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FAQs on Freshwater Angelfish Behavior

Related Articles: Freshwater Angels, Discus, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General,

Related FAQs: Angels 1, Angels 2, Angelfish Identification, Angelfish Compatibility, Angelfish Selection, Angelfish Systems, Angelfish Feeding, Angelfish Disease, Angelfish Reproduction, & FAQs on: Wild Angels (P. altum), Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,

angelfish swims weird      3/19/17
<Hello Olivia>
I have had my angelfish for over a year and she seems perfectly healthy. I have her in a 20 gal tall tank (which I know is on the small side but I didn't know better when I got her and I can't get a bigger tank right now)
and I do a 20% water change twice a week. The temperature stays around 78.
I feed a variety of flakes, bloodworms, and shrimp. She lives with some cherry barbs. I was just wondering if it is normal behavior for angelfish to swim backwards and upside down.
<Not upside down, no>

She will usually swim normally, but sometimes she will swim kind of on her back or swim backwards slowly
around the tank. She is very friendly and comes right up for food and gets along great with the cherry barbs! The only thing is the weird directions of her swimming and is that normal?
<Not; and the issue here may be mostly genetic. Freshwater angels are tremendously inbred for most stocks. However, the flake food itself may be influential; I would substitute a fine grade pelleted food for the flake>
Thank you!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Occasional angelfish bullying in brighter light       8/11/16
I have two freshwater Pearlscale angelfish about half-dollar size. One was purchase about two weeks after the other and is bullying the first guy quite a bit, but only when the lights are brighter.
<Mmm; best to keep Pterophyllum in a group... IF you only have so much resources, system size... three individuals; to split up aggression>
When the blue light is on the bully is calm. I am thinking that I need to get rid of the bully soon due to the stress on the calm guy.
<Or add a third, about the same, or larger individual>
The bullying is not a lot, but probably enough, and I am thinking it will get worse over time. If the calm guy holds his ground the bully backs off, but if the calm guy zips off, the other guy takes off after him. It is too bad the calm guy doesn't realize that if he "holds his ground" and doesn't "run" the bullying would stop. I guess you would agree that a re-homing is probably the best bet in the long run? Thank you
<See WWM re stocking Angels? Bob Fenner>

Angelfish     10/8/15
I have a large angel. He was doing great. We got him over a month ago and for the last couple days he has been swimming towards the top of the water like he isn’t getting enough air.
<Not so much air, as oxygen. Cichlids are more sensitive than many other community fish to low oxygen levels (catfish and loaches can and do gulp air directly). When stressed you will see them "gasping" which is in fact trying to move the oxygen rich surface layer of water across their gills. Lowering the waterline 1-2 cm so the filter splashes the water more and increasing water movement (perhaps by using a spray bar) should increase the amount of oxygen in the water. If your Angelfish perks up, then that's your problem: tank too small, filter too pokey, water too warm, or some combination of these. Also note that dramatic changes in pH can trigger a similar behaviour, though often pH-stress causes fish to dart about nervously as well.>
We have an air stone and a filter on the tank.
<Perhaps not enough of either.>
We just recently added some dark small gravel to the tank bottom. Could that be our problem somehow.
<Can be, if you lost some water volume by adding more substrate (so the tank is more densely stocked per gallon) or disturbed the substrate so much that buried organic matter (gunk) is using up oxygen from the water column.>
I don’t want to lost him. He’s a good 7 inches from top to bottom.
We have several Corys, another angel, and a few hi fin tetras in the tank with him and they all do fine together. There hasn’t been any aggression since the first two days all the fish were in the tank. Advice please.
<Rejigging the tank can rearrange territories, and adult Angels that got along before aren't always sociable after such changes. Hi-Fin Tetras doesn't mean much to me, but some species (Serpae Tetras, Black Widows/Petticoats, and a few others) are confirmed fin-nippers and can cause stress for Angels.>
Thank you.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Angelfish mouth locking       6/16/15
<Hey Judy>
I have two angelfish in a 75 gallon. There was a singleton and a new one was put in the tank. The singleton went after the new one and there was mouth locking. This morning the new guy, I guess the loser has a really white mouth, so he/she went into the smaller tank. Some people think the mouth locking is mating, but that was aggression as the new fish was being chased this morning.
<Can be both or either>

I am thinking I may need to keep an eye on the new one to see if this turns into fungus.
Oh...would dither fish help with aggression, something like Rasboras although Rasboras may be to small or nippy.
<Dither fish are a good idea; even in a 75. There are some larger Rasboras; many other possibilities>
These angels are quite large, Thank you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Angelfish Growth Rates       5/30/15
Hello! First, I want to thank you for patiently answering so many questions, and providing knowledge to so many.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have looked through all of your information on raising angelfish fry, and I am following your advice, but I have a question about my runt fry. I was allowing the parents (Philippine blue) to raise their fry, and they had been free-swimming for two or three days when I found that most of them had been eaten. I managed to rescue nine, of which two are left. One is now dime-sized and looks like a small copy of its parents.
The other is about one-fifth of the size of the larger, and not as well-developed. It looks like it stopped growing just as its angel fins were beginning to grow.
<Not uncommon. Any number of reasons, from bullying (dominant fry monopolise food) through to parasitic infection.>
They eat baby brine shrimp, frozen beef heart, and flakes. I've kept up the brine shrimp in hopes the little one will grow better with it - it is still too small for the beef heart, no matter how tiny I make it.
<Do bear in mind brine shrimp nauplii are nutritious; adult brine shrimp are not. Do try some alternate foods: frozen lobster eggs are usually a winner, but Liquifry and Hikari First Bites may be more convenient.>
The little fish also will drop to the bottom of the tank and lay there twitching with alarming frequency. I keep expecting it to die, but it pops back up and continues swimming. Will it ever grow? Does it have a neurological problem?
<If it sinks rather than floats in midwater, chances are it has a malformed swim bladder, and this could make swimming difficult, and this in turn could mean it gets less food. Not curable. Not fatal, either. Certainly don't aim to breed from it, but if it is feeding and growing, albeit slowly, you could choose to keep it in a peaceful tank with things that will neither compete for food not peck at its fins (for example, Corydoras or Kuhli Loaches, but not tetras or barbs).>
I don't want to euthanize it because it is the only company the healthy one has.
<Angels are social when young, but territorial as adults. The "runt" would likely do better kept singly, or with alternate tankmates as outlined earlier.>
Thank you for your time.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

My fw angelfish color; RMF's go      8/29/13
Hello,  I have been looking through the different angelfish q&a's on your site but I am not positive that any resolve my dilemma. I am knew to the hobby but I love it, and love my fishys. I started my 10 gallon tank about 4 or 5 months ago. Currently I have 1 zebra pattern angel, 1 male fancy Molly,
<Mmm, do read a bit more re this livebearer. Mollies like hard, alkaline water (often w/ a modicum of salt) that the angel, neons, and cat listed don't appreciate>
 1 female swordtail, 2 small neons, a small male guppy and a banjo cat. The problem is, for the last 2 months the color of the top fin on my angel has been progressively getting worse. It started with a little bit of rot at the tip pf the fin but now the entire fin, and the top of head is a brown green color.
<Bad... >
I also noticed today that there are little red spots on the fin.
<Almost assuredly the trouble here is induced, environmental... a ten gallon is too small for keeping even just one Angel... what re your water quality (readings from tests)? How much nitrate is accumulated here?>
I have been adding jungle start right to the tank and that took care of the rot from the beginning. But his color still is bad. I also use jungle aquarium salt,
<As stated, Pterophyllum really don't like much salt/s>
 tetra safe start and tetra ph correct monthly along with 20 percent water changes. I have been told that my municipal tap water is hard for fish tanks but my angel fish has never changed eating habits or behaviors. I am simple looking for some guidance on what i can do for the fish.  
<I would trade the Angel (and maybe the tetras, catfish) and get more simple, hardy fishes that like your type of water... Perhaps some Platies... Do read here:
and the linked files above>
Thank you for your time
<Glad to assist you, your growth, understanding in the field. Bob Fenner>
My fw angelfish color; Neale's go     8/29/13

Hello,  I have been looking through the different angelfish q&a's on your site but I am not positive that any resolve my dilemma. I am knew to the hobby but I love it, and love my fishys. I started my 10 gallon tank about 4 or 5 months ago. Currently I have 1 zebra pattern angel, 1 male fancy Molly, 1 female swordtail, 2 small neons, a small male guppy and a banjo cat.
<Far too many fish for 10 gallons. Do understand that aquarium size is crucial to success, and many/most problems beginners have come down to overstocking small tanks. A 20-gallon tank is the minimum for Angels and Mollies.>
The problem is, for the last 2 months the color of the top fin on my angel has been progressively getting worse.
<Ah, this happens a lot. Almost certainly environmental.>
It started with a little bit of rot at the tip pf the fin but now the entire fin, and the top of head is a brown green color. I also noticed today that there are little red spots on the fin.
<Yes; the red patches are areas where bacterial infection clog up blood vessels. Tissue death follows quickly, then erosion of the fin membrane.>
I have been adding jungle start right to the tank and that took care of the rot from the beginning. But his color still is bad. I also use jungle aquarium salt,
<Irrelevant here; not a cure for anything much besides Whitespot if used correctly.>
tetra safe start and tetra pH correct monthly along with 20 percent water changes.
<Messing around with pH is a very bad idea for beginners. Unless you are lowering the hardness of aquarium water, you should NEVER change pH directly.>
I have been told that my municipal tap water is hard for fish tanks but my angel fish has never changed eating habits or behaviors.
<Hard water isn't necessarily bad. Mollies and Guppies love it, farmed Angels will be fine up to 20 degrees dH, pH 8, and catfish generally don't care provided water quality is good.>
I am simple looking for some guidance on what i can do for the fish.  
<Hmm... bigger tank for a start, then stop messing about with water chemistry until you understand the background science and what you're trying to achieve. Medicating for Finrot using a reliable medication (e.g., eSHa 2000 or Maracyn 1 and 2) will cure the symptoms, but only if the environment is good will Finrot stay away. Remember, Finrot bacteria are simply "good" bacteria that have been allowed to go "bad" because the fish have a weakened immune system. You can never remove them from an aquarium, and you wouldn't need to if the fish are healthy.>
Thank you for your time
<Most welcome. Do start by reading:
You'll find plenty of links on these articles to yet more reading material plus FAQs. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My fw angelfish color – 8/29/13

