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Pterophyllum scalare - Angelfish

Some Tips on Breeding Angelfish

I am currently breeding angelfish as a hobbyist but on a commercial basis. Here are some of the things I have encountered over the years. Of course I’m not giving up all my secrets!


My best successes have come from taking ten juveniles and placing them together in a 33 gallon tank (or bigger). Inside the tank place a 2″ PVC pipe, and let them pair one at a time.

It’s not so much getting a pair – it’s learning who’s male and who’s female. Then you can swap fish around.


I have always been able to move fish around without too many problems. I use a piece of plastic egg crate in order to keep them separated until the aggression is gone. A little abuse is normal.

First Spawns

Don’t expect big turnouts. 90% of the time, the first batch gets eaten or has a bad hatch. As long as you get a few wigglers, you know there’s hope.

Egg takes

I remove my batches once the eggs hatch. I put them inside a small jar and insert the jar into a 5 gallon tank. The jar helps keep the fry sheltered until they are up and swimming.
Alternate method: I have on occasion removed the spawn once it is laid, putting it into a 5 gallon tank that is treated with Methyblue (Aquatronics). This is an added expense that I find not really necessary. Let your fish take care of their brood. It’s more fun that way.


I use 33 gallon tanks to grow out my fish.

I’ve run tests with densities and here are the results:
Depending on your filtration, you can place 250 pea size angels into a 33 and grow them to dime size before you need to grade them. I have tried growing smaller quantities in the same tank and had the same growth.
Replace 50% of the water three times a week. You should get nickel size angels in ten weeks. The use of live plants to help absorb nitrates is a must.
After ten weeks, reduce your density to 100 nickels per 33 to finish them off.

Future brood stock

Some breeders say that you must keep all your angels for six months in order to cream the best off the top.
Most of us can’t do that, so here’s what I do:
Once the angels are six weeks old (dime size),  I catch all the biggest fish of the same age and variety,  usually around 20 per 200. Once placed into a 2.5 gallon tank, you can get a good look at them. Select for size, markings, fins and colour. Separate your picks and give them their own large tank. As they grow, pick out the ones you don’t want and sell them. Remember that these are all top quality fish.

My scale

Grade AAA: I rarely let these fish go, keeping them as brood stock.
Grade AA: Most kept as back-up, but some do get sold.
Grade A: These fish are sold to other breeders. Top pet store sellers.
Grade B: Pet store fish.

As your quality improves, so do your grades!!! Remember that there is no place for culls. It’s hard at first, but these fish must be destroyed. Any fish that exhibit bad fins, unsymmetrical bodies, swimming problems or missing body parts should not be kept in the hobby. These fish would never survive in the wild……..!!!!

Feeding Tips & Discoveries 

My most recent project has been to find a new food for my brood angels other than frozen blood worms and brine shrimps. I’ve always made sure my fish have a variety of foods and a balanced diet.

Mysis shrimp

I kept reading articles about Mysis shrimp and what it would do for your fish. Well they weren’t kidding! I am now a full fledged mysis user and so are the hobbyists with whom I split that initial order. My fish gobble down mysis like it was candy. It has improved growth in my brood and keeps them in great condition. I’m sure that most of you know how hard it is to get your fish to eat something new!! My angels were all eating mysis by Day Two. I find it not as messy as frozen brine shrimp and the fish really seem to enjoy eating it. So….. my hat goes off to Patsy and her husband at Piscine Energetics for supplying the hobby with such a great food product.

Brine shrimp vs. whatever?

– A hot topic these days. It’s pretty hard to argue the fact that when your fry swim up, they want to chase something live. I’ve tried powders and flakes and they have a hard time getting the food. Brine just seems to be the best, but it’s just so darned expensive these days. There is hope on the horizon. A company in Australia has cracked   “in-house” production of the cysts. This could be exciting news!!!

First publication: 2002 Jay’s web site www.anythingfishy.ca (no longer available)
Source: Aquarticles.com (no longer available)

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