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Leopold Angelfish

The Leopold Angelfish is a rare fish in the trade and can be found mostly around the Amazon River. 

It has some differences from other Pterophyllum species such as lack of pre-dorsal notch, presence black spot at dorsal insertion on fourth vertical bar, rhomero head shape etc.. 

This little angelfish is the tiniest of the three angelfish types, reaching a length of around 5 centimeters (or 2 inches).

In this guide, you will learn about Leopold’s Angelfish care, diet, size, price and much more!


FamilyCichlidae, Subfamily Cichlastomatinae
Common Nameeardrop angelfish, Leopold’s angelfish dwarf angelfish, or roman-nosed angelfish,
Size48 inches in length; a 55 gallon or more significant.
pH4.8 to 6.2
Water Hardness1-5 dGH (soft)
Origin & HabitatSouth America – Amazon basin
Minimum Tank Size48 inches in length; a 55 gallon or more significant.
BreedingLeopold’s Angel is difficult to breed in the aquarium.
Leopold Angelfish Characteristics

Leopold Angelfish Origin & Habitat

The Leopold Angelfish is found in the Amazon River, between Manacapuru and Santarem, and the Rio Rupununi basin of Guyana’s Rio Essequibo.

This fish resides in sluggish-moving rivers and streams, among the tangled roots and branches and it also has been discovered living in any setting with a strong water flow.

History of Leopold Angelfish

This species is exceedingly uncommon in the trade; it is sometimes misidentified as Pterophyllum dumerilii.

This invalid species name was applied to a specimen of P. scalare by Castelnau in 1855, who described and named the fish Plataxoides dumerilii.

Guenther settled the issue and chose Pterophyllum scalare as the legitimate name; there is still no distinct species of P. dumerilii.

The last species, P. leopoldi, was described by J. Gosse in 1963, although he placed it in the old genus Plataxoides because he thought the name Pterophyllum had been used for a genus of insects; under ICZN rules, however, since Schultz in 1967 established that the insect genus is definitely Pterophylla, thus the name Pterophyllum was available again.

The dorsal fin is a reference to the genus name, which is derived from the Greek terms pteron [=fin, sail] and phyllon [=leaf], meaning “winged leaf.” King Leopold III of Belgium (1901-1990) was honored with the species epithet to support Gosse’s research.

Leopold Angelfish Features

1. Appearance

The Leopold Angelfish differs from other species of Pterophyllum by the lack of a pre-dorsal notch and the presence of a black spot at the dorsal insertion on the fourth vertical bar.

In addition, this fish has a straight pre-dorsal contour in contrast to both P. scalare and P. Altum.

2. Length

The leopard angelfish is the tiniest of the three angelfish species, reaching a length of around 5 centimeters (or 2 inches).

How to Care for Leopold Angelfish?

1. Water Parameters

Water Changes

Water changes are essential for angelfish to clean their gills and keep them healthy.

So, we recommend changing 10-15% of the water once a week.

Water Temperature

Leopold Angelfish are native to the Amazon basin, where the water temperature is around 27-31C/81-88F.

So, in your aquarium, you should maintain a water temperature of the same range.

pH Range

Leopold Angelfish thrives in acidic water, so a pH range between 4.8 and 6.2 will be ideal for them.

Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate

Ammonia and nitrite are highly destructive, so you should keep them as low as possible. In general, they must be kept at 0 ppm.

Nitrate, on the other hand, is not that destructive but should be kept low as it can contribute to algae growth.

Water Movement

This fish lives in rivers and streams with sluggish, calm water movements, so it requires soothing and relaxing water motions in their aquarium.

Water Hardness

Leopold angelfish thrive in soft (1-5 dGH) water.

2. Tank Setup

Tank Size

This fish has a vertical length and quiet behavior, so a 55-gallon with a height of 48 inches aquarium will be enough for a single fish.


Keeping the water clean is one of the most important things for any angelfish. Clean water will prevent the spread of diseases and keep your fish healthy.

Since this species, like most angelfish, is sensitive to water movement, the water should not flow strongly with the filter; a sponge filter is enough to move the water or a minimal-flow canister in larger tanks.


Leopold Angelfish are native to the Amazon River where the substrate is composed of soft leaves and twigs. So, in their aquarium, you should use a soft and sandy substrate.


This fish is a peaceful creature that does not bother plants much. So, you can use any plants in their aquarium.

Floating plants will help shade your tank and provide the dark light necessary for this fish.

But, we recommend using live plants as they will help to keep the water clean and provide hiding places for your fish. Echinodorus bleherae and other sword plants such as Sagittaria, Brazilian Pennywort, etc., are great.


You must maintain the lighting as close to natural as possible for the black spots on the fish body to remain clear and dazzling.

However, if you overdo it, the marks will fade, and your angelfish will appear to be smokey.

So, we recommend using a 12-hour light/dark cycle with moderate lighting.

Is Leopold Angelfish Hardy?

Leopold Angel is a challenging fish to raise in an aquarium. To reproduce, they require incredibly soft, acidic water. So, it is not recommended for beginners.

Leopold Angelfish Diet

Leopold angelfish are omnivores, and they love eating live insects and insect larvae.

They are also like to eat many different foods such as:

  • Artemia (brine shrimp)
  • Daphnia
  • Blood worms

Leopold Angelfish compatibility

Leopold Angelfish are generally peaceful, though, within the same species, they may show aggression towards each other.

They should be maintained in a group of six or more individuals, except for paired pairs that are explicitly developed for spawning.

Males have a territorial nature, and a hierarchy will develop within the group.

At the same time, angelfish may be scared by other large, active tankmates. The fear can make them vulnerable to disease and cause them to refuse to eat; this is especially true for this species.

Suitable tankmates:

  • Catfish
  • Small to medium-sized loaches
  • Rosy Tetra clade
  • Trigonostigma species of rasbora
  • Phenacogrammus interruptus (Congo Tetra)
  • Moenkhausia pittieri (Diamond Tetra).

Unsuitable tankmates:

  • They are not suitable with anabantids like gourami, betta, active swimming fish (such as danio), or other angelfish species.
  • They should not be maintained with discus (for the good of the discus).
  • Any fish inclined to fin nip must be avoided.

Last Words

Now that you know more about this beautiful freshwater fish, you may be inspired to add one to your aquarium.

Remember, however, that they are a challenging species to care for and require pristine water conditions and a well-planted tank.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as we did. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below!