Pet freshwater angelfish have an average lifespan of 10 years if cared for properly. The life expectancy of angelfish can vary depending on the species, environmental conditions, and the genetic health markers of a particular fish.
Learning what factors are in our control and applying proper care as keepers can go a long way toward improving angelfish lifespan and quality of life within those years.
As freshwater angelfish enthusiasts, we have experienced the highs and lows of keeping various Pterophyllum species, from the breeding cycle through raising fry to adults.
Understanding freshwater angelfish at various stages of life can make you a better pet owner. That translates into an extended lifespan for your angelfish. Some of the information below that can help you along your way includes:
- Lifespan in captivity
- Angelfish ages
- What can help longevity
- What might hinder lifespan
- Answers to common age-related questions
Angelfish Lifespan in Aquarium
The life expectancy of angelfish in an aquarium setting might be ten or more years, but several factors can increase or hinder the likelihood of your fish reaching a ripe old age. Three of the most influential things to longevity are diet, tank size, and water parameters.
Feed adults twice daily, while fry and juveniles need feedings four or more times during the day. Keep portion sizes to the amount of food the fish can consume in two or three minutes. That prevents overfeeding and excess pollution in the water column.
This species is omnivorous, meaning they eat animal and plant food sources. We suggest favoring animal proteins and popular products like TetraMin Tropical Flakes often include a fish meal as the main ingredient. Products like this are ideal for top and mid-level feeders and add antioxidants for peak health.
Aquariums come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
You want housing that lets the fish grow to its full potential while limiting stress factors. We recommend at least thirty-gallon as a minimum tank size for a pair of freshwater angelfish and an additional ten gallons volume for each specimen after. There are also High or Tall aquarium designs that provide more room for fish like these to thrive.
Even the largest aquariums will not matter in improving life expectancy if you do not maintain water quality. The best freshwater angelfish temperatures are between 75 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining a ph between 6.5 and 7.5 and softer water between 5 and 12 dH simulate conditions in their native Amazon River Basin.
Water changes are crucial for promoting water quality and the nitrogen cycle. You might want to do more frequent water changes of 25 percent or less, as research is starting to show that changing half the tank or more can lead to higher aggression among the angelfish’s hierarchy.
To help your freshwater angelfish reach ten years or more in your aquarium, it is crucial to understand their lifecycle. Each phase has factors that promote it to the next level through to adulthood.
Stage 1: Eggs
Once you establish a breeding pair, it won’t take long for them to begin laying and fertilizing eggs. In its natural surroundings, the fish will place these eggs on broad-leafed plants like Echinodorus amazonicus. You could even buy and place Amazon Sword Plants (E. amazonicus) as potential egg-laying spots.
Temperatures of 80 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and a ph between 6.5 and 7.5 are ideal for the eggs. Translucent eggs with some interior color indicate fertilization, while opaque eggs are unfertilized or have developed a fungus. For most angelfish species, eggs will hatch into wigglers in three to four days.
A breeding pair might produce up to 1,000 eggs at a time, but far fewer than that make it to hatch.
When they do, these little creatures appear as no more than two eyes and a tail attached to the egg sac. They can stay in this stage for up to a week. These wigglers might remain attached to the surface the egg stuck to for several days, with occasional swimming attempts ultimately leading to free-swimming fry.
Maintaining water parameters and performing small but frequent water changes will help development. All the nourishment wigglers need is found in the egg sac.
After eight or nine days, the wigglers should swim freely around the water column, and their egg sacs will disappear. You can then introduce nourishment like micro worms of freshly hatched brine shrimp to help them grow.
A couple of weeks after becoming free swimmers, the fry will develop characteristics resembling freshwater angelfish. Near the end of this phase, you can increase the size of food items to things like crushed flake foods.
Starting at three weeks, these fish can rapidly grow with enough room and food. They should be eating adult foods by week four in their life journey. Your juveniles will be four to five inches at six months and reach sexual maturity then or at some point within the next few months.
For most hobbyists, freshwater angelfish do not reach adulthood until they are fully grown. That equates to roughly a year. Many hobbyists increase the chances of younger specimens reaching adulthood by artificial incubation and rearing away from the parents or community tank environment.
By this stage, the fish will also be sexually mature and might have paired off with another. Adulthood for your pets at this stage lasts from one year until the end of life, which can be ten years or longer.
