How Often do Angelfish Breed? (Eggs Laying & Reproduction)

When I first bought my angelfish, the first question I asked was how often do they breed. I wanted to know that because I needed to catch the right moment for a pair to move to a breeding tank. Also, once I have done so, I wanted to know how long should I wait. That was when I began to research the topic.

Angelfish breed every twelve to eighteen days, depending on age; older females tend to lay eggs in shorter intervals, comparing to younger ones. This takes place after reaching sexual maturity; between the age of six to twelve months.

While it might take a while for angelfish to breed, there are several steps you can take to ensure the spawning actually takes place. Also, there are a few reasons why it might take them too long to do so.

Breeding Frequency of Angelfish

A study[1] that researched the angelfish breeding intervals made a distinction between older and younger females (over and under 1.5 years old, respectively). They took 204 females and measured how often they had spawned.

According to their results, older females feature a median interval of 12 days, and younger females take a bit longer and breed every 18 days. 

While this might seems long, you should keep in mind that a lot is happening in this period. 

First, the male and female angelfish begin to pair. If you are growing them in a community tank, you might notice that the two begin to swim close to each other. At this phase, they might even become a little aggressive towards other fish as they mark their breeding territory.

Then, the two pick a spawning area. Usually, the male and female swim close to broad leaves since they are easy to lay eggs on. If your aquarium features a breeding slate,[2] there is a good chance they will swim next to it for an extended period. 

Once they have found the proper surface, the female will begin to lay eggs. She will do so repeatedly and might reach hundreds of eggs per cycle.[3] The more she spawns, the higher the chance for fertilization. In the meanwhile, the male will move towards the eggs and will continuously work on fertilizing them.

After approximately three days, the eggs should hatch. If the fertilization had failed, the eggs usually turn white, and the process must be repeated. On the contrary, if they hatch, the parents will take care of the fry from now on. Either way, the female should maintain her breeding intervals, and would probably lay eggs again in 12 to 18 days.

However, the process above is when the conditions of the angelfish are ideal. There are many obstacles you may encounter if you try to breed your fish by yourself, as I will elaborate later on.

For example, if you pick a pair who haven’t matured yet, it could take months until they even begin their cycle. Therefore, you must follow the next steps, so you will be able to reduce the breeding intervals as much as possible.

How Can I Shorten Angelfish Breeding Intervals?

Angelfish feature a hereditary clock, so it is impossible to shorten the intervals beneath their genetical capabilities. Nevertheless, there are a few steps you can follow, so that you don’t waste unnecessary time when you try to breed your male and female angelfish.

1. Use a Breeding Tank

There is no doubt that angelfish would spawn quicker if they do not share the tank with other companions. Since they have to protect their territory, you will save a lot of time if the aquarium is already empty from other fish. 

Also, there is a higher chance the eggs would eventually hatch if there are no hovering enemies nearby. Also, it will be easier for the fish to pick the right spot for a spawn since no other fish would compromise the surface, which has to be strictly cleaned.

2. Move The Angelfish After They Have Already Paired

The first part of this section would be choosing a pair that has gained maximum maturity. If you move the couple before it was above to mature, it might take several months before they breed.[4] If you own angelfish for an extended period (over six months), you may be confident they are ready to produce. 

The second part would be choosing a pair that has already paired. You should first make sure the two are male and female. One useful trick is to examine their tubes. If they look sharp, as with a pencil, it is most likely a male. On the other hand, if they are smooth and cylindrical, it is probably a female.[5] 

If you’ve noticed a male and a female swim next to each other consistently, there is a good chance they are pairing and ready to move to the pairing tank. Still, I suggest that you wait a couple of days to make sure they continue with this behavior. 

3. Maintain Ideal Breeding Conditions

You must provide the pair the ideal conditions so that they will be able to spawn as soon as they can. Generally, you should resemble their natural habitat, which is the Amazon Basin, in the mating tank.[6]

Water Temperature

The water temperature is crucial for angelfish breeding. As a rule of thumb, it should be around 80 F. It is even more critical if you are living in cold places, where the room temperature drops way down. In fact, if the water is too cold, your angelfish might not even survive to the time they are supposed to spawn.

Feed Them More Than Usual

Once you’ve learned the feeding schedule of your fish, you should do it a bit more frequently if you are trying to breed them. For example, if you’ve fed the angelfish twice a day, now give them their meals three times a day.

