Are Angelfish Hardy and Good for Beginners?

Angelfish are semi-aggressive cichlids that are highly popular in the aquarium business. They are generally easy-going and will adapt to their environment with relative ease. That being said, since they are cichlids, they have some special requirements with regards to their water parameters and tank layout, which we will discuss shortly.

But, first, should you get a pair of angelfish as a newbie, or are they meant for more experienced aquarists? Let’s see.

Are Angelfish Difficult to Keep?

No, angelfish are not difficult to keep. This species is rather hardy and won’t experience any relevant health problems. Water quality is a must, although they can withstand subpar conditions for a while, should the situation arise.

From a purely maintenance point, this is a very manageable species that has adapted exceptionally well to life in captivity. They can also breed with relative ease and will consume a variety of foods, provided it’s nutritious and palatable.

The only tricky part relates to their behavior. The angelfish is somewhat cranky, which is typical for most cichlids. As semi-aggressive fish, they can bully and attack their tank mates in some cases. One such case is overcrowding when fish lack the necessary space to go on with their lives peacefully. Bumping into other fish constantly will irritate the angelfish, causing its cichlid genes to take over.

As a novice aquarist who’s not familiarized with different fish dynamics and fish species characteristics, fish aggression could throw you off track. It’s okay, though, I’ll teach you how to cope with the problem effectively.

Are Angelfish Good for Beginners?

Yes, Angelfish are good for beginners, provided you learn as much as you can about the fish. All fish species are different, and angelfish have specific diets, water requirements, and environmental needs. Learning about their needs will allow you to ensure optimal care to boost the fish’s quality of life over the years.

After all, angelfish can live up to 12 years with proper care and maintenance over time.

How to Care for Angelfish?

A variety of parameters will influence the angelfish’s life and health, including:

– Tank Size

You should ideally have at least 20 gallons for one angelfish. The fish will only grow up to 4 inches in most cases, but this is a cichlid we’re talking about. They can be territorial at times and require their space to swim and roam the environment in peace. They won’t go out of their way to attack other fish intentionally, but will display some territorial behavior when tested.

25-30 gallons should be enough for a pair of angelfish, after which you can add 10 more extra gallons for each new body coming into the mix. When it comes to a community setup, the necessary tank size will vary depending on the fish species that create the community.

As a key addition, angelfish love to live in pairs or groups, so consider that before getting your aquarium.

– Water Parameters

The necessary water parameters refer to:

  • Water temperature – 75 to 82 °F
  • pH – 6.8 to 7.0
  • Water hardness – 4-12 dGH

While the angelfish is quite hardy and adaptable, I recommend keeping water parameters stable as much as possible. Drastic or frequent fluctuations in water values will impact the fish’s immune system and make it vulnerable to health problems and parasites. Not to mention, excessive changes can even lead to thermic shock, which can be deadly.

– Filtration

Filtration is necessary to any fish tank, including angelfish. The filtration system will achieve several key things:

  • Provide adequate biological filtration – The tank’s biofilm consists of nitrifying bacteria consuming ammonia and nitrites and turning them intro nitrates. The filter will house much of the tank’s biofilm, keeping the environment biologically safe and balanced.
  • Ensure cleaner waters – This is the immediate result of mechanical filtration. The filter will eliminate floating particles like sand and plant matter, which are bound to occur in a cichlid tank. After all, angelfish love to dig themselves in the sandy substrate occasionally, which will send a torrent of particles in the water. Without a filter, the water will look cloudy and dirty.
  • Chemical filtration – Not all filters have chemical filtration, so I recommend getting one that does. Most filters based on chemical filtration function based on activated carbon to eliminate dangerous chemicals and heavy metals that other systems fail to counter. Such a filtration system will eliminate chlorine, chloramines, excess methane, lead, and other chemical components that could hurt your fish.
  • Oxygenate the environment – A good filtration system is necessary to oxygenate the fish’s habitat and keep the fish healthy and comfortable in the long run. Check the plants if you want to know whether your tank water is well oxygenated. There should be air bubbles visible on their leaves which indicate a properly-oxygenated environment.

