how do I get my angelfish to breed?

How To Encourage Angelfish To Breed

Angelfish are not difficult to breed, but complications may arise. Your angelfish may refuse to produce offspring when stressed by reflections, other tank mates, or water conditions. If they’re poorly fed, live in dirty water, or have a tank that’s too small, they may also resist mating.

To encourage angelfish to breed, you need a spacious and secure tank environment, quality food, and hiding places. These 3 factors will help your fish relax, feel safe, and calmly spawn. To accomplish this, you will need to maintain the water’s pH balance, hardness, and temperature. You can provide bulky decorations or tall plants or for angelfish to create nests around, or use a spawning plate.

To breed angelfish, the best approach is to get several juveniles or an established breeding pair. Juveniles will breed for longer, and a batch of 4-6 allows them to pick their own mates. An established pair will be less costly, but breeding could have middling results if the pair is unhealthy or old. 

When Are Angelfish Ready To Breed?

The typical breeding age for angelfish is between 6 to 12 months. This is when they reach sexual maturity and begin pairing off with mates. At this age, angelfish can grow between 6 and 10 inches in length.

Once they’ve reached their breeding age, they can continue to reproduce for most of their lives. As they get older, however, their offspring may see a decline in health and an uptick in defects. That makes it wise to get a young breeding pair if you can.

How Old Do Angelfish Have To Be To Breed?

Angelfish start to breed at different ages, depending on their species and their health. Some will require a full 12 months to reach sexual maturity. Others will only need 6 months to develop to their full size and produce eggs or sperm.

To ensure your angelfish are ready to breed sooner, be sure to provide them with:

  • A clean environment
  • Ample tank space
  • Medium exposure to light
  • A balanced diet

The less their body has to struggle to grow, the more quickly your fish will reach their reproductive phase.

How Big Do Angelfish Have To Be To Breed?

Angelfish won’t reach maturity until they’re gained most of their adult size. Depending on the species, this may sit between:

  • 4 inches, in the case of dwarf angelfish
  • 6 inches, in the case of most angelfish breeds
  • 10 inches, for large saltwater angelfish

With that said, size may not be an accurate way to gauge your angelfish’s readiness to breed. A fish’s growth may have been stunted in its youth, halting its size and length.

That does not mean it will be unable to breed; it just means its size can be misleading. Instead, you should pay attention to its age, behavior, and the angelfish breeding cycle to see when you can expect eggs.

Angelfish Breeding Behavior

You can tell that a female and a male have paired off when they swim exclusively together. They will avoid grouping with other fish, and may even attack other fish that get too close.

This pairing-off can help you differentiate between juvenile angelfish and breeder pairs. Unpaired angelfish will usually cower away from breeder pairs, as aggression can increase once a pair has been formed.

There are several other physical and behavioral characteristics that indicate an angelfish’s readiness to breed. For example:

  • The breeding pair will isolate themselves.
  • They will show aggression towards other angelfish outside of their chosen partner. This may include pecking or nipping.
  • They will clean different areas of the tank, testing for a nest site.
  • They will increase territorial behavior, such as fin flicking, flaring gills, and attacking other fish.
  • Their colors will become more vibrant or intense.
how big do angelfish have to be to breed?

Angelfish Breeding Cycle

According to the University of Illinois, the reproductive cycle of angelfish follows a unique pattern. About 2 to 3 days before they spawn, female angelfish expose their ovipositor. This is a small, tubular genital structure that is responsible for depositing their eggs.

Male angelfish, on the other hand, do not expose their genitalia. They only do so at the exact moment before breeding happens.

As the spawning time grows closer, the female will be seen cleaning out the nesting area more frequently. Males may also be observed cleaning leaves or rocks. However, they do not show strong preferences for what they clean. Likewise, they do not perform this behavior to the extent that females do.

Furthermore, both the male and female will become increasingly defensive of their nesting area. This is seen in threatening displays, chasing, and biting other angelfish if they get too close.

Once the female angelfish has settled on her chosen nest site, she will skim the surface with her ovipositor before releasing her eggs. Males will then fertilize the eggs after they have been laid.

How Long Does It Take For Angelfish To Breed?

Angelfish pairs can spawn every 7 to 10 days if the eggs are removed. You would only do this if you want your breeding pair to produce eggs faster.

Angelfish will not lay a new nest of eggs if they have access to their previous clutch. If you choose to leave the eggs until hatching, new spawn will be produced once the fry have become juveniles.

How long it takes for angelfish to breed depends on your definition of breeding. Does this mean from fertilization to egg hatching? Or does this include the pre-fertilization of eggs? If you understand their breeding cycle, then you can determine how long it takes by observing certain behaviors.

  • Egg laying and fertilization occur in a matter of 3-6 hours.
  • 48 to 60 hours after the spawn, these eggs hatch into wrigglers.

