What You Should Know Before Purchasing an Angelfish

By Stephen J Broy

Angelfish are cataloged in one of the largest families of vertebrates known to science. The family Cichlidae is comprised of over 1,300 scientifically classified species in 220 assorted genera. Previously undiscovered species are being classified to this family every year. It is highly possible that there may be as many as 3,000 species that fall within the scientific classification of this family. The family Cichlidae, more commonly known as cichlids, includes oscars, discus and tilapias. Many sources will tell you that angelfish are indigenous to the Amazon River. While this is true, this species can also be found in both the Orinoco River and Essequibo River basins. Substantial populations of this species exist throughout Guyana, Venezuela, and Columbia as well as Brazil.

Angels are hypnotically exotic creatures. Angelfish are the number one variety among freshwater aquarium keepers worldwide. Their distinctive triangular profile unquestionably facilitated their unparalleled popularity. Angelfish are sold in a variety of patterns and colors, from unembellished to banded, veined, black, golden, or Koi. They are without a doubt the most commonly found fish in department stores and pet shops. These fish are exceptionally reasonably priced. Angels are also the easiest species to care for.

While angels will not grow anywhere near the size of an oscar or a discus, they are not a small species. You should be aware that the angelfish on display in pet stores are generally quite young. They usually reach six inches in diameter upon maturity. They can be maintained in a rather small aquarium as juveniles. A fully grown angel, however, should not be housed in tank under 10 gallons in size. A 20 gallon fish tank is advisable.

Angelfish make great additions to any freshwater community tank. They are not timid enough to allow themselves to be bullied, but they won't pick on other fish in the tank. Angels have a docile character. However, just as any other species, they will see smaller tank mates as a food source. They should not be housed with species small enough for them to consume. Remember this when selecting their potential tank mates. You will also want to avoid housing them with known fin nippers. Species such as barbs and tetras will instinctively nibble on fish of the long finned variety, even if the fish is larger than them. You never want to house a betta or an angelfish with a species that has a reputation as a fin nipper. Information on the habits of various freshwater species can be easily researched on the internet. Any reputable pet shop can also provide you with information on what species to and do not mix well together.

Angelfish are omnivores. Their diet should be comprised of both plant and animal matter. You will want to make sure to choose a fish food that is formulated for omnivores as their main staple. A good quality flake food is all you will need to keep your angelfish fit and full of vigor. Many fish keepers prefer to provide a variety of dietary supplements in addition to the main staple. Although this is not mandatory, it is recommended. You might want to ask yourself; would you want to eat the exact same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of your life? A varied diet will help to guarantee optimum health. Crushed seaweed sheets make a great dietary supplement for omnivores. High protein supplements like brine shrimp, tubifex and bloodworms make ideal dietary supplements. Frozen and freeze dried preparations are readily available and are a cost effective alternative to live food.

These fish are endemic to the Amazon River system. They are accustomed to water on the acidic side of the pH scale. A pH factor of 6.8 with temperatures between 72-86 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal environment. If maintained properly angelfish have an average life expectancy of 10 years.

In the realm of parenting, freshwater fish can be divided into two specific categories. There are those fish that will abandon their unborn eggs or even consume them in complete disregard for nature's mandate to prorogate the species. Then there are the fish that express varying amounts of brooding instinct. All cichlids fall in the second category. Angelfish are what is known as open brooders. Open brooders lay there eggs out in the open as opposed to hiding them from potential predation by cleaning a flat surface like a rock or piece of wood to lay their eggs on. A common trait among brooders is that they will guard over their unborn offspring until they hatch. Normally the male stands guard over his future offspring while the female becomes the eggs' caregiver. Once they are hatched, both parents will take an active role in tending their offspring. - 32185

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