Tips for a Longer Lifespan
In the Amazon, freshwater angelfish feed exclusively on live animals and plants. Those conditions also introduce diseases that can end their lives prematurely.
We suggest avoiding live food in your aquarium. Frozen foods allow you to use food sources that are challenging to cultivate at home and prevent bacteria from entering the tank’s water column.
Perform Water Upkeep
The ideal water conditions mentioned previously can promote longevity. This species is a hardy fish by most keeper standards, but they can be sensitive to chemical imbalances in the water.
You should perform 25 percent water changes at least every two weeks, or even better, change 15 percent each week. Purchase a good water test kit and check the tank every two or three days.
Help minimize stress factors that could cause problems for your freshwater angelfish.
Provide plenty of living space, including shelter for these ambush predators to hide in. Avoid extremes with your tank’s water parameters. Make sure tank mates are compatible, including other cichlids.
Mistakes To Avoid
The 30-gallon for a pair and 10 gallons for each angelfish after is a good rule of thumb. You can add other species into the tank but don’t increase stress by adding too many fish.
Peaceful tank mates for angelfish living in the mid and lower levels of the aquarium won’t infringe as much as top to mid-level feeders. Also, keep in mind how other fish affect the water parameters. More fish equates to more pollution.
A community tank is a fun way to enjoy our freshwater angelfish, but how are they getting along with the neighbors? Avoid housing species with water condition needs on the extremes of your angelfish’s needs. Aggressive and fast-swimming fish can also increase stress for your pets.
Buying angelfish from a chain store can be dicey; we suggest finding a local breeder or a reputable online source you can trust. Avoid any fish that is lethargic or shows signs of being sick. Pass on the purchase and wait for a better opportunity (and fish).
Long Live Your Freshwater Angelfish!
While your angelfish can live ten years or perhaps more in its aquarium, some things factor into its lifespan. Proper nutrition, living space, and water parameters will go a long way toward helping your freshwater angelfish live a long and happy life.
You can help your pet no matter what stage of its lifecycle. From egg-laying surfaces like Amazon Sword Plants for eggs and wigglers to nutrient-pack foods like TetraMin Tropical Flakes for adults, there are steps to take to promote longevity.
Follow sound advice on what to do or avoid, and your pet angelfish can thrive under your care. Do you have questions about freshwater angelfish longevity or other topics? Leave a comment, and we will get you the answers you need.
How long do angelfish live in the wild?
The most common angelfish species, Pterophyllum scalare, can live up to 15 years in the wild. Altum angelfish (Pterophyllum altum) purportedly have a life expectancy between 10 and 15 years in their natural habitat, while Pterophyllum leopoldi can live ten or more years in the wild.
Many factors, including predators and pollution, often prevent fish in the wild from reaching these venerable ages.
How long do angelfish live in captivity?
More common angelfish varieties have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years when properly taken care of. The altum species are notoriously difficult to keep in captivity and often live an average of five years with proper care. Those keeping leopoldi angelfish find them surviving up to ten years in captivity.
With the proper care, your pet angelfish can reach the upper ends of these ranges and, in some cases, exceed them!
How long does a koi angelfish live?
Koi angelfish are a popular color variation of the Pterophyllum scalare species, meaning these can live 10 to 12 years under your care. These popular freshwater angelfish have experienced extensive crossbreeding to achieve the variety of color patterns on today’s market, but it does not seem to have impacted their longevity negatively.
Providing these fish with the same healthy tank conditions you offer other angelfish will help them live long and happy lives.
How long can an angelfish live without food?
Healthy adult angelfish can go three to five days without food and suffer no serious harm. Older specimens and pets that are sick can suffer detrimental effects sooner. Juvenile angelfish lack the fat storage ability of adults and will suffer as well.
Feed your adult angelfish twice daily and younger specimens up to four times to promote health and longevity. Feeding juvenile angelfish small granules like those found in Fluval Bug Bites Tropical Fish Food provides protein and other nutrients these young omnivores need to grow into healthy adults.
How big do angelfish get?
The most common angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) obtains 6.0 inches in body length and 8.0 inches in height when fully mature. The altum species of angelfish can reach 7.0 inches long and 12.0 inches tall in adulthood, while the smaller leopoldi species reach 5.0 inches in body length.
Freshwater angelfish living in conditions that allow them to reach full-size potentials may experience a longer lifespan due to a healthy environment.
Our Freshwater Angelfish Guide