Do Angelfish Eat Their Own Eggs?

5 Reasons Why Angelfish Eat Their Own Eggs & Fry

The angelfish is a unique fish in the aquatic world. It’s known for its dedication to its young, even going so far as cleaning up any food or other debris near them until they can eat independently! 

However, sometimes this same parental instinct leads these angels down what seems like an impossible path: eating their eggs or fry.

While we can’t quite understand why our favorite parenting angel would do such a thing, there have been documented cases where mothers were seen eating fry right after hatching out of eggs.

In this article, we’ll go through some of the most prevalent reasons why angelfish eat their own white eggs and fry, as well as what you can do to prevent it.

Why Do Angelfish Eat Their Own Eggs?

1. Aggressive and Greedy Eating Habits

The fact is angel fish are so voracious and aggressive in their feeding habits. If you’ve ever had the chance to keep an angelfish, you know that they’ll feed on whatever fits in their mouths. 

Even after they have been fed live food or whatever you feed them, they might be aggressive with different angelfish species over food.

Also, they will keep consuming if you continue to feed them. In other words, angels don’t always eat because they are hungry; sometimes, they will keep eating because they love to eat!

Sadly, the fry is no exception to this rule, and if there are fry present, they will go after them without hesitation.

2. Egg Might Be Damaged

If you’ve ever seen a mother angelfish eat her own fry, it might have been because the egg was already damaged.

A damaged egg is more likely to be eaten by the mother angelfish because it is no longer viable. In other words, the fry inside is already dead, so the mother sees no reason to protect it.

These damaged eggs also negatively impact the other eggs around them since they can spread diseases. Because of this, it’s best to remove any damaged eggs as soon as possible.

And here comes the parents’ instinct again; the mother angelfish might eat the damaged eggs to protect the others.

Fertilized (F) and unfertilized (UF) eggs.
Fertilized (F) and unfertilized (UF) eggs by Researchgate

3. Angelfish May Be Stressed Out

Stress has a detrimental effect on angelfish, both physically and mentally, and could compel them to consume all the eggs. Angelfish in their main tank might be triggered by a variety of stressors such as:

  • Poor water quality: Substances like ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites harm angelfish health.
    If the concentration of nitrate levels grows, the resulting distress could push your angels past the breaking point, so always keep in mind to do a partial water change.
  • Lack of Oxygen: If the oxygen level is low for any reason, the parent angelfish may eat some of the eggs to bring the total down to a manageable amount, leaving a remnant that can survive such a situation.
    Researchers have discovered that the fish will sacrifice younger eggs to save and maintain the more developed ones.
    This is because more immature eggs have less reproductive value. The older eggs are favored since they are closer to the hatching stage, and the fish invested additional time and effort in their development.
  • Predators: On other occasions, your tank may have predators that the angelfish must fend off over and over.
    The tension produced by such a continuous conflict might cause your angels to switch from protecting their eggs to eating them.

Here is a youtube guide showing you an angelfish eating her eggs.

4. It Might Be an Overreaction to External Stimuli

Angelfish are notoriously prone to overreactions to external stimuli. A simple noise or unexpected movement can make them feel nervous or agitated.

The fish cannot control this overreaction, and they wind up panicking and choosing to eat their eggs as they see them as a threat.

Too much external stimulation can be many things. For example, people who come up to the fish tank and touch the glass will be very harmful. If you do this a lot, the fish will be frightened and agitated.

Also, if you have children, they may frequently go up to fish tanks and tap on the glass in order to attract the attention of the fish.

In addition, the presence of pets can scare fish by making loud noises near the tank or pawing at the glass.

Furthermore, if your aquarium is too close to your music system or television, you may be disturbing your angels.

5. Lack of Aquarium Lights

Angelfish panic if they can’t see what they’re doing while protecting their eggs.

That’s why it’s important to maintain proper lighting in your aquarium so they can feel secure while performing their natural spawning behaviors.

When the lights are too dim, they will be more likely to mistake their own eggs for predators and eat them.

6. It Could Be the First Time That a Pair Has Spawned

Angelfish get better at parenting as they gain experience and they might not do well angelfish at their first spawning as a pair.

If this is the case, they may not know how to properly take care of their eggs and could end up eating them.

So, when a new breeding pair is released for the first time, you should temper your expectations.

How to Prevent Angelfish from Eating Their Own Eggs?

As mentioned above, angelfish may eat their eggs for various reasons. However, shouldn’t you be doing something rather than just standing there watching your angelfish eat all the eggs they produce? 

