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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

The well-tempered cichlid

Learn more about cichlids & the Jack Dempsey
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - November 27, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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The well-tempered cichlid

I wrote about cichlids in general, and then drilled down to the Jack Dempsey, a pugnacious critter that, like its namesake, pulls no punches. That comes as no surprise, since cichlids are, by and large, aggressive fish. Aggressiveness, however, admits of degrees, and the angelfish – both fortunately and unfortunately – ranks at the lower end of this continuum.

Some background
Highly popular among hobbyists, the angelfish is a freshwater fish that is native to South America, and ranges throughout the Amazon basin. This thin, deep-bodied fish sports elongated dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins, grows up to a length of 15cm, and enjoys a lifespan of 10 years or more.

Its relatively mild temperament (that is, compared to some other cichlids) makes the angelfish a good community fish. However, when young, their long fins make them easy targets for fin-nippers, like tiger barbs.

Water conditions
Being native to tropical environments, the angelfish should be kept in a relatively warm aquarium; the water temperature ought to be between 26 deg C and 28 deg C. They thrive in slightly acidic soft water, so the pH level ought to be in the range of 6.5 (slightly acidic) to 7.0 (neutral).

Although their counterparts in the wild require relatively acidic water, domesticated angelfish are able to tolerate water that is neutral or just a tad alkaline. But you don’t let the pH level rise too high – your angelfish may go into shock and die.

Angelfish can do well on a diet of flakes, pellets and frozen foods. An occasional serving of live food such as brine shrimp or tubifex is not only a treat but also keeps them robust. Include some vegetable matter in their diet as well.

Tank size
Angelfish are given to schooling, and like to move around. Full-grown adults are also territorial. It is therefore important to give them adequate space to manoeuvre and stake out a territory of their own.

A fully grown angelfish requires between 40 and 60 litres of water. Because of their body shape, they prefer taller tanks to the elongated ones.

Types of angelfish
Up to three types of angelfish have been identified by experts: Pterophyllum scalare, Pterophyllum altum, and Pterophyllum leopoldi.

Of these three types, Pterophyllum scalare is the most commonly kept species, and includes varieties like the silver angelfish, golden angelfish, black angelfish, golden marble angelfish and the German blue blushing angelfish. Pterophyllum altum tends to be rarer, while Pterophyllum leopoldi is the hardest to find.

Monogamy is not an issue here: Angelfish form long-term relationships in which they will protect each other from threats and rivals. Upon the death or removal of one of the mated pair, the remaining fish will often refuse to mate with other angelfish. It might be easier to just buy an established pair from the store.

Spawning sites used by mated pairs are usually vertical surfaces, such as a piece of slate or a rigid leaf of a plant that extends upwards. Angelfish eggs are quite vulnerable to fungus, so you might want to add fungicide to the water.


Get ‘rude’ with your pet