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Healthy Pet Care Tips

Freshwater Angelfish Care

Of the more than 1,300 species of Cichlidae, the freshwater angelfish ranks as the favorite for people looking to keep fish as pets. This beautiful species of fish is loved by many for its long elegant fins and feisty personality. Today our PetVet Care Centers member vets share tips on caring for your freshwater angelfish.

Characteristics of Freshwater Angelfish

While freshwater angelfish can often be a peaceful and beautiful addition to your at-home aquarium, it's important to note that they may prey upon smaller fish and will often fight with other angelfish, particularly during the breeding season.

In time, angelfish can grow up to 4" long and 6" tall so it's important to have a tank that's large enough to accommodate their large size. Another important factor is their lifespan. When kept in ideal conditions these beautiful fish can live as long as 10-12 years.

Freshwater angelfish are hardy fish that are relatively active and typically swim at about the mid-level of the tank. Many appear to enjoy weaving in and out of any aquatic plants provided within their tank, and will generally be more active during the day than at night.

Angelfish Alone & With Other Fish

Keeping a single angelfish alone does not seem to negatively impact the wellbeing of the fish in spite of swimming in shoals in the wild, but if mixing angelfish with other species you may want to consider species such as cory catfish, black skirt tetras, and/or adult cardinal tetras. It is best to avoid mixing angelfish with any species that will nip at the angelfish fins, or any particularly fast-moving species that will out-compete your angelfish at mealtimes.

Both betta fish and guppies are possible tank-mates for your angelfish but stick with the larger varieties of these species for a more harmonious community.

Creating a Freshwater Angelfish Aquarium

When choosing an appropriate tank for your angelfish you will need to consider their full-grown size, so be sure to purchase a tank that is a minimum of 20 gallons adding an extra 10 gallons for every additional angelfish you plan to house to the tank. Remember that with their fins, angelfish are taller than they are long, so the height of your tank is also an important consideration. Purchase a tall tank to give your angelfish the space they need.

Freshwater angelfish need tropical freshwater with a slow-moving current. The tank temperature should be in the range of 75F to 84F, with a slightly acidic pH of 6.5 - 7.5,  and on the softer side, around 5 - 12 dH. 

Angelfish are pretty flexible when it comes to how their tank should be 'decorated'. These lovely fish can be kept in bare tanks, community tanks, or planted tanks, nonetheless, adding a few easy to care for aquatic plants will help consume toxic waste compounds and help to make your aquarium more beautiful and natural looking for both you and your fish. Java ferns are easy to care for and do well in most freshwater aquariums. If you are more skilled at keeping aquatic plants your angelfish will appreciate plants that are native to their natural habitat such as Amazon sword and Anacharis.

The tank's substrate should be a fine to medium grade gravel that is smooth-surfaced to provide your angelfish with a good floor to forage along. 

If you choose to have more than one angelfish include caves, rocks, and other hollow decorations for your angelfish to use as hiding places and territorial spots within the tank.

Standard aquarium lighting is can be used to keep the plants healthy and mimic natural sunlight.

Feeding Freshwater Angelfish

Angelfish are omnivorous and will feed at the surface or mid-water as well as forage along the bottom in search of worms and small crustaceans. These fish prefer a meat-based diet so choose a good quality food specially formulated cichlids such as flakes or pellets, and supplement the diet with live foods including bloodworms, brine shrimp, white worms, crustaceans and small insects. Be sure to also include some plant matter such as algae wafers or fresh vegetables cut into small pieces.

Feed your angelfish once or twice a day, and feed only as much as they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes.

Maintaining Your Aquarium

Regular weekly water changes and general maintenance are essential, including replacing your filter media and testing your aquarium water to ensure it stays within the appropriate parameter ranges for your angelfish. Test your aquarium water every week using an aquarium water test kit purchased from your local aquarium supply shop. 

Health Issues that Can Occur in Freshwater Angelfish

There are a number of conditions that can affect freshwater angelfish.

  • Fin Rot is caused by fluctuating water conditions and will attack the edges of your angelfish's fins then begin to move inward towards the body. This bacterial infection may be treated by changing out 20-50% of the tank's water at least 2 times a week. If this does not work contact your veterinarian about possible antibiotic treatment.
  • White Spot Disease, or Ich, can be caused by stress resulting from poor tank conditions. Caused by the protozoan parasite, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, this condition leads to white, itchy spots on the fish’s body, lack of appetite and lethargy. It will be necessary to quarantine the affected fish in a separate tank. Speak to your veterinarian on how to set the conditions of your quarantined fish's tank, to help accelerate the protozoan’s lifespan and treat this condition. 
  • Dropsy can occur as a symptom of a compromised immune system and is characterized by a lack of appetite, bloated appearance with sticking out scales, rapid breathing and protruding eyes. Contact your vet for an antibacterial medication and further instructions on how to adjust your tank's conditions in order to treat dropsy in your freshwater angelfish.

If you are planning to keep freshwater angelfish be sure to keep the contact information of an exotic animal veterinarian in your area handy. If you see signs that your fish are not as healthy as they should be, contact your local vet with training in the care of fish for advice and medications whenever necessary.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding horses or ponies. For an accurate diagnosis of your animal's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Many of our PetVet Care Centers member vets offer care for exotic animals and can help you provide your fish with the best possible conditions to thrive. Contact a PetVet Care Centers veterinary hospital near you for help with your aquarium health.

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