- Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare
- Family: Cichlidae
- Size: 8 inches
- Temperature: 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
- Alkalinity: soft, slightly acidic
- pH: 5.8 to 6.2
- Origin: Amazon Basin northward into the coastal rivers of the Guianas.
Long a favorite among aquarists, the angelfish is a tall fish that can be kept in a community setting, as long as its tankmates are not overly aggressive or habitual fin nippers. Fast-swimming fish may also make an angelfish nervous and may out-compete it for food. Gouramis in the genera Colisa and Trichogaster make ideal tankmates, as do many of the cichlids, such as the festivum and most of the South American and West African dwarf species. Small tetras like neons should not be housed with angelfish unless they are intended as food.
Because it is a tall fish, an angelfish should be housed in a relatively tall tank. It is particularly sensitive to poor water quality, so efficient filtration (a hang-on-the-back power filter coupled with a sponge filter is ideal), along with 30 percent biweekly water changes are a must. It prefers water that is soft and slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.2). It is a shy cichlid that should be provided with adequate cover in its tank. Driftwood and bog wood can be used to decorate its tank. Plants, live or artificial, can be included on the sides and back of the tank as long as there is ample swimming room in the center of the aquarium, and a layer of floating plants will provide it with an extra sense of security.
The angelfish is not particularly difficult to feed. It will accept a wide variety of commercial flake and freeze-dried foods. Supplement its diet with small live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp and Daphnia. Although meaty foods make up the bulk of its diet, it should also be provided with some vegetable material — parboiled romaine lettuce, zucchini and peas or foods that contain Spirulina.
The angelfish is relatively easy to breed in the home aquarium. Because there are no recognizable differences between the sexes, it is best to purchase a group of three to six individuals and let them pair up. No more than one pair should be housed in a 20- to 30-gallon high aquarium. They spawn on any vertical site or plant leaf and both parents will tend the young.