|Breeding angelfish is the goal of anyone that has kept angelfish for any period of time in their community tank. Angelfish come from the family Cichlidae (or cichlids as we refer to them) and because of this they have a tendency to be aggressive at times.
In this short article I will give you a few things to bear in mind when attempting to breed your angelfish.
There are many varieties of Angelfish available today but generally speaking the ones found in your local aquarium store are different forms of the common angelfish, Pterophylum scalare. Them all have the same breeding habits so my advice here applies to all of them.
To get angelfish to breed and produce young you obviously need a pair, a male and a female. This is the first obstacle to overcome because it is very difficult to sex angelfish reliably. There are many people who say that they can sex Angelfish but I have yet to find anyone that can do it reliably every time and I’ve been keeping and breeding Angels for over 40 years!
My advice is to select 8-10 healthy young Angelfish, preferably from a local breeder if you can or if not from your local aquatic store, and grow them on.If you feed your young angels on a good balanced diet of both dried food and frozen food they will grow quite quickly. If you can get live food to add variety, I prefer bloodworm and Daphnia, they will really enjoy that too.Fed on this type of diet you can raise your stock fish to breeding size in as little as 2 – 3 months.
Whether you raise your stock fish in a community tank or in a separate tank that you have set up specifically for your angelfish is your choice. I have done both equally successfully. The main thing here is that you find somewhere that your fish feel comgortable with and grow well.
The reason for starting off with a batch of young fish is that as they mature they will pair off naturally. I have found that Angelfish that have selected their own partner tend to make better parents and you know that you definately have a pair. One very important point to make here is this. If you buy just 2 Angelfish and put them in a tank to breed they have no choice and can fool the unwary fishkeeper.
It is not uncommon for 2 females to go through the ritual of breeding, laying eggs on their chosen spawning site just like a true pair. Unless you pay very close attention to each spawning run you will not notice that they are BOTH laying eggs. Time and again I have had newbie aquarists telling me how disappointed they are that their angels breed but never raise any young.
When finally they really look closely when their fish are spawning they see that either both fish are laying eggs each time or one is laying one time and the other another time. When female angels are in condition, are well fed and the tank conditions are right, nature takes over and they almost have to spawn.
As I’ve mentioned above, Angelfish are Cichlids, and all cichlids engage in pre-spawning activity that is very similar in many ways. The most noticeable one is the indication of heightened aggression. Initially this aggression is directed towards their intended mate and can be quite violent at times. This is generally nothing to worry about provided the one receiving the aggression has somewhere to run to if need be.
For this reason it is important to provide a large tank for your angels until they have established a pair bond. I now prefer to raise my angels in a large (minimum 36″ x 18″ x 15″) community tank. This provides some hiding places for your angels to run to and lots of other fish to share out some of the aggression. Typical pre-spawning behaviou is the jaw locking ritual that most cichlids engage in prior to spawning.
Whether this is a mechanism to ensure that only the fittest specimens breed to pass on their genes to the next generation I’m not sure but that is certainly the outcome when your fish have lots of choice of who to partner with. The good news is that Freswater Angelfish seem to mate for life, or certainly a long tome, and once the initial trial of strength is over they rarely have more than a little ‘lovers tiff’.
Once I have an established pair that have bonded and spawned once in the community tank I will then transfer this pair to their own tank to breed in future. Occasionally this move will upset the bond for a while but they generally settle down again after a short while and will breed regularly from then on.
There is lots more to learn about breeding angelfish, especially when it comes to raising the fry, but that will be the topic for another article.
Want more help with your Angelfish breeding? See our main article.