How To Tell If Angelfish Eggs Are Fertilized

Fertilized and healthy eggs have a translucent, amber, or brownish color. White and opaque eggs, while they may not be dead, are unhealthy and have low chances of hatching.

If your white eggs are also fuzzy, this indicates they have a fungal infection. Unfortunately, this means the eggs are dead or will die shortly.

Do Angelfish Breed Easily?

Angelfish don’t require special tank setups, privacy screens, or certain temperatures to reproduce. However, they may refuse to breed if they’re:

  • Overcrowded in a too-small tank
  • Live in dirty water
  • Don’t have enough hiding spots to create nests
  • Are too stressed by other fish
  • Are underfed

Because of this, you might find yourself struggling to make your angelfish mate and produce offspring. The key to making angelfish easy to breed lies in creating a healthy, spacious environment.

Will Angelfish Breed in a Community Tank?

Angelfish can breed in community tanks. While it is safer and easier to breed fish in a secluded tank, just for the parents and fry, this isn’t absolutely necessary. Angelfish can safely raise their fry in a tank if:

  • The tank is spacious enough
  • The tank has sufficient decorations and hiding places
  • The tank isn’t full of aggressive tank mates, which might irritate the parents

Even in an ideal tank, accidents do happen. The parents may become aggravated by other fish and start fights. If overly stressed, the parents may even eat their own fry. Other fish may also snack on the eggs opportunistically. To prevent this from happening, you can take precautions:

Give The Parents A Hiding Place

Angelfish parents will naturally lay their eggs in a secluded area of the tank, away from other fish. You should provide them with plants, decorations, or a spawning plate for them to do so.

Tall and somewhat compact plants work well. You can match this with bulky decorations that limit how many fish can access the space.

Without these safeguards, the angelfish may become aggressive or so stressed that they refuse to spawn. If your healthy breeding pair refuses to lay eggs after several weeks, then consider rearranging your tank or providing them with a breeding aquarium.

Schedule Feeding Times

When your angelfish are breeding, make sure to feed all of your fish more often. Not only will this ensure that the parents can produce healthier offspring. It will also make larger or aggressive fish less hungry, so they’re less willing to start fights over the eggs.

Pick Good Tank Mates

Of course, it’s always wise to pick docile tank mates for your angelfish. This will make breeding, raising fry, and everyday life easier for your angelfish. Here are suitable tank mates to choose from:

  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Rainbowfish
  • Corydoras
  • Small catfishes (Plecos, Pictus)
  • Zebra Loaches
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • Rainbow Kribs
  • Cichlids (Discus, Zebra, Dwarf)

How Do I Get My Angelfish to Breed?

If your angelfish aren’t breeding on their own, there are ways to encourage them to reproduce. You will need 2 factors in play:

  • The right tank and environment set-up
  • The right diet and feeding

Setting Up A Breeding Tank for Angelfish

To make your angelfish breed, you will need to offer them a well-maintained tank. Fish that are uncomfortable or feel unsafe in their environment will ignore breeding instincts. In fact, the hormones that encourage mating will sometimes discontinue altogether.

In dirty, cramped, or poorly balanced tanks, angelfish will refuse to produce eggs, sperm, or pair off with one another. Their bodies view the tank as unsafe for adults, but especially unsafe for offspring.

Tank Water

Your tank water should be within an angelfish’s ideal parameters. These ranges will increase the chances of your angelfish breeding:

pH4.7 to 8.7 (but 6 to 8 recommended)
Hardness3° to 8° dKH
Temperature72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 22.2 to 27.8 degrees Celsius 
Water FlowLow/Gentle 
Water pH

The pH refers specifically to two ions: ammonia and ammonium. Lower pH levels mean higher ammonium concentrations. In contrast, high pH levels refer to higher ammonia concentrations. Maintaining pH levels is important for your angelfish, since this affects their ability to regulate sodium influx and efflux in their bodies.

Sodium works to balance an angelfish’s body fluids. That improves the growth and survival of both your angelfish and their eggs. Although angelfish can live in many different pH ranges, according to the International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, wild angelfish prefer pH lower than 7. Overall, they can healthily survive in pH levels around 6 to 8.  

Water Hardness

Water hardness is a term used to define the amount of dissolved minerals within the water. Of course, hard water has a greater amount of such minerals. KH is one measurement of water hardness and is used to decide how much carbonate is in the water.

KH is important for your tank because it buffers the acids that are naturally produced from your angelfish’s feces. Therefore, it stops the water pH from changing suddenly. Maintaining KH levels goes hand in hand with maintaining pH levels.

Water Temperature

The temperature of your water directly affects the lifestyle of your angelfish. Too low temperatures will decrease their willingness to eat, and thus, their spawning frequency. Overly high temperatures can enhance bacteria growth and prematurely age your fish. 

