Angelfish eggs are translucent orbs about the size of the head of a pin. Light can pass through the egg, but you will not see details inside it. Viable eggs have a slightly amber or brownish tint to them.
We want to help you avoid mistakes and enjoy the fishkeeping hobby to its fullest. That includes providing accurate information on the lifecycle of freshwater angelfish from egg to adulthood.
All species of Pterophllum produce eggs that are easy to recognize, and the following points will help you identify them:
- What they look like when unfertilized and fertilized
- When to remove or leave angelfish eggs
- Answers to a couple of the most common questions about eggs
What Do Angelfish Eggs Look Like
What do unfertilized angelfish eggs look like?
As noted in papers on the early ontogenesis of Pterophyllum scalare, these eggs are amber-colored, have an oval shape, and measure about 1.46 mm in diameter.
We have also seen the eggs have other earthy-type colors with brown hues.
That describes what all eggs look like when the female angelfish releases them in batches of several hundred to over a thousand during the spawn and before the male fertilizes them.
Some eggs will remain unfertilized even after the male brushes against them. These eggs are not viable and will succumb to bacteria in the water column. They change from the translucent color you noticed when the female laid them in rows to an opaque white.
We have not noted a change in shape with unfertilized eggs. They appear as the same oval shape first observed during the spawning process.
Unfertilized eggs do not grow. Some people feel they get larger as they turn white, but it is simply an illusion. The eggs become easier to see against a background when they are no longer translucent.
What do fertilized angelfish eggs look like?
Once the male fertilizes the eggs, you will not see a color difference. The eggs will continue to appear translucent, with an amber or brownish hue. They will not, however, turn white like unfertilized eggs as long as they remain viable.
The overall shape of the eggs will stay consistent as an oval for the first day or so. Eventually, you will notice a tail developing outside of the egg. That tail will continue growing until the specimen hatches into the wiggler stage and the egg turns into a yolk sac the fish feeds on until it is a free swimmer.
There will be growth from the initial size of 1.46 mm, but the changes will be hard to see during incubation. You will notice that hatching wigglers look more sizeable than the eggs did initially.
Fertilized eggs can become white if they are damaged. Damaged eggs will not develop tails and do not continue to grow. Fertilized eggs get to this state because of bad genetics, damage from being moved around, or bacteria from the water or nearby infected eggs, like Saprolegnia parasitica.
When To Remove Angelfish Eggs
Removing a surprise batch from a community tank
You may be surprised to find neat rows of eggs on a vertical leaf or other surfaces you had not prepared for. Unhatched eggs are sticky and easily damaged if you try to remove them from the surface they are attached to.
If you can remove the item used by the angelfish parents as an egg-laying surface, that will be better for overall egg health. Just use a separate tank with a heater to maintain water temperature, and parameters like pH and hardness are in optimal ranges.
Find out how often angelfish lay eggs.
Our experience has shown it is better to leave eggs in the aquarium if they are attached to fixed items (like the tank glass or a heater used to maintain water temperature in the community tank). Some folks will use razor blades or other tools to scrape eggs off surfaces, but they are delicate and will likely become non-viable after removal.
Removing eggs from a tank using a designated egg-laying surface
One method experienced keepers recommend that we agree with is to provide removable verticle surfaces freshwater angelfish can use for spawning. It may take a few cycles, but you will find what works with your pair of angelfish parents. We have used plastic plant leaves, vertical plexiglass blocks, and smooth rock decor leaning into a corner.
Once the parents spawn, you can remove the item and place it into the other tank. Make it small enough to make transfer easy. If your incubation container is small enough, dip it into your fish tank below the surface and place the egg surface into it without having the eggs leave the water!
What if you want to keep the eggs with the angelfish parents?
All Pterophyllum species have a hardwired parental instinct, including those several generations removed from the wild. It may take a few spawns for your breeding pair of fish to get the hang of it (and not eat their eggs), but they will get it eventually.
If you want your pets to experience parenthood, you can make things easier by keeping them in a separate tank. It avoids the stress of chasing off tank mates and makes post-spawn recovery easier. That also reduces the work you have to do as a keeper.
Should you remove eggs if you are not hatching them?
Most keepers you talk with will not worry about eggs they are not planning to hatch. Some prefer to remove them so they do not contaminate the water column.
We provide spawning surfaces and remove the eggs, even if we do not plan to raise them. In a community tank, it reduces the stress on the parents trying to guard the eggs and protects tank mates from aggressive male angelfish.
Within all tank settings, removing large quantities of unwanted angelfish eggs eliminates a source of potentially harmful bacterial growth.
Even in breeder tanks, you can get rid of a batch of eggs you can not keep if you have too many juveniles from previous generations (freshwater angelfish can spawn every two weeks).
Angelfish Eggs and Your Aquarium Hobby
What do angelfish eggs look like? That depends on the state they are in. Healthy, viable eggs will be translucent with earthy hues of amber and brown. They are oval and just under 1.5 mm in size.
You will find opaque eggs amongst the rows your female angelfish lay, indicating infected, damaged, or unfertilized specimens. They will grow a bit before hatching into wigglers, and you can see a tail forming during the last part of the incubation period.
You may want to remove eggs for better survivability or keep the aquarium clean, but some instances call for you to leave eggs where they are. Don’t forget to leave a comment so we can help you with this or other issues with your favorite cichlids!
What color are angelfish eggs?
Viable eggs are translucent with an amber or brownish tint and remain this color until hatching. Contaminated