Fortunately, there are some steps you can follow to prevent this behavior, such as:

1. Breed Your Angelfish Pair in a Separate Breeding Tank Rather Than a Community Tank

In most cases, you shouldn’t put your breeding angelfish in community tanks because the resulting stress will drive them to consume their eggs as a defensive measure against predators.

Another concern is that if the angelfish are distracted or unable to defend the eggs, other fish might also consume them.

Acclimate your angelfish will increase the survival rates of the eggs, and they’ll be able to lay eggs, fertilize, and care for them without being disturbed.

2. Keep the Aquarium in a Secluded Area of Your House Away From Traffic

It would help if you eliminated any visual or aural stimuli. Anything from overly bright lights to abrupt light changes, people keep passing by the tank, individuals knocking on the tank wall, and so forth can disrupt angel breeding.

Select a calm, quiet, appropriately-lit area where your angels’ breeding cycle can’t be disturbed.

3. Introduce Vegetation to Your Aquarium to Offer Hiding Places and Relieve the Stress on Your Fish

Our goal, as always, is to recreate the natural environment of angels. The Amazon basin, where angelfish live, is a verdant landscape with plenty of vegetation.

So, it would help if you provided as much foliage as possible, depending on your tank’s shape and size. This will reduce stress since it allows your angelfish to hide when they feel threatened.

Tank plants
Tank Plants by zizmall

4. Wait for Them Until They Gain Experience

Some angelfish eat their eggs simply because they are inexperienced.

I know it isn’t necessarily a habit for your angels to devour their eggs if they are spawning for the first time. However, this might be the case!

Allow them to get used to the breeding area and the whole procedure; this issue might go away as soon as your angels have had some experience.

5. Move the Eggs to a Different Aquarium and Hatch Them Artificially.

It isn’t always enough to keep angelfish parents away from the rest of their aquarium mates.

On some occasions, even after making all of these adjustments, angelfish may still consume their eggs.

In this instance, the only way to prevent them from being eaten is to remove the eggs as soon as they hatch and artificially hatch them.


What Do Angelfish Look Like When Pregnant?

When your Angelfish has a protruded belly and a gravid spot above its pectoral fins, it’s pregnant. Also, you’ll notice she’s rounder or fuller than usual when you look at it from above.

How Long Does an Angelfish Stay Pregnant?

An Angelfish will carry its eggs for 20 to 40 days. After that, the female lays its eggs and the male fertilizes them.

How Do You Know When Angelfish Are Ready to Lay Eggs?

Gravid angelfish become less active than usual. On the day she’s going to lay the eggs, the female usually avoids eating completely.

Also, the typical behavior of the female angel that is carrying eggs is to become violent towards other tankmates in the community tank.

On the day before the big event, you’ll notice her cleaning the area where she will lay its eggs.

How Often Do Angelfish Lay Eggs?

A healthy Angelfish pair will lay eggs every 5-10 days when they are in their spawning season.

How Many Babies Can Angelfish Have?

A female Angelfish may lay 100 to 1000 eggs in a single spawning, depending on the strain and size.

Does the Male Or Female Angelfish Guard the Eggs?

Both the male and female Angelfish take turns guarding the eggs.

Males will aerate the eggs with their tails when they suspect that the oxygen level is insufficient.

The female will keep other fish away from the eggs and will even go as far as to attack tankmates that come too close.

Do Angelfish Eat Their Babies?

Angelfish might eat their own babies if they are starving or if the fry is not big enough to defend themselves.

To prevent this from happening, you should either remove the parents from the fry tank or make sure that there is plenty of food for the fry to eat.

How Often Should I Feed My Angelfish?

You should feed your angels 2-3 times a day, depending on their size and the amount of food they can eat. Also, you should only give them as much food as they can eat in 2-3 minutes.

What Happens If I Overfeed My Angelfish?

Overfeeding your Angelfish can cause them to become bloated and sick. Also, food leftovers can pollute the water and lead to harmful algae growth.

How Do I Know If My Angelfish Is Getting Enough Food?

If your Angelfish is getting enough food, they will have a rounded belly and their color will be bright. However, if they are not getting enough food, their belly will be sunken in and their color will be dull.

Last Words

In the aquatic world, angelfish are generally viewed as excellent parents. However, they can eat their own eggs if conditions aren’t right for raising young ones.

Having a stressful experience such as being moved into an aquarium where there is more noise and movement around them can cause your angles to overreact, resulting in eggs or fry being eaten.

The key is to be patient and try out the preventative measures we recommend, which will improve your odds of breeding angelfish.

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.