Tank Size

Angelfish pairs tend to do well in taller aquariums that are at least 12 inches in depth. It is not uncommon for these species to grow to large sizes when given enough space. The more room your breeding pairs have, the more likely they are to produce healthy spawn.

As for volume, it is recommended that you fill your angelfish tank with at least 20 gallons. Remember that these are the minimum requirements for 1-2 angelfish. You should adjust these measurements if you plan on having more than one breeding pair.

Tank Decorations

Providing an environment that mimics your angelfish’s natural habitat is crucial for successful breeding. In the wild, angelfish are quick to hide in plant life and around coral.

You can offer such areas by placing tall or broadleaf plants and roots within your tank. For substrate, gravel is not recommended. Use potted plants and driftwood instead.

Tank Filter

You will need a filter that can efficiently remove dangerous toxins and particles from your tank. While the machine does so, it must also be slow-moving and avoid stirring up the water. Angelfish do best in gentle currents, and their eggs can get swept up easily.

Sponge filters are a great option. They keep the water clear, lessen the turbulence in your water flow, are easy to clean, and can be used repeatedly.

Diet and Feeding

Angelfish that are well-fed will produce healthier fry and more resilient eggs. If you want to encourage your fish to breed successfully, then broaden their diet. Angelfish are omnivores, so they require a well-balanced selection of:

  • Flake or pellet fish food
  • Chopped veggies, such as cucumber or peas
  • Dried or live bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Mysis shrimp

Make sure that you remove any uneaten food 3 to 5 minutes after feeding them. You should always feed adults 2-3 times a day. You should also rotate their daily diet. If you’ve fed them brine shrimp one day, try chopped veggies the next.

best way to breed angelfish

Angelfish Breeding Tips

Now that you have the ideal conditions, it’s time to start breeding. Here are some tips that will help your angelfish reproduce successfully.

Selecting A Breeding Pair

Breeding angelfish isn’t as simple as housing a female and male together and expecting endless fry. Angelfish have their own personalities. Two angelfish may click instantly, while others will dislike the sight of each other. To create a viable breeding pair, you can:  

  • Get angelfish that have already mated
  • Get several juvenile angelfish (of both sexes) and have them naturally pair off

The first option can save you time and hassle. When you buy an existing pair, make sure to ask about:

  • Their age
  • The success of their spawns

While vendors may advertise them as a breeding pair, if they are too old, you won’t get many viable eggs. Additionally, if they haven’t been well fed and cared for, they may not produce quality offspring.

Getting several juvenile angelfish may cost significantly more than simply buying a breeding pair. However, there are advantages. When you get angelfish as juveniles, you are guaranteed to have multiple spawning years. You will also get more than one breeding pair, and they can choose their mates without pressure. This will make it easier to breed throughout the coming years.

Use A Spawning Slate

While most angelfish will choose a flat, clean surface to lay eggs on, you can also provide a spawning slate. This has many advantages.

  • Slates offer a better surface that eggs can attach to.
  • Spawning slates allow for proper water and airflow toward the eggs, improving their chances of hatching.
  • Slates are easier to move, which is helpful if you need to remove any infertile or fungi-infected eggs.
  • You always know where your angelfish’s eggs are, so you can keep an eye on them

Angelfish are picky about their nests. Because of this, it’s recommended to buy at least 2 spawning slates. This gives your angelfish options to pick from. It also increases their chances of laying the eggs on the slates, rather than on a decorative plant or piece of driftwood.

Spawning slates are not strictly necessary. However, porous material, such as the driftwood, encourages bacterial and fungal growth. This could leave your angelfish’s eggs vulnerable to infection and death.

The good news is, once a breeding pair has spawned on the slate, they are very likely to do so again.

Tank Floor

Angelfish may get stressed by their own reflection. Because of this, it’s recommended to paint the bottom of the tank a dark color, on the outside only. This will keep the fish from catching sight of supposed predators lurking down below.

Depending on the angelfish, painting only the bottom may not be enough. You might have to cover the entire tank with a cloth or keep lights near the tank off.

Other angelfish do not require such extensive measures. You will need to observe the fish and see what improves their comfort levels.

Change Tank Water Frequently

Changing your tank water frequently removes waste, toxins, and bacteria that accumulate over time. This keeps the water quality high and the tank clearer. Both of these factors are directly linked to your angelfish’s health.

Angelfish thrive in tanks with water that is changed 40% or more over the course of a week. As such, you should change your water often and in increments of 5%-15% each time

It is unlikely that angelfish pairs will breed if 40% or less of their water is unchanged each week. Angelfish are not difficult to breed. As long as you create a safe, calm environment for them, they will reproduce.