Why Is My Angel Fish Gasping at the Surface?

7 Reasons Why Your Angelfish Is Gasping at the Surface

Keeping angelfish isn’t as simple as it appears; they may exhibit perplexing understandable behavior at one moment and perplexing behavior at the next!

Swimming at the top of the tank and gulping air is one of these mysterious behaviors!

If you’re wondering why your fish is gasping at the surface and don’t know what to call it, you’ve come to the correct spot.

In this article, we will answer your question in detail and provide the main reasons why your angelfish is gulping air and swimming at the top of the tank!

1. Not Enough Dissolved Oxygen In The Water( Oxygen Issue)

Angelfish are not labyrinthed fish, meaning they must get all the oxygen from the water via their gills.

If there is less oxygen in the water, angelfish will seek out areas with the most dissolved oxygen.

If there is a small amount of air or there is low oxygen in your fish tank, your fish will come to the surface of your tank to gulp in the air.

Because of this lack of dissolved oxygen, your fish are forced to the surface in search of more oxygen-rich water.

If you suspect your angelfish are not getting enough oxygen, you can increase the dissolved oxygen level in the water by adding an air stone or pump to produce enough air bubbles.

2. Poor Water Quality

Another possible reason your angelfish or any other fish may be gasping at the surface of your aquarium is poor water conditions.

Poor water quality can cause various health issues in fish, including gill damage and infections. 

A common sign that your water is unsuitable is when its fins deteriorate and become ragged or torn.

If you suspect your water quality is poor, you can test it with a water quality kit.

If your water conditions test results indicate that your water is not suitable for angelfish, you can improve the water quality by doing partial water changes.

3. Ammonia And Nitrate

One common sign that ammonia and nitrite are present in your aquarium is when your angelfish becomes lethargic or starts gasping at the top of your tank.

While not as severe as gill damage, these symptoms can indicate that your water quality is deteriorating and may become more serious if the problem goes unnoticed.

The main solution is to change your filter or just clean out your old one and ensure it can handle the amount of water necessary for your aquarium.

4. Parasites Or Bacteria

Another common reason your angelfish may be gasping at the surface of your aquarium is that they have contracted a parasitic infection.

One common example of this is Columnaris or Brooklynella.

These parasites can cause secondary infections, such as Finrot and Gillrot, which will make the gills more susceptible to injury or damage from ammonia or nitrite poisoning.

To treat these infections, you can use antibiotics, such as Maracyn-Two, or opt for anti-parasitic medications. One common example of anti-parasitic medication is Praziquantel.

Note: You should never combine antibiotics and anti-parasitic medications unless directed to by your fish store or veterinarian, as this can cause medication interactions that can kill your fish.

5. Bad Water Temperature

Bad water temperature is another essential factor why your fish is gasping at the surface, whether it is cold or hot water.

The optimal range for an aquarium is between 76°F (24°C) and 82°F (28°C). Keeping your aquarium temperature within this range is crucial for your angels’ health.

You should measure the temperature in several parts of your fish tank, as this will help you get an accurate reading.

Generally, if your tank temperature falls below 76°F (24°C), you should invest in a heater or increase the temperature of your room.

6. Lack of Food Or Poor Nutrition

If your fish are not getting enough food, they will start to look for food wherever they can find it. This includes the surface of the water.

The best way to tell if your fish are not getting enough food is to look at their stomachs. If their stomachs are hollow, they are not getting enough to eat.

7. Over-Population

If you have too many angelfish in your aquarium, it will get polluted, so they may start gasping at the surface to get enough oxygen.

Not only will this cause stress for your angel fish, but it can also lead to injuries and health problems due to the overcrowding in your tank.

Make sure you are not overloading your aquarium by adding too many fish at once or stocking your tank beyond what it can support.

You should also invest in a larger tank if necessary, as overcrowding reduces oxygen levels and is stressful for fish.

Here is a youtube guide telling you why your angelfish is gasping for air.


How Often Should I Feed My Angelfish?

Three times a day is the maximum. Feeding your angelfish more than that will lead to obesity, which is terrible for the fish’s health.

What Is the Best Diet for Angelfish?

Angelfish are omnivores, so they require a diet that contains both plant and animal matter.

A good diet for angelfish should contain high-quality pellets, as well as live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.

What Are the Common Health Problems That Affect Angelfish?

The most common health problem that affects angelfish is Ich. It’s a parasitic infection that causes white spots on the fish’s body.

Other common problems include fungal infections, bacterial infections, and swim bladder disease.

How Do I Know If My Angelfish Is Sick?

The most common sign of illness is a change in behavior. For example, a normally active fish may become lethargic. Other signs include loss of appetite, cloudy eyes, and white spots on the body.

What Should I Do If My Angelfish Is Sick?

If your angelfish is sick, the first thing you should do is quarantine it. That way, the disease won’t spread to the other fish in the tank.

Once the fish is in quarantine, perform a water change and clean the filter. Then, treat the illness with the appropriate medication.

How Can I Prevent My Angelfish from Getting Sick?

The best way to prevent your angelfish from getting sick is to maintain good water quality and quarantine new fish before adding them to the tank.

You should also avoid overfeeding, as that can lead to obesity, which makes the fish more susceptible to illness.

How Often Should I Clean My Angelfish Tank?

You should perform a partial water change (about 25%) once a week, and a complete water change (100%) once a month. You should also clean the filter every month.

How Many Angelfish Can I Keep in a Tank?

The number of angelfish you can keep in a tank depends on the size of the tank. As a general rule, you should have at least 10 gallons of water per angelfish.

So, if you have a 20-gallon tank, you could keep two angelfish. But if you have a 40-gallon tank, you could keep four angelfish.

Can I Keep Angelfish Together?

Angelfish can live together, but it’s best to keep them in pairs. That way, they can form a bond with each other and won’t be as stressed.

If you do keep more than two angelfish together, make sure to provide plenty of hiding places so they can get away from each other if they need to.

Do Angelfish Bite?

Angelfish have very sharp teeth, so they can bite if they want to. However, they typically only bite if they’re startled or feel threatened.

Do Angelfish Need a Filter?

Angelfish need a filter to remove waste and toxins from the water. A good filter will also help maintain good water quality, which is essential for the health of your fish.

What Are the Common Types of Angelfish?

There are many different types of angelfish, but some of the most common include marble angelfish, gold angelfish, and zebra angelfish.

Do Angelfish Lay Eggs?

Angelfish lay eggs, which hatch into fry (baby fish). The fry are very small and are not able to take care of themselves, so they need to be carefully cared for.

Do Angelfish Need an Air Pump?

Angelfish don’t need an air pump, but they do benefit from a good water flow. A good water flow will help keep the water clean and oxygenated.

Do Angelfish Change Colors?

Angelfish can change colors, but it’s usually only temporary. For example, angelfish change colors when they’re stressed or when the water quality is poor.

Do Angelfish Play Dead?

Angelfish do not play dead. If an angelfish is floating at the top of the tank, it’s likely because it’s sick or dying.

Last Words

If you’re having trouble determining why your angelfish are gasping at the surface of your aquarium, take a step back and look at all the potential factors.

Once you’ve identified the root cause of the problem, it will be easier to find a solution and get your fish back to their normal behavior.

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.