how often do angelfish lay eggs?

How To Tell if Angelfish Are Going To Lay Eggs

Last Updated on: 22nd October 2023, 03:45 pm

If you’re breeding angelfish, knowing when they’re about to lay eggs is essential. Helping them prepare for this moment can boost the eggs’ chance of survival.

If you’re not breeding fish, you may also want to know when eggs are incoming, allowing you to remove them before they become full fry.

A female angelfish will grow eggs inside of her over 2 weeks. During this time, she’ll prepare and clean an area for laying them alone or with a mate.

She’ll become more protective of this spot, her territory, herself, and her mate. She’ll develop a bulge in her underside where the eggs grow, which is easy to see from above.

Her papilla will become evident once she’s about to lay the eggs.

Angelfish can lay eggs once they reach maturity. Depending on their species and tank conditions, this could be at 6-12 months of age.

While it takes a male and a female to create fry, egg production doesn’t require a male. A female angelfish can develop the eggs and lay them by herself.

The eggs will eventually die if a male doesn’t come along to fertilize them.

Do Angelfish Lay Eggs Without A Male?

According to the Journal of Biology, female angelfish don’t lay eggs unless they receive environmental cues that trigger spawning behavior.

Usually, a male uses pheromones and visual cues to entice the female into spawning. However, the female can also pick up signals from her environment and may spawn without a male.

For example, she might be interested in her reflection in the tank glass or in any decorations you put in the tank. Likewise, she may also pick up cues from plants, other fish, or angelfish she’s not paired with.

This tells her the time is right to produce eggs, which will likely be fertilized even if she doesn’t have a mate. Part of it is the female getting confused; all the signals are correct, but the situation or timing isn’t.

Female angelfish can technically lay eggs without a male. The actual process of growing the eggs will occur within her, so she doesn’t need help.

Once the eggs have developed into viable eggs, she’ll lay them in a safe area. After this point, if there is no male to fertilize them, the eggs will remain sterile without life.

Angelfish are egg-layers, so fertilization doesn’t happen through the angelfish copulating. If you’re keeping a single female angelfish in a tank by herself, she might produce eggs once every 2 weeks.

Until then, the female will go through her normal ‘pregnancy’ stage. This involves growing the eggs inside of her before they’re laid.

Angelfish don’t have live births but do show outward signs of when they’re developing the eggs. She will carry the eggs inside of her and show signs of ‘pregnancy.’

Should My Angelfish Lay Eggs By Itself?

There’s no point in your female angelfish laying eggs alone because they won’t be fertilized and can’t grow into baby angelfish. However, that doesn’t mean the process is dangerous.

You don’t need to intervene if you notice your fish laying eggs, even when it’s kept by itself. Your female angelfish won’t get sick or harmed by growing and laying eggs herself.

As time passes and the eggs are not fertilized, they may develop rot, fungus, or algae. Before this point, most females will eat their eggs. This allows her to regain some of the nutrients she used to create the eggs. It also keeps other predators away from her territory and helps clean her environment.

A female may also eat the eggs after fertilization because she’ll be confused about whether they’re eggs.

gestation period for angelfish eggs

Signs That Angelfish Are About To Lay Eggs

Some angelfish will not show signs when they’re gravid.

If they’re a large breed or have a small clutch, it’s hard to pick out the physical changes. Likewise, it’s easy to miss the subtle signs if you don’t monitor your angelfish.

Cleaning The Area

When an angelfish is about to lay eggs, it will first prepare an area in the tank. If it has paired itself with a mate, this task will be shared by both of them.

If the female is alone, then she will personally find an area that is:

  • Flat and smooth.
  • Horizontal.
  • Secluded.
  • Away from other fish or deep within her territory.

Here, she will remove any debris and rocks. The idea is for her to create a safe area for the eggs to sit while they develop and grow.

If a male is present, he’ll also fertilize and protect the eggs in this place. If there is no male, the female will stay here and guard the spot as she goes through the ‘pregnancy’ stage.

Added Aggression

Angelfish are highly protective of their children, territory, and mates.

This behavior will continue even if the angelfish isn’t paired with a mate. Your female will guard her new laying area before the eggs are placed there. She will:

  • Drive off other fish.
  • Be more defensive of food.
  • Be seen quickly swimming around the tank at high speeds.

An angelfish without a mate will not understand that no fry will come from laying these eggs. She will still be intent on keeping the area safe and secluded.

Bulging Body

The physical changes are some of the easiest ways to tell if your angelfish is about to lay eggs.

As the eggs grow within the female, her belly will bulge outward, which will be obvious when looking at the angelfish from the top down.

A gentle roundness toward the back of her body and on her underside will disrupt the angelfish’s otherwise sleek shape. You can also see this bulge from the side, extending outwards, not downwards.

Your angelfish will develop this bulge over 2 weeks. In the beginning, it will be subtle. Toward the end, it will be prominent. You may be dealing with a health issue if the bulge appears out of nowhere.

Angelfish can become constipated, which happens when they:

  • Overeat.
  • Eat dry flakes that have not expanded in the water first.
  • Have defects from early in life that disrupt their digestion.
  • Are overly stressed.

