The Freshwater Angel Fish
Not only is this fish one of the most beautiful freshwater fish, it's also one of the most popular fish in the freshwater fish hobby! From beginners to the expert hobbyists, this fish is considered a "must have!" Thanks to this fish's attractiveness and relatively easy breeding, this fish is found in many home aquariums! And who would have ever guessed that this attractive, rather peaceful fish is a cichlid?! This is one angel that you won't find on top of your Christmas tree! It's the ever popular, always beautiful Angelfish!
Nearly anyone who has ever been in a pet store or seen a home aquarium has seen an angelfish. And most of those people who have tried their hands at the freshwater fish hobby have included an angelfish or two in their collection. And I am no exception!
The angelfish's beauty is the first thing that will attract you to this fish. This nearly triangle shaped fish has a high dorsal fin, and a long anal fin. The angelfish also has elongated, bony ventral fins. The angelfish's beauty is enhanced by numerous colors and varieties. Some of the more popular varieties of angelfish include the striped angelfish, the marbled angelfish, the black angelfish, the blushing angelfish, the gold angelfish, the pearl angelfish, the albino angelfish and perhaps the most attractive angelfish, the veil-tailed angelfish.
The many varieties of angelfish can be attributed to the ease of breeding this fish. The easy breeding of the angelfish has led to the development of several different colors. This breeding has also led to the beautiful long finned varieties of angelfish. This easy breeding of the angelfish is not limited to commercial breeders. The angelfish's easy breeding is another reason why this fish is so popular with freshwater fish hobbyists.
Usually the only difficulty freshwater fish hobbyists have when it comes to breeding their angelfish is determining the fish's sex. It is almost impossible to distinguish between the sexes of the angelfish. Some experts claim that once the fish becomes mature, the male will develop a small hump on its head. Others suggest that at spawning time the genital papilla will be pointed in the males, while the papilla will be flatter and rounder in the females. Usually the easiest way to guarantee that you have mating pairs of angelfish is to buy a group of 6 juveniles. Using this method, you are bound to have fish of both sexes, and they will pair up almost immediately.
Angelfish can begin breeding as young as 7 to 12 months old. As long as the mating pair of angelfish have large leaves, a clean rock or even the aquarium's glass, it's a good bet that they will lay their eggs there. Once the angelfish spawn, they will produce eggs about every 10 days. At that time, as many as 400 to 600 eggs may be laid. After the eggs are laid, the angelfish will fan the area to keep the water circulating around the eggs.
Usually, the angelfish's eggs will hatch in 3 or 4 days. The fry will become free swimming in about 5 to 7 days. At this time, the young angelfish can be fed baby brine shrimp. Many experts suggest that you should separate the parents from the fry to prevent the young from becoming a snack. However, not all angelfish parents eat their young, and the ones that do, rarely eat all of their brood. Usually, the angelfish parents only eat their young because of stress. This stress can be caused by anything from poor water conditions to activity in the room that houses the angelfishes' aquarium. For this reason, it is suggested that you keep the angelfishes' aquarium in a low traffic area, or cover three sides of the tank with some type of background. Even if you have problems with your angelfishes' first brood, keep in mind that these fish can spawn as much as 5 times a year.
As mentioned above, the angelfish's aquarium should include some large leafed plants and rocks for the fish to lay its eggs on. Other tank requirements for the angelfish can include other plants, roots or driftwood for the fish to use as hiding places. Initially, the angelfish is a very shy fish. However, if a hobbyist is patient and careful with this fish, there have been numerous reports of this fish actually taking food from hobbyists' fingers!
Possibly the most important aquarium requirement for the angelfish is a deep tank. The angelfish isn't necessarily a large fish, but it often grows to be a "tall" fish. While the angelfish rarely reaches a length of more than 6 inches long, this fish can grow to be at least 12 inches tall from the tip of its dorsal fin to the tip of its ventral fins. Because of this, it is often suggested that you keep the angelfish in at least a 30 gallon aquarium.
While the angelfish is originally a native of the Central Amazon, Peru and Ecuador, most angelfish are now bred in large numbers in the Far East, South Africa and the United States. Most often, these commercially bred angelfish are the ones that appear in the pet stores. Even though most angelfish are now commercially bred, you will still need to set up the fish's water to reflect its natural habitat.
The angelfish is often very sensitive to poor water conditions. The angelfish will need an adequately filtered tank. It also helps to perform a 30% water change every two weeks or so. The angelfish's water will need to range in temperature between 75 to 82 degrees, with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. The only time the angelfish's water temperature should be any warmer is if you are trying to induce spawning, or if you are trying to increase the hatching time of the angelfish's eggs.
Many people don't realize that the angelfish is a cichlid. However, it doesn't look like any other cichlid, and it's probably more peaceful than any other cichlid. However, that doesn't mean this fish is totally non-aggressive. The male angelfish can become aggressive during spawning. Also, if you have more than one angelfish, and they aren't the same size, the smallest angelfish may become a target for aggression by the larger angelfish. For this reason, it is suggested that you only keep one angelfish per tank, or a group of 3 or more angelfish that are all the same size.
Even though the angelfish is a cichlid, it shouldn't be kept in an aquarium with just any other cichlid. The angelfish is a peaceful fish, and should always be kept with similar fish. Still, there are a few cichlids that can make good tank mates for the angelfish. Some hobbyists keep their angelfish with oscars, discus, festivums, most South American cichlids and dwarf cichlids like the kribensis. Other ideal, non-cichlid tank mates for the angelfish can include gouramis, silver dollars, large tetras, corys, platies, swordtails, mollies, plecos, iridescent sharks, red finned cigar sharks, bala sharks, peacock eels, most loaches, danios and rainbows.
As the angelfish grows larger, it becomes very efficient at stalking and eating smaller fish. For this reason, you should avoid placing fish like guppies and neon tetras in the angelfish's aquarium. In fact, the neon tetra is the angelfish's natural prey! You should also avoid housing the angelfish with any fast moving, fin nipping fish like tiger barbs, especially if you have a veil-tailed angelfish.
Feeding the angelfish is almost as easy as feeding any other cichlid. The angelfish is just not as destructive and messy as other cichlids. The omnivorous angelfish will readily accept flake foods, blood worms, black worms, brine shrimp and other types of green food. Keep in mind that the angelfish may become tired of the same old food all of the time. When this happens, the angelfish may very well stop eating altogether until its diet is varied up a little bit.
The angelfish is not as hardy as most other cichlids. Aside from its sensitivity to poor water conditions, the angelfish is also susceptible to hole in the head disease. However, many unhealthy angelfish can be attributed to bad commercial breeding. In some instances, poor breeding strains can result in poorly colored, unhealthy fish that may even be stunted in growth. For this reason, you should always select young angelfish with care. Always look for the healthiest, brightly colored angelfish with healthy, undamaged fins. If the angelfish remains healthy, the fish can very well live for 10 years or more.
Angelfish are some of the easiest fish to find. Angelfish are usually found in nearly every pet store and even wall to wall discount marts. However, depending on the size of the angelfish, they may be a little on the expensive side. I have seen young angelfish retail anywhere from $5.00 to $10.00 apiece. Some pet stores will sell medium sized or large angelfish for much higher prices. All in all, it's still a small price to pay for your very own beautiful guardian angel!