Angelfish can be an excellent addition to a community tank. Once they pair up with mates, they can happily coexist with other fish in the tank. However, this story changes when your angelfish begin laying eggs. Tank mates will attempt to eat the eggs and harass the parents.
Angelfish eggs don’t usually survive in a community tank. They will be damaged by conflict between their parents and other fish. They may also get eaten by other fish when the defensive parents aren’t watching. Even the parents may consume the eggs if tank mates stress them. You should place the eggs in a spawning tank by themselves.
If you do keep angelfish eggs in a community tank, then you need to safeguard them. This includes keeping all other fish well-fed. You should dim the aquarium lights while the eggs are incubating, and limit activity around the tank. You can offer the angelfish parents new hiding places, so they can seclude their eggs and defend against predators. Even with these measures, the majority of angelfish eggs will not survive.
Do Angelfish Guard Their Eggs?
In your tank, angelfish eggs are at risk. That’s why the parents naturally evolved a protective instinct to defend their clutches. They will ward off other fish and threats by:
- Swimming around the eggs protectively
- Forming a territory around the clutch and patrolling it
- Lunging at any fish that attempt to get near
- Full-on attacking any fish that gets too close or attempts to rush the eggs
The parents will also tend to the eggs and work to ensure their successful hatching. This will involve:
- Picking away algae and fungi that grow on or near the eggs
- Encouraging water flow over the eggs, boosting the amount of oxygen they receive
- Eating dead eggs that are at risk of infecting the clutch with fungus
These are all techniques that ensure the eggs have the greatest chance of survival. However, there are times where the angelfish parents stop being the greatest protectors. Instead, they become the greatest danger to the eggs. Parents are known to eat their young, both in fry and egg stages.
As such, the most dangerous place for angelfish eggs is still a community tank. Although their parents are there to protect them, they still have many dangers to face, such as:
- Fish that are bigger than the parents, able to force their way past
- Fish that win a fight against the parents, and attack the eggs
- Fish that sneak in and eat the eggs when the parents are resting or distracted
- Algae, bacteria, and fungi that the parents miss
- Disturbances from fighting and activity that cause damage to the eggs indirectly
- The parents eating the eggs themselves
All of these dangers are most common in community tanks. You will find the threats are reduced if you move the spawn and the adult angelfish to a different tank. This will limit how much stress, conflict, and predators they encounter. It may also help new angelfish parents to remember how important their protection job is, not their attacking job.
Why Do Angelfish Keep Eating Their Eggs?
Angelfish may consume their eggs for the initial 1-3 spawns. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not unexpected. The parents can be motivated to cannibalize their eggs because of factors like:
Lack of Food
If your angelfish don’t receive enough food, they’ll decide a food shortage is to blame. This may be the result of other fish hogging the food or the owner not providing enough for everyone.
An adult angelfish knows that it can produce several clutches of eggs. If it survives, it will make far more than the eggs it is currently protecting. Because of this, angelfish that suffer from food shortages may eat their eggs. This gives them nutrients and calories, helping them to survive the ‘famine.’
To prevent this, be sure to offer more food to the new parents. If they feel there are ample resources, they are less likely to pick on their own eggs.
If the parents are kept in a tank of their own, that will limit the competition they get from other fish. You should offer as much food as can be eaten in 2-3 minutes.
Too Much Stress
Angelfish have a tough job protecting their young in a community tank. It’s just a matter of natural instincts, and can’t be helped.
- Docile fish will be curious and eager to investigate the eggs.
- Fish that don’t mean any harm could still eat the eggs out of convenience.
- Aggressive fish may actively seek out the eggs and be willing to fight the parents for them.
Until the eggs hatch, continue through their fry development, and reach adulthood, they are not safe. As such, it’s unlikely that the parents will be able to keep up. This can result in a level of stress so high that your angelfish turn on their own eggs. The smaller the tank and the more overcrowded it is, the more likely this becomes.
If you notice your angelfish spawning in a community tank, be sure to:
- Limit how many fish are crowded near them, perhaps moving the parents or the more aggressive fish to a different tank
- Consider a bigger tank, especially one that offers multiple swimming levels
- Provide many hiding places for the angelfish parents to sequester themselves in
- Provide ample food, so curious fish don’t hungrily eat up the eggs
Youth and Ignorance
When angelfish are new parents, they’re more likely to eat their eggs. This is because they get confused in all the hype of their protection job. They may be so willing to attack anything that they turn around and attack what they’re supposed to defend. Luckily, most angelfish grow out of this habit after 1-3 spawns.
