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How to Care for an Angelfish

Thinking of adding an angelfish as a center piece to the tank? Or, maybe you are just doing some last minute research on the angelfish? Freshwater angelfish are some of the most common tropical fish in pet stores and are good for beginners.


  1. Image titled Care for an Angelfish Step 1
    Know your fish. Most people think of the angelfish as crescent shaped with long fins; they can grow large and require more care than expected. A fully grown angelfish can be the size of the palm of someone's hand (about 4-6 inches nose to tail). As for height they can grow to more than ten inches. They usually have an inadequately sized aquarium. For success, you will need a 29 gallon tank for a single fish or a 40-55 gallon for two or three angelfish. Keeping a pair of angelfish is best because they usually become territorial. The maximum safe number is no more than three angelfish in a single tank.
  2. Image titled Care for an Angelfish Step 2
    Get a heater. Since the angelfish is a tropical fish it is best for them to be in an aquarium that is heated. A temperature of 75F°-80F° is recommended.
  3. Image titled Care for an Angelfish Step 3
    Choose tank mates carefully. Since angelfish belong to the cichlidae family, they are aggressive. A pair of angelfish can successfully live in a 40-55 gallon aquarium.
    • Other tank mates can be: Cory catfish, German Blue Rams, Mid-size tetras, and so on.
    • Fish unlikely to be successful with the angelfish are: neon tetra, Tiger barbs, aggressive gouramis, beta fish, and other fish likely to be eaten or to harass the angelfish.
  4. Image titled Care for an Angelfish Step 4
    Provide decorations. Since the angelfish is a tall slender fish it is best to provide hiding spots for it to hide like tall realistic/fake plants. An aquarium with tall plants like Java Fern, Ambulia, and Amazon sword plants could be delightful spots for hiding in. As important as having hiding spots, substrate like gravel or aquarium sand is another thing to add to your aquarium as well.
  5. Image titled Care for an Angelfish Step 5
    Give them an appropriate diet. It is always good to give your angelfish a mixed diet! Tropical flakes, staple foods, cichlid pellets, blood worms, and brine shrimp are good examples of a good diet for an angelfish.
  6. Image titled Care for an Angelfish Step 6
    Acclimate the angelfish. Like all other fish, an angelfish should acclimate in its bag for at least 15-30 minutes for it to adjust to the temperature of the aquarium as well as aquarium parameters. Then, once acclimating is done, gently remove the angelfish from the bag with a net(or change all the water in the bag over a period of time as a net can damage the fragile parts of the fish especially when they are small). Do not let the water from the bag drip into the aquarium.


  • Plants like: Java Fern, Amazon sword plants, or other tall plants are good examples of plants for the angelfish to hide in or behind.
  • They do best in pairs or kept alone.
  • A good pH level should at least be 6.8-7.5.
  • You should not have extra turbulence from your filter because angelfish aren't agile swimmers.
  • They cannot be kept with neon tetras or other smaller fish that are likely to be eaten.


  • Angelfish have long fins and are slow moving; so it is best not to keep them with other fish such as tiger barbs or other aggressive fish.
  • While their name presents them as friendly and docile, they can be quite territorial. They will sometimes pick on smaller fish dwelling in the middle section of the aquarium. They will sometimes pick on smaller angelfish as a matter of a fact! They also will sometimes become quite shy and hide from other fish which is a good reason to provide a densely planted aquarium.
  • Make sure to have a cycled aquarium before keeping any aquatic animal.
  • If not in an appropriate sized aquarium the angelfish or any other aquatic animal will have stunted growth which means the fish will have a shorter life.

Things You'll Need

  • Air pump
  • Ammonia test kit
  • Angelfish or other fish
  • Appropriate aquarium
  • Driftwood or other ornaments (optional)
  • Heater
  • Hood with lighting
  • Live or artificial plants
  • Nitrate/Nitrite test kit
  • pH test kit
  • Proper filtration
  • Substrate (Bare bottom aquariums can also be appropriate)

Article Info

Categories: Fish