Thank you for the details. This site is great!  My closest fish store is about 20 miles away so I don't get to talk to a pro very often. I am definitely a beginner and made some beginner mistakes, but definitely want to learn more. The angel fish was one of the first fish I put in my tank but was not aware of the detailed of having an angel fish.
<Not really that demanding, at least, farmed Angels are pretty easy. But they do need a spacious tank, 20+ gallons. Do read:
And follow the links above.>
I think I am going to see if the fish store will take the fish, get a nice testing kit and go from there. Thanks a lot for the info and reading material. It is much appreciated.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Petite Angelfish, growth, beh.     1/30/13
Just over two months ago I bought a 30 gallon freshwater aquarium that was already cycled and had fish in it (the person was moving). In the tank there was a white, almost translucent angelfish who was quarter-sized, along with some other fish, including a good-sized, aggressive rainbow shark (who has since found a new home). The angelfish was skittish, but has
gotten over that and is now quite friendly and confident. It eats well, has a good weight, no signs of illness and my water quality is pretty good (it's a tad bit alk, about 7.5 because we are on well water, but at least there is no chlorine and the nitrate and nitrite levels are 0); however, my Angelfish has not grown a bit - according to what all I have found, my
Angelfish should have grown quite a bit, but it is still at quarter-size.
Is there anything I am over looking, or do some angelfish just not grow?
Thanks for your time, Amelia
<Yes indeed, some fish fail to grow, especially if something wasn't right when young. If they don't grow quickly in the first 6 months, cichlids like Angels often grow much slowly thereafter. Bad genes could also be at fault here. Provided the fish is otherwise healthy and you have no reason to suspect Hexamita (white, stringy faeces) or Camallanus worms (red threads visible at anus) I'd tend to leave things be. Cheers, Neale.>

my angelfish are freaking out    10/11/12
Dear: WWM crew
i have a 29gal freshwater tank with 5 beautiful angelfish in it and i have had this set up for along time now and the angel's have always came and see me when it was time for feeding or me just walking by the tank but now when i feed them or i walk by they start swimming erratically and hiding from me can you tell me what i need to do to fix this problem
<Hi Mark. The two obvious explanations are that [a] they're stressed; or [b] something is spooking them. On the stress side of things, check water quality, water chemistry (pH drops are common in older tanks, and will stress even fish from acidic habitats), water temperature and so on. On the spooking side, review livestock first and foremost. Have you added any new
fish, even small things that might actually be nippy or simply boisterous?
Are there any fish that have grown and now scare them, like a catfish?
Within the group, are there any mated pairs pushing the others around?
Angels are schooling fish outside of spawning, but as adults, groups smaller than 6 tend not to be stable. Alternatively, check for direct sunlight or excessive noise in the room (vibrations, i.e., bass sounds, are very alarming to fish -- ask any angler!). Children sometimes bang around there house and bash the aquarium, and that'll scare most fish. A last factor to consider is aquarium size: 29 gallons is way too small for 5 adults, and they could well feel cramped. Cichlids especially can react to
overstocking by becoming shy. More than likely, there's a combination of things going on; review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: my angelfish are freaking out    10/13/12

thanks for the info I bumped up the temp and now they are starting to act normally again
<Glad to help. Do review my comments on aquarium size though! Cheers, Neale.>

Angels fighting    6/24/12
Hi Neale! good morning,
<Good evening from England.>
quick recap, I have 4 Angel fish (2 black, 1 marble, 1 white) and 2 Striped Raphaels, yesterday we moved them from a 23 to a 55 gallon aquarium.
<I see.>
The marble and pearl paired a month ago and hatched eggs, I told you the marble became very protective and aggressive towards the blacks, but ever since the eggs died, the papers changed, the two black ones are the dominant now and they won´t let marble go near the white one, she seems to want to go with him but if he tries they attack him, even when he is hiding or just swimming in the bottom they go look for him and poke him. ;-(
I am very sad because of this he looks so lonely. An aquarium should be a peaceful thing to look at but every time I look I get stressed!
Marble wants to explore the new aquarium just as the other 3 do but they won't let him.
<And won't. It's the nature of Angelfish to form pairs and bully any others that come within range of their territory.>
I understand 55 is still not big enough but that´s all we could do at the moment.
<55 gallons would be big enough for a group of 6, but you do have rather a lot of other fish.>
The cats are so happy on the other hand with their sand beds :).
So is it time to let go of 2 Angels? should I keep the marble and white knowing they are a pair?
and return the blacks that appear to be 2 beautiful males, I´m just worried about the two that go, they are approx. 7 or 8 months old, will they survive in a  new aquarium (my aquarist would take them)
<Once you return the fish, it has to take its chances. It may get bought by a skilled fishkeeper -- but it might not. It's often better to donate the fish to someone who know keeps fish, or get in touch with your local aquarium club.>
please advise! my husband always wants more so if we remove 2 Angels he wants to get some Green Tiger Barb Sumatra, would this be a good choice? and how many?
<Terribly choice. Tiger Barbs are very nippy, and Angelfish are too slow to avoid trouble.>
thanks so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angels fighting    6/24/12

Hi again! Just a doubt regarding:
I wrote: I understand 55 is still not big enough but that´s all we could do at the moment. You replied: "55 gallons would be big enough for a group of 6, but you do have rather a lot of other fish."
I only have 4 Angels and 2 Striped Raphael, that's it, 6, you meant a group of 6 Angels? Introducing 2 more Angels now would solve the problem?
<Angelfish and Discus both tend to form more stable groups with less bullying in them when kept in groups of 6 or more specimens. Don't know why this is the magic number but it seems to be the most reliable starting point if you want a whole group of either species. Now, your 55-gallon tank is quite large, and could hold 6 adult Angels with ease, but the two catfish are going to get quite big, 15-20 cm/6-8 inches, and add that to the adult Angels at around 10-12 cm/4-5 inches a piece, and you see why I'm cautious about recommending you keep them all in the same tank. As juveniles you might be fine, and as/when they get bigger, you may upgrade the tank or move out the catfish. At the very least, this tank will be heavily stocked and will need very robust filtration and substantial weekly water changes. It's doable for sure, but not ideal, hence my reticence.>
Sorry I got confused! Thanks.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Angelfish and <bent> ventral fins    6/19/12
I have an angelfish pair in a 46 gallon, one Blue Cobalt and one Platinum.
The Platinum is still a juvenile. On the juvenile one of the ventral fins is very bent. Is that a genetic "defect" or when the fish grows will it straighten out? Thank You
<Quite common aberration... and most likely developmental (ontogenetic)... raised in cramped quarters w/ too many siblings... these "tweaks" happen.
Not self-correcting, but no problem in terms of the life/health of specimens, nor the outcome of their own breeding. Bob Fenner>

Angel Fish Question - Pectoral Fin coloring 2/15/12
Hi Guys - I'm hoping you can answer a question for me. I can't find an answer anywhere.
I recently bought a few quarter sized Blue Angels. One of them has a light pinkish/red tinge encompassing the base of each of his pectoral fins. It does not look inflamed per se, and its somewhat difficult to describe. It is shaped like a half moon around the base of the pectoral fin.
<Could be; most likely is, just genetic expression. This sort of marking is quite common>
I'm wondering if this is just genetic coloration, or an area of blood flow through that muscle tissue, or perhaps some sort of infection?
<Most likely both the first two>
The fish seems completely normal in every other way, eats well, and swims fine.
None of the others have this though.
I feel like this is something I have seen in Angel fish that I have owned in the past from time to time, but I cannot specifically recall.
<Look at enough Pterophyllum pix... in books, the Net... and you'll see this>
I know this isn't the best description, and I was not able to get a good photo of it to attach for you.
Have you ever seen any pinkish coloration circling around the base of an Angel's pectoral fins before?
I'm not sure if I should return him to the store, or if it is a normal genetic thing for this particular fish. I brought one back earlier today that had the same thing on only one of his pectoral fins. So, perhaps its a genetics thing from fish to fish? The shop is reputable and I know the tank is healthy there, unless this is a disease issue. The other few I got last week from this same tank show none of this pink-ish color in the pectoral fins.
I also noticed a pinkish spot on the skin of his lip, very light, looks similar to when a fish has been hooked and then released. However, that seems to be very, very light. The pectoral fin coloration issue is a fairly light pinkish color as well.
Any info you may be able to provide is much appreciated.
<I wouldn't worry re. Bob Fenner>
Re: Angel Fish Question - Pectoral Fin coloring 2/15.12

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly Bob. I really appreciate it. Your answers put my mind at ease. This morning, the pinkish coloration on the pectoral fins was gone. I imagine it may have been coloring due to stress from the move to his new home.
<Could well be>
Can I ask you just one more quick question though? I noticed the shape of his operculum, specifically the rear part of it near his head is shaped a little differently. Not major but it is cut differently than my others.
The others have a more rounded operculum entirely covering their gills. His is a bit more square/jagged or pointed shaped. I can see his gills slightly, more so than the others more because of this. Its as if the bottom rear part of his operculum on both sides is millimeters shorter than if it were full and rounded nicely. The gills are not inflamed or anything. Its not overly noticeable, I probably only saw it because I was so heavily watching his every move last night.
Would you think this is normal as well or genetic expression?
<Mmm, not so much, or likely. These opercular malformations are distinctly more common nowayears, with captive-bred angels being raised in sub-optimal conditions. FWIW, the bent gill covers don't seem to often cause problems, and the developmental issues aren't passed on to offspring>
Have you seen something like that before?
<Very common; yes>
He seems perfectly happy with his surroundings and normal otherwise. Was not able to track down any similar pictures on the net.
Thanks again!
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Angel Fish Question - Pectoral Fin coloring 2/15.12

Thanks again Bob. You've been a tremendous help.
<Glad to participate Mark. B>

Timid angelfish 1/30/12
I am the one with the 29 gallon, with the 10 tetras and the juvenile angelfish. I refunded the tetras over the weekend as the angelfish was not getting to eat. The angelfish is in there alone and is acting very timid and frightened it seems. He/she does not come up to eat and freaks out when I open the tank lid and is always hiding like when the tetras were there.
Is this normal for an angelfish that is a juvenile and alone in a 29 gallon??
<Yes... Pterophyllum are social animals/species>