To tell pregnancy apart from constipation, monitor the angelfish’s eating habits. She may be constipated if she stops eating altogether or eats very little. If she’s just as hungry as before, or perhaps more hungry, then it’s likely that she’s carrying eggs.

Slower Swimming

An angelfish that’s about to lay eggs may become lethargic.

As the day approaches for the laying, the fish will:

  • Feel weighed down by the eggs.
  • Be putting more energy into developing them.
  • Be more reserved and cautious of other fish.

Because of that, you might find your otherwise fast-paced fish getting slow and docile.

This is a good sign. If the fish is not stressed into quickly darting around the tank, then it feels safe in its territory. It’ll lay the eggs more comfortably and less likely to start a conflict with others in the tank.

However, angelfish are usually quick swimmers. If they become slow and not due to pregnancy, it may be due to illness. Be sure to look over the fish and compare it to other signs of egg-laying.

This could be bad news if the female hasn’t prepared a spot for the eggs, isn’t staying with her mate, and hasn’t developed a bulge. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the female not eating properly?
  • Has she lost coloring?
  • Does she show any kinds of growths or injuries on her body?
  • Does she remain slow for more than a few days?

Then your angelfish may be sick. You can look for other symptoms and explore different treatments. However, if she does show telltale signs of pregnancy, and the slow swimming only lasts for a day or two, it’s another sign that she’s about to lay eggs.


A pregnant angelfish will look for a place to hunker down as she develops the eggs. Towards the end of the pregnancy, she will spend more time in her hiding places.

If she has a mate, the male will stay with her during this time. They will both be very defensive of their territory and may lash out at other fish that get near them.

When alone, the female angelfish will tuck herself:

  • Under or around decorations.
  • Swim near or around plant life.
  • Stay near the bottom of the tank.
  • Try to stay out of sight.

The female will come out to feed and to do light checks of her territory and egg-laying spot. However, she won’t be as eager to check out the entire tank as before.

No Pause In Eating

As mentioned, sick angelfish may stop eating. A gravid angelfish will eat just as much as before or even more. It takes energy to form the eggs within the body, and she must recoup this.

You can expect the female to be happy to munch on protein-rich live food or frozen brine worms.

Extended Papilla

To lay the eggs, the angelfish will ‘spawn.’

This describes the process where the female lays the eggs while the male follows behind to fertilize them as they become free of her body. This is done with an organ called the papilla.

Depending on the angelfish, it may be pink and extend slightly from the body. This organ will be large and blunt in the female, and there may be swelling or bulging around her papilla. It will lay flatter on her body than with males, who have smaller ones that protrude farther from their bodies.

If you see the papilla extended from the angelfish, it’s about to lay eggs.

how long does it take for angelfish eggs to hatch?

How Often Do Angelfish Lay Eggs?

A female angelfish can lay eggs every 2 weeks.

Depending on the fish, this timeline might vary, with the fish spawning every 10 or 15 days. That’s because your fish’s health deeply affects the egg-laying process.

Fish that are healthy, well-fed, and kept in a clean environment will be able to lay more often.

After all, there’s less strain on the female’s body, and she can grow eggs more effectively. Angelfish who are stressed, injured, or ill will struggle to produce more eggs, so delays may occur.

Once the female has laid her eggs, she’ll start over if they’re destroyed. She will clean the area, and her body will start working to form new eggs.

However, if the eggs are fertilized, and she can care for them as they grow, she will not produce more.

Instead, she and her mate will work to protect the eggs, defend the fry, and eventually help the offspring to be independent. Once free and on their own, the female will return to developing more eggs.

If you separate a female from her eggs, she’ll consider them ‘destroyed.’

Her body will begin generating more eggs. Depending on the species of the angelfish and its size, it can lay between 100-1000 eggs in a single batch.

Most aren’t expected to survive since, in the wild, eggs can be destroyed by predators, environmental changes, or mishaps. The high number of eggs will ensure that some do survive into growth.

Gestation Period For Angelfish Eggs

Angelfish eggs begin their official gestation once they’ve been laid. It will take them 60 hours to process the sperm, grow organs, and start breaking free of their eggs.

How Long Does It Take For Angelfish Eggs To Hatch?

Angelfish eggs will take 2-3 days to hatch. At this point, the baby fish will start working their way out of the squishy ball of their egg, and their tails will pop out first and lightly begin to thrash.

According to Aquaculture Research, over the next 3 days, they’ll slowly break free and start consuming their egg yolk.

Once they reach the wiggler stage, they’ll graduate into more independent fry.

According to Zoological Science, the fry will take 4-5 days to swim independently. This is when most people consider their angelfish to be ‘hatched.’

During this time, the parents will carefully protect the clutch of eggs. If the parents are young and inexperienced, they may try to eat the fry.

However, if they’re not stressed and have laid a few clutches before, they will cautiously maintain their territory and keep other fish from getting near them.

Once the fry are large enough to care for themselves, the parents will produce more fry.

Angelfish will lay eggs often, so you must remove the eggs once laid to keep the fry safe. If you don’t want to have fry in your tank, you can use the signs of pregnancy as an early warning.

You’ll have time to prepare to remove and destroy the eggs and keep your tank population balanced.