Black Angelfish Care Guide

Do freshwater angelfish eat their young?

Black Angelfish Care Guide7 mins read

Fact checked by
Sydney Perry
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Black angelfish care guide

Angelfish in general are extremely unique and beautiful animals with varied finnage and many color schemes. The Angelfish is a member of the Cichlidae family and the black angelfish is a particularly stunning variety.

Did you know freshwater angelfish are called the “Kings of the Aquarium” according to trusted sources. This article will look at black angelfish care as well as other kinds like the black and white angelfish.

Breed Overview

OriginThe Black Freshwater Angelfish originates from South America.
LifespanIt has a Lifespan of around 10-12 years in captivity and up to 15 years in the wild.
SizeThey are around 6 inches in length and 8 inches or more in height.
ColourSolid Black or Black Marble variations for the Black Angelfish.
Tank SizeA taller Tank of around 20 -30 gallons.
TemperamentThey are Peaceful and School, however Territorial as they get older.
Water TypeFreshwater, Clear or Silty Water, that is soft and acidic.
Water TemperatureWater temperatures between 26-30 degrees Celsius, or (75-86 Fahrenheit).
Water pHA slightly acidic to neutral pH of between 6.0 and 7.0 neutral. Nitrates must be below 100 Mg and Water Hardness of between 0-6.
Difficulty LevelEasy for Beginners.

Species Information

Species information of black angelfish
Black Angelfish are also known as ambush predators and may prey on smaller fish. Black Angelfish Image From Wikimedia

There are three commonly kept species of freshwater angelfish,  Pterophyllum Scalare which is the most common, the Pterophyllum Altum, and the Pterophyllum Leopoldi the rarest.

The black angelfish forms part of the Pterophyllum Scalare species. This is one of the more common captive-bred Angelfish species that is naturally found in South America.

Freshwater Angelfish such as the black angelfish are known for their more laterally compressed bodies and larger dorsal and Ventral Fins that end in filaments. They have what is called a Delta shape, which helps them to hide among plants and roots, and even on vertical surfaces, according to Wikipedia.

Most Angelfish Species including the black angelfish are also known as ambush predators may prey on smaller fish.

Color Variations Of The Black Freshwater Angelfish

Freshwater Angelfish do come in many color variations. However, here, we are concentrating more on the Black Angelfish variation. There are two main black angelfish color variations available, the solid black, and the marbled black angelfish (black and white angelfish).

Color variations of the black freshwater angelfish
The Black Marble Angelfish, on the other hand, will have black and white marbled patterns. Image by Wikipedia

The Black, or double dark Angelfish as it is known will have a completely black body and sometimes slight patterning within the black. However they never have white, and they mostly also have red eyes. The Black Marble Angelfish on the other hand will have black and white marbled patterns, and sometimes even Gold marbled patterns.

Black And White Angelfish

As a rule, black and white angelfish can have a basic black-and white color with black being the dominant color. Then again there is a variation called the Panda color where white is the dominant color with solid black markings. The Black Lace Angelfish is predominantly black, with lighter patterns on the tail that resemble patterns of lace.

Black Angelfish Size

Black angelfish size
They will usually reach a size of 6 inches in length, and 8 inches or more in height when in captivity. Image from Flickr

The Black Angelfish has more of a diamond shape, and a compressed rounder body with more triangular-shaped dorsal and anal fins. They will usually reach a size of 6 inches in length, and 8 inches or more in height when in captivity. Though wild freshwater angelfish can reach larger sizes.

General Care

Angelfish in general are very easy to keep in an aquarium even for beginners. They prefer warmer and slightly acidic to neutral pH water, and under the right conditions they will thrive.

Once they are in an established tank with all the right water conditions and parameters. If you keep up with feeding them a healthy balanced diet, there should be no issues with this gorgeous species of Freshwater Fish.

So first things first, let’s get you started on setting up your tank:

Setting Up Your Tank

Setting up your black angelfish tank
Angelfish love to forage at the bottom of the tank.

Set up the right sized tank, with proper water parameters and conditions for your black angelfish, along with some fun decorations and the right  tank mates. This will ensure that you have a happy and healthy Angelfish for quite a few years to come.

