Breeding Egg-Laying Aquarium Fish, Part Six: Angelfish, and Some General Comments.
This is the sixth and final article in a series of articles on breeding egg-laying aquarium fish. Part Five was a quick overview of some fish that, while relatively easy to breed, had a few traits which may not make them the best choice for a beginning fish breeder.
In this article we will first look at the Angelfish, then wrap up this series of articles with some general comments.
Angelfish, (Pterophyllum scalare)
Angelfish are harder to breed successfully than any of the other fish mentioned in this series of articles, but that is not usually due to an unwillingness to spawn on their part. They are larger fish, and need more room, and they are also more likely to get stressed and do something stupid, like eat their eggs. In an ideal world each breeding pair of Angelfish should have their own tank of at least 20 gallons, but I’ve breed them in 10 gallon tanks, and I’ve had them lay eggs in a 20 gallon community aquarium. The breeding tank should be in a quiet area away from overzealous children, excitable dogs, and cats of all types.
Like Convicts and Kribs, Angelfish are Cichlids, and form monogamous breeding pairs. In temperament they lie somewhere between those other two, with a desire to be more like the Convicts, which is curtailed by the limitations of their physique. In fact, I tend to think of Angelfish as bullies. They will readily harass, injure, or eat any fish smaller than themselves that can’t defend itself, but will shy away from fish their own size. But their beauty and grace in the water more than compensate for any perceived defects in their personality.
To breed Angelfish, start with 6 or more small ones in 20 gallon or larger tank. As the fish grow and mature, they will choose a partner and pair off. Put each pair into its own 20 gallon tank. The tank should have some plants or decorations on one side, to provide hiding spaces, and a piece of slate securely angled against the glass on the other side. The intent is for the pair to lay their eggs on the slate, which most of the time they will do. Once the eggs have been laid, you can take the piece of slate out and put it in a smaller tank, and treat it with methylene blue. (Methylene blue is an effective way to protect fish eggs from fungus.) After the babies hatch and use up their yolk sacks, they will need brine shrimp. Lots and lots of brine shrimp! Do NOT underestimate how much brine shrimp you’ll need, else the babies may suddenly starve before you can get them switched over to flake food.
I once stupidly tried to raise a batch of Angelfish babies using only infusoria. Out of the entire batch, only one survived.
If the parents are contrarians, and choose not to lay their eggs on the piece of slate, you can try letting them raise the babies themselves. This usually doesn’t work out well, (one or both of the parents panic, and eat the eggs or the babies), but when it does, it’s a lovely sight to see the young Angelfish swimming in a flock around their parents.
Breeding Angelfish successfully is a bit trickier than breeding Convicts or Kribs, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be faced with the same old problem: what am I going to do with all these babies?
Because of their popularity, you can easily find lots of information on Angelfish. Here are a couple resources that may be worth a click.
Wikipedia entry on the Pterophyllum genus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterophyllum
The Angelfish Forum II: http://www.angelfish.net/VBulletin/index.php
Breeding fish, and in fact animal husbandry of any type, is much more than just acquiring “book” knowledge. Reading a series of articles on the subject, and then deciding you know how to do it, is much like deciding you know how to ride a bicycle after reading a training guide. There is no replacement for experience.
Your first attempt with most any fish will most likely fail. Make note of what went wrong, and try again!
Continue researching and learning, comparing the advice of one author against another. You may find that some folks recommend the complete opposite of what I do. Does that mean one of us was wrong? Hardly! It just means that different techniques more-or-less succeed in different places and different times. Try one technique, and if it doesn’t work, try the other. If they both fail, try something else.
Another important thing to remember is that the fish have been doing this for much longer than we have been writing about them, and besides, fish don’t read! So don’t get too mad at your Angelfish if they never choose to lay their eggs on the piece of slate. After all, they know much more about making baby Angelfish than we do.
If you’ve read through all these articles, thank you very much for your time and attention. I would encourage each and every one of you to post your own comments to any of the articles, whether you agree with what I wrote or not. Any tips or tricks you could add would be most appreciated, and will help all of us learn. Who knows, but maybe one of you will be able to explain to me how to finally successfully raise Zebrafish fry?
And maybe someday someone will come up with a good use for all those extra babies!