Angelfish belong to the Cichlidae family of freshwater fish and their saltwater relatives belong to the Pomacanthidae family. These colorful, triangular-shaped creatures are an attractive addition to your aquarium. But be forewarned, they require more upkeep than goldfish or other common tropical fish. Saltwater (or marine) angelfish varieties are even more exotic-looking and need more time and specialized care from fishkeepers. But if you have the patience and the money, caring for a tank or two of brightly-hued angelfish will give you many hours of enjoyment and fascinate even your non-aquarist friends.
Freshwater angelfish live in South American rivers. Marine angelfish swim in oceans throughout the Southern hemisphere. If you’ve ever watched film of scuba divers swimming past coral reefs and schools of brightly-colored fish, there’s a good chance some of those fish were marine angels.
Since there are about a hundred different species of freshwater and saltwater angelfish, the characteristics are as varied as the names-from flameback to zebra, from Cherub to Emperor, full descriptions will vary, but there are a few similarities. Freshwater angels have long dorsal and back fins and a flattened, laterally-shaped body. Saltwater angelfish are flat like freshwater fish, though their fins are usually not as long as freshwater angels. Marine angels tend to have striking coloration, and they eat algae, vegetable and animal matter. Saltwater angels eat sponge and are territorial about their surroundings. For this reason, aquarists recommend keeping only one species (or in some cases, only one fish) to a tank.
It’s hard to tell the difference between a male and female angel fish except at breeding time. The female’s breeding tube will be blunter and wider than the male’s. While this info makes some angelfish species harder to keep than the average fish, their looks make them worth it to many aquarists. Call them the high-maintenance fish of the aquarium hobby!
Each adult angelfish requires four gallons of water. Breeding couples need 15 gallons of water. Use 25 plus galloons of water if fry will be raised with the parents. Fill the tank with filtered tap water at a temperature of 74 to 80 degrees Celsius. Maintain a pH of between 6 and 7.5 – 6.5 to 6.9 if breeding. Use a sponge or under-gravel filtration system. A high-flow system may be too taxing for these sensitive fish. Add java moss, java fern, and/or tall, blade-like Vallisneria (eelgrass) to the tank. Angels love to glide through eelgrass. Include broadleaf plants if you have spawning angels. They like to lay eggs on the leaves. Keep the tank free of debris by use a net to remove excess food. Use a gravel vacuum to siphon off debris at the bottom of the tank. Change 20 per cent of the water once a week for show fish and 50% for breeding fish.
Angelfish can eat commercially-prepared dry flake and freeze-dried food. Live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms are good choices for angels. Saltwater species need frozen foods that contain both meat and algae.
About the author:
Marianne Moro is a freelance writer and publicist living in Hollywood, CA. She has written for many publications, clients and websites, including USA Today, Blogcritics Magazine, Modamag and Entertainment Today, among others. She's the proud co-o...
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