The girl at the LFS said that the juveniles "need company" but that sounded like a ploy to sell more fish, plus more angelfish need a much bigger tank.
I think now I should have purchased a larger angelfish that could hold it's own. Thank You!!!
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwangelselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Angelfish fish growth 1/27/12
I have one angelfish in a 29 gallon. He/she is about the size of a quarter not including the fins. How long does it take for a juvenile angelfish to reach adulthood??
<A few months... faster w/ more frequent feeding, water changes>
How old are these juveniles when they are shipped to stores??
<A handful of weeks to a few months>
Thank you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Angel Fish et al. terr. beh. 1/7/12
I have had a 29 gallon tank set up for almost 2 years now. Over time I have experienced several problems with water quality and because of that I have had to learn a lot more about fish and water then I ever thought I would.
<Worthwhile lessons... can/do relate to your own health>
This past year we only had one pH problem and that was quickly remedied.
Fortunately, over the past 6 or so months we have been free and clear of any problems- until tonight.
Okay, so it might have been before tonight, but this is the first time I am noticing it, and I often watch my fish and their unique behaviors.
Recently, my two angel fish have been increasingly aggressive to the other fish, mainly to the black finned tetra (who they have never bothered before). I thought at first it was just those two making problems until I saw my other two fish which are also tetras nipping at the angel and each other! What really got me is my Pleco swimming upside down to eat the fish flakes and then, when that isn't enough circus behavior he starts chasing the other fish. I have never seen my Pleco act like this.
At first I assumed they were not getting enough to eat but between my fiancé and I, they are getting fed two or three times a day. These are the original fish in the tank and they have been together for quite some time.
The tests are all coming back great- 0 ammonia, 0 nitrate, 0 nitrate,
<Zero NO3? How is this rendered?>
barely hard water, great temps, ph is where it should be... I'm lost. Any ideas?
<Yes; the first, most likely explanation is that your angels are maturing... exhibiting reproductive behavior... Are very territorially aggressive during spawning... Please read here re:
Elsewise, the unrest could be due to some aspect of water quality... Do use the search tool on WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Angelfish acting weird 1/2/12
So this mourning my 2 day old marble angelfish seemed completely fine and happy but then i noticed he was going with the current of the filter.
<Bad sign.>
I thought he was playing
<Not normally something fish do. In fact "play" behaviour has almost never been observed among fish.>
but then i noticed he was having trouble swimming and was just laying on the ground.
<Weak'¦ sick'¦>
I quickly took out the little house decoration i had because he seemed to be going under it and i didn't want him to be crushed.
<Wise; suffocation when trapped inside ornaments is a risk.>
He has now ceased even trying to swim an is just laying there. I have a ten gallon tank with only 2 baby angelfish in it, and from the research I've been doing this mourning it seems that's to small
<Correct; 20 gallons is about right for Angelfish, singly or in matched pairs (they are territorial and potentially aggressive, and can bully one another).>
but the lady at the pet store said it was fine
<She was wrong.>
i just couldn't get anything else. Since i just checked my water at the pet store w days ago when i got the fish, i know everything was good.
<Need numbers here, not your opinion. At minimum, the pH and nitrite level. To recap: Angelfish need water that is soft to moderately hard (2-15 degrees dH) and between pH 6 and 8. Water quality must be excellent; 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrate below 20 mg/l. Angelfish should not be kept in new tanks; only in tanks that have been cycled and running for at least 6 weeks, and ideally 2-3 months. Water temperature should be middling to high; 25-28 C/77-82 F.>
Both haven't eaten either since i got them
<Unusual; while they can be shy for the first few hours, but the day after being introduced they should be eating readily. If not, you have a problem, very likely non-zero ammonia or nitrite levels.>
but according to my Googling i just have to let them get used to the environment. I tried a 25% water change but it didn't seem to do anything. Im really new at this so i just don't understand what i did wrong
<Hmm'¦ do read:
and i really hope he doesn't die but i think he might have swimming bladder disease
<Essentially no such thing. What new aquarists (and disreputable retailers) call "Swim Bladder Disease" is merely a vague, hand-waving idea that the fish got sick and died somehow from something that wasn't their fault. Almost always, "Swim Bladder Disease" is in fact environmental stress, either directly causing their death (e.g., non-zero ammonia level) or else causing such stress that a secondary infection (e.g., Mycobacteria) became established.>
and I'm so lost. Any suggestion on how to keep this one alive or at least save the other?
<In the short term, ensure water quality is good by doing 20% water changes daily. Don't feed the fish until and unless ammonia level stays at zero. Remember to use water conditioner when doing water changes, ideally a variety that neutralises not just chlorine but also chloramine, ammonia and copper. Long term, determine why your aquarium is wrong, and fix it. Do read:
Follow the links re: disease, systems. Cheers, Neale.>

Question - Angelfish
FW Angelfish Adjusting to New Tank 11/17/11

Hello, I am emailing on my angelfish Mulder. I have had him about 5 months.
I guess I get paranoid because when I got him (or what I believe is a him)
I had to treat for internal parasites i.e. not eating and white stringy poo.
A bit about my tank... 16 gallon tall, well planted for hiding (not real plants) 78-80 degrees. I do water changes every three days or so. Zero ammonia and nitrites. Nitrates don't ever register to 20 ppm so always below 20. May seem crazy, but I love taking care of him. His only other tank mate is another angelfish, Scully, who is smaller. They get along very well actually. I know having two you should be careful for aggression, but so far so good.
I feed them a varied diet. Frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, beef heart and glass worms. Every so often flakes, but I don't have great luck with those. Mulder the large one is a Marble and Scully is black. I will attach a photo.
It's Mulder I'm worried about. He stays in one corner of the tank most of the time. Swims up and down the corner of the tank. Only ever so often will he take advantage of his large home and swim off, and its usually at night when all the lights are off. Sometimes he doesn't want to eat, but most of the time will eat a small bit. They have been in this tank for over a week as I upgraded it. I have been doing water testing everyday to make sure I don't cycle. I used old media, rocks, filter and plants. I wanted a tall tank for them to grow and be happy. Mulder used to have red eyes, but since the move I think he's under stress because the next day his eyes were white/silver. The red over the past few days has come back a little, but disappears and comes back often. He has started a while back getting gold color on his crown, and I noticed it moving to a gold iridescent color up his dorsal fin. I know their colors can change but I wanted to let you know. I read up on diseases and wanted to see if with the weird swimming, mostly staying in the same corner, loss of red eyes, color change and not having the ravenous appetites they should have may possibly be an underlying symptom of something? This is my first time with angelfish so I want to do my best because I love these little guys :). I may be over worrying because of the parasites when I first got him, but any input you can give would be great. Thank you for taking the time. I've attached a photo of Mulder and Scully so you can see my babies lol. Sarah Richert
Chicago IL
< Give them some time to adjust to their new surroundings. They feel more secure when the lights are out and that is why you see them swim around at that time. When they adjust they will become more active.-Chuck>

Odd Angelfish Behavior 11/3/11
Hi there! I've been searching and searching for a reasonable answer to my problem, both on your site and other places and I've found good answers but I'm not sure if they apply to my situation. So, here goes: 29 gallon bare bottom FW tank, been running for almost a year now, started with goldfish, rehomed them recently because they got too big for the tank. I bought a heater and replaced the goldfish with 2 marble angels (so pretty!). My ammonia and nitrites are always at 0, the pH steadily between 7-7.2. The nitrates have always been around 20ppm with the goldies, but I recognize that angels are exceptionally sensitive to nitrate levels so today I did a large water change that brought the levels down to undetectable. Today I also cranked the heat up from 74 to 78 (it took all day to get there) and replaced the media in the larger of my two filters (Top Fin 40 and 10, hoping the bacterial colonies in the 10 will sustain for a while till the new filter builds up). I also have always used small amounts of marine salt (1 tbs per 6 gallons) in my tank with no problems to speak of.
<All sounds/reads good, with the exception of the salt. I'd skip. Should I refer you to Neale's piece re?:
So, the angels have been in there for little more than a week. They are always hiding at the back of the tank near the bottom behind a rock,
<Mmm, not good. Should be out front...>
and today I noticed they both have been hiding behind the heater all day near the surface of the water. They venture out during feeding but seem to always stay at the back, at the surface or on the bottom. The past few days I've tinkered with the tank quite a bit, testing water, doing the big water change, rearranging decor, etc. I'm wondering if they are just freaked out and too scared to come out, or if the salt is affecting them, or if the temp change was too much for one day...help! They're so pretty I would love for them to swim around a bit so I can admire them. Thank you so much for your help :)
-Michelle S.
<Could be what you list, a combo... I'd just stop fiddling w/ the system, proffer a small amount of food twice a day... Bob Fenner>
Odd Angelfish Behavior Update 11/3/11

Hello again! I wanted to shoot y'all an email before you took the time to write out a detailed response...the angels are fine this morning!
<Ah good>
They are swimming around the tank, exploring and looking much more comfortable. I still would love your expert opinion on 2 things, though!
(1) I keep reading about "dither fish", like a small school of fish to keep the angels from being on guard, do I have room for any in my 29 gal?
<Mmm, yes... perhaps a trio of White Cloud Mountain Fish, small Danios, my fave three small barb species (see WWM re stocking/selection)>
And, (2) I do keep small amounts of marine salt in my tank, this is ok, right?
<Not really necessary, or helpful likely. See Neale's article I cited>
I guess it messes with the hardness of the water,
<Can add to it>
I have never tested my water for hardness but I guess I should. Or, is it ok as long as it is consistent?
<Can't tell w/o testing eh?>
Y'all are great, and are the only online source that I trust 100% for all of my fish-keeping needs. Thanks :)
<Thank you for sharing your passion, intelligence w/ us. Bob Fenner>
Re: Odd Angelfish Behavior Update 11/3/11

Thank you for your very quick response! Ok, so upon reading Neale's article that was suggested, I'm going to begin phasing out the marine salt through weekly water changes. I believe the local water to be hard as-is (based on showering in it lol), so the addition of marine salt may make it detrimentally so for my angels (Jude and Lulu).
On another note, I would love some little glow Danios or white clouds, but...
1) would fish as small as Danios or white clouds eventually become lunch for the angels?
<Likely not... they are quite fast, and not w/o some modicum of developmental cognition>
2) the only LFS's here in my little Texas town are a PetSmart and Petco.
They both have little white fish called "white cloud minnows", however they are grouped with the goldfish and look different than the pictures of white clouds I've seen online, which show them to be silvery and more colorful.
Are these white fish the same things, or do they sound like baby white feeder goldfish?
<DO check on the Net re... Tanichthys albonubes are quite distinctive... though/and it definitely WOULD be better that they had not been mixed w/ goldfish/comets, as they are very prone to be biologically diseased>
On a side note, the angels have returned to camping out by the heater again, although its 80 degrees in the tank and all morning they've been swimming around freely. :( I have the thermometer on the opposite side of the tank so I know the warm water is being circulated. I fed them some brine shrimp this morning, which they ate enthusiastically, and there are no physical signs of illness. Weird!
-Michelle S.
<Intelligent fishes... given to "abstract" behavior at times. Cheers, B>
Re: Odd Angelfish Behavior Update

