Why do Angelfish Eggs Turn White? (Prevention Tips)

So many times, I tried to breed my angelfish and failed. I noticed that quite frequently, the eggs were rotting. Instead of the lucent color they should have had, they turned white. Over time I understood why this phenomenon occurs and found a few ways to overcome this issue. Why do angelfish eggs turn white? Well, let’s figure it out once and for all.

Angelfish eggs turn white due to fungus growth; this typically occurs when the female lays eggs that aren’t being fertilized by the male angelfish. Over time, bacteria inside the aquarium compromise the eggs’ shell, and fungi spores begin to flourish upon it.

To overcome the white egg issue, you should first understand what prevents the male from fertilizing the eggs. As I will show you, later on, this phenomenon is treatable, as long as you are taking the right measures. 

What Makes The Angelfish’s Eggs White?

As mentioned above, the reason for this phenomenon is fungus development. This occurs in environments that are reached with decaying materials.

Since our aquarium is a closed space with plenty of dead food, it is not an issue for the fungi to occur. Nevertheless, it does not grow on a viable object. Therefore, if the eggs are entirely fine, they should not feature any fungi and develop properly. 

When the eggs are neglected for any reason, the bacteria inside your tank harm the outer shell and allow fungi spores to enter. This, in turn, turns the eggs white.[1]Opens in a new tab.

When you neglect to supply the fish with proper aquarium conditions (such as replacing the water frequently), you enhance the bacteria issue aspect. Also, when the angelfish are in a stressful area, they may neglect the eggs. In this case, even in ideal conditions, their eggs would probably not be viable. 

You may suspect that fungus is the case if the eggs turn to white, grey, and sometimes even brown. Also, it is more likely to happen in saltwater than freshwater since the high salt concentrations inhibit the fungus’ growth. Therefore, it is quite common in the case of angelfish that are primarily grown in freshwater tanks. 

Some fish breeders panic whenever their angelfish eggs turn white. However, many do not even notice. They do not realize that white angelfish eggs are problematic because they do not know the proper color of healthy angelfish eggs.

For those who are still uncertain, healthy angelfish eggs are translucent amber or yellow. Any other stark variation is a problem.

How do You Prevent Angelfish Eggs From Turning White?

Breeding Angelfish looks so simple. After all, if you put enough of these creatures in a tank, some of them are bound to pair up, as I will explain later on.

Consequently, their mating is bound to produce eggs. However, if angelfish can produce hundreds of eggs every seven to ten days, why do some people struggle to breed them?

Those that have experience in this field understand that angelfish eggs usually turn white when a male does not fertilize them. But why does this happen? More importantly, is there a way to prevent it? Well, you have quite a few options at your disposal:

Encourage Male Fertilization

If angelfish eggs turn white because a male hasn’t fertilized them, you have to wonder why a male angelfish would refuse to do so. By answering this question, you can find an effective solution. Some people have suggested that some male fish are merely inexperienced; they don’t know what to do or how to do it properly.

But in many cases, it is an issue of privacy. Angelfish do not care that much about privacy when they are preparing for a new batch of eggs to arrive. However, all that changes once the eggs are laid.[2]Opens in a new tab.

Angelfish are quite protective of their young, and keeping them safe typically requires that they abandon their traditional role in the routine they have developed in the tank.

Some of them struggle to fall back into this routine. That being said, if you have people who keep tapping the tank or waving at the fish, they could be the problem. This is also true for people who keep photographing the fish.

This is a distraction. Try leaving the male fish alone so that they can care for their eggs. If other people are the source of this distraction, move your tank to a location that will permit your fish to do their work in peace. 

As was mentioned above, angelfish are more than happy to look after, clean, and fertilize their new eggs. Do not give them a reason to abandon their tasks.

While it is easy to blame the male fish for getting distracted, sometimes they don’t have a choice in the matter. If you have enemy fish that keep trying to eat the eggs, the male fish will never get any fertilizing done. At least not when they are so busy fighting off hostile enemies.

In case you think that the presence of other fish is debilitating your male angelfish’s efforts to fertilize his eggs, transplant the pair to an empty aquarium where they can breed in peace. 

Maintain Ideal Breeding Conditions

Of course, the first two points assume that your male fish have failed to fertilize their eggs. But there are cases where the male is fertilizing his eggs, and they are still turning white. This happens whenever the female fish lays eggs near fast-moving water. 

The male will spray the eggs with his sperm, but the water will simply wash it away. Any source of turbulent water is a threat to the viability of your eggs. Before blaming your male angelfish for failing to fulfill his role, make sure that the breeding site isn’t within the vicinity of fast-moving water.

However, what happens when you have the perfect location, your fish have all the privacy they want, and no other fish are threatening their young ones, but the eggs are still turning white? What do you do then? Well, there is one more factor you must consider. 

You need a female angelfish to lay eggs and a male angelfish to fertilize them. The female angelfish can lay eggs all on its own. It doesn’t require the male fish at this stage. But if the eggs are in place and the male fish isn’t doing any fertilizing, you have to consider the possibility that you have two female fish.

This rarely happens in tanks owned by professionals. But if these creatures are new to you, do not be surprised if you fail to differentiate the genders. 

