of water that it tires the fry out. This isn’t good for their health either.
As you might have already seen in the video above, sponge filters are considered best for the fish fry. They are gentle, and the newborns aren’t likely to get sucked in. Personally, I’ve been using the AQUANEAT Aquarium Bio (link to Amazon) for years, with great success.
However, don’t expect the filter to do all the work. You are also advised to remove uneaten food from the tank. The same goes for fry that die. Take them out of the aquarium before they corrupt the water.
4. Take Care of The Water Temperature
Some people prefer to leave their tanks at the mercy of the weather conditions in the vicinity. They see little point in artificially manipulating the temperature of the water in the tank because the weather in their area is warm or cool enough to keep their tank within the appropriate range.
Whether or not this is true, with fry, you need to add a heater to your tank. You can’t expect that the sunbeams, coming from the window of your sitting room, will keep the water at the 80-degree F mark (which is what your angelfish fry need). Colder water could prove detrimental to their health. This is why you are encouraged to keep a thermometer on hand.
This is where heaters step in. If you are interested, feel free to check out a review I’ve written regarding my favorite water heater. That was the only one that kept the degrees stable enough to raise my fish fry successfully.
- Monitor the temperature of the water to ensure that it is always within the appropriate range.
5. Replace The Water Regularly
You can’t maintain the quality of the water in the tank by simply adding a filter and removing uneaten food. You must also change the water regularly. Some fish owners will encourage you to replace half the water in the tank daily.
But it is possible to change too much water too frequently. This can cause such drastic fluctuations in the pH that it harms your fry in the process. Some people have lost angelfish fry this way. This is why I recommend water changes of no more than 10 percent of your tank’s size. Try to do so each day.
6. Introduce Vegetation
If your fry and their angelfish parents are sharing a community tank, give them as much foliage as possible. This will provide them with a place to hide. Add plants like Anacharis and Hornwort that are tall enough to provide sufficient cover for the fry.
If you are interested, here I wrote about all the plants I could find that angelfish don’t typically eat. These kinds would probably flourish in your tank and provide your angels with long-standing hiding spots.
While there are plenty of good reasons to add plastic plants that require no care, you should know that live plants keep the water properly oxygenated. Your tank will be a healthier place for your fry if you have live plants. They will keep the water balanced, debilitating the growth of algae and eliminating some of the waste.
7. Stick to Balanced Meals
Endeavor to provide a steady supply of food to your community tank. If the fish in the tank are fed as required, they are less likely to eat your fry. Food will also keep them distracted.
The dietary requirements of adult angels differ from those of angelfish fry. The nutritional needs of fry will change as they transition from one stage to stage. As wigglers, they are still attached to their yolks, which they will proceed to eat.
Once they separate from the yolk sac, the survival of your angelfish fry will depend primarily on your ability to feed them appropriately.
In the earliest moments of their free-swimming lives, they can feed on small micro-organisms called infusoria. These can be found naturally in tanks with plants. This is another reason why you should grow live vegetation.
Infusoria is perfect for fry because the creatures are so tiny, and they are still learning to eat. Eventually, you can start feeding them newly hatched brine shrimp. The reason remains the same. The fry are tiny, so they need equally small food.
Additional options include vinegar eels (link to Amazon), which are a non-parasitic class of roundworms that are also nutritious and small enough for fry to eat. The same goes for micro worms. While you can buy all these food options, some people prefer to rear them from home.
If you don’t have any of these foods on hand, feed your fry boiled egg yolk. Boil an egg, remove the shell and the egg. Once you’ve retrieved the yolk, dissolve it in a container of water. This can be done by placing the yolk in the water and shaking the tank vigorously until the egg has dissolved.
At this point, the yolk has broken into pieces small enough for your fry to consume. For some people, it might be easier to feed the fry egg yolk powder, Hikari first bites and other commercial food options.
- The objective is to ensure that the essential nutritional requirements of the fry are met.
Growing angelfish fry is easier said than done. These gentle creatures require specific conditions; otherwise, they won’t survive. The most prevalent mistake is feeding them with adults’ flakes. You have to consider that fry have smaller mouths.
Also, if you choose to keep them in the community tank, make sure you introduce vegetation. Plants will make it easier for the little ones to survive. They will be able to hide between the leaves from predators. Although, the safest way is probably keeping the newborns in a separate tank. Just make sure the environment is peaceful and that you replace the water regularly.
Either way, I wish you the best of luck in keeping the angelfish fry alive. I’m sure you’ll eventually find the right balance. Just don’t give up if you fail to do so in your first attempt.