Angelfish need either same-species companions or to live in community tanks that fulfill social enrichment needs. A fish deprived of companionship is likely to become lonely, leading to a lower quality of life. Angelfish pairs or groups of even numbers are ideal. This keeps the fish happy and stimulated. Otherwise, creating a community tank with compatible tank mates, like dwarf gouramis and corydoras, is a good substitute.
Angelfish are not happy to live alone. They aren’t suitable as solo fish in a tank bare of ornaments, plants, and companion fish. Angelfish will become lonely when forced to live without a companion. Living in pairs or larger shoals is the ideal situation, allowing them to thrive mentally and socially. The only times when an angelfish should live alone is in a quarantine tank, as it is only temporary housing.
There are some symptoms of boredom and depression in angelfish. Namely, there is little interest in exploring, eating, or interacting with their surroundings. Since they’re active fish with natural curiosity, lethargy is a sign that something is wrong. A lonely angelfish may also dull in coloration. Young angelfish become stressed when unable to school with other fish.
Do Angelfish Get Lonely?
Angelfish are not a solitary species by nature. In the wild, angelfish live in groups. Captive angelfish will naturally school together, displaying intricate behavior as they glide through the water. A solitary angelfish will rarely display such behavior. In part, this is because of a lack of the enrichment provided by other angelfish. Eventually, it will also be due to loneliness.
As Animal Cognition notes, fish are rarely afforded the same level of compassion or welfare as vertebrate pets. The small aquariums still available for purchase are an example of this. The truth is, many fish species show a kind of intelligence and suffer when their needs are not met, including social and emotional needs.
Single angelfish will become lonely, especially if there are no other enrichment opportunities or fish in the tank. Imagine living in an empty, sterile room with no one to talk to and nothing to do. You would become lonely and depressed very quickly. For this reason, it is important to ensure that all of your fish’s needs are met, socially and emotionally.
How To Tell If An Angelfish Is Lonely
There are a number of ways to tell if your angelfish is lonely. The main signs will be:
- Lethargic behavior
- Swimming at the bottom of the tank
- Showing no reaction to you
Angelfish do recognize their owners. They will usually become more active once they spot you. A lack of interaction and interest is a problem sign.
Lonely angelfish may show no desire to explore or eat, although this can also indicate illness or incorrect tank parameters. Angelfish have big appetites, and an unwillingness to eat is a big red flag. If the tank is set up correctly, the parameters are at normal levels, and no signs of illness or injury are present, then take note. The angelfish is likely depressed and lonely.
You can also monitor the fish’s colors. If they fade and dull in pigmentation, then the fish might be sad. Any patterns on its scales may fade as well. These symptoms can indicate that the angelfish needs a companion.
Is It Mean To Quarantine Angelfish?
There are cases where your new angelfish needs to live solo in a quarantine tank. Here, it is still important for it to see quarantine through, even if it is becoming lonely. It may cause harm to itself or others if you place it in the main tank too soon.
If you are worried about it becoming depressed, position the tank so that it can see and interact with fish in another tank. You can also set up a mirror in front of the aquarium so it can see its own reflection.
The best approach is to place ornaments and fake plants in the quarantine tank. These can be sterilized afterward. They will provide some stimulation and engagement as the angelfish explores its new environment. Forward-thinking can help you purchase several new angelfish, so that newbies are quarantined in pairs.
Do Angelfish Do Better In Pairs?
Angelfish do much better when kept in pairs. It is common advice to purchase an even number of angelfish so that they can pair off, as odd angelfish out can be picked on by the rest of the shoal.
Otherwise, single-sex shoals are a great idea. Angelfish thrive when kept in small shoals of 6 or more.
Owning multiple angelfish does run the risk of unwanted breeding, which can lead to over-populating the tank. Sexing angelfish is tricky, even for experienced owners. Instead, you can purchase adult angelfish rather than juveniles, so you can more easily tell the males and females apart.
Can One Angelfish Live Alone?
There are different answers to this question. Not all of them consider the welfare of the fish or social enrichment as a factor. Let’s explore all the main scenarios below:
A Solo Angelfish Tank
An angelfish living alone in a tank without any other creatures, angelfish or otherwise, will not be a happy or healthy fish. They will become bored without companions. Even if you interact with it daily, it will be lonely.
It is not recommended to keep a solo angelfish without tank mates. The fish can survive on its own, but it won’t be happy. The two exceptions to this rule are for quarantine periods or medicated treatment in an isolation tank.
A Solo Angelfish In A Community Tank
In aquariums with plenty of room and items to explore, solo angelfish can exist with compatible tank mates. The companionship and stimulation that these tank mates provide can be enough to keep the angelfish active and engaged.
If your angelfish have paired off, but one dies, then the remaining angelfish should be happy to live out its life with its tank mates. You can also add friends to tide the remaining angelfish over. This is better than getting a new angelfish and having to repeat the process over again when the older one dies.
Should Angelfish Live Alone?
Think about whether or not you should. Angelfish can live alone in a tank, but they will only survive and not thrive.
As mentioned above, there are instances where angelfish can live as the solitary fish of its species and still be happy. However, this relies on:
- Housing it with compatible tank mates
- Providing ample exploration and enrichment opportunities
We’ll discuss the best tank mates down below.
Do Angelfish Like Company?
Angelfish enjoy the company of other fish, regardless of their species. Problems only arise when the companion fish are too small or are considered prey by the angelfish. Remember that angels are cichlids, so they’re ambush predators.
Angelfish thrive best when they have same-species companions and can partner up and shoal. Shoaling is where you will see angelfish at their most active and engaging, which is one of the delights of owning them.