As I mentioned earlier, decaying waste might also be the cause of fungi development. Since you feed your fish with dead food, it tends to decay over the time it floats in the aquarium.

Therefore, I highly suggest not to feed the angelfish excessively. It is natural to presume they need more energy to breed; however, too much waste will eventually haste bacteria’s and fungi’s growth.

Also, fungus tends to grow on fish eggs in alkaline water, in which the pH levels are relatively high. Apparently, the fungus does not do well in an acidic environment.[3]Opens in a new tab.

Therefore, changing the water too frequently might also be an issue. That is because fish naturally lower the pH levels by urinating in them.

Hence, you should strive for balance. Do not add more companions to lower the pH levels, since they might stress the angelfish. Instead, you may try a few chemicals which can be conveniently bought in a pet fish store.

What Happens to Angelfish Eggs After They Turn White?

Angelfish generally care for their eggs. They work to keep them clean. But if they deteriorate, in many cases, the parents will simply eat them. If that doesn’t happen, you need to clean them out of the tank. Otherwise, they will create an unnecessary mess. 

If you are new to angelfish breeding, you should know that some of them will eat their eggs even when they haven’t turned white. This happens in situations where the angelfish are uncomfortable or stressed.

How do You Properly Get Viable Angelfish Eggs?

This question is important for anyone who needs to know when to start looking for the white fungus on their angelfish eggs. The life cycle of an angelfish egg is fairly straightforward:[4]Opens in a new tab.

Pairing And Eggs Laying

It always starts with two angelfish, male and female. The female fish is responsible for laying the eggs. Here’s where it gets interesting. The male angelfish plays no part in this stage. If all you have is one female angelfish in the tank, all alone, it will still lay eggs. 

The number of eggs a female lays will depend on factors like the quality of the water and the temperature. But 400 is the average.[5]Opens in a new tab. You should know that there is a limit to the number of eggs angelfish can lay during their life.

However, you tend to get fewer eggs from a fish that lay them more frequently. The reverse is true for angelfish that hold their eggs for longer periods.

You can’t get more angelfish with just the female. Yes, the female lays the eggs, but a male is required to fertilize them. If you carefully observe, you will probably see it brush over the eggs as it performs this deed. Eggs only become viable once they have been fertilized.

It takes roughly 60 hours for new life to emerge as the eggs become larvae. If you have a microscope, you can actually see the heartbeat of your new angelfish. You can also see them curl around the yolk of the egg. After this, the eggs enter the wiggler stage before finally becoming free swimmers.

But that assumes that they have been fertilized. Without a male to fertilize them, the eggs will become white because of the manifestation of fungi.

So, to get viable eggs that won’t turn white, you need both genders. However, determining gender is difficult. In many cases, you have to wait until the female is ready to lay its eggs. When the eggs reach maturity, her abdomen will swell. This will tell you that you have a female on your hands.

Wait For Fertilization to Happen

Keep in mind that you can’t actually force two angelfish to pair off. You need to introduce a number of them into a tank and then wait for them to pair off on their own. 

It isn’t that hard to determine that you have acquired a mating pair in your tank. You will see a lot of fin twitching. Though, you should know that this also happens whenever angelfish become territorial. But this is why you must also wait to see them lock lips as they shake each other.[6]Opens in a new tab.

This is as solid a sign as you can expect to get. Once it is breeding time, you will see the pair cleaning the spawning site. At this point, you have a good reason to anticipate plenty of viable Angelfish eggs. And if everything goes according to plan, they will mature into new angelfish.

How can you increase the chances of acquiring viable eggs that don’t turn white? Sometimes, eggs will attract fungus even when they have been fertilized. In such cases, use methylene blue to treat the water. This will keep fungus away.[7]Opens in a new tab.

You should also pay close attention to the breeding location you use. Slate rock is encouraged. Any porous material like wood is discouraged.

Conclusions

The turning white eggs question bothers most fish breeders, myself included. Since angelfish are so pretty, they tend to attract owners that have no experience or understanding of fish.

Nonetheless, we are all quite eager to breed these beautiful creatures. Due to lack of experience, we often at a loss whenever newly spawned angelfish eggs turn white.

We can’t help but wonder why this keeps happening, whether it is just a spot of bad luck or a sign of a much bigger problem. The answer is often much more straightforward than we realize.

Angelfish eggs turn white because they have developed a white fungus. This happens whenever they go unfertilized, which on its own, features many etiologies.

Sources

  1. https://thefishdoctor.co.uk/medicine/fungus-ever-present-danger-fish-eggs/
  2. http://www.angelfishcanada.com/post/angelfish-eggs-turning-white
  3. http://www.tfcb.org/InDepth/2014SummerWeb/Fungus.htm
  4. https://smartaquariumguide.com/how-hatch-angelfish-eggs/
  5. https://smartaquariumguide.com/breeding-angelfish/
  6. https://smartaquariumguide.com/angelfish-eggs-fry-care/
  7. https://www.ratemyfishtank.com/blog/caring-for-freshwater-angelfish-eggs
  8. Featured Image: Flickr

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