Angelfish 101: The Ultimate Care Guide for Beginners

Freshwater angelfish are without a doubt one of the most popular fish in today’s aquarium hobby. These adorable fish are quite easy to maintain, hardy, and come in a wide array of vibrant hues.

All these reasons make them an ideal choice for novice and veteran aquarists alike.

Although angelfish are known for being low-maintenance, they still need some sort of care such as a specific angelfish tank set-up, special water parameters, and a well-balanced diet.

And if you are looking for a definitive guide on how to care for angelfish, then you are just in the right place.

In this article, we will show you exactly all you need to know about angelfish caring, so your angels can live a long healthy life fulfilled with love from his/her owner.

Angelfish care guide infographic
Angelfish care guide infographic

Angelfish Types

Types of angelfish
Types of angelfish by Aquarium Support

While there are over 40 types of angelfish of different colors and shapes, they all recede to three main families:

  • Pterophyllum Altum: The Altun family are originally from Orinoco River Basin, Southeastern Colombia, and the Upper Rio Negro watershed.
  • Pterophyllum Leopoldi: This family originates in the Amazon River, Essequibo River, and Rupununi River.
  • Pterophyllum Scalare: The Scalare family comes from the Amazon Basin in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil.

Despite the differences between each family, they have some characteristics in common such as long triangular fins, rounded bodies, and small teeth.

These omnivorous species also have similar demands, such as water parameters, tank mates, and a high protein diet.

Angelfish Tank Requirements

Water Cycling Frequency

The Nitrogen Cycle of an Aquarium Tank
The Nitrogen Cycle of an Aquarium Tank by Tankarium

Angelfish are voracious eaters that produce a lot of waste. This waste, in addition to dead plant matter and food, floods your angelfish aquarium with all forms of ammonia and nitrate.

Needless to say, Ammonia is toxic to aquarium fish and a higher concentration of these bi-loads can lead to death, so frequent water cycling is a must.

In most cases, you’ll need 10-20% weekly water changes, with up to 30% if you have a lot of fish or a significant pollution level in the tank.

pH Level

Aquarium Tank pH levels
Aquarium Tank pH levels by the Spruce Pets

As we mentioned earlier, most angelfish species are native to South America, where the water’s pH ranges from 6 to 8.

From our experience, we found that the best angelfish pH level is between 6.8 and 7.6, so we highly recommend that you strive for this range.

The pH level of your tank change over time, so make sure to test your tank’s pH level once every 1-2 weeks.

Water Temperature

Hitop 50W/100W/300W Adjustable Aquarium Heater, Submersible Glass Water Heater for 5 – 70 Gallon Fish Tank
Hitop Adjustable Water Heater

Unlike other tropical fish, angelfish are cold-blooded, which means they have a harder time regulating their body temperature. For this reason, it’s critical to keep the tank’s water temperature range between 78° and 84° Fahrenheit for angelfish.

Note that the water temperature in the tank varies considerably from day to day and even throughout the day, so we recommend using an aquarium heater.

This will not only alt the temperature fluctuations but will also make your angelfish more comfortable.

Here are a few angelfish tank heaters guidelines to work with:

Aquarium SizeHeater Size To Raise Temp By Up to 10 DegreesHeater Size To Raise Temp By More Than 10 Degrees
Angelfish Tank Heater Size Guidelines

Tank Size & Shape

Angelfish Tank
Angelfish Tank by Aquarium Adviser

Tank size is one of the most essential factors that you should keep in mind when having angelfish.

Wild angel fish tend to grow taller rather than longer, so a tall aquarium is crucial to make your fish comfortable in their new home.

We recommend a basic rectangle or square tank of at least 20 gallons per angelfish because they don’t have many pieces and stack well, making the tank much simpler to relocate.

If you decide to keep a small school of Pterophyllum Scalare, an 80-gallon aquarium is recommended.

In general, the larger your tank’s capacity, the more stable it will be and the longer you can keep your fish in it.

Note: Seek advice from a trustworthy local fish store about getting your tank; many low-cost tanks can collapse or break due to the weight of a full load of water.


Angelfish Aquarium Filter
Angelfish Tank Filter by Build Your Aquarium

Pterophyllum Scalare are voracious eaters that consume a lot of live foods, such as tiny brine shrimp larvae, and algae, resulting in a significant amount of waste.

Because of this, it’s critical to provide your aquarium with a strong filter to remove harmful pollutants and maintain it cleaner and healthier.

The best angelfish tank filter will not only remove dangerous pollutants from the water but will also oxygenate and circulate the aquarium to guarantee that it has a constant supply of clean water.

We usually prefer Large Square Sponge Filters with weighted slate bottoms for angelfish, especially if you want to breed them, as sponge filters will keep angelfish fry from getting trapped under them.

A basic HOB Filter is also a good option for newbie reef keepers and you can always upgrade when needed.

Also, there are several additional alternatives on the market that include built-in heaters, CO2 diffusers, and even UV sterilizers if this is something you’re looking for.

