There are over 90 different types of angelfish, all of which belong to the cichlid family. But with so many varieties available, it seems reasonable to assume that not all are compatible.
It’s OK to mix different types of angelfish as they all require similar water parameters and tank conditions. Angelfish are also the least aggressive cichlids. While they fight with one another if provoked, they’re unlikely to kill each other. However, not all angelfish will get on at first. That’s why they need to be appropriately introduced to ensure all fish are on an even playing field and aren’t harboring territorial dominance. Some angelfish are larger than others, so bear that in mind when choosing the species you want for your aquarium.
Not only can different angelfish species live with each other, but they can breed, producing a range of color and scale patterns that are unique. This is one of the reasons why people keep different angelfish in the same tank.
What Are The Different Types Of Angelfish?
There are several different species of freshwater angelfish that are commonly kept as aquarium pets. While they all form part of the Pterophyllum genus, there are three sub-species consisting of the altum, scalare, and leopoldi.
The scalare genus of angelfish is the most popular in captivity and hail from the Amazon Basin in Peru, Columbia, and Peru. The altum is the larger angelfish genus but is slightly harder to find in captivity. The leopoldi lacks a pre-nasal notch, making it the most distinctive angelfish variety. It’s also the smallest angelfish species.
Within each genus, all angelfish have various patterns and colors, making them look completely different. Some of the most popular captive angelfish species include:
- Black lace
While they make good community fish, angelfish shouldn’t be placed in an aquarium with smaller prey fish, as they’re ambush predators. That’s why owners prefer to keep angelfish together, as it prevents predation.
Can Different Angelfish Live Together?
Angelfish aren’t happy to live alone. When forced to live without companionship, they become lonely and stressed. As a result, they enjoy the company of other fish, regardless of the species. That means angelfish like to live with their own species.
Similarly, as mentioned, angelfish will eat smaller tank mates because they’re part of the predatory cichlid family. As a rule of thumb, angelfish tank mates shouldn’t be smaller than two inches, as your angelfish can fit them in their mouth, causing their hunting instincts to take over.
As a result, keeping angelfish together reduces the risk of predation and creates a more harmonious environment within the tank.
However, while angelfish are fine to be mixed, it’s best to keep them in small shoals of 6 or more, depending on your tank’s size. For example, a shoal consisting of 6 fish requires a 60-gallon tank.
Bear in mind that angelfish don’t always get along at first as their personalities can clash. This is especially the case if you add younger, more active angelfish to a tank containing older, slower fish.
That’s why, to ensure your angelfish integrate with each other, you must introduce them properly from the start.
How To Introduce Angelfish To Each Other
To minimize clashes, feed all the fish before introducing them, whether they’re already in the tank or being newly added.
Once the food has been eaten, turn out the lights and place the new angelfish in a clear container full of water. Float it in the tank and leave it for 20 to 30 minutes for the temperature to acclimate.
After this point, you can release the angelfish into the tank and allow them to get used to their new surroundings.
The benefit of feeding the fish before putting them into the tank is that they won’t compete for resources. If the angelfish that are already in the aquarium think their new tank mates will fight them for food, they’ll become aggressive almost immediately.
If you already have angelfish in the tank, move all the decorative features to a new position. This will reset the established territories and allow the new, younger angelfish the chance to assert some dominance.
Of course, if you’re adding new angelfish simultaneously, you don’t need to do this, as the tank is already an even playing field.
While some people believe that angelfish should be the same size, this isn’t necessarily true. It’s better to introduce fish that are both large and small with each other.
That’s because larger angelfish can fend for themselves. At the same time, smaller angelfish can get away from bigger fish, meaning they’re not a threat. Bigger fish soon realize this after giving chase and failing to catch their new angelfish tank mates.
After a few minutes, the fish should feel comfortable around each other once they realize they can live in harmony with one another.
Can Different Types Of Angelfish Breed?
Angelfish readily cross-breed. In fact, most of today’s domestic freshwater angelfish have been created through selective breeding programs designed to develop new scale colors and patterns.
That’s because they have similar genetics and ancestors, despite what genus they come from.
Most angelfish have similar water parameter requirements, preferring temperatures that range between 76 and 84 degrees, making them easy to breed. However, altum angelfish prefer high temperatures and require a lower pH, so they’re not as easy to cross-breed as other angelfish species.
If you’re planning to breed angelfish, you must choose the two that are most likely to get along with each other. Otherwise, they’ll become aggressive with one another and refuse to mate.
