How to Tell If Your Angelfish Fish Is Dying

9 Signs Tell Your Angelfish Fish Is Dying

When it comes to our beloved angelfish, we always want to make sure they’re healthy. But sometimes, things happen, and we don’t know what’s wrong.

Before your angelfish pass away, there are a few physical changes and symptoms you can look for to help determine if they’re dying.

If your angelfish is gasping for air, losing its appetite, or swimming erratically, these could indicate that it is not doing well. If you notice any of these changes, it’s important to act quickly and take measures to improve your fish’s quality of life.

This article will teach you how to tell if your angelfish is dying, so you can get the help it needs.

Some Indications That Your Fish Is Approaching Death

The final days of a fish’s life are often the most difficult to identify. If your fish is truly dying, here are some signs to look for:

1. Loss of Appetite 

A loss of appetite is often one of the first signs of something wrong with your fish. It may stop taking food from you entirely, or it may still eat but not as much as usual.

This loss of appetite will cause the fish to lose weight, and over time, its body will start to break down.

So, if you notice that, you must test the water conditions and check if something is wrong with the food, if your water parameters are insufficient, or if you don’t feed a varied diet, that could be the reason for the loss of appetite.

If this is the case, you know why they are losing appetite, and you must fix that as soon as possible.

However, if you have good water parameters and are feeding them the right diet and are still not eating, it is the sad reality that your fish is dying, and there is nothing you can do to change that.

2. Erratic Swimming

When a fish is dying, it will often display erratic swimming patterns. It will swim erratically, float to the surface, or sink to the bottom. These are all signs that the fish is having trouble staying afloat and is struggling to swim.

The most common reason is that the fish has trouble regulating its buoyancy. This can be caused by several things, including disease, parasites, or a change in water conditions.

3. Gasping for Air

If your fish is gasping for air at the water’s surface, it is a sign that something is very wrong. This gasping is caused by the fish’s body not being able to get enough oxygen from the water.

When your fish suffers from a disease or bacterial infection, it may develop a protective coat of mucus over its gills.

Because of this, your fish’s breathing may become restricted, necessitating an increase in the rate of respiration to accept adequate oxygen.

If you see this behavior, this means your tank has a problem and needs to be examined as soon as possible. It might be caused by a poor water temperaturepH changetoxic ammonia, or nitrite poisoning.

Here is a youtube guide on why angelfish gasp for the air.

4. Dull Colors

When a fish is healthy, its colors will be bright and vibrant. But when a fish is dying, its colors will start to fade, and it will become duller. This happens because the fish’s body cannot produce melanin, the pigment that gives fish their color.

Don’t get me wrong, dull colors are sometimes a normal situation, like when they are getting ready to sleep or when they are not feeling well. So you shouldn’t panic if you see your fish with dull colors, but you should be aware of it and monitor the situation.

5. White & Black Spots

White spots on your fish are a sign of disease, and black spots are a sign of parasites. If you see either of these, it indicates that your fish is not well.

If you see any of these spots, you should immediately quarantine the fish and treat it for the disease or parasites.

Anything else would be you disposing of your fish because they are no longer alive and there is no purpose for them.

r/Aquariums - I've been seeing these white spots on my Angelfish. Is this ich?
Angelfish white spots

6. Side Floating

The final stages of death are often accompanied by side floating. As your fish’s organs shut down, the buoyancy control mechanism will also fail.

As a result, your fish will float upside down or on its side at the water’s surface. This is a sure sign that death is imminent, and there is nothing you can do to save your fish.

Side floating angelfish

7. Time Is Gone

The final indicator that your angelfish is dying is when your fish’s lifespan comes to an end.

In the last days of your fish’s life, it prefers to rest in the same spot and not move around much. This is because their energy levels are low, and they don’t have the strength to move around.

If you noticed that behavior in an old angelfish, then there’s a huge possibility that it’s about to die soon.

8. Swollen or Distended Belly

One of the most common causes of a swollen or distended belly is dropsy, which is the accumulation of fluid in the body tissues.

Also, this disease can manifest itself as a visible swelling of the scales, with or without visible expansion of internal tissue.

Unless you take action to improve the circumstances of your aquarium, dropsy will usually go uncontrolled. Your fish’s organs will start to fail, and eventually, your fish will die.

9. Gill Flaps Stop Moving

The gills are responsible for keeping the fish alive by providing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the system.

When your fish’s operculum no longer opens and shuts, or if their gill flaps remain open all of the time, it’s an indication that they’re dead.

Unfortunately, the chances of recovery or resuscitation at this stage are minimal to none.

What to Do If Your Angelfish Keep Dying?

1. Adapting New Angelfish Properly

Acclimating new angelfish to their tank is crucial for their survival. You can accomplish this by floating their bags in the tank for half an hour, while gradually pouring water from the tank into their bags.