Merci du conseil <3
-Michelle S.
>Welcome Mich. B<

Angelfish 8/18/11
I have a 75 gallon tank with 16 quarter size angels in it. All was fine and then suddenly they're in a tight group at the top or in the corner.
I change about a third of the water weekly. Everything has been fine for about a month till now. Feed flake food with brine shrimp twice a week. Any suggestions? Thanks Shark
<Water testing... somehow you have an anomaly of some aspect/s of water quality on your hands... Likely Chloramine sanitizer (from the tap water or conditioner) and/or some type of metabolic accumulation (ammonia, nitrite?)... Chemical filtrant use, careful storage and treatment of change out water (a week) ahead of use is suggested. Bob Fenner>

Pterophyllum leopoldi hangs at surface 8/2/11
Hi guys!
<Hello Aslak!>
I have a 240 litre SA community tank with some (five) young Leopoldi angels.
<Nice fish.>
I've had the fish for about six months. I've noticed that they from time to time "hang" at the water surface. I know fish tend to do when there's too little oxygen in the water, however none of the other fish in the tank does this, and I've read a couple of places that this behaviour is considered normal for Leopoldi (or angelfish in general perhaps?) because they like to skim the surface for algae.
<Perhaps. My understanding of Angels in the wild is that they feed primarily on insect larvae at the surface. I would be open minded about the oxygen issue, and check circulation is adequate, especially in summer.>
I have tried to find more info but it's a difficult issue to search for as the search terms give me mostly irrelevant hits.
<I bet. In older books this species was known as Pterophyllum dumerilii, even though this name is (apparently) a synonym of Pt. scalare.>
They do seem to stop this behaviour if I direct the flow from the canister filter along the tank, but I figure that might just as well be because the increased flow removes the surface algae film or makes it hard to "hang out".
<Sounds more like the oxygen issue. Do provide a good turnover, 6x the volume of the tank per hour, but disperse the current by directing jets at the sides of the tank, tall rocks, etc. Spray bars can work nicely.
Alternatively, add an airstone or two.>
I'm also curious about plants. As far as I know Angelfish in general lives in areas with little or no aquatic plants.
Is this different for the Leopoldi?
<Not so far as I know.>
Right now the tank is scaped with mostly driftwood and roots, but I do have some Vallisneria in there as well.
<Which will be welcomed.>
I am considering removing the Vallisneria and introduce some Amazon Frogbit as the only plant life in the tank. Any thoughts on this?
<Floating plants would be excellent additions to this system, but do ensure they don't block the oxygen exchange between the water and the air above.>
Thanks for any enlightenment you can provide ;)
Cheers, Aslak
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pterophyllum leopoldi hangs at surface 8/3/11

Evening Neale!
Thank you for your reply. I'll be sure to keep an eye on the Leopoldis and increase the flow if needed. The last few days I've had the spray bar turned downwards and "backwards" towards the wall of the aquarium.
<Can work well.>
I'll once again turn it back out towards the open water if needed.
- Aslak
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Small Angel Fish, colour, hlth. 5/10/11
Hi Crew,
I have several questions to ask. I am glad I found your site, it is full of interesting and useful information. I have two tanks of angel fish. I have a 55 gal with 6 quarter to half dollar size angels. I have another tank that has handicapped fish in it. Their fins have been chewed off mostly because the place I got them from had to many in a very small tank. The handicap tank is 35 gal. I had the water tested today and all of the measures are good. Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, ammonia 0, Ph is 6. All Angels are dime to penny size. I keep the tank temp at 82 F. Now for the questions.
1. Is there any knowledge about why some fins grow back with color and some grow back clear?
<Mmm, there likely is, but I am not familiar w/ it/this. Perhaps querying on Cichlid sites, or a visit to a large college library. Do see here re searching for literature: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm
2. I am in question about the dark mark under the fin in the picture that is attached. It looks like a scratch, but on closer inspection in the picture it looks like it may be just a coloration thing. Can you tell me if I should be worried or isolate the fish?
<I would not be worried. This appears to be "natural", not resultant from some pathogenic disease>
I know that if there is a concern then I should isolate, but moving such a small fish would cause stress, so why cause stress if there is no need to do so?
<We are of a like mind>
I have attached two pictures. One of each side of the fish so you can see the difference.
3. How big are angel fish when they start to pair off?
<Sometimes as small as the body size of a quarter>
The 6 in the 56 gal are quarter size to a bit bigger, so I am wondering how soon it will be before they start this process. I keep the tank at 82 degrees.
Thank you
<And you for sharing. My survey article and our collective input re Pterophyllum is archived here:
and the linked Angel files above. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Small Angel Fish 5/11/11
Thank you for your fast reply. I truly appreciate it and the web site that continues to offer insightful information. Thank you for the referral to other resources for my investigation about fin growth color. Could I ask one more question? One of the small angels has bent fins. Should I try to clip the bent part off?
<Mmm, I would not. Though if the "reason" for these deformities is developmental, and "fix-able" through genetic determination, it is "too cruel" in my present value system to justify the pain, likely loss>
I am concerned that this break will be a place for infection, although the fish is not showing any signs of it now. I will attach a picture of "ZigZag" so you can see what I mean.
Thank you so much
<And you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Small Angel Fish 5/12/2011
Mr. Bob,
<Ms. James>
You're awesome! This website is incredible. Thank you for your swift reply as I was worried about ZigZag.
<Welcome dear. B>

Angelfish Fighting
Angelfish Acting Like Cichlids 11/22/10

Hi Crew, I hope you can help me. I have a 190 litre corner aquarium set up for a community tank. Have shoal of penguins, rainbow fish, platies and some Plecs and two adult angelfish. I used to have a few more angels but as they grew I decided to keep just two and sell the rest. The two I have generally swim close to each other but have recently been attacking each other regularly. They seem to nip each other and chase and even lock mouths.
I have had angels before which I knew paired up and were breeding however these do not seem to be doing this. What would you suggest here to fix this solution? I know its virtually impossible to sex the angels and I guess I have either two females or males. Would you add another angel? This could turn worse again? Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I do love these two angels and it doesn't seem like either has much damage but I would rather prevent anything worse! Thanks Mark
<Angelfish are cichlids and tend to be territorial amongst themselves. They are kept best in groups of six but then they would be likely to pair up.
Lower the water temp to the mid 70's. This will take them out of their breeding temps and see if that reduces the aggression.-Chuck>

freshwater angelfish help 10/18/10
I have two large Koi marble angels in a 55 gallon tank. They both got along well at first, but now they are fighting a lot.
<Unfortunately, this is what they do. Angelfish school when young, but as adults they are more or less territorial, particularly males.>
Their fighting consists of nipping each other just below the mouth.
The one that is being nipped will tilt back like he is submitting to the other fish and then will nip back.
<The dominant fish is a male, and the weaker one most likely another male as well.>
There is only 5 zebra Danios and one much smaller angel. They don't seem to mind him.
<"He" is probably a she, and because of that, the dominant male is happy to have her around.>
I want to keep them both. Can you give me some advice?
<This is a very tough problem to solve. There are two things you can do.
One is to add more females. Because Angels are virtually impossible to sex except when spawning, adding females requires you to cozy up to an Angelfish breeder and get some female specimens from them. You cannot sex juveniles in aquarium shops. Possibly adding random Angelfish to the tank would work, but you'd need at least 3 more specimens for this to work because 6 appears to be the "magic number" when it comes to getting Angels and Discus to school together as adults. In smaller groups they almost always do what you're seeing -- individual fish become territorial and possibly bullies. Otherwise, all you can do is remove one of the two Angels that are fighting, and hope the remaining two coexist peacefully. If you
have another tank, the third Angel could be kept there by itself; despite being described as schooling fish, adult Angels work just fine kept singly.>
I have never asked you a question before so I don't know whether your response would go to my email or to your site specifically.
<We do both!>
Thank you!
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