Also, the food must be enriched with protein. This might include:

  • Beef heart mixture
  • Blood worms
  • Flakes 
  • White worms

Use a Breeding Surface

The eggs laying intervals will be kept to the minimum if the angelfish have a proper area to spawn on. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what you use, but what is its shape.

In general, they need a broad surface for that purpose. You may use artificial plants with broad leaves, for example. If you are willing to take the extra step, I recommend that you use breeding clay. These are usually designed in a cylindrical shape so that the fish have a wide surface area to choose from.

Add a Few Plants

Besides a possible place for eggs laying, plants serve the purpose of secureness. When the angelfish are stressed, it is less likely they will choose to spawn, even when they are matured. That is one of the reasons why companion fish might prolong the intervals.

Nevertheless, also, when they are alone, the male and female should feel as in their natural habitat. For that, I highly recommend you put a few plants into the breeding tank. 

Carefully Replace Water

From my experience, it is better not to replace the water at all once you’ve moved the pair into the breeding tank. Nevertheless, sometimes, things take a while, and you have no choice.

In this case, make sure you gently replace the water and do not make any hassling movements. You may even change the water gradually instead of all at once. For instance, you may move a cup of water out once a week and pour in the same amount of clean water.

Each time you do so, make sure you maintain the desired temperature and pH levels, necessary for breeding. On that matter, you should keep the pH between 6.5 and 7.1, while 6.8 is ideal for reproduction.[7]

What Should I do When The Intervals Take Too Long?

So you’ve provided the ideal conditions for breeding. Nevertheless, the female refuses to lay eggs, even though you’ve waited more than 18 days.

Perhaps the problem isn’t with what you have done, but instead, the pair is not compatible. If you are sure nothing is happening, you may try the following steps.

1. Make Sure They Don’t Share a Gender

The most fundamental mistake would be trying to breed a pair that shares the same gender. While it may sound silly, but angelfish are challenging to distinguish, when comparing them to other species.

Other than the pointy tube males have and cylindrical shape females feature, there are a few factors that will help you to determine their gender:

  • Males usually feature a large circular body, while the females are relatively smaller and angular in shape.
  • Males tend to feature a thick bumped forehead, while females share a flattened one.
  • Females usually have smooth front fins. Males, on the other hand, could have forky fins. Observe the ventral ones and try to see any branching. If you do, it is most likely a male. 

2. Get a Larger Tank

Angelfish require a relatively large tank for them to raise their fry. If you have moved the pair to a separate aquarium, make sure it is at least 5-10 gallons (19-38 liters).[8] Once you’ve switched to a bigger tank, you should wait for the breeding period all over again.

Observe your fish as you do and try to see any suspicious behavior which may indicate they are about to breed. As mentioned, one of the earliest signs would be cleaning a spawning surface.

3. Switch Your Pair or Buy a New One

In case you have done everything right, and you are sure the two are male and female, perhaps you should try with another pair. It is hard to know why they haven’t chosen to breed, although we have to accept it.

If you have more angelfish in your community tank, try picking a pair that seems to swim next to each other for a while. If you don’t, you may consider getting a breeding pair from the pet shop. This will also provide you with the opportunity to consult with experts and see what might be the problem.

Conclusions

Angelfish females lay eggs every 12 to 18 days, depending on their age. As a study had found, older females (above 1.5 years old) do so a bit quicker than younger ones (below 1.5 years old).

To make sure this would be the case, you should provide the angelfish the ideal breeding conditions. These would include a water temperature of 80 F, enriched food, a breeding surface, and calming plants.

You should also make sure to replace the water gently once you do. If your pair refuses to breed, you could try a bigger breeding tank, or try again with a different couple.

I hope this article had helped you if you are trying to breed your angelfish or at least gave you a better perspective on how often do the spawn and lay eggs.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347273800053
  2. https://infolific.com/pets/freshwater-aquariums/diy-angelfish-breeding-slate/
  3. https://www.myaquariumclub.com/how-many-eggs-can-a-angel-fish-lay-also-do-angelfish-spawn-often-can-i-put-…-314614.html
  4. https://www.wikihow.com/Breed-Angelfish
  5. http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aquariumforum/showthread.php?t=75528
  6. https://www.fishlore.com/Articles/BreedingAngelfish.htm
  7. https://animals.mom.me/proper-ph-range-for-angelfish-12269625.html
  8. http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/breeding/angelfish.php

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