So often, I caught my angelfish eating their own eggs. At first, this behavior startled me. It seemed to be against nature. However, over the years, I’ve come across a few triggers for that odd phenomenon. More importantly, I’ve learned how to keep angelfish from eating their eggs.
Keeping angelfish from eating their eggs involves these steps:
- Move predators or the parent angelfish themselves out of the tank.
- Eliminate sources of visual or auditory stimuli.
- Introduce vegetation to provide hiding spots and reduce stress.
- Move the fertilized eggs to a different tank and raise the eggs on your own.
These four techniques should solve the egg-eating issue. Some steps go around it by mere isolation. However, in some cases, applying the methods could be tricky. As we move forward in this article, I’ll explain each step in further detail.
Keeping Angelfish From Eating Their Eggs
As you’ll see later on, there are multiple reasons why angelfish might eat their eggs. However, where does it put you as a proud owner? Should you just stand by and watch as your angelfish consume every batch of eggs they produce? Believe it or not, there are ways for you to curb this behavior, for instance:
- As you’ll see later on, if your angels spend too much time defending their eggs against predators, the resulting stress will drive them to eat the eggs. To solve this problem, you can either take the predators out of the tank or move the spawning angels to their own aquarium. This will enable them to lay, fertilize, and care for their eggs without any disturbances.
Moreover, moving your angelfish to a separate tank will increase the survival rates of the fry. As you may see in this article, I’ve previously discussed whether or not angelfish fry is likely to survive in a community tank. The general answer is ‘No,’ however, I’ve included there a few techniques to make it more likely.
- Sometimes, it isn’t enough to separate angelfish parents from the rest of their tank mates. On some occasions, the angelfish are merely too aggressive to be permitted to raise their young ones. In such cases, you have to consider taking the eggs and raising them yourself, away from the parents.
Angelfish lay their eggs in a straight line, and that makes them easy to identify. Transfer the entire breeding surface, be it a decorative item or a leaf, into a jar of water. Then, use it to transfer the eggs to a different tank. The jar ensures that the eggs never leave the water.
Once the eggs reach their new home, be sure to add an airstone. This will give your eggs the water flow they need to thrive. You should also add products like methylene blue that fight fungus. This is a task that the angelfish parents would typically perform, but they are no longer an option. You have to step in.
Perform small water changes and maintain the appropriate pH and temperature for the next 48 hours. You may find more details about it on an article I’ve written on how long does it take for angelfish to hatch. I mentioned there the precise pH range, temperature, light exposure, and water flow you should maintain around the eggs.
The eggs will eventually hatch, and you can start caring for the fry. Keep in mind that raising the eggs on your own is the only method that guarantees the safety of the eggs. As long as you keep the conditions ideal, they would hatch.
However, fish owners have an excellent reason to avoid it. Taking your angels’ eggs away will encourage them to spawn every seven to twelve days. Find more information regarding that phenomenon here, where I explained how often do angelfish breed and lay eggs.
Angelfish typically keep spawning until your tank is overrun with eggs. This doesn’t happen when they are allowed to care for their eggs and the fry that will eventually hatch.
- Eliminate any sources of visual and audio stimuli. That includes excessively bright lights, people that keep walking past the tank, individuals that keep knocking on the tank wall, etc. Find a peaceful, quiet, appropriately lit location where your angels can breed without distraction.
Also, make sure that the lighting changes aren’t abrupt. In another article, I discussed why angelfish like light and probably need it. However, I also mentioned that you should resemble the conditions they get in their natural habitat. For that, I provided the steps you should take to ensure that.
- Provide as much foliage as logically possible. This will alleviate stress because it allows your angels to hide whenever they feel threatened. Foliage is especially useful in community tanks where your angels have to protect their eggs from other fish.
Plants are crucial to angelfish and are prevalent in the Amazon basin, where angelfish arise from. Here I listed typical vegetations that will benefit your angelfish. I notably picked those kinds that your angels aren’t likely to eat and eventually destroy.
- You should know that some angelfish eat their eggs simply because they are inexperienced. If your angels are spawning for the first time, eggs-eating isn’t necessarily a habit. Give them time to acclimate to the spawning process. Once they gain experience, this problem will dissipate.
Why do Angelfish Eat Their Own Eggs?
Experts have identified several contributing factors:
- First of all, it is relatively commonplace for fish to eat their eggs. You see this in several species. However, that isn’t an excuse to become complacent about the issue. This is because, as was mentioned above, angelfish have a reputation for being good parents.
Hence, if your angels are eating their eggs on multiple occasions, you have to look for external factors that might be to blame. In other fish species, parents will eat their eggs because they have overreacted to an external stimulus. You can see similar overreactions in angelfish.