1. Selecting The Right-Sized Tank

We start off with the size of the tank for your fish, keep in mind they grow more in height than in length. So you want to opt for a higher tank. The tank for a single angelfish should be around 30 Gallons bare minimum. For every additional Angelfish 20 gallons should be added to your tank.

2. Tank Light

Angelfish naturally live in more shaded areas with sunlight filtered by trees and plants. They do need some light to help them differentiate between day and night. Thus, you can use artificial light or place them in an area with indirect sunlight and mostly filtered light, but more shade.

3. Water Conditions And Filtration

In general most Freshwater Angelfish species prefer slightly acidic clear, or silty water conditions with soft water. The water pH levels should be around ph 6.0- ph 7.0 which is just between acidic and neutral. Nitrates in the water should be below 100 mg, and they enjoy temperatures that are higher, around 26-to 30 degrees Celsius, or (75-86 Fahrenheit).

The water hardness should be around 4-8 dHG. Keep in mind that during Spawning and breeding, there may need to be some changes to water conditions and temperatures. A filter with a slower moving current will be ideal as Angelfish do not produce excessive waste, and are not the strongest swimmers.

4. Decorating Your Tank

Decorating your tank is your own preference. Whatever creates a  more natural and serene environment for your Angelfish would be ideal. You can likewise make use of a decal at the back of the tank with natural scenery.

5. Substrate For Black Angelfish

We will start off with substrate to add to the bottom of your tank. Angelfish love to forage at the bottom of the tank. They prefer a smooth small to medium gravel that offers good ground covering, and that can act as a medium for planting some Aquatic Plants.

6. Decorations For Your Tank

Angelfish do get territorial, especially during the breeding season, so it is a good idea to have rocks, caves, or even castles and similar items in which they can hide. They likewise enjoy more lush plant life and decor in their tanks and will appreciate live plants more than synthetic ones. Furthermore, live plants will also help to Oxygenate the water and clear waste compounds.

Here are a few Plant Types that Black Angelfish are Particularly fond of:

  • Anacharis
  • Amazon Sword
  • Java ferns
  • Water Sprites
  • Bolbitis
  • Anubias
  • Other Species Found in their natural habitat.

Choosing A Healthy Angelfish

Black Marbled Angelfish

Black Marbled Angelfish

Image from Flickr


I would personally consider using a reputable breeder to obtain a healthy Black Angelfish, they could also give you more information on the breed. If you do have a trusted local pet store you can speak to them about who they receive their livestock from and when.

It is best to purchase a fish that has been in the pet store for at least a week, as by this time they have not stressed anymore, and any diseased fish should have passed away already.

Look for these signs in a Black Angelfish to ensure that you are getting a healthy specimen;

  • The fins need to be erect, and not stunted or stubbed.
  • The fish needs to be active and quite perky, rather than lethargic.
  • There should be no deformation of the fins or any body area of the fish.
  • Ensure the fish does not have any white spots or fuzz anywhere on its body, which could mean it has parasites.
  • It is also good to consider the breeder or store’s tanks; they should be clean, not overcrowded, and not have any sick fish around.

1. Placing Your Angelfish In Its New Tank

When your tank is finally set up and the water conditions are perfect according to standard, what’s next? You can now get to the fun part of placing your newly selected Angelfish into its home. However, not to spoil your excitement, there’s a slight procedure to follow when doing this to ensure your fish adapts to the new water conditions properly to avoid stress.

It is best to wait a day or two after setting up your tank before introducing new fish. Also keep in mind these steps are for introducing the first Angel Fish to your new tank. The steps will be slightly different in a tank with other fish in it.

  • Allow the bag that you received your Angelfish in to float in the tank for around 15 to 20 minutes to get acclimated to the temperatures.
  • Open the bag and remove one cup at a time of water and replace it with water from the tank.
  • Carry on with replacing the water over 30 minutes to an hour at 15 to 20-minute intervals.
  • Now you can release the fish in the water, but avoid adding too much of the water from the bag.

2. Selecting Tank Mates

You may want to keep more than one Angelfish, or color variation of Angelfish together as they do enjoy the company. There are also a few other fish species that can get along splendidly with Angelfish. Keep in mind angelfish get territorial as they get older, and they ambush and feed on smaller fish. More aggressive fish species may also start nibbling on their fins, so try to avoid them.

