Yes, angelfish eat other fish. Pterophyllum scalare (freshwater angelfish) will exhibit aggressive behavior because, as cichlids, it’s in their nature. However, these are one of the more peaceful cichlids and can be part of a thriving community tank once you understand the problem.
We can help! Our goal is to provide helpful information that keeps you, the fish tank, and your pets happy and healthy (we are angelfish enthusiasts too). Even if you’re worried that angelfish are aggressive, it is not a deal-breaker once you have answers to:
- Are angelfish dangerous to keep with other fish?
- Do angelfish eat other fish?
- How do you stop angelfish from eating other fish?
Read on to find the answers, and don’t skip the FAQs at the end of our discussion.
Are Angelfish Dangerous To Keep With Other Fish?
As a member of the cichlid family, angelfish are aggressive toward other fish instinctually. Many fish are opportunistic feeders, so they will eat other fish they can fit into their mouths. There are other reasons angelfish get aggressive in a fish tank, though:
- Protection – Your adult angelfish might eat other fish they perceive as a threat to their mate or young
- Resources – Even large aquariums provide limited space and food opportunities, so it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint to eliminate threats to resources needed for brooding and survival
- Territory – Angelfish will establish territories and defend them (especially breeding pairs), causing aggressive behaviors that include eating tank mates
That is why it is crucial to plan appropriately, especially if you want to create a community tank. Creating an environment that addresses behavioral triggers is one way to reduce the chances that your pets will eat their tank mates.
That said, even the best aquarium setups can not eliminate instincts. Once angelfish outgrow other species, those smaller fish become a potential target for nipping and swallowing. What about the hobbyists who keep small species with angelfish that claim they have no problems?
Will angelfish eat guppies?
Guppies are peaceful, but that will not prevent them from becoming a meal for adult angelfish. Male guppies develop large caudal and dorsal fins that could also stimulate aggressive behavior, even among younger angelfish.
Some hobbyists keep guppies with angelfish successfully. They house the two species from a young age, allowing them to grow together. We recommend you keep guppies in a separate fish tank, though.
Will angelfish eat neon tetras?
Another popular fish in the hobby are neon tetras. They are colorful and peaceful tank mates, but their size means that neon tetras are never safe around adult angelfish.
These are another species that some hobbyists successfully keep with their angelfish. Again, the key to success appears to be introducing both to your fish tank when the angelfish are small. We suggest avoiding neon tetra as tank mates because your angelfish will eat them.
Do Angelfish Eat Other Angelfish?
Two concerns that often manifest when keeping an angelfish tank is cannibalism and filial cannibalism, both of which occur throughout the hobby.
As a piscivore, your angelfish eat one another if various opportunities arise. Fish is a natural source of nutrients that angelfish ingest in the wild. Those same instincts still exist in your community tank setting.
Do Angelfish Eat Their Babies?
Yes, angelfish will ingest their offspring. Several factors influence filial cannibalism and parental abandonment. A pair of breeding angelfish will often eat their eggs the first few times they attempt to establish a brood. Over time, parental instincts develop, and the practice ceases.
Some hobbyists notice that males will eat some of the eggs, presumably to prepare the female for breeding sooner. The Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Ecology agrees, noting that male fish are more likely to consume younger eggs. Other factors potentially playing a role might include:
- Competition – It can prevent competition for limited resources
- Development – It might pressure the fry that live to develop faster
- Nutrition – The eggs and fry provide nutrients to their parents
- Resources – Again, the adult angelfish want to ensure there are sufficient resources for the fry
How Do I Keep My Angelfish From Eating Each Other?
To start, place your angelfish tank in an area with less traffic. A lot of movement inside and outside the aquarium can stress your pets, especially adult angelfish protecting eggs. An overcrowded community tank can also stimulate aggressive behavior.
Changing the water too often or moving decor can also stress your fish. Constantly adding new fish is another change that may cause your angelfish to cannibalize tank mates. Maintaining healthy fish tank parameters (water condition, filtration, lighting, and temperature) is crucial for avoiding stress.
Finally, some fish are just aggressive. Some angelfish have personalities that result in overly-aggressive behavior. Place these fish in another aquarium to avoid cannibalism and nipping. Don’t release them in the wild; you would be surprised to find that angelfish establish themselves in some areas through aquarium release.
How to Stop Angelfish From Eating Other Fish
There are several steps you can take to help reduce aggressive behavior in your angelfish tank, including:
- A proper community tank size – We’ve discussed proper angelfish aquarium sizes before, but you will want at least a 30-gallon tank for a pair of angelfish. Crowded tank conditions will lead to stress and could be one reason your angelfish are aggressive towards others.
- Making sure everyone is satiated – If your angelfish is well fed and perceives that there are abundant resources, it will be less likely to attack other fish. Some studies suggest feeding a ratio of 60 g/kg of body weight over at least two meals. That provides the nutrients for optimum growth, longevity, and feeding efficiency.
- Plants, decor, and hideaways – You can provide plants (real or artificial) for your fish to hide in, and your angelfish will lay eggs on the leaves. Decor and plants help demarcate the fish tank and provide escape routes for fish. Place hideaways within each angelfish’s territory to help reduce stress.
- Tank mate size matters – There is no getting around it; small fish make an opportunistic meal for adult angelfish. As mentioned above, even young angelfish are at risk of being attacked if circumstances present themselves. You might have to remove smaller fish from your angelfish tank once they get large enough to eat the others, especially in stressful periods.
Finally, some species appear to make better tank mates for angelfish. Corydoras catfish are calm, peaceful, and shy. They also feed along the bottom, away from the mid and upper water levels your angelfish prefer. Plecos are another bottom-dweller that is also large enough to avoid being eaten.
Many angelfish enthusiasts successfully keep dwarf gourami but keep an eye on the community tank to prevent issues from developing. Platty fish and swordtails get along well with angelfish. Keyhole and ram cichlids are peaceful (for cichlids) and make decent tank mates.
Knowledge and Observation Are Key to Keeping Angelfish
Yes, angelfish are aggressive and eat other fish (including other angelfish). It is a natural response for these fish.
Some steps minimize this and still let you enjoy a variety of angelfish species. These include reducing stress, providing a proper environment, and selecting compatible tank mates. If you have comments or questions, leave them below!
Step to Take
- Avoid small tank mates like neon tetras
- Use at least a 30-gallon aquarium with plenty of hiding places
- Keep pets well-fed and provide a proper environment
- Find peaceful fish that don’t nip fins and are too large to swallow
Do angelfish eat dead fish?
Yes, angelfish eat dead fish. They are cichlids, which are known to eat other fish and each other. Remember, this is a natural behavior that you can reduce with some changes.
What fish should you not put with angelfish?
Do not house fin and tail nibblers with your angelfish (examples include barbs and some tetras). Caution is required when housing smaller fish species with adult angelfish, as they represent a potential snack or perceived threat.
How do you stop angelfish attacking other fish?
Preventing angelfish from attacking other fish starts by providing a peaceful environment with fish that will not spike aggression. Keep everyone in your angelfish tank well-fed. Provide your fish plenty of room, and do not overcrowd your aquarium.