When they do eventually mate, angelfish fry will take on their parents’ dominant genes, developing the dominant fish’s attributes. However, you may also notice unique, previously-unseen characteristics from “muddying” the bloodline.
Before choosing to house angelfish, you must be mindful of whether they’re compatible breeding mates. As described by the Brazilian Journal of Biology, angelfish pair-bonding lasts for one to three spawns. After that, they acquire new partners, continuing the cycle all over again.
If you’re housing both male and female angelfish, you could end up with a large number of fish in only a short space of time, overpopulating the tank and causing insufficient water conditions.
As a result, if you don’t want your angelfish to breed, choose an all-female or all-male group.
How To Encourage Angelfish To Breed
For your angelfish to breed with each other, you’ll need to ensure that the water conditions and tank environment are clean and healthy. You should also provide:
- Plenty of hiding spaces in the form of plants and decorations
- A safe and constant pH level (that’s between 6 and 8)
- A comfortable temperature (between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Medium exposure to light
- A healthy, balanced diet
Some angelfish click instantly, regardless of the species, and will naturally mate. However, if you plan to breed different angelfish to achieve specific colors and patterns, isolate them in a separate tank.
If spawning doesn’t happen, your fish aren’t compatible, and you’ll need to try a different pairing. Ultimately, your angelfish may never mate – in which case, you might want to consider leaving them be and trying again with different angelfish species that might be more compatible.
Will Angelfish Kill Each Other?
Compared to most other cichlids, angelfish are relatively peaceful and unlikely to kill each other.
However, while they’re the least aggressive cichlid species, they’re prone to chasing, fighting, and biting each other. Therefore, it’s possible they could kill each other if the tank’s conditions are bad enough.
When angelfish fight, it’s not without cause. When you have two different angelfish species living in the tank, the submissive fish will typically back down.
But if you have two types of aggressive angelfish or one doesn’t make down, their fights can get particularly nasty.
Angelfish become aggressive with each other for a number of reasons and are most likely to do so when:
- Defending their territory
- A mated pair starts ganging up on another fish
- Protecting their fry
- Responding to a challenge from another angelfish
- A lone fish is cornered and feels threatened
These issues are made worse by stress, age, mating times, and brood care. If one of your angelfish displays noticeable injuries, such as torn fins, or seems to be picked on regularly, you will have to intervene to protect it.
How To Stop Angelfish Fighting
If your angelfish have natural fighting instincts, there’s not much you can do to stop them. You can try improving your tank’s conditions by putting in more plants and hiding spaces, but that might not be enough to prevent them from fighting.
Before putting any measures in place, decide first whether there’s an underlying behavioral issue at play. For example, if your angelfish are mating, the aggression should ease once the fry are born.
However, if the fighting is merely a by-product of naturally aggressive personalities, you might need to separate the fish into separate tanks. If that’s not feasible, try placing a temporary barrier between them, such as fish-safe netting.
Another thing to bear in mind is that there’s a link between angelfish aggression and water changes. As described by Applied Animal Behavior Science, researchers found the more water removed at one time, the more the angelfish studied become angry.
By removing 50% of the tank’s water at one time, you’re increasing your fish’s chances of aggression. As a result, aim to renew only 25% of the water with each water change.
What Are The Most Compatible Angelfish Tankmates?
Angelfish aren’t only compatible with their own kind. There are many other fish that they’re happy to live alongside and will do so without too much aggression.
If you find yourself unsuccessful housing different types of angelfish together, consider one of these fish species instead:
- Bolivian rams, a tolerant fish species that are capable of living alongside angelfish.
- Bristlenose pleco, a peaceful, easy-to-care-for fish that are native to the same regions as angelfish.
- Corydoras, a timid, low maintenance species that won’t bother angelfish
- Dwarf gourami, a docile, shy fish that keeps itself scarce.
- Mollies, an adaptable fish species that can hold their own against aggressive angelfish.
- Platies, an easy-going live-bearing fish that gets along well with most other species.
- Rainbowfish, an excellent aquarium fish that are similar in size to angelfish. They also thrive in similar tank conditions.
While angelfish make ideal tank mates, personalities vary widely from fish to fish. Even angelfish belonging to a particular species might display slightly different behavioral traits. That’s why you’ll need to constantly monitor your fish at first to see whether they integrate. If they don’t, you’ll need to take measures to prevent your angelfish from hurting each other.