This allows them to grow accustomed to the new water conditions without experiencing any shock.

2. Quarantine the New Fish

When you introduce new fish into an existing tank, they may carry diseases that could infect the rest of the fish.

To avoid this, you should keep all new fish in quarantine for three days so that you can examine any symptoms of illnesses and parasites they might have.

If they show symptoms of a disease, it is generally necessary to raise the temperature by two to three degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, you can use aquarium salt (such as API AQUARIUM SALT) to fight infections. For every five gallons of water, add one tablespoon.

3. Maintain the Water Quality

One of the reasons why angelfish keep dying is deteriorating water quality. Ammonia and nitrites can build up quickly in a densely populated tank, leading to the death of your fish.

To prevent this, you should do water changes of 5, 10, or 15 percent every week and greater water changes of up to 50% once a month.

Also, you should invest in a vacuum device that can remove waste and debris trapped in the gravel. For this purpose, I highly recommend the Hygger Aquarium Gravel Cleaner.

In addition, you can use water conditioners to remove toxins and impurities from the water such as chlorine and copper.

4. Adjust the Water Parameters

Although angelfish are hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, they still prefer certain water parameters.

For instance, they prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline pH (between 6.8 and 7.8), a water hardness of 54 to 145 ppm, and a water temperature of 78 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

To measure the pH, you can use a test kit, such as the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon).

To avoid water temperature fluctuations, you should invest in a quality aquarium heater. I recommend the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater.

For the water hardness, you can use the Premium Water Hardness Test Kit. It’s a terrific package that I strongly suggest to everyone, particularly if you’re using tap water for your aquarium.

5. Provide Them With a Proper Diet

A healthy diet is crucial for the well-being of your angelfish. They are omnivorous fish that require both plant and animal matter to stay healthy.

To ensure that they’re getting all the nutrients they need, you should feed them a variety of food such as:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Bloodworms
  • Flakes
  • Pellets
  • Small crustaceans

Considering feeding frequency, you should feed them twice a day with portions that they can eat within two or three minutes.

Could Your Fish Be Sleeping Instead of Dying?

People and other animals require rest at some time. Because the brain’s neocortex shuts down, we fall asleep by closing our eyes and losing consciousness.

In contrast to us, fish lack a neocortex and eyelids, making it impossible to tell if they’re sleeping at first sight. As a result of this, they do not sleep in the same manner as humans.

So when resting, they remain motionless. Their breathing and metabolic rate are both lowered. On the other hand, some fish may rest on the bottom of their aquarium, hide beneath a layer of substrate or a beautiful item in the tank, or park themselves just below the water surface.

It’s crucial not to mix up signs of rest with indicators of sickness. A sleeping fish will do this behavior for short periods and will be able to resume its regular activity afterward. On the other hand, a sick fish will have difficulty engaging in any activity and may stay in one place for an extended period.


How Much Angelfish Should I Have?

Angelfish are not schooling fish by nature, but they prefer to be in a group for their comfortable existence in the tank.

So, it’s ideal to keep 5 or 6 Angelfish together in a school in your aquarium. However, you can add more fish if your tank is big enough and has good filtration.

Do Angelfish Eat Their Babies?

Angelfish species do eat their fry or babies. However, this is not common among all species and usually only happens when the fry are very small or the adult fish are hungry. 

Do Angelfish Eat Bloodworms?

Angelfish will eat live, frozen, or freeze-dried bloodworms. However, they should not be the only thing you feed your fish.

Since bloodworms are high in protein and fat, which can lead to health problems if your fish consume them in large quantities. 

What Do Angelfish Eat in the Wild?

Angelfish are native to South America and can be found in rivers, lakes, and ponds. In the wild, they eat a variety of foods including insects, small crustaceans, and plant matter. 

What Diseases Do Angelfish Get?

Angelfish are susceptible to a number of diseases including white spot, velvet, and fin rot. It’s important to keep an eye on your fish and look for any signs of illness such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or abnormal swimming behavior. 

What Do Angelfish Eggs Look Like?

The egg of an angelfish is off-white in color when it’s first laid. After the male fertilizes them, the eggs will then acquire translucent amber to brownish tints.

Last Words

When a fish is dead, there is no coming back. No matter what you do, your fish will not be revived. The only thing you can do is remove the fish from the tank and dispose of it properly.

If you see any of these symptoms in your fish, please take action and contact a veterinarian or fish specialist for assistance.

Death is not always instantaneous, so it’s important to keep an eye on your fish until the end.

We hope you never have to experience this, but we want you to be as prepared as possible if you do. If you still have any questions or concerns, please feel free to leave us a comment.