Under ideal conditions, freshwater angelfish eggs will hatch 72 hours after being laid. There can always be some variance in this timeframe due to things like water temperature, but three days are what most hobbyists and scientists note within their controlled settings.
Our years of experience with cichlids and other aquarium fish have provided opportunities to observe our pets through all stages of life. We want to share our experiences with you so you can experience healthy and productive fishkeeping with less hassle.
What follows is a closer look at angelfish eggs, including topics like:
- How long does it take for angelfish eggs to hatch
- Things that can affect angelfish eggs hatching
- Stages of angelfish eggs
- Angelfish egg survivability
- Answers to a couple of the more common questions we get
How Long Do Angelfish Eggs Take To Hatch?
During your research, you have likely found various timeframes that angelfish eggs take to hatch.
Our experience is that it takes approximately 72 hours for eggs to hatch once angelfish parents lay and fertilize them. There is scientific research that showcases this amount of time as well.
A 2021 article in the Sri Lanka Journal of Aquatic Sciences published a study on embryonic and larval development. It used the freshwater angelfish species Pterophyllum scalare for the research. Researchers included two other cichlid species (Nile tilapia and dimerus) and a popular aquarium minnow (zebrafish) for comparison. Results note hatching occurs 72 hours post fertilization (HPF).
If you have fertilized angelfish eggs in your aquarium, they will not simply crack open and reveal a recognizable angelfish. The process is more complex, and several factors will contribute to the success (and failure) in this stage of angelfish development.
How Angelfish Eggs Hatch
Factors that can affect the hatching rate
We believe water parameters are critical for higher hatching rates in your aquarium. Angelfish eggs can be more susceptible to changes than adult fish, so you want to monitor conditions closely.
Keeping the aquarium heated between 75 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit provides comfortable conditions for angelfish at any stage of life. We have found that staying on the warmer end of that spectrum works well when incubating angelfish eggs.
Water pH helps reduce stress and improves the appearance, behavior, and growth rates of angelfish. Ranges between 6.5 and 7.5 do well, and you will find many hobbyists keeping at the higher end of these ranges when housing eggs.
Angelfish prefer softer water in the 5 to 12 range. You can stay on the lower end of this spectrum to provide ideal angelfish egg conditions.
Another factor that plays a role in higher hatching rates is clean water. One of the roles angelfish parents play is keeping eggs clean after fertilization by removing algae, dirt, and fungus from around the eggs. Some breeders have high success rates by doing more frequent water changes with smaller volumes, like 10 percent daily.
Oxygenation is also crucial if you want a higher yield on hatching angelfish eggs. The parents work hard during the incubation stage, helping to oxygenate the developing eggs. We have added small airstones near the surface the eggs are on to encourage soft circulation and improved oxygen levels in the area.
Fungus is the top concern for breeders trying to hatch angelfish eggs. Above and beyond the things mentioned above, chemical water treatments like methylene blue can eliminate fungus in the water. You will often see this when hobbyists keep eggs in a separate tank with a blue-tinged water column.
Can the angelfish eggs hatch in a community tank?
Life in the aquarium can be tough, and angelfish eggs will always get the worst. If your angelfish pair laid eggs in a community tank, they are vulnerable to tank mates viewing them as a nutritious snack. That is the nature of omnivores.
Another problem might be the angelfish parents themselves. The species is known to eat its eggs. Reasons vary from inexperience to stress-related responses.
We suggest you place the angelfish eggs in a separate tank with the parents if you want to hatch as many eggs as possible. If the parents eat their eggs or fry, you can leave the next batch in a fry tank without the parents.
Fertilized Angelfish Eggs Stages
All eggs start at the unfertilized stage. It is the condition they are in as the female places them on the selected egg-laying surface. The female will lay the eggs in neat rows, making it easier for the male to access them during fertilization.
Both male and female angelfish have their jobs to move the eggs throughout these stages.
The second stage is a fertilized egg. After the female places eggs on a pre-cleaned surface in rows, the male will brush against them with its papilla. While this process does not produce 100 percent fertilization, the method does provide substantial coverage across the eggs since they sit in rows.
That brings the angelfish eggs into the pre-hatching stage.
After explosive cell division within the first few hours, the tail starts forming around 25.5 hours, with other bodily structures developing from somite cells through hour 60. At this stage, the tail structure is separate from the yolk, the heart has formed, and blood is circulating.
The egg will then be ready to hatch 72 hours post-fertilization. Your baby angelfish are now wigglers, a larval stage where they are still attached to the egg sac and continue to develop.
How Many Angelfish Eggs Survive?
You should be satisfied with as little as 10 percent egg survival, especially if you are hatching them yourself and it is your first batch.
Experience over time will help increase those numbers to perhaps as high as 80 percent. Angelfish parents can often achieve 50 percent or more egg survival rates, especially as they become more experienced.
We agree with most estimates that indicate angelfish lay between 150 and 1,000 eggs at a time. You will find, however, that most of these will not make it to hatch. That is natural, and the high attrition rates are the reason so many eggs get deposited in the first place.
One problem from the start is non-fertilization. Your male angelfish brushes against unfertilized eggs, but many will go unfertilized. The parents (or you as a keeper) must remove them from the others once identified to prevent issues.
Egg damage is another issue. When the angelfish or keeper moves the eggs, some fragile eggs will become damaged. They will not develop properly, meaning they die off before it is time to hatch. Removing these is also crucial to avoid problems with viable eggs.
A fungus can kill off many otherwise viable eggs unless treated early. Many hobbyists, including ourselves, prefer to treat the water with antifungals to prevent issues from happening to begin with. Treatment can increase the number of angelfish eggs surviving to hatch.
Finally, fluctuating or steady water conditions can make or break your angelfish hatch. Eggs will be sensitive to drops in temperature and fluctuating pH, hardness, and pollutants.
Improving Your Freshwater Angelfish Hatch
While knowing it takes 72 hours after fertilization for your angelfish eggs to hatch is helpful, many things can contribute to that timeframe and the number of eggs that hatch.
A steady water temperature, pH level, and hardness within normal angelfish ranges will decrease stress and promote egg development. Keeping the water and egg-laying surface clean will also help. Adding an air stone for increased oxygen and fungal treatments can improve egg health, increasing the number of eggs that hatch.
If possible, move the parents and eggs to an isolated tank. You can also house just the eggs, but you will be responsible for all the parental duties the adult pair would do until the eggs hatch into wigglers.
If you have any questions, please comment so we can help answer anything you might be unsure about. Remember to enjoy your angelfish in all stages of their lives, including when they start as eggs!
How many days until angelfish eggs hatch?
Angelfish eggs hatch three days after they get fertilized. Our observational experience and scientific experiments demonstrate this is a valid window of expectation. Ideal water conditions and added safety measures like tank isolation and chemical treatments can also help achieve this hatching window.
When should I remove angelfish eggs?
You should remove angelfish eggs immediately after the fertilization process by the male adult. That will help to prevent the parents from eating their eggs due to inexperience, environmental conditions, or other stresses. Removing eggs can make it easier to supply water conditions to promote health.