When it comes to tank mates, consider if those fish will out-compete the angelfish at feeding time. Angelfish do best when fed 4 times a day or 2 times a day in larger portions.
Compatible Angelfish Tank Mates
The best tank mates for angelfish are peaceful species that thrive in similar tank parameters. They should also be no smaller than 2 inches in size. Otherwise, angelfish can fit the tank mates in their mouths, and their hunting instincts may take over. Good choices for an angelfish community tank include:
- Rainbow fish, which are great in planted aquariums
- Bolivian rams, a visually stunning and hardy fish
- Dwarf gourami, beautiful labyrinth fish that thrive in planted tanks and are known to live comfortably with angelfish
- Corydoras, hardy bottom-feeders that also need to live in schools of 3-6
- Mollies, which are live bearers and great for controlling algae
- Bristle nose pleco, good algae eaters that are unique in appearance
- Platies, another live-bearer that gets along well with most fish
Keep in mind that any breeding in the tank will usually result in the angelfish hunting down and eating the fry. You should try to limit tank mates to adults.
Incompatible Angelfish Tank Mates
Angelfish can be both bullies and bullied. Putting compatible tank mates in the aquarium ensures the safety and comfort of both the angelfish and its companions.
Very flighty fish species tend to become stressed in angelfish tanks. They will get bullied quite often. On the flip side, aggressive or territorial fish attack angelfish, and even kill them. It’s best to avoid fin-nipping species, as the graceful sails on angels are very tempting to bite at. A few examples are:
- Convict cichlids, a very aggressive species
- Tetras, as most species are too small and will be considered prey
- Guppies, which are also too small and will be harassed
- Shrimp, as they will be considered food no matter what species they are
- Tiger barbs, which are fin-nippers and will bully angelfish
- Oscars, which are too aggressive and territorial
Most reputable aquarium shops will take a fish back if it isn’t getting along well with your angelfish.
How Many Angelfish Should Be Kept Together?
Keeping angelfish in larger groups brings out the best in this amazing species. It also keeps them healthy and contented, which prolongs their lifespan and the quality of this life. It’s a win-win scenario.
You must consider the size of the tank when it comes to the max population. At the minimum, angelfish should be kept in a 20-gallon tank. A pair without tank mates (excluding bottom dwellers, like corydoras) can comfortably live in a tank of this size.
If you want a larger population of angelfish, the rule of thumb is 1 fish per 10 gallons. For example, a shoal of 6 angelfish, the ideal school size, will need a 60-gallon tank.
The same rule applies if you want to create a community tank that includes fish of a similar size. Dwarf gouramis, for example, occupy the same water level as angelfish. There needs to be ample room for both types of fish to swim and explore, without bothering each other.
As always, keep in mind that angelfish do become territorial during the breeding season. Each pair of angels will stake out an area of the tank to be their nest. Ensure that there is enough room for the pairs and any tank mates that need the freedom to move around. Adding plenty of plants and ornaments that create pockets of shelter is a good idea.
Will Two Angelfish Get Along?
It isn’t always love at first sight with angelfish. Personalities can clash. Younger, more active fish can also annoy older fish. In such cases, you may need to move objects around the tank to disrupt established territories. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll have to move the new angelfish to a different tank, or return it to the store.
Properly introducing new angelfish to the tank can minimize such clashes. To do this, feed all of the fish. Once the food is gone, turn off the lights. Place the new fish in a clear container full of water and float it in the tank. You can also place the bag that the store packaged the fish within in the tank.
Allow 20-30 minutes for the temperature to acclimate. After that, gently release the fish into the tank. By feeding all of the other fish beforehand, they aren’t as likely to see the new fish as a competitor for resources.
Nighttime is when angelfish should be the least active. That makes it the ideal time to put new fish into the tank. If you can accommodate this, do so.
Angelfish Pairing Behavior
When angelfish get along and have reached maturity, they will pair off into male-female couples for breeding. If the sexes are unbalanced, then pairs will separate from the main shoal when it’s time to breed. This is because angelfish will cannibalize fry.
The first change you’ll notice in the aquarium is the fish swimming around in close pairs. The female angelfish will have a bulging belly, which is full of eggs. She may also be unusually aggressive to all other fish in the tank, aside from her mate.
Angelfish are preparing to breed when they hang around and peck at vertical surfaces. These include:
This behavior is the fish choosing a surface to lay the eggs upon. They will do this when breeding is a matter of days away. The angelfish pair will begin defending their nesting site aggressively and persistently. These attacks include darting jabs at all other fish or tank occupants. Even snails or placid bottom-dwelling fish aren’t safe.
The size of nesting territory that angelfish pairs claim varies between individuals. Large tanks with small populations and plenty of sheltering plants and ornaments are usually fine. High-population tanks or those with a singular open space may see other fish become injured or killed. Be prepared to shift fish to other tanks or give the breeding pair their own tank.
Can I Keep One Angelfish In A Community Tank?
Angelfish are beautiful, energetic statement fish that thrive when kept in small groups. In most cases, a single angelfish kept in a community tank will fair quite well. That is, provided that it has plenty of enrichment opportunities and room to explore.
Angelfish do not do well as solo fish in a bare tank. Many species of fish, including angelfish, are moderately intelligent. As such, they need the stimulation provided by companions and enrichment. This means that angelfish are not happy when they live alone. They become bored and lonely, leading to lethargic behavior and a sad, less meaningful existence.
Angelfish are great in community tanks that aren’t overcrowded, especially when housed with compatible tank mates. Otherwise, angelfish pairs or groups of 4-6 are ideal. They allow these stunning fish to thrive.