Freshwater Angelfish General Species Guide (2024)

Featured Image - angelfish 2
Featured Image – angelfish 2
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: April 9, 2024
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The angelfish, famous for its unique appearance, is a preferred selection for many aquarium hobbyists. Known for being robust and compatible with beginner fish keepers, these freshwater species are also a popular choice.

Article Summary

  • Freshwater angelfish have a distinctive appearance, with a silver body, three vertical stripes, and long majestic fins, making them great centerpiece fish for aquariums.
  • The recommended tank size for angelfish is at least 20 gallons, with a preference for taller tanks over wider ones.
  • Angelfish can be aggressive, particularly when breeding or stressed, so it’s best to avoid housing them with smaller or aggressive species.

If you’re interested in keeping freshwater angelfish or just curious about them, you can learn more about the angelfish with this guide.

What are freshwater angelfish?


Freshwater angelfish is a small freshwater fish genus that are part of the cichlid family. The three recognized species of freshwater angelfish are Pterophyllum altum, Pterophyllum leopoldi, and Pterophyllum scalare. These species originated and reside in different water bodies in Tropical South America.

Freshwater angelfish are one the most recognized freshwater species, they are a very popular fish known for their distinct appearance; a silver body that has three vertical stripes and long majestic fins. Aside from their majestic appearance that makes them great centerpiece fish, they are also known to be a hardy species that can do great in a community tank.

Species Overview

Scientific name:Pterophyllum scalare 
Common names
Freshwater Angelfish
Distribution:River basins of Brazil, Columbia, French Guiana, Guyana, and Peru
Body length up to 6 inches, Height up to 8 inches
Color:Silver, White, Orange, Yellow, Gold
Temperament:Peaceful but territorial
Minimum tank size:20 gallons
Place in the tank:Middle or Upper Level
Care level:Beginner
Life Expectancy10 – 12 years

How to pick healthy angelfish

When choosing a freshwater angelfish from pet stores, try to pick the healthiest of the bunch. Before looking at the fish, check the environment and overall condition of the fish tank. This can be a good indicator of how they handle their fish.

Look out for sickness or damage, check their fins and how they move. Another thing you can do is ask them if you can feed the angelfish, while feeding them look out for the most lively or the aggressive eaters.

How big do angelfish get?

Common angelfish or freshwater angelfish can grow up to 6 inches in length and up to 8 inches in height. The most common angelfish raised in the aquarium hobby which is the Pterophyllum Scalare can grow up to 9 inches in length.

How long do angelfish live?

Angelfish can live up to 8 to 12 years depending on the environment, diet, tank conditions, and how you care for your fish.

How much do angelfish cost?

The price of a freshwater angelfish varies depending on its size and color variety. Its price can range from 10$ up to 25$ and above.

Angelfish Tank Requirements

Angelfish Tank
Angelfish Tank

In the natural setting, angelfish live in slow moving bodies of water. When trying to create a tank for them, it’s best to replicate their natural environment. To give them enough space to thrive, Angelfish should be housed in a tank that’s at least 20 gallons in size. It’s also worth noting that since this species grow tall, it’s better to provide them with tall tanks rather than a wide tank.

The tank should have a soft and fine substrate as they like digging in the substrate. Putting caves, rocks, or other decorations that can serve as hiding places will be great for angelfish.

Tank Requirements Overview

Tank Size:20 gallons
Water Type:Freshwater
Water Temperature:75–82°F or 25–28°C
Water pH:6.0 to 7.5 pH
Water Hardness:Soft
Tank Setup:Tank with Driftwood, java fern, anubias
Substrate:Fine substrate
Water Flow:Slow moving water flow
Filter:Filter is needed
Water Heater:Water Heater is needed
Lighting:Yes because they are tropical fish

Angelfish water requirements

In the wild, angelfish reside in soft and acidic water but in captivity they can accept a wide range of water parameters. Freshwater angelfish prefer pH levels of 6.0 to 7.5pH and can tolerate tank water hardness between 54 to 145 ppm. You will probably need a heater as they require water temperatures of 75° to 82° F.

What do Angelfish Eat?

Angelfish are omnivores, most angelfish would normally eat small fish, worms, small crustaceans (like the vampire crab), and insects in their natural habitat. But in an aquarium setting they will accept almost all types of food. You can feed them pellets, flakes, frozen food, or live foods like baby brine shrimp, mealworms, and bloodworms.

When it comes to feeding, try to provide them a varied diet of live and frozen foods. For their meal time, try to feed them what they can consume in 2 minutes.

Angelfish Suitable Tankmates

Angelfish Tankmates
Angelfish Tankmates

The ideal tank mates for angelfish are similarly sized fish with calm and timid nature. Angelfish tend to do great as community fish when provided with the right conditions. Some suitable tank mates for angelfish are peaceful fish like corydoras, vampire plecos, pictus catfish, rainbowfish, tetras, rasboras, and gouramis to name a few.

It is worth noting that even with the right tankmates, enough space should still be provided. Inadequate aquarium size might make them more territorial and aggressive to other fish.

Are angelfish aggressive?

Angelfish can exhibit aggression and territorial behavior to other community fish and even to other angelfish. This behavior is more noticeable when an adult angelfish is stressed, breeding, or spawning. It’s best to avoid housing them with smaller fish and aggressive species of fish.

Can you keep angelfish alone?

Angelfish can live alone but they are better suited as a pair or in a group with 5 or 6 angelfish. If you don’t have enough space for additional tankmates, it’s okay to keep them alone.

Can you breed angelfish?

Angelfish can be bred in captivity but it can be challenging for beginner aquarists. You’re going to need a dedicated breeding tank and provide the right conditions for angelfish breeding.


Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to share it with your friends or fellow aquarist in the freshwater aquarium hobby.

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