Either way, make sure that the filtration system is fitting for your tank. If the water currents are too powerful, your angelfish will exhibit signs of stress and will hate their lives. These fish enjoy slow-moving waters.

Also, don’t think of your filter as an excuse to quit your maintenance obligations. You still need to perform general tank maintenance and have a regular water-change routine in place.

– Feeding

Angelfish are omnivorous, so they will eat a variety of foods. They need at least 2 meals per day in moderate portions that they can consume within 2-3 minutes. When it comes to feeding your angelfish properly, consider the following:

  • Diversity is a strength – The fish requires plant-based nutrients and meat in balanced quantities. Too much animal-sourced protein will cause digestive issues, while not enough could cause nutrient deficiencies. Make sure your fish gets its fair share of brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex worms, spirulina, spinach, and other veggies for proper nutrient intake.
  • The fish might refuse the food – Angelfish have different food preferences. Most fish will eat the same things, but not all of them. Some might avoid foods that other fish will enjoy daily, and that’s usually due to the taste. Check your angelfish’s reaction to the food and make sure it likes it. If it doesn’t, the fish might ignore it and starve as a result.
  • Food competition – If you have several angelfish or have a community tank in place, food competition may come into play at times. Make sure all your fish get to eat and seek to minimize food-related aggression. One way of doing that refers to spreading the food all over the water’s surface so everyone gets the chance to eat.

You should also offer protein treats 2-3 times per week since your angelfish will love them.

– Tank Decorations

Angelfish are cichlids, which already says a lot about their layout preferences. Consider the following:

  • Sandy substrate – Angelfish aren’t as substrate-loving as other cichlids, but they will go down there quite often. They enjoy burying themselves in the substrate, either to scratch their skin parasites, look for some food, or simply play. Sand is the perfect substrate choice for them since any other option is rather unsafe. Gravel and rocks could hurt the fish, causing it to lose scales or experience injuries that could get infected. Also, sand looks great.
  • Plenty of hiding areas – These are even more important in a community setup, where your angelfish is forced to interact with other fish constantly. It does them a lot of good to have some hiding spots available should they ever feel stressed. Which can happen, especially in a diverse and crowded community tank.
  • Plants – Plants will create a more natural-looking setting, allowing your angelfish to feel safer in their environment. They also break the line of sight between the fish, contributing to a more peaceful and violence-free environment.

An important note here regarding various tank decorations that many novice aquarists use to beautify the aquatic setup. Many of these decorations can be dangerous due to:

  1. Jagged or pointy edges – Here, we various types of rocks and driftwood showcasing pointy or rugged areas that could hurt the fish. The same goes for more artistic elements like sunken ships, which may come with unsafe characteristics. Avoid all tank decorations that could slice or puncture the fish, leading to infections and even death.
  2. Dangerous chemical content – Only use aquatic decorations designed for that purpose. Experimenting with various other pieces that aren’t meant for that can backfire fast. These decorations can seep dangerous chemicals into the water via paint or third-party contamination that could kill your fish.

So long as you consider these points with the necessary seriousness, your angelfish should be fine.

Can You Keep Angelfish With Other Fish?

Yes, angelfish can live with other fish, but there’s a catch. The angelfish’s tank mates shouldn’t be:

  • Too large – If they are, they could bully, attack or even eat the angelfish.
  • Too small – If they are too small, the reverse might happen; your angelfish will become the aggressor
  • Too aggressive – Even if the fish are similar in size to your angelfish, if they are too aggressive, they might not fit in.

As a general rule, look for semi-aggressive tankmates that won’t look for trouble but won’t be easily intimidated by the angelfish either. Some compatible tankmates to consider include dwarf gouramis, mollies, dwarf cichlids, plecos, and other angelfish, to name a few.


As you can see, angelfish are relatively easy to care for since there are no special or intricate maintenance requirements. They demand conditions and care similar to most other fish species, including:

  • A varied diet with sufficient plant-based and animal-sourced protein
  • Stable water parameters
  • A good filtration system
  • Compatible tankmates
  • Sufficient swimming space
  • A well-balanced meal plan

Providing the angelfish will all these benefits, and the fish will live for a decade or more.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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