The good news is, that ignorance doesn’t harm the angelfish species as a whole. According to the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, angelfish have a low survival rate, to begin with. That is why they lay so many eggs. A clutch may include between 150-200 eggs. Of those, only 30-40 may hatch, and then only 30% of those will reach adulthood.
That means the vast majority of angelfish never make it past the egg stage, let alone to maturity. Your angelfish will lay enough eggs, and go on to lay more, so they have time to learn from their mistakes.
Detecting Something Wrong With The Clutch
The parents may also know something you don’t. In some cases, they feed on the eggs to:
- Remove damaged eggs
- Clear out extra eggs to provide aeration for the clutch
- Clean away eggs that are overrun by fungus
While it’s rare for an entire clutch to go bad, it does happen. If your angelfish parents are otherwise well-behaved, and have no external stressors, then their cannibalism may have been a good decision.
How to Protect Angelfish Eggs
The best way to protect angelfish eggs is by giving them a new tank. It is possible to rear baby angelfish in a community tank, but it’s far more dangerous. You’re likely to have many eggs, fry, and juveniles get eaten in the following weeks. The resulting conflicts will also stir up the water, potentially harming the eggs.
In the wild, angelfish have no choice but to rear their offspring in a community environment. However, there is far more space in an ocean or river than in your tank. Likewise, angelfish only have to contend with their natural neighbors, not whatever fish you introduce. That makes your aquarium more dangerous than the wild, in some cases.
Because of this, it’s recommended to place the eggs in a separate tank. You can relocate the parents to this new area, or you can leave them out if they pose a threat. Once the eggs hatch and develop into juveniles, they can be reintroduced to the group.
With all that said, if you must keep the eggs in a community tank, there are ways to safeguard them. In addition to the advice above, here are tips for creating a safer environment for your angelfish eggs:
Darken The Tank
Most tropical fish operate best in sunlight that filters in through the water. Providing a tank light is a great way to make them active, and therefore more likely to eat the eggs.
Because of this, try dimming the lights while your angelfish eggs are incubating. This will encourage the other fish to become more docile and less willing to attack.
Just be sure to return the light levels to normal once the baby angelfish are safe. Otherwise, the remaining tank mates could have their circadian rhythm disrupted for the worst.
If your eggs continue to be eaten, try to limit the activity around your tank. For example, move the tank away from doors, living rooms, or places that see ample foot traffic. The movement, sound, and even vibrations of heavy footsteps might upset the fish.
It’s also possible that the fish are getting riled by this activity. This could make them more likely to gobble up the eggs out of stress and hyperactivity.
Only Trust Experienced Parents
If you must let the eggs grow up in a community tank, then only consider this with experienced parents. Young parents are prone to getting their wires crossed or becoming stressed from outside activity. If any angelfish are capable of handling the bustle of a full tank alongside raising eggs, it will be the experienced parents that take it in stride.
Provide Hiding Spots
Angelfish will create a territory and protect it. If they’re given plenty of hiding places (for themselves and the eggs), they’re less likely to expand this territory. Otherwise, they may pick fights and harm the eggs in the process.
Instead, hiding places break the line of sight with other fish, so your angels feel secure. They can also hide the eggs, giving them a better chance against opportunistic predators.
Paint The Tank
Angelfish parents may get overly riled by their own reflection. They may even see the reflection of other fish and feel surrounded, causing them to eat the eggs.
To prevent this, consider painting the bottom of the tank a dark color. You can also paint one side of the tank, so the parents aren’t exposed on all sides. Painting a spot near the clutch will ensure the angels feel safest in this locale.
Angelfish Fry Survival Rate
If your eggs manage to survive in the community tank, they will become fry. At this point, how likely are they to survive? According to the Autonomous University of Sinaloa in Mexico, the survival rate of the fry varies from 50% to 66.3%. This mainly depends on:
- How protected their environment is
- The kind of diet they’re given
- If they’re placed in a fry basket and excluded from other fish
If the fry are allowed to swim freely in the tank, they will have a much lower survival rate. Likewise, if they’re not given a specific diet that helps their developing bodies, they may die off. If their tank is overly active, too bright, and has strong currents, they’re likely to perish.
If you want your angelfish fry to survive a community tank, then be sure that you’re overly protective. They will face many predators (including their own parents) over the next few weeks. The more calm, well-fed, and secluded your tank inhabitants are, the less eager they will be to eat your angelfish eggs.