FW angel fish, beh. 1/20/10
I have had my angel fish for years, along with two Bolivian ram fish. For years they were all in a 10gal tank, but 3 weeks ago I put them into a 20gal tank. My old fish tank did not have a heater, my new tank does.
Ever since the fish have been in the 20gal tank, the angels stay by the heater most of the day and rarely swim away.
<May like the heat, but if they're a pair, they may also be treating the heater as a potential spawning site. Add a better such site, like an upright slate or a bogwood root, and see what happens.>
The temperature is 77F, about the temperature of what the smaller tank used to be. So I'm wondering why they are behaving this way... is the water now not warm enough for them?
<Angels can do fine at 25 C/77 F, but slightly warmer water, around 28 C/82 F, is optimal.>
Also, another weird behavior is that both angel fish, one more than the other, tends to only use one of its fins... why is this?
<No idea. Have also observed this. May imply some injury or abnormality; Angels are terribly inbred these days, and the quality of the stuff sold in most pet stores is, at best, fair to middling.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pterophyllum (behaviour; aggression) 6/1/2009
i have had two angel fish together since i bought them about none months ago. for about the last month the bigger one has been pushing the smaller one around. it doesn't look like it is biting the other and i haven't seen any sores.
<Aggression... move one to another tank... Angelfish are territorial when mature, and (unless the tank is very large) should be kept either singly or in matched pairs.>
it just like it swims right into the other and just pushes it. so i was wondering why it would just start doing this all of a sudden?
is it some kind of mating thing?
<No. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish (moving tank; not eating)-- 05/09/09
Hello Neale (or whoever) I have another housekeeping question. I didn't intend any rudeness in not updating re the angel. Really, I don't know how much correspondence re follow-up, my background knowledge or lack thereof on fishkeeping, etc. you want to wade through in a day.
<We're always pleased to get a "thank you" or some such after sending a reply, and if you want to drop us a line to say your fish pulled through whatever crisis you were enduring, that's always nice to hear.>
I'm sure you receive quite a lot. I did test the water in the other tank as you suggested at the time (brand new API liquid bought to stabilize the new tank). It was fine Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 10, ph 8.2 temp 78F He did
start eating - took 8 days. I was dismayed, however, because he still would not wag his tail whenever he saw me as he had formerly.
<Angels don't wag their tails when happy, so I'd not read much into this.
With cichlids, "happiness" is best detected by how strong their colours are, and how readily they leave their hiding places. Stressed cichlids are either abnormally pale or unusually dark, depending on the species. Nervous cichlids won't stray far from their lairs.>
Nevertheless, he is now in the 50 gal and, after a couple of days of sulking and being wary about all the water movement from the bubble wand at the back, I think he now likes his new digs. He sits front and centre watching the room as he had in the past. The only glitch is that, where it is positioned, he cannot watch television with us in the evenings as he had before.
<I'm sure he doesn't care; do be careful not to anthropomorphise! This can be dangerous; a fish might seem "interested" because of the flashing lights of the TV, but it could just as easily be feeling threatened, and it's
interest in the TV is because it can't figure out the nature of this particular stimulus in its environment. The best "entertainment" for any fish is the addition of active but peaceful schooling fish. These give more sedentary fish like Angels something to observe and avoid as they swim about. Angels specifically use schooling fish as cues to their environment; if these "dither fish" are swimming about happily, the Angel will feel reassured; if the dither fish are hiding or nervous, then the Angel will fear that there is a predator nearby. Congo Tetras and Rainbowfish such as Melanotaenia boesemanni are particularly good choices because they don't nip fins but are big enough not to be eaten by a hungry Angel.>
I am seriously thinking of moving it forward a few inches in spite of the nuisance it would be to do so now because, whenever it is on, he goes to that side of the tank and pushes his nose into the glass as though he is trying to see it- he can hear but the picture isn't there.
<I honestly doubt this; fish actually don't like noise of any kind. They have far more sensitive ears than we do, and the vibrations pressing against the glass also form waves that their lateral line picks up. Please, be careful about putting human thoughts/motives onto an animal. You'd be doing it no help at all. Much better to think about where Angels evolved -- the Amazon and Orinoco rivers -- and created an environment that would reflect that. Vertical bogwood roots or even slates for example are reassuring to Angels, because Angels evolved that flat shape so they can slide into gaps where other fish couldn't go. They also spawn on upright surfaces. So to an Angelfish, something like a tall tree stump is a slice of heaven!>
Anyway, I had a slight trace of nitrites a few days after the move but I did a 40% water change with double Prime, Stability, and Cycle added. It has been stable since but will test every two or three days for a while yet. There are still more fish to be moved. Current inhabitants are: Angel 2 Farlowellas almost as old as the Angel (Yes, I feed them blanched greens, etc. every few days) 9 Glowlights - 2 vintage and I added 7 more (all I could find locally that day) 1 Pleco - approx. 8 inches, also vintage To come: 1 male and 3 female swordtails 3 green barbs (maybe 1 or 2 more?)
<Do not add Green Barbs, but which I assume you mean Barbus tetrazona, also called the Moss Barb. This is a confirmed fin-nipper, and will harass your Angel. It also needs to be kept in groups of 6+. Never mind about TV for Angelfish; keeping schooling fish in groups of 3 is downright mean.
Honestly. Much, much better to up the number of Glowlights to, say, 20, and you'd find they schooled so much better and would look really nice.
Glowlights are borderline-safe with Angels, and big Angels (the 15 cm/6" specimens) can eat them. Domesticated Angels rarely get so large, so you'll probably be okay.>
And, I think I want a weather loach I stay pretty much tropical, tank bred, non-mayhem producing, fairly adaptable fish for a variety of reasons.
<Weather loaches do okay in tropical tanks up to about 25 C/77 F; I'd not keep them long term any warmer. That would stress them and they certainly have shorter lives kept thus.>
My question concerns the Pleco. He does not seem comfortable. This tank is sand only.
<Sand is fine for Plecs, though they can make a mess swooshing it about with their tails!>
The former was half sand and half eco-complete - the red and brown multicoloured variety. He lived beneath a big piece of Mopani wood which formed a private cave along one side. The substrate gave him a secure resting place. I moved his cave with him and positioned it as before. He spent the first few nights strewing sand everywhere and completely redoing the topography. Each morning I would reposition uprooted plants and wait for the water to clear. Now he stays mostly behind another large piece of driftwood, hidden beneath a few larger plants and doesn't even enter his cave. How do you house large Plecos on sand?
<It's actually hard once they get above a certain size. I've used smooth silica sand in my tank alongside a Panaque catfish. She makes quite a mess!
I find using rocks to stabilise the sand banks helps, and I deliberately create a cave where she can lurk. Vallisneria or some other fast-growing plant eventually binds the sand together, minimising the mess. But even
doing all these things, it's probably not ideal to keep Plecs above 15 cm/6" in a tank with a sandy substrate; at least, not if you want the sand to stay nice and flat all around the tank. Plecs are burrowing fish: they forage by sifting sand, and they dig burrows when laying their eggs. They love sand and they will mess it all up!>
Should I get a piece of slate to give him a firmer bottom?
<While that sounds a good idea, it's actually not that great. Flat slates will trap water and detritus, so you'll have all this decaying gunk underneath. I'd recommend buying a nice hollow ornament or flowerpot (the fancy terracotta amphoras and what not look great half buried in sand).
Your Plec will use this readily, leaving the open sand largely alone. Slope the sand so it's deeper at the back, and hopefully dirt will slide down to the front. Use a turkey baster to pipette out dirt as/when you see it, to save having to drag out the bucket and siphon every 5 minutes.>
My husband thinks that he was just trying to dig the wood down to where light would not enter it but I think he might be experiencing insecurity because of the fluidity under him.
<Well, these catfish certainly will dig burrows, and by definition, these will be away from the light. So I think your husband is right on the money here.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish (moving tank; not eating)-- 05/09/09

Thank you sincerely. I get the impression that you rather like manning the help line.
I had kept a couple of tanks years ago - back in the 70's and 80's but it was always a secondary, sporadic hobby and I never really understood what I was doing. I did read some but either there was a lot that wasn't known or I never found the right references. I now have one of those granddaughters who is allergic to all things furred and feathered. (She has a bearded dragon.)
<Nice beasties! One of the very few reptiles that actually seems to enjoy human company, even being petted.>
I had never in my entire life lived in a household with only human inhabitants so after stewing for a year or so, I decided to go back to aquarium keeping. It wasn't long before I found WWM. - Of course, the internet didn't exist back in the 70's - but anyway, this site in particular was enormously helpful. This time, I could do it with some understanding of the requirements - not that I didn't muck up badly a few times. The only saving grace is that this time I either knew immediately what I had done or had a source to which I could refer. Gratitude doesn't begin to cover it.
<Glad to help.>
The terra cotta sounds good. The rocks are red jasper so it will fit. Pleco has already dug some holes collapsing some of the rock formation so we have a disagreement with the aesthetics. But really, I just want him to feel at home. He too, was once in the 10 gal, about an inch long when he arrived.
Rest assured - angel glows as ever. He has lived in the same room as the TV since his arrival several years ago and has never seemed nervous. I don't suppose he follows movie plot lines, just watches the flashing lights. I just thought he was looking for them, expecting them to be there as before.
<Unlikely... there's no obvious reason any cichlid would find flashing lights attractive or even reassuring.>
Maybe the glowlights are his dithers for now and I do intend to get more - would have at the time if they had been available. But what do you do with schooling fish when some perish?
<Usually, the problem is the fishkeeper has made the wrong choices. Pick species that enjoy your local water chemistry. If you try to keep Neons in hard water, they'll never do well. Neons don't like high temperatures either, so you want to keep them around 23 C/73 F; that's too low for things like Angels. So it's all about picking the right species for your local conditions. Tetras are good for soft water, barbs for middling, slightly soft to slightly hard water, and rainbows are best for hard water.>
I used to have 4 glowlights in a 10 gal. (first tank I got, yes, I know - too small but that was then) I had two left so am now augmenting the numbers. Similarly, I had 5 green barbs - never did find one of them; sometimes I think I still have 4 and will find him or her when I take that tank down. But appreciate the heads up on nipping. Hadn't thought of that but they wouldn't have stayed there long anyway if they tried. There was one baby sword a while back that decided to follow those trailing fins and nip them - there were several in the tank but one was just a bit bigger and more aggressive than the others. He was isolated and rehoused the next day.
<Swordtails are semi-aggressive, and they also need fast-flowing, rather cool water; they'd be a bad choice for tanks with Angels, to be honest.>
I am going to say - maybe the Serpaes.(Don't gasp). I have three of them left from the five that were once in the 10 gal and, yes, I know how you feel about Serpaes.
<My first fishkeeping mistake! Terrible fish.>
But they were all 5 in the same tank as the angel for the last couple of years and never harassed him at all.
<They might not be Serpae Tetras! There are actually a whole bunch of very similar Hyphessobrycon, some worse than others. Or you might simply have brought your Serpaes up well!>
The only time I experienced what you speak of with these fish was when I tried to include some threadfin rainbows. That was one of the mistakes - never again.
<Ah, yes...>
So I have been wanting to tell you my favourite Serpae story from about a year and a half ago.. All five were in the 30 gal with angel, Pleco, farleys, etc. Also in there were two Rummynose (again, I had had more) and one of these was ill. I couldn't figure out what was wrong but he was definitely going downhill. The other one was fine (still is) and all other fish were fine, so I decided it was not likely a virulent infection or anything so I left him there. I was hoping that if I just kept the water clean, he would rally but it didn't happen. Anyway, I was watching day by
day. One day, I couldn't find him. So I had my face right up to the glass peering all around. The Serpaes were in their usual position in the tank. After a minute or two, one of them broke ranks, went over the far side and fished (pun not intended) under a piece of driftwood, hauled out the body of the Rummynose, carried it to the front of the tank, and dropped it right in front of my face. Then he turned around and went back to his usual place in his group. So I have to have some respect for these Serpaes anyway.
<Hmm... Serpae tetras are [a] cannibalistic and [b] known to have a feeding frenzy behaviour. I doubt this Serpae was "house cleaning" but it's entirely possible he saw the body, took a bite, dropped the fish, all coincidentally in a way that looked as if he was bringing out the body for you to remove. Call me a boring scientist if you like!>
And yes, I got tired of seeing the surviving Rummynose swimming alone so have added a few more.
<Cool. Thanks for writing, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish (moving tank; not eating) 5/11/09