When adding a new Angelfish or tank mate, do so from the start because they all need to find their own territory. However, adding new Angelfish or other species to an established tank takes some more effort;

  • Ensure all your fish are have eaten first.
  • Move around some of the plants and decorations, or add new plants and decorations to break up territories, and create new interest for your existing Angelfish.
  • Keep an eye on the fish after adding your new tank mate.

Because black angelfish can be quite feisty and territorial it is good practice to ensure that you get the right tank mates. The following species of freshwater fish make the safest tank mates, from both sides of the scale;

  • Gouramis – They are peaceful fish and sizable enough not to get eaten by Angelfish. Sometimes called kissing Gouramis.
  • Boesemani Rainbow Fish – They are also quite peaceful but may squabble among themselves.
  • Corydoras Catfish – These are bottom feeders that will also help to keep your tank clean.
  • Zebra Loaches – They are quite placid but need to be kept in groups.
  • Platies – Also a peaceful omnivorous fish species.
  • Mollys – They are peaceful and come in more color variations.
  • Plecos – Most types of Plecos are ideal.

“Most South American and West African Dwarf Species” can live with Angelfish, as long as they are not aggressive breeds.

Tank Maintenance

Tank maintenance of black angelfish
You can do a partial water change weekly or biweekly, by removing 30% of the water, especially siphoning it from the bottom of the tank, and replacing it with newly prepared water.

Maintaining your tank is essential for the well-being and health of your fish. A dirty tank can easily lead to diseases in your fish.

You can do a partial water change weekly or biweekly, by removing 30% of the water, especially siphoning it from the bottom of the tank, and replacing it with newly prepared water.

Make sure to clean dirty decorations and plants, and remove dead leaves from plants. A tank vacuum is ideal to clean your tank. What’s more, some species of fish such as Loaches, Platies, and Corydoras, as well as snails can help to clean your tank.

Likewise, keep in mind to regularly clean your tank filter to keep the water in good condition.


Feeding of black angelfish
When feeding your fish only feed them once or twice a day and feed as much as they can finish in a few minutes.

Angelfish in general are Omnivorous Freshwater fish that feed at the surface of the water. They also feed mid-water and will forage for food at the bottom of the tank. “In the wild they feed mainly on insect larvae and small fishes”. To have a healthy freshwater angelfish there needs to be a proper proportion of fiber to protein in their diet, they mostly choose a meat-based diet.

Their diet consists of high-quality pellets or flakes and frozen meat-based foods, as well as some vegetables.

How Often And How Much Should You Feed

Angelfish do not tend to be very picky eaters, and they will readily feed on different types of food. However, overfeeding can be a problem.

When feeding your fish only feed them once or twice a day and feed as much as they can finish in a few minutes.

Feeding Live Foods

Most Angelfish Species will feed on different types of live, or freeze-dried live foods these include;

  • Tubifex worms and Fruit Flies (high in nutrients and protein)
  • Bean Beetles and their larvae.
  • Brine Shrimp.
  • Flour Beetles.
  • Chopped Earthworms.
  • Black Soldier flies and larvae.

Ground Beef heart is a possible staple food. However, it can quickly degrade the quality of the water in your tank.

Feeding Vegetable Based Foods

Angelfish also enjoy vegetable or plant-based foods such as algae, algae wafers, and other leaf varieties. They enjoy Romaine and other types of lettuce, and spinach. Thinly sliced zucchini and marrow squash can be given. However you need to blanch these foods with boiling water and cooled down before feeding them to your fish.

Temperament And Personality

Temperament and personality in black angelfish
Angelfish do eat live smaller fish as part of their nature, thus they are not a good idea as a tank mate. Image from Flickr

I might have mentioned a few things regarding the temperament of Angelfish, which will be the same for Black Angelfish. They are Peaceful fish that do enjoy tank mates of the same species and other species. They also tend to school.

When they get older they will eventually pair off, and then they do tend to get a bit more feisty and territorial. Angelfish do eat live smaller fish, as part of their nature thus they are not a good idea as a tank mate.

Common Health Issues

Common health issues in black angelfish
Fin Rot is a bacterial infection caused by fluctuating water conditions.

Your Black Angelfish and tank mates should stay in a healthy condition as long as your tank is clean. It should be in optimal condition, and they should eat a healthy diet.

