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Freshwater Angelfish Care Sheet

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  • Freshwater Angelfish Care Sheet

    Very widely recognized and popular fish in the aquarium trade due to the distinctive shape of the freshwater angelfish. When their basic needs are met, angels make an excellent addition to the aquarium. Freshwater angelfish come in a wide variety of colors. The wild type is known as a Silver Angel. The latest development being the Philippine Blue. Currently under development is a true red angel. The key to successful freshwater angelfish care is managing the nitrogen levels to keep them at a minimum.



    Common Name(s): Angelfish, Angels, Freshwater Angels
    Scientific Name(s): Pterophyllum scalare, Pterophyllum altum, Pterophyllum leopoldi
    Origin: Most commonly in the Amazon River, but are found in the Orinoco River basin in South America
    Size: 6 inches in body size alone on average, but can grow larger
    Minimum Aquarium Size: 20G Tall for a single angel; 30G for a pair

    Natural Habitat
    : River basins forming swamps or flooded grounds with clear or black water and heavy vegetation


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    Description: Flat disc shaped fish with elongated dorsal and anal fins. Body shape made it easier for them to swim around in their natural habitat. In today's aquarium trade, there are many phenotypes that have been developed to produce the wide color varieties available.

    Behavior
    : Semi aggressive fish that make good community specimens. But, do not keep them with anything small enough to fit into their mouth. They have a voracious appetite and will out compete less aggressive fish for food.

    Tankmates
    : Many so long as they are large enough to not fit into an angel's mouth. Larger Tetras, Corys, Rams, Red Cherry or Gold Barbs, etc. Also, avoid known fin nippers. Do not keep with Danios, Tiger Barbs.

    General Care
    : Angels have a reputation to be difficult to care for. But they really are easy! Angels are very sensitive to nitrogen waste (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate). They do best when kept in a tank with 20PPM nitrate or less and no measurable ammonia or nitrite. Temps 77-82F (25-30C); pH 8.0 or lower; prefer soft water but can be acclimated to moderately hard water. Angels really shine in a planted tank too.

    Feeding
    : They eat just about anything! Flakes, pellets, algae wafers, shrimp pellets, live foods such as tiny fish, shrimp, even fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Diseases
    : Angels are susceptible to many diseases. But keep them in the right environment with a variety of foods, including fresh garlic, and they will thrive disease free.


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    Breeding
    : With a mated pair, breeding is actually easy. Some parents will care for their eggs and raise the young while others never quite get the hang of it.

    Sexing
    : Very difficult, but there are certain traits that are helpful in determining sex. The only way to be 100% confident is to watch them breed. The female's papilla will be very thick and blunt while the male's is thin and pointed.

    Inducing spawning
    : First, the mated pair should be conditioned with high quality foods, extra water changes to minimize the waste level of the tank (<10PPM nitrate) and the temperature raised to 80-83F (26-28C). Then, when ready to attempt to induce spawning, do a large water change (>75%) and fill with water that is a couple of degrees cooler.

    Care of eggs
    : When parent raising, small daily water changes. The parents will become aggressive while cleaning the tank, so be prepared! Or artificially raising them yourself. Eggs can be hatched in a 1G jar with an airstone to have constant water circulation around the eggs. Once hatched, the jar will need morning and night water changes.

    Egg development
    : When kept around 80F (26C), the eggs will hatch in 48 hours. They will remain attached to the surface as wrigglers for an additional 5 days before becoming free swimming. If the temperature is under 80F (26C) development will be slower and the egg sack can be used up before they are mature enough to start eating.

    Feeding fry
    : Freshly hatched Napuli (Baby Brine Shrimp) is the best. But can also use Green Water or a powdered food. Survival rates are the greatest with napuli and are the lowest with powdered foods on the market.

    Growing out fry
    : Water changes at least twice a week, if not more often is critical for development. Also, they need enough room to grow. The following is a good guideline:

    • Up to 1 week free swimming - 1G, but better in a 2.5-5G tank
    • Pea sized - 1/2 gallon for 2-3 fish
    • M&M sized - 1/2 gallon for 1-2 fish
    • Dime sized - 1 gallon for each fish
    • Nickel sized - 5 gallon for each fish
    • Quarter sized - 10 gallon for each fish
    • Half Dollar sized and larger - 15 gallon for each
    • Adults - 20 gallon for the first, 10 gallon for each additional fish

    It is possible to crowd youngsters; however, they would require daily water changes or will become stunted.
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