Angelfish are one of the most beautiful types of aquarium fish and possibly one of the most recognizable. Their unique shape and tall, pointed fins look amazing in an aquarium, and their sparkling scales add a little bit of whimsy.
Angelfish are native to South American and are a variety of cichlid. They have a long, thin compressed body and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Angelfish are generally pretty peaceful with their own kind but can get aggressive with other species, particularly if they’re smaller.
There are a lot of things to consider when setting up a tank for angelfish. It’s important to choose the right tankmates, and make sure the water parameters are to their liking. But before you get to that, it’s important to make sure you have the right tank.
Angelfish are so unique that they have a few specific requirements. So, what size tank is ideal for an angelfish? And what else do you need to know when setting up an angelfish tank?
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Consider the Size and Shape
Angelfish can grow to about six inches long, but due to their long fins and interesting body shape, they grow to be a lot taller than they are wide. Overall, they’re a pretty big aquarium fish and need quite a bit of room once they grow.
These interesting fish prefer a tall tank as opposed to a wide one because of their long shape. A tall tank ensures that they have plenty of open space between their long fins and the tank decorations and substrate, making it a safer environment for them.
They also like a densely planted tank. While they get along with some community fish, they do not do well when they’re crowded. It could enhance aggressive behavior and cause them to be more territorial.
What Size Tank for Angelfish?
Because angelfish are so well recognized, they’re a very popular pet. First-time aquarium owners might think a five or ten-gallon tank is large enough for an angelfish, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
A single angelfish can be kept in a 20-gallon tank. Thirty is better. If you want to add a second angelfish, add 10 to 15 gallons for each additional fish. So, if you want two, the minimum tank size is 30 or 40 gallons.
A lot of people new to aquariums are often shocked at how large the tank should be, but it’s actually cruel and extremely unfair to the fish to keep them in a tank any smaller than this.
How Many Angelfish in a Tank?
Keeping more than one angelfish requires some skilled management. In addition to the right-sized tank and proper planning, close monitoring is key to keeping them happy and healthy.
While you may want a school of angelfish, it’s really better to keep only a pair. As we mentioned, angelfish are very territorial so you need to make sure that the two that are living together are comfortable as a pair.
Some people recommend getting five or six angelfish when they’re juveniles and keeping them in the same tank until they pair up. Then, you can safely house a pair that get along.
This is a great way to make sure you find a good pairing, but it’s not practical unless you have multiple tanks. When you remove the pair and house them together, you still have three or four angelfish to deal with and you can’t keep them together unless you have a substantially large second tank.
One way to get around this is to go to a reputable fish seller or pet shop and request an angelfish pair. This is really important because a lot of people choose their fish based solely on how they look. In this case, it’s more important to get two fish that get along. If they don’t, they will get increasingly more aggressive with one another, which can cause injury and a lot of other problems down the line.
Keeping more than two angelfish is possible, but you have to have a really big tank and a lot of experience so you know what to do if you run into problems. If you have a large tank and plan to add a handful of angelfish, make sure that the tank is heavily planted and give them a lot of places to hide.
The more angelfish you have, the more likely it is that they will get territorial and start to act out toward one another. When they’re kept in groups, angelfish form a hierarchy, with one of them being in charge and the others falling in line behind it. They’re prone to defending their space and will fight if they feel threatened.
When they fight, angelfish lock lips and are generally pretty brutal. They don’t form cooperative groups, swimming, or looking for food together. They’re individuals and are more likely to compete with another angelfish than work as a team.
Another thing to consider about keeping a group of angelfish is that it is very likely that you will end up with at least one mating pair. Angelfish are aggressively protective of their eggs and take care of their fry for about two months. They are one of the only fish species to protect and look after their babies, another reason why they can be territorial.
What Fish Can You Keep with an Angelfish?
Angelfish are one of the more difficult fish to care for. They are very picky about water temperature and pH and like clear water that’s deep enough for them to swim comfortably. Because they have so many environmental demands, it’s a little difficult to find appropriate tankmates.
If you’re stocking a community tank, make sure it’s large enough to house your angelfish and additional fish. Some species that do well with angelfish are mollies, plecos, corydoras, gourami, and rainbow fish.
That said, avoid other aggressive cichlids, smaller fish that will nip at their fins, and any non-fish companion. Angelfish generally do not like sharing space with crustaceans and invertebrates and may even see them as prey.
A Big Tank for a Big Attitude
There’s no denying that angelfish are some of the most beautiful fish you can keep in an aquarium, but it’s important to remember that there are a lot of things to consider beyond looks. A single angelfish needs at least a 20-gallon tank, and you should add 10 to 15 gallons for each additional fish.
These fish are very independent and territorial and will get aggressive if they are kept in a tank that’s too small. Giving them a proper home is the best way to prevent this from happening.
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