Lighting Requirements

Angelfish Tank Light Requirements
Angelfish Tank Light Requirements by the Spruce Pets

Most aquarium kits include basic lighting that is sufficient for viewing your angelfish’s bright and beautiful hues. However, you may need supplemental aquarium lighting in some circumstances.

For example, If you want to keep live plants or corals in your tank, you will require additional lights to help your plants grow lush and full. And in this case, at least 2 watts per gallon for angelfish at least is recommended.

A timer is also beneficial since fish require their lights on for approximately 10 hours each day, and any more than that might throw off the fish’s natural rhythm and prevent your angelfish from sleeping.

Aquarium Decorations

Angelfish Tank Decorations
Angelfish Tank Decorations by Aquariphiles

Aquarium decorations will make the aquarium look more natural, and it will provide hiding places for them to disappear for a while, which will significantly reduce their stress levels.

Resin or plastic decorations, on the other hand, should be avoided; instead, consider natural alternatives (e.g. live plants) that are safer for your fish since they won’t dissolve as easily as other things might.

Angelfish Best Tank Mates

Angelfish Tank Mates Compatibility Chart
Angelfish Tank Mates Compatibility Chart by Ocean Floor Store

Angelfish are not very peaceful fish, in fact, they are known to be semi-aggressive, and keeping an aggressive species with your angles may turn your tank into a fight club and you definitely don’t want that.

There are multiple things to put in mind when choosing tank mates for angelfish, including:

Level of the Aquarium

Aquarium Fish Levels
Aquarium Fish Levels by the Spruce Pets

Angelfish are territorial by nature and they spend most of their time swimming near the surface in the top part of the water column.

You should select tankmates that do not travel in the same zones as yours to avoid them fighting over food or territory.

Water Parameters Difference

Angelfish are quite sensitive to their environment, so it’s crucial to provide your angels with the most suitable water requirements to keep them satisfied.

Without the proper water conditions, angelfish will become stressed and fight more often with their mates, which is something you never want.

You also need to consider the other fish water requirements. You can’t just select a random type and expect it to thrive in the same tank as your angelfish.

We recommend choosing a tank mate that comes from the same water conditions as your angelfish to ensure a happy and healthy aquarium.

Size Does Matter

Angelfish are ravenous eaters and will eat whatever fits in their mouths whether it’s plants, frozen brine shrimp, or even smaller tank mates.

An adult angelfish can reach a length of 6 inches and a height of 8 inches when fully grown. So, make sure not to keep them with any smaller fish.

Additionally, if you put your angles in the same community tank with a very large fish, this fish can bully your angels and stress them out.

For this reason, choosing the right tank mates that match your angels’ size is crucial.

To make your life easier, we put together a list of the best angelfish tankmates in addition to a full guide on how to choose them, so if you need to add more fish to your tank, check this guide first.

Angelfish Diet

Angelfish Food Types
Angelfish Food Types by Fantasea Aquariums

As previously mentioned, angelfish are from the Pterophyllum family, which is endemic to the Amazon River Basin’s waterways.

When it comes to keeping fish, the most crucial aspect is to mimic their natural habitat.

The best angelfish food would have a lot of protein and minerals to preserve their beautiful hues and prevent discoloration.

Tropical Flakes, Color Flakes, Tropical Granules, and Shrimp Pellets are just a few of the examples of food that your fish will love.

How Frequently Should Angelfish Be Fed?

Angelfish are energetic fish that burn through calories quickly and have a huge appetite that must be satisfied with a lot of food.

As long as you offer them meals, they will keep eating. They may take rests between bites, however, if you give them a meal, don’t expect them to turn it down.

For this reason, having a bi-daily feeding schedule is really important.

How Much Should Angelfish Eat?

The size of the fish and the surroundings will influence their hunger, and it’s crucial to note that each angelfish is unique and some angelfish prefer one type of diet to another.

You should be too careful when raising freshwater fish because adult fish need to eat frequently and if you overfeed them, they become more susceptible to illnesses.

As a general rule, you should offer your fish a quantity of food that it can consume in 30 seconds.

Angelfish Breeding

Angelfish Breeding
Angelfish Breeding by Master Aquatics

Breeding angelfish is considered to be quite difficult, and many enthusiastic aquarists face continuous frustration until they give up when attempting to breed them.

However, if you provide them with the proper water and dietary requirements, you will have a better chance of breeding them.

There are two ways to start breeding angelfish:

  1. Buy a proven breeding pair.
  2. Buy juveniles and wait till they form pairs.

If you buy a known breeding angelfish pair, don’t expect them to lay eggs right away; the trip may have interrupted their breeding cycle, so they may require several weeks to become acclimated to their new environment.

If you decide to acquire young angelfish, on the other hand, it will take them about 6 to 7 months to mature and establish breeding pairs.

But some strains, such as double-dose black angelfish or those with a lot of wild blood in them, may take longer.

For more information, you can check our step by step guide to angelfish breeding.

Last Words

Setting up the perfect Angelfish aquarium is a lot of work. But when done properly, your pet fish will live for many happy years and bring you tons of joy!

We hope you have enjoyed this article as much as we did.

If you still have any questions please share them with us in the comment section below and we will answer them as soon as possible.