Here are some common conditions that mostly affect Angelfish;

1. Fin Rot

Fin Rot is a bacterial infection caused by fluctuating water conditions. It attacks the outer parts of the fins and moves inward slowly. By changing at least 30% or more of your tank’s water weekly you can prevent Fin rot, or treat it. Otherwise, a veterinarian could prescribe an antibiotic treatment.

2. Ich

Ich, or White Spot disease is caused mainly by stress as a result of poor tank conditions. A protozoan Parasite causes white itchy spots in the body of your fish. You also may notice your fish becoming lethargic and having a lack of appetite. You will need to quarantine the affected fish, until it is healthy again as the parasite will affect other fish.

3. Dropsy

Dropsy occurs because of a compromised immune system. Your Angelfish will become bloated and the scales may start to stick out, it will have rapid breathing, protruding eyes and a lack of appetite. A  good prescription anti-bacterial medication from your veterinarian will help.

4. Physical Damage

Your Angelfish may likewise suffer physical damage from handling. It can also come from nipping by other fish, or from hard and sharp parts on the decorations in their tank. It is best to avoid rough surfaces and sharp elements in their tanks, and to ensure that they live with non-aggressive tank mates.

Breeding And Hatchling Care

Breeding and hatchling care of black angelfish
“Try to maintain Angelfish at 24 degrees to 26 degrees Celsius for Spawning”. Image from Wikipedia


Angelfish choose a partner to pair up with and will stay with that partner for life, usually protecting each other. They may even refuse a new partner should one die. Angelfish are mature at around six months to a year. It is good to keep them in Schools or groups so that they can choose a partner and pair off on their own.

You can read more about their mating rituals in How Do Angelfish Mate.

They will choose a safe spot to establish as their territory where they will spawn. The female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them, and they will continually move above and around the eggs to circulate the water.

It is stated that water quality and temperatures are essential for breeding successfully. “Try to maintain Angelfish at 24 degrees to 26 degrees Celsius for Spawning” and keep the pH levels between 6.8 to 7.2.

You can read more about their reproduction in the Aquaculture Extension.

Caring For The Eggs And Hatchlings

The Eggs will hatch in around 36 to 48 hours and the parents will chew the zygotes out of their egg shells. Angelfish may sometimes eat their hatchlings. However, they do eventually become nurturing parents taking care of their young.

You can leave the Angelfish to raise their own young, which will also depend on the other tank mates, or you can move them to a new tank. The youngsters can feed on baby brine shrimp from around 4 to 5 days of age.

To Conclude

How big do black angelfish get?
The Black Angelfish is a spectacular specimen of the freshwater Angelfish species, with its dark color and red eyes. Image from Flickr

The black angelfish is a spectacular specimen of the freshwater angelfish species, with its dark color and red eyes. Angelfish, in general, are easy for beginners to keep, and easy to breed, with the added bonus that they can take care of their own young.

They can also easily be kept with many other species of fish, though they do tend to be slightly territorial.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Freshwater Angelfish Eat Their Young?
Adult Angelfish are not known to eat their young in most cases, though it does happen with new parents sometimes. Angelfish that have had a few litters already will readily raise the young by themselves, posing them no danger, and contrarily protecting them. Keeping the fry with their parents also helps to prevent overbreeding in Angelfish.
How Do I Know if My Black Angelfish is Male or Female?
Male Angelfish are generally slightly larger than females with rounded bodies, whereas females have more angular bodies. Males also develop a nose ridge when they get older. Males have frayed or forked ventral fins, unlike females, and females have wider stomachs. Generally, males may be slightly more aggressive than females.
How Big Do Black Angelfish Get?
Black Angelfish, similar to all other Freshwater Angelfish kept in captivity, will grow up to around 6 inches, 15 cm in length, and 8 Inches or 20 centimeters in height. On average they will be around 2 inches when purchased or 3.8 to 5 cm.
Why is My Angelfish Changing Color?
Though Angelfish do change color as they grow and age, when they change color substantially, or their once vibrant colors become faded there may be another problem. You can read more about Colors Changes in Angelfish in Your Aquarium Guide.
View sources

Tal Halperin

Tal is an avid fish keeper and has been raising ornamental fish for decades. As a little boy, he drove his father crazy to buy him an aquarium with all the necessary equipment. Now, after a career in the field, he has set up Your Aquarium Place to offer the most comprehensive guide to ornamental fish keeping available and share his passion for the different species he has looked after.