- Sometimes, angelfish will eat their eggs because they are hungry. If you know anything about angelfish, you understand that they will eat anything they can fit in their mouths. Angels are particularly problematic because they are so aggressive and greedy in their eating habits.
First of all, they have been known to fight other fish over food, even when they have been fed. Secondly, in most cases, angelfish don’t stop eating. If you keep feeding them, they will keep consuming. In other words, angels don’t always eat because they are hungry.
This puts fish owners in an awkward position. Your angels could eat their eggs because you’re not feeding them enough. But even if you start feeding them as required, their insatiable eating habits could still compel them to eat their eggs. This is why angelfish are so unpredictable. It isn’t always easy to quantify their behavior.
- As was mentioned above, angelfish parents go to great lengths to care for their eggs. That means cleaning them, especially when they develop fungus. Part of this cleaning process involves identifying and removing eggs that are damaged or unhealthy.
Because angelfish don’t have hands and they can’t leave the tank, their first course of action is to eat these damaged eggs. As a fish owner, it is your responsibility to identify rotten eggs. You must remove them before they corrupt the water in your tank. But more often than not, angelfish can execute this task for you.
On the surface, this is a good thing. But you should know that, in an attempt to remove rotten eggs, angelfish could also eat the good ones. This is rarely intentional. You could call it an overreaction.
- Angelfish will eat some of their eggs because the resources in the tank are scarce. For instance, if the oxygen supply is low for one reason or another, it might raise an issue. The parent angelfish could eat some of the eggs to bring the number down to a manageable figure, a remnant that can survive on the limited resources in the tank.
In Goby fish, researchers have found that the species will sacrifice younger eggs in favor of those that are more developed. This is because the more immature eggs have less reproductive value. The older eggs enjoy more support because they are closer to the hatching stage, and the Goby fish have injected more time and effort into their development.
While researchers believe that all fish will eat some eggs to save others when resources are scarce, it is unclear whether or not angelfish show such discrimination between younger and older eggs.
- Stress does terrible things to angelfish. It can affect their physical and mental health. If your angelfish encounter enough pressure, it could compel them to eat their eggs. The sources of stress for angelfish in a tank vary.
Poor water conditions are one common cause – substances like ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites harm angelfish health. If the concentration of these substances grows, the resulting distress could push your angels past the breaking point.
You also can’t ignore the presence of aggressive fish. As was mentioned above, angelfish will manifest aggressive behavior to protect their eggs. Sometimes, this aggression is unwarranted, and it can become a problem for the other fish in your tank.
On other occasions, your tank has actual predators that the angels must fend off over and over again. The stress generated by such continuous conflict can push your angels to go from guarding their eggs to eating them.
- Sometimes, your angels are simply overwhelmed by external stimuli emanating from lights that are too bright, distracting movement outside the tank, and loud noises. Angelfish are sensitive creatures. They cannot withstand the visual and audio assault that humans typically shrug off.
Eggs-eating Among Angelfish May Surprise You
Some fish owners can’t imagine their angelfish eating their eggs, especially if the individuals in question are new to fish rearing. This attitude makes sense. After all, angelfish are such beautiful creatures. They also seem quite graceful. More importantly, they are great parents. You can tell because:
- Before they even lay and fertilize the eggs, angelfish parents make an effort to clean the breeding area, the location where their eggs will be kept.
- Once the eggs are laid, you don’t have to do much to keep them healthy. The parents will clean them where necessary, removing any fungi that develop. If the eggs fall, they will happily scoop them back up, returning them to their rightful place.
- You’ve probably heard that angels get quite aggressive when they mate. But this is because they are compelled to protect their eggs at all costs. They will attack anything they perceive as a threat to their eggs in the tank.
While this is annoying, especially if their behavior becomes exaggerated and they start terrorizing the entire tank, the hostility of your angelfish is further proof that they are attentive parents that would do anything to protect their eggs.
But that only makes their penchant for eating their eggs more confusing. And it happens far more frequently than you realize. Fortunately, angelfish are enthusiastic breeders. The moment you place two sexually mature angels of different genders in the same tank, it won’t take them long to mate.
Don’t expect to have any significant shortage of angelfish eggs to rear. But if you want to stop this habit and you wish to keep as many angelfish eggs safe as possible, you must first understand why your angels eat their eggs in the first place.
Angelfish tend to eat their eggs occasionally, that is a given. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are hostile. Sometimes the parents consume the eggs due to fungi development or when the eggs are not viable.
On the other hand, the issue may also occur when the angels are stressed or malnourished. If that is the case, you have more room to manipulate the water conditions and perhaps prevent this from happening.
Either way, I wish you the best of luck in raising your angelfish eggs. I am sure you’ll eventually find the balance and will be able to enjoy the beautiful fry these fantastic fish have to offer.