9 Facts About the Freshwater Angelfish

The freshwater angelfish is a very popular fish in the aquarium hobby. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colorations. In this blog post, we are going to learn 9 interesting facts about this species including how to breed them.

Pterophyllum scalare – Image Source: BestFish.com

1. Where do Freshwater Angelfish Come From?

The freshwater angelfish is found across a large range of areas in South America. They are not agile swimmers and so they live primarily in quiet, slow moving water in the Amazon, Negro and Orinoco rivers.

2. Are Freshwater Angelfish Hardy?

The freshwater angelfish can tolerate temperatures between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer a pH of 5.8 to 7.0. So they can tolerate a pretty good range of water parameters.

Freshwater Angelfish – Image Source: Unknown

Like any animal, it is best to keep them within their recommended range and consistently at a specific temperature and a specific pH as much as possible. Aside from this being the standard across the board for aquarium species – not just angelfish – this species is known to be prone to diseases. One way to avoid a disease outbreak in your aquarium is to keep your water parameters consistent.

3. Are Freshwater Angelfish Aggressive?

Although they may not seem like they would have aggressive temperaments, they are members of the Cichlid family. So they are known to be aggressive towards one another when they are attempting to pair up for breeding or when they are defending their young. Other than that, they are known to be pretty docile.

4. How Big Do Freshwater Angelfish Get?

The maximum size of these fish can be anywhere between 6 to 10 inches when full grown depending on the individual species. With that being said, the number of freshwater angelfish that you can keep in your aquarium along with other species will depend on the size of aquarium that you have or that you are looking to buy.

As a general rule of thumb you can house up to 4 to 6 (depending on their maximum size) angelfish in a 55 gallon aquarium and have them live comfortably. These numbers are from the 1 inch per fish per 1 gallon rule. So based on those numbers you can determine the number of fish and size of the aquarium that you will need depending on how many of which species you are wanting to keep.

Freshwater Angelfish – Image Source: Gregory Dubus

So how many freshwater angelfish should you get? This species likes to be in groups since it lowers their stress and spares their energy. The ideal recommended number to keep together is 5 to 6. With that being said, if you are going to want to have other species with them, a 75 gallon aquarium is a minimum for 5 to 6 freshwater angelfish plus any additional tank mates. The tank mates that are recommended for this species are based on size and temperament. A general rule of thumb when selecting the right tank mate is based on whether or not it will fit into the fish’s mouth as well as whether or not it will provoke aggressive behavior.

5. What Other Fish Can You Keep With Freshwater Angelfish?

Speaking of suitable tank mates, here are a few that are compatible with this species:

Platies, Black Mollies and Swordtails

These fish are not small enough to fit into the mouth of the freshwater angelfish and they are generally a peaceful fish.

Assorted Platies – Image Source: Riverpark Aquatics
Black Mollies – Image Source: Janine Berdelmann
Red Velvet Swordtail Fish – Image Source: Arizona Aquatic Gardens

Bristlenose Pleco

This species of catfish reaches a maximum size between 3 to 5 inches and spends most of its time on the bottom of the aquarium eating leftover food. Angelfish are not bottom dwellers so this species is very suitable for an angelfish aquarium.

Bristlenose Pleco – Image Source: Tropical Fish Site

German Blue Cichlid

This cichlid is not small enough to fit into the mouth for the freshwater angelfish and they tend to cohabitate peacefully. One drawback to this species is that they need perfect water parameters and therefore should only be kept if you have a lot of experience.

German Blue Cichlid – Oddball Fish

Bolivian Ram Cichlid

This species is known to be very peaceful and get along really well with freshwater angelfish.

Bolivian Ram Cichlid – Image Source: Arizona Aquatic Gardens

Keyhole Cichlid

This fish is known to be one of the most peaceful species of cichlids. They are also known to be great tankmates for the freshwater angelfish.

Keyhole Cichlid – Image Source: Fish Tank Advisor

Kuhli Cichlid

This species of cichlid is a very peaceful bottom dweller. They are also known to be great additions to any aquarium including a freshwater angelfish aquarium.

Kuhli Cichlid – Image Source: Cichlid Tips

Corydora Catfish

This group of peaceful schooling catfish are a great addition to any aquarium. They keep the substrate clean and some of them stay very small – about 2 to 3 inches maximum. However, they are known to eat eggs. So if you are looking into breeding freshwater angelfish this species would not be a good choice as a tank mate.

Emerald Green Corydora – Image Source: Aquatic Arts

6. How Do Freshwater Angelfish Breed?

Once the angelfish pair up – this can take up to 9 months – they will lay their eggs into neat, layered rows. From there the eggs hatch, the fry or baby fish, consume the yolk sacs and then move on to eating other foods.

Getting the angelfish to pair up can be a long process. It can also be tricky since the sex of the freshwater angelfish is not very easy to determine. Generally they are pretty equal in size and have the same coloration on their bodies.

YouTuber KeepingFishSimple made this excellent video and playlist that showcases the breeding process for the freshwater angelfish which you can watch here:

Another cool fact about this species in regards to their pairing and breeding process is that  they form monogamous pairs that last for a lifetime. If one of the fish passes away, the surviving fish refuses to mate for the rest of its life.

7. What is the Lifespan of a Freshwater Angelfish?

The Freshwater Angelfish can live up to 10 to 12 years.

8. How do Freshwater Angelfish Hunt?

This species is an ambush predator. They prey on small fish and macroinvertebrates.

9. When Did Humans Start Breeding Freshwater Angelfish in Captivity?

In the late 1920s to early 1930s humans started to breed the freshwater angelfish in captivity in the United States of America.

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