FYI - no need to reply
<Ah! But I will...>
a) I have thought it over and decided to follow your suggestions re stocking. I can house these others elsewhere. The tank should be cool.
b) Rest assured that there is sufficient verticality in the landscaping to satisfy his atavistic urges.
c) If you haven't already, try Hagen Waste Remover or Ultrafin Waste Disposal or their equivalents to end the need for constant turkey baster removal. They work - I never see clumps of fish waste. Just know that
initially, water quality will go off with the increased rate of decomposition so it's best to have the fish elsewhere until the tank has restabilized.
<Yes I have used these, but they have limits. For one thing, they won't do anything for the wood-chippings produced by Panaque and other large herbivorous catfish. Secondly, they don't do anything beyond clumping silt; silt remains in the mechanical filter media within the filter. All they actually do is [a] clump silt and/or [b] speed up the decay of some solid wastes by bacteria (but not wood, chitin exoskeletons, etc) so by all means use and enjoy, but do realise their limitations. For what it's worth, I've been testing Bio-Wish BioBombs for a magazine, and I'm pretty impressed by them. But no bolt-on good removes (or even diminishes) the need for regular water changes. Most of what effects your fish's health isn't the solid waste but the dissolved metabolites (nitrate, etc). Cheers, Neale>

Angel Behavior 6/12/08 Hi Guys, I really enjoy your site; there is so much useful information here. My question is about 2 fairly new angels that I have in a 30 gallon tank along with a Pleco, 2 platys, and a few very small tetras. I had 2 mollies in there, but they were bullying everybody, so I have moved them out of the tank. My water levels are: no ammonia, no nitrite, very low nitrate, temp at 80 degrees, pH about neutral slightly lower. Everyone seems healthy and they all seem to be eating normally, however, my 2 little angels have started keeping their fins closed. There are no other signs or symptoms of anything. This has been going on for about 4 or 5 days now. Any ideas? Thanks! Sara <Hi Sara. There's no obvious reason your Angels should be sick. My only immediate concern is with the "small tetras" -- several species of tetra are fin-nippers and will harass Angelfish. Serpae tetras (Hyphessobrycon eques, plus related species like Jewel and Flame tetras) and Black Widow tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, also known as Black tetras and Petticoat tetras) are the most notable of these. It's also worth mentioning that Platies need a pH above 7, and ideally around 7.5, to do well in the long term. In any event, Angelfish are prone to bacterial and other internal infections, particular when very small and mass produced. If you can, treat with something against Hexamita in the first instance because this is so common among farmed cichlids generally. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwangelfishes.htm  Once you've done that, take all the usual precautions against possible sickness (lots of water changes, no live foods, etc.) and keep an eye out for other symptoms, if any. Very small (coin sized and smaller) Angels travel poorly and need great care to do well. Cheers, Neale.>

Just A Thanks (Oh, and a question) - 10/06/2007 Hello y'all! I just wanted to drop a quick "thank you" note to you for (generally) having a wonderful site and (specifically) for helping me out with an issue I was having. I have as my centerpiece tank a 60 gallon hex (FW). I really wanted to have angelfish, so after cycling the filter on my established 55, I purchased 6 angels and 4 Cory cats. The Corys (Corys?) behaved properly, but the 6 young angels wouldn't come out from their hiding spot behind the driftwood. They wouldn't even come up to eat. This is my first time with cichlids, but I knew that when they aren't going for food, something's wrong. I was getting more and more concerned... so I went to work with the searcher. Dither fish do work, it seems. Three hatchet fish, and now my little angel school is all over the tank, and swimming hungrily to the top, constantly telling me they're starving, and basically brightening my room (and life) for the past week. Thanks again, John <John, thanks for taking the time to write. It's appreciated. The use of dither fish is very useful with dwarf cichlids as you've discovered, and yes, they do help. Hatchetfish are lovely animals, though they seem to have a constant appetite, and perhaps need a little more food than you'd imagine to stay healthy. I find a mix of Spirulina flake and small carnivore pellets does the trick admirably, but once in a while I hand-feed mine with small earthworms and the like. Hatchets are skittish at first, but settle down quickly. But always keep the tank covered, as they love to jump! Cheers, Neale>

Re: swordtail fish... Angel beh. 8/9/07 Hello Neale: Let me tell you something about the angel fish. Now before I feed the fishes I have to knock on the shell, and he comes right out to eat and back to the shell, he hangs in there all day and night. Thanks for the help. Love Mely <Hello Melida. Yes, angelfish are territorial. In the wild, pairs claim bits of sunken wood or tree roots, and guard them vigorously. This is where they lay their eggs. While I have not heard of an angelfish guarding a shell, I can certainly imagine it happening. Cheers, Neale.>
My Angel fish... beh., hlth. -- 07/08/07
Hello! <Ave!> I've found your website very interesting and appreciate the knowledge you are sharing with us!! My question seems to be a difficult one, since I've been searching for an answer for 3 days online now. <Okeley dokeley.> I noticed on Friday evening that my angel keeps shaking her head, her feelers and her fins. The shaking is random, not all at once, but it is very fast and vigorous. <Often irritation, e.g., from ammonia/nitrite, or else an early sign of whitespot, which irritates the gills before anything else.> It is a fairly young angel, and on the smaller side. I've had my aquarium for about a month now, and she is the only angel that has survived. <Ah, angelfish are among the worst fish to start with. They are very, very sensitive to ammonia and nitrite. So I'm guessing water quality issues are at work here. What's the nitrite and/or ammonia level in the tank?> So far, she has been very resilient to anything and everything; swimming fast and eating well. She is still eating, but seems as if she's hungry all the time. <Angels are constantly hungry. Pretty typical of cichlids generally. Do watch what you give them though. Angels respond to extra effort in their diet. Frozen (wet, not dried) bloodworms are the absolute ideal.> I watch them and she gets her fair share. I also have freeze dried brine shrimp and frozen food that I supplement 3 times a week. <Sounds okay, but brine shrimp are the fish-food equivalent of iceberg lettuce or celery -- no nutritional value at all. Fine as a treat, but not a stable. Good quality flake and pellets are the way to go, ideally "vegetarian" flake and "regular" pellets, since most of your fish are herbivores/omnivores (Plec, shark, loach, silver dollars, platies.> I have a 30 gallon tank with 2 silver dollars, 2 black fin tetras, 1 Plecostomus, 1 red fin shark, 1 catfish and a clown loach. There is no stress, they all seem to co exist peacefully... <Famous last words. Your red tail shark will OWN that 30 gallon tank by the time it is mature and everyone else will be living only for as long as he lets them. The catfish -- I'm assuming a Corydoras -- should be in a group. They're not happy kept alone. The Plecostomus is almost certainly not that at all, but a species of Pterygoplichthys that will grow to around 45 cm long at which point it physically won't fit in the tank. Silver dollars can (will) get large and are far too big/active for a 30 gallon tank. Even a 60 gallon tank would be a tight fit for them. Clown loaches are also schooling fish, and get to 30 cm long when mature, and routinely require tanks around the 100 gallon mark to do well. But apart from the fact most of your fish won't fit in the tank you have, they're *almost* all nice community species. Who's the odd man out? The Black Fin Tetra, which I'm assuming is our old friend Gymnocorymbus ternetzi. This fish looks a bit like a mini-angelfish with a greyish body and black vertical stripes. Lovely animal, but A NOTORIOUS FIN-NIPPER! One of the classic species NEVER to keep with angelfish. To Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, an angelfish is a swimming buffet, to nibble on at leisure. When kept in groups of a dozen, they're sometimes fine, but when kept as just two, they are not only nippy towards their tankmates, they're also deeply unhappy.> ...so I cannot figure out what the problem is. <Likely water quality issues and/or fin-nipping.> Any and all advice is most appreciated. I thank you for your time and hope you all have a great day! Kristi <You're welcome! I hope you're able to sort things out, but even in the short term this community is unlikely to work out. Be sure and buy an aquarium book (or borrow from the library) and read up on maximum size, social behaviour before purchasing! Good luck, Neale>

Strange Cichlid With Hump On Its Head -- 06/16/07 Hi, I've got a question bout my Jack Dempsey. Recently I've notice he hits his head on the tank by running into it on purpose. I was worried and looked up a Jack Dempsey and I found that mines totally different. Well he has a huge thing on top of his head, I mean its big and I've been thinking its a tumor can you please help me out and tell me what it is. Thank You <Most Central American cichlid males develop a fatty tumor on their head. this stores fat and probably helps them attract a mate and store energy to defend territories and attract females. A hybrid called a Flowerhorn has been specially developed to emphasis this trait. Some foods are suppose to enhance it too.-Chuck>

FW Angelfish behavior -- 06/14/07 Hello there, <Hello.> I have a 55gal tank with 4 angels and some misc. fish they have all been together for years in this tank with no changes in water quality or filtration apparatuses. About a month ago one of my ~5yr old angels started looking a little ragged (a few minor white fuzzies too) and was having some trouble swimming so I put in a divider and ran some antibiotics through before the symptoms spread to the others and it seemed to recover in a week. <Red or ragged fins are almost always early stages of Finrot, and white fuzzy stuff is usually fungus. Both are typically caused by poor water quality and/or physical trauma, such as fin-nipping or fighting. Either way, you really need a combination Finrot/fungus medication rather than antibiotics.> After the meds I did the water change and put in the new carbon and figured all was well. <OK.> About another week later the same fish became obsessed with the bubbles coming out of the power head and swims in them almost all day every day. I thought this was weird but since all the others were doing just great, I chalked it up to him having a stroke or something and being some what mentally retarded. <Probably more boredom than anything else. Fish have minds, and they like to do stuff.> Well that theory changed when about another week later the other 5 yr old Angel is now participating in the bubble obsession and they both do this now most of most days and every now and then they swim mouth up for a 20 seconds or so and then back to normal or in the bubbles. <Hmm... must be fun!> The two angels that are participating in the bubble swimming I purchased at the same time from the same place and have the same look (more body than fins). One is black and white stripe (the original bubble swimmer) and the other is white with a nice gold crown. The other two angels are have the more fins than body shape and are about 3 yrs old, and these angels have never looked better, their fins look amazing and have the long almost hair like extensions from each joint in the tail and anal fins which I usually interpret to happy fish in and good water quality. <Sound nice fish. Not sure what you mean by hair-like extensions though: Finrot can cause an identical thing, by eating away at the fin membrane but leaving the fin ray more or less intact.> The other two angels also look pretty darn good with no visible lesions or infections, they have clear eyes and all have a healthy appetite! (frozen blood worms and Omega flake food). To top it off the other two angels have recently been spectating at the bubble swimming events, they haven't participated yet but they are watching closely. <All sounds fine.> Sorry this is so long but I felt my problem was odd and needed a thorough explanation for you to be able to give advice. <Don't see this as a problem. It's just a relatively intelligent species exhibiting quirky behaviour. This kind of thing happens more often that people assume. You have to remember than animals are "programmed" to exhibit certain behaviours, and when they can't because they're captive, that drive gets channeled into other behaviours. In this case, it sounds as if the bubbles are catching their attention in the same way that potential prey animals might, and the angels are stalking and hunting the "prey". Who knows, really? The main thing is you should try and cross off any other possible explanations. For example, is the fish trying to swim upstream, to get away from the other fish? Angels are not schooling fish when mature, they become territorial, and a mated pair will try and drive away any other angels that enter their territory.> Thank you for reading this far and I hope you have heard of this before and have a remedy. <Never heard of this, so interesting!> > Take care > Sincerely, > Missi Blue <Cheers, Neale>

Angelfish behavior 6/18/07 Hello Crew, <Hello.> Thank you so much for your speedy reply. I am disappointed to say that I have new developments with the angels. <Oh dear.> The bubble swimming continues with no change and they are swimming up stream toward the power head) but one of my angels has a few other symptoms now and I would like your personal opinion on which medication to try next, I hate to put them through more than one due to the unnecessary stress it causes. <OK.> So last time (5 weeks ago) I used Maracyn-Two and that was when only one fish was showing symptoms and they weren't that clear. <Wouldn't have been my response. Antibiotics are potent tools and used improperly cause more harm than good. If used at all, they're used last of all. It's also axiomatic of good medicine that you don't use a treatment until you've identified the problem.> Now another angel has some "stuff" (pictures attached) around base of his left pectoral fin. <At first glance I'd have said it looks like fin rot. The odd thing is that the fin membrane itself looks fine, it's the base of the fin that is infected. Typically, fin rot works from the distal end of the fin (the "fringe") inwards to the base.> This has been there for the duration of the problems but was much smaller and was hard to tell if it was just an imperfection. Now it is very obvious it is nothing of the kind and needs attention; could this also be what is making the bunch swim crooked from time to time? <Hard to see how or why, except this: when fish find themselves in the wrong water conditions, their instinct is to swim out of them. In the aquarium, this manifests itself by swimming into the current. Now, couple this was Finrot (or possibly Columnaris (a Flexibacter infection) and you have two signs indicating that not all is well in the aquarium. Not proof, but an indication. At the very least, check ammonia or nitrite, nitrate, and pH as these will give you a good handle on the environment. Fin rot is definitely associated with high levels of nitrite and ammonia, and Columnaris tends to be common in overstocked tanks or tanks where water changes are infrequent enough, and the nitrates will indicate this nicely. You're aiming for ZERO nitrite and ammonia, and under 50 mg/l nitrate (ideally under 20 mg/l). The pH for tank-bred angels should be around 6.5-7.5.> In my past experience with infections they have progressed so much faster than this so I am in new territory. <Depends on the infection. Viral infections like Lymphocystis take quite literally years to develop and then fade away, while other infections go from nothing to life threatening in days, as with whitespot.> All the descriptions for treatments I have looked at describe the cotton-like stuff and I have seen that many times and this looks different. <The three "fin" infections are Finrot, fungus, and Columnaris (sometimes, but inaccurately, called "mouth fungus", even though it can occur on more than the mouth and isn't caused by a fungus). Fin rot is usually a pink infection where the fin membrane dissolves but the bones are left behind, creating a ragged appearance. Fungus looks like off-white threads and almost always is associated with mechanical damage such as fin-nipping or poor handling. Mouth fungus is usually a greyish slime with a texture like short tufts or threads. Commonly on the mouth (hence the name) but can occur elsewhere. Almost always occurs on fish kept in fetid, poorly maintained aquaria.> It is light peach colored and more dense and localized. <I agree, it is odd. But I'd assume it is fin rot and treat accordingly.> Hopefully you can see this from the pictures. Also I attached another picture showing the "hair like" extensions you were wondering about. Hope I was right in thinking they were a good sign. <Just the style of fancy angelfish you own. Wild angels don't have these threads, but some of the artificial varieties do.> Thanks again and I will be awaiting your reply. <Cheers, Neale>

Little and Large Angelfish, FW beh. 5/21/07 Hi Crew, <Matt> Thanks for all the great work you do! I have had 2 Angelfish (P. scalare) in a freshwater tank (30 gallon) for about 6-8 months now. They are alone apart from 4 Cory's. All the water conditions are good. 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 10 Nitrate, pH 6.5, temp 78. Both Angels are healthy and active. The problem I have is that when I bought them they were both approx 1 inch. However, very soon afterwards the marble angel (I have a marble and a golden) grew to approx. 4 inches whereas the other angel grew considerably slower and is only approx. 2.5 inches. <Ah, yes... very often Cichlids (and other animals) will/do exert influence on conspecifics (chemical and behavioral) limiting their growth...> I know at least one of them is a female as I have had eggs laid on a leaf. <And as you apparently speculate, both may be...> I have a few thoughts as to the reasons behind the different growth rates. I would appreciate your input and opinion. My first thought is they could both be females and the larger one is the dominant fish, and therefore is stunting the growth of the second? <Yes, possibly> My second thought is that one is a male and one is a female but I haven't read anything about significant size differences or growth rates between genders. <Usually, all things else being equal (good luck finding this occasion), the females are larger...> Could this be the reason? They both get to the food when fed so I've ruled that out as the reason. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance for your help, Matt. <Mmm, a larger system, more specimens... would tend to "even out" growth rates in such circumstances. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GrwLmtChems.htm for one aspect of what is happening here. You ought to consider writing/investigating for natural history essays... You have a good, curious mind, capacity for relating... Bob Fenner>
Re: Little and Large Angelfish -- 05/21/07
Hi Bob, <Matt> Thanks for the comments. I actually gained my BSc (Hons) in Coastal Marine Biology in 2003, and although I have subsequently ended up in a completely different career field (Retail Management), my love for/interest in Marine Biology is still strong, so you're suggestion to write/investigate is tempting and definitely food for thought. <Ahh!> Thanks, Matt. <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner, who is serious re your having another starter/career as a content provider>

Angel Fish question, beh., hlth. 4/18/07 Could you please tell me what the average life expectancy is for a freshwater angel fish in a 7 gallon tank? I have had one for 6 years and he is suddenly very sick and I was just wondering if this is the expected end of his life cycle. Thank you! <Hello Cindy. In a 7 gallon tank, a baby angelfish will reach the size to be moved out about 3-4 months after hatching. Anything beyond that is, to be honest, cruel. So it is definitely time to move him out to new quarters. At minimum, you should be looking at a "tall" 20 gallon tank for your angelfish, and I'd heartily recommend something much larger if you want your fish to look its best. Like most other medium-sized cichlids, angelfish should live around 10 years in captivity, potentially quite a bit longer. Be sure and read the article on angels here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwangelfishes.htm and then peruse some of the related articles as well. There's no shortage of information on angels out there, including some quite nice books.> Sincerely, Cindy <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angel Fish question, hlth.
4/19/07 Thanks so much - from the article, it looks like my fish probably has hemorrhagic septicemia in one of his fins. <Haemorrhagic septicemia is very uncommon, and I have no idea how you diagnosed this. Far, far more likely that it is sick from being kept in a 7 gallon tank. Please trust me on this: the aquarium is too small and likely the nitrite and ammonia levels are too high because of an undersized filter. Unless you're changing 100% of the water every day, the nitrates are probably too high too. These will cause serious health problems in the long term, as seems to be happening here.> I had been treating him for fin rot with tetracycline, but perhaps I missed the mark. It may be too late to switch to Flagyl as he is in serious distress. <Haemorrhagic septicemia is a symptom not a disease. It may be caused by many things including a virus. So shotgun treatment with an antibiotic is pointless. If you seriously think this is the problem, consult with a vet. Your fish isn't going to get better by itself.> I will do what I can and see if it works. He is fighting the good fight to survive, but odds may be stacked against him at this point. <Please understand this: the odds are stacked against him because you made it so. The conditions you are keeping this fish in are unhealthy and wrong, and hence your actions are causing this animal to be sick and likely in pain. He isn't sick because of some random disease that stole into your home during the night. It's because you aren't caring for him properly. Your move.> He lives alone in the 7 gallon tank, and until he got sick a week ago, seemed to be a very happy camper - responding to my voice, dancing for me, etc. He truly is a pet just like a puppy and I am devastated he is so sick. <Just goes to show. Your fish gave you so much back. Yes, he was a pet, and yes he depends on you. All he wants in return is a larger aquarium that will cost you very little to obtain.> Thanks again for the info - I have bookmarked it for future reference.... Cindy <No problems. Cheers, Neale>

Angelfish Lying on Side?!? 11/27/06 Hello Bob. It's Glenda again. You may remember me from the email I sent about my Honey Gourami whose stomach was rotting away (July 24). <Ah, yes> My new problem is one of my black Angelfish: Why is it lying on its side on the floor of the tank? <Not good> It eats heartily like all the others but doesn't move around much otherwise. No other visible signs of sickness but it has been so for a few days now. It first started by staying at the top of the tank behind the flow of bubbles coming from the filter. Any idea what's wrong with it? <Yes... darker varieties of FW angels have a decidedly higher incidence of "swim bladder" disease... symptomatic by this sort of lack of 3-dimensional control... Not cure-able> I am still using my 25 gallon tank but the fish are a different collection: 2 Black and 1 White Angelfish, 1 Black Ghost, 2 Upside-down Catfish, 2 Silver Gouramis (one whose pectoral fin rotted off in Sept. over the course of about 6 months. Still living happily otherwise though so I just monitored it but didn't really worry about what caused it to happen. <Could be negative interaction between the Knifefish or Mochokid catfish... more likely at night...> They are 3+ years old. Probably a small injury that never healed I guess? <Yes... and/but most likely related to the other species noted> Seems ok now.), 2 Plecos, 1 Yo-yo Loach, 3 Guppies, 2 Rainbow Sharks and 1 Albino Shark. <Oh! Or these minnow-sharks...> Once again, thanks for your help. <The one angel will likely perish... perhaps better to euthanize. Bob Fenner>

Breeding FW Angelfish Are Aggressive 8/19/06 Hello Bob and Crew, Ever since one of my angels laid eggs, she has been extra aggressive towards the other one. She was always dominant, but it is getting pretty bad. I figured that if I add in another angel and switch the decor around that would give her more to think about. We have some angels at the pet store where I work that are similar of size but the one I have permission to take is the most aggressive in the tank. Will this be a problem if the new one wants to be the dominant one? I just don't want my angel to get beat up because she's real pretty and all she "can" do is hide in the back corner beneath the plants. Thanks for your help and advice! < Angelfish are cichlids and really don't like other fish around when they have fry or eggs. An over protective mother with guard the eggs from her mate if she thinks that he is going to eat them. Adding more fish will give her more fish to beat up. If she has no mate then reduce the temp to the mid 70's and she will stop breeding and she will not be as aggressive.-Chuck>

Weird Angelfish beh. 7/25/06 Hi, my name is Stacy. <<Hi Stacy, I'm Lisa.>> I have a problem with one of my angelfish. I was reading the FAQs and saw some symptoms but my concerns weren't answered. I purchased my first tank about a month ago so I am really new to the fish world. I started off with a few Bala sharks and recently I got two angelfish. <<Is your tank humungous?? Bala sharks get to 14' in length. Not suitable at all for most aquariums and certainly not for a beginner. You should return to the LFS, or acquire a tank of 300+ gallons.>> All of the fish are doing fine except for one angelfish that, since the first day (yesterday), has been swimming near the top of the tank sometimes turning to its side. It doesn't move around too much and I haven't seen it eat anything yet. The other angelfish is happy and doing well and likes to swim everywhere. Is there anything wrong with it or is it just still in shock from the move? <<You don't provide any test results from your water. How did you cycle the tank? Lisa.>>

Freshwater angelfish Dear WWM crew My name is Cassandra Allen and I am 9 years old. My dad said I should write to you about a question. He says you know a lot about fish and aquariums and are very helpful. <We certainly try.> He gave me and my sister each a 29 gallon aquarium for Christmas. Then he divided his fish up between us so he could change his 80 gallon tank into saltwater. <Very nice!> I now have an angelfish that is about 4 years old and some golden barbs and Serpae tetras and a couple of Corys. Here's my question: About how long does a freshwater angelfish live? He looks kind of old. Thanks. <It would of course depend on the specific species but 10 years is not uncommon. If he is looking 'old' it may be due to water quality or some other aspect. Be sure to feed him a good variety of foods including the occasional treat of frozen Mysis shrimp or bloodworms. Ronni>

Very aggressive Angel fish (fresh water) My angel lives in a 55gal aquarium with 2 silver dollars a blood parrot, Raphael cat, and a few others. Last night my angel got very aggressive towards every fish in the tank including the bigger iridescent shark. His body color would fluctuate between light and dark. His eyes would also get dark red. I put him in another tank last night and this morning I noticed redness around his fins. Does this sound like a disease you are familiar with? And what do I do to treat him? This fish must be saved; my wife gets really upset when her fish die as do I. Help please!!!! <I don't know of a disease that causes aggressive behavior but the red streaks sound like a bacterial infection of some sort. There are a number of treatments, Maracyn 2 by Mardel, Anti-Bacterial by APPlus, and I'm sure there are many others. Check out http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm for more info. Ronni>

Fading Angels I have two small angle fish with predominate stripes, well they had predominate stripes but the stripes are now starting to fade. Is this a result of putting them in a new tank? <Well, this is likely stress-induced, be it from moving into a new tank or more likely from environmental conditions. Do you test for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? If so, what are the values? If not, definitely do so, or if you don't have test kits, swing by your LFS with a water sample so they can test it for you. Any of these values being out of whack can cause stress in your fish, which would cause these (and other) problems.> I have a larger angel fish that acts well with the smaller ones and they often hang out in a group. I also have a fancy goldfish. (I know you're probably thinking this wasn't a good idea because the angel fish will attack the goldfish but they actually all get along) <Well, the compatibility issue really isn't about aggression, but water parameters. Angelfish need a water temperature around 78F-82F, and goldfish prefer their water around 68F-70F. It's just not a good idea to keep coldwater fish and tropical fish together for this reason; one group or the other is going to suffer for it.> it too has lost the purple it had on its back and face and is now all orange. <The goldfish was purple? Are you sure, purple? Unfortunately, goldfish don't come in purple, only black, orange/gold, and white, or any combination of the three. It may very well be possible that your fish was dyed to make it more 'colorful' - this practice is actually harmful to the fish. But aside from that, goldfish will change color (say, from black and orange to just orange, or from orange to white, for example), sometimes attributable to temperature or pH changes.> What is causing my fish to lose their stripes and color? I feed them 3 times a day and they are active. <Also, how big is your tank? Can you give us any more information about your setup to help us be better able to help you?> Please get back to me as soon as possible on some solutions to this problem thank you, Sam <You're quite welcome! -Sabrina>

Aggressive Angels 3/7/04 I have these 2 angels in a 29 gallon tank (also a Pleco + 2 clown loaches + some cichlid that I don't know the name, but he is not aggressive at all because nobody really likes the corner cave he's in). Just recently one of my angels (yellow one) has been nipping the hell out of my other angel (marble). The yellow is just a touch bigger, but I bought them both at the same time over a year ago and never noticed this behavior before. I am pretty sure the marble is a female as she has a rounder belly. Any suggestions? <Angelfish are still cichlids. I'm not sure how large your tank is, but adults need around 20g each. You could have 2 males.> I have no more tanks free to separate them except for the 20 gallon with the GSP in it, and I'd like to keep him solo except for maybe add one more fish that eats algae and stays small. <There are no BW algae eaters that can go w/a GSP. Also, a GSP will kill any fish that is slow-moving or long-finned (like your angel. Angels prefer soft water, the opposite of BW, which what your GSP needs to live in.> But really, this nipping has to stop. He nipped off all her nice flowing fins and I'm pissed. <Just acting the way cichlids will act.> And it's for real aggression, not just playing. <I think that angel may eventually kill the other one. Can you find a new home for one of them? Thanks again. -LH <Good luck ~PP>

Fallen Angel I have five angels in a fifty five gallon with Dojos and Corys. The head female and three others have started tearing up one of the angels. They almost killed it before I moved it to my ten gallon to heal. First, do you have any idea why a school of angels would suddenly start isolating a male, bite his scales off and eat his fins and tail? Second, I have another 55 with a 8inch Pleco and two 6inch Oscars, two ten gallons and a 29 brackish with four green spotted puffers. I do not want to put him back into the original tank for fear of them starting it again, but fear the puffers or the Oscars may hurt him also. He is too big for my ten gallon. Could he survive in the brackish tank with puffers or with the Oscars? <Angelfish are cichlids and do become very aggressive when they mature and pair off to breed. Most likely the female has bonded with another male and they were upset at another males being in their space. I would not return him to this tank. I would also not put him in with the puffers. Even if he was able to adjust to the brackish conditions, the puffers would tear him up. You could try him with the Oscars, they are large but not overly aggressive. But it is a risky venture. If the Oscars start to breed, they will quickly kill him. I think it's time to pick the pair of Angels and sell/return the others. Don>

Re: poor beaten angel Thank you very much. I just cleaned the Oscar tank, so I will let it settle before the transfer. Now the Head female is beating up on another male I have. She appears to be a loner, and not to have paired with anyone. Do I just keep moving them out till I can spot the pair?? She is your typical silver and black striped, the largest. The one I just moved is black, and the one she is fighting with is of marbled coloration. The only two she will be left with are hi-fin angels. I can not tell the sexes on those, but one has significantly larger fins. Do the colors or hi-fin make a difference on their pairing? Is it just possible that she may not be pairing with any of them and is the one I should remove. I hate turmoil in my tanks, but these fish are the oldest ones I have. Thank you for all your help. < Sexing angels can be tricky. Typically the males are larger, have loner fins and develop a hump on the forehead. Some angelfish experts look at the angle of the anal fin. The female is testing the males to find one that is strong enough to stand up to her for breeding. Cool the water down for a couple of weeks and this should reduce the females desire to breed. Feed the fish with high quality food and keep the water clean. In a couple of weeks raise the water temp to 80 degrees F and see if any of the males are4 ready to take her on. You might want to separate the males and keep them warm to accelerate the growth process so they will be a bit stronger when you reintroduce them next time.-Chuck>

Re: poor beaten angel Wow, thank you. I will do as you advised... The black angel is doing fine in the Oscar tank, but is very lonely. How small of an angel tank mate could I get before the Oscars would devour it? < Anything that would fit in the Oscars mouth is too small.-Chuck>

Fat Angel Hey Bob, I wrote you a while ago regarding my koi angel needing a friend. Well she got a silver slightly bigger than her, and she keeps nipping' at him! Is she establishing dominance or are they flirting? <Hi, Don here. She's just putting the newcomer in his place. Common in cichlids. As long as there are no fins being ripped they should settle down in a few days. But do keep an eye on them> Also I fed them bloodworms. In which she ate all of them and her belly is so fat and she is swimming a little sideways. Will she make it? What is going on??? Erica <A one tine overfeeding of bloodworms should not cause any long term problems. Skip their dinner tomorrow and see if the bulge goes down>

Angelfish Aggression Thank you, Chuck at WetWebMedia, for your quick response to my urgent question/problem. I have taken your advice to heart, and took the angelfish out of the goldfish tank. I agree that possible aggressive behavior on the part of the angel would eventually be a problem. I do think I saw a new nip or two out of the tail of my shubunkin. His tail is frayed a bit anyway and the other goldfish are CONSTANTLY playing. There is no way that I could leave any even POSSIBLE danger to my sweet goldfish. They are just so cute and happy and do seem to enjoy life so much. So, the more docile male angelfish is back in the tank with the fighting female, with a separator between them. They have spent most of the time just staring at each other. She is seen occasionally trying to bite through the separator. She really IS aggressive. He, seemingly emboldened by the separator, will approach her and try to nip her through the plastic, too. At first, though, he was pretty crept out to be back so close to her and retreated to his furthest corner. Then he realized he was protected. Poor guy. I have a 10-gallon that I may put him in eventually. BUT I DIDN'T WANT ANOTHER TANK!!!!! The work! The work! The work! I feel like I have devoted every spare minute the past two years to FISH!!! But I love them. I do. And I wouldn't give this hobby up for anything. Sincerely, and thanks again Rebbie. <I am glad that your fish will happy and healthy for a long time with a caring owner like yourself.-Chuck>

Angelfish Problems I have a pair of Marble Angle fish. The last set of fry are about 3 months old. We removed them from the parents tank about three weeks ago from our 30 gallon tank. Recently, the female had not been eating, and 2 days ago she was laying upside down on the bottom of the tank. I thought for sure she was dying. The next day she seemed fine. Today we noticed her straight up in the bubbles, kind of acting like she wasn't getting enough air. Then after doing that she went back and laid on the bottom. Is there anything I can do to help her?? <The stress of breeding has taken a toll on her and it sounds like she has succumb to an internal bacterial infection. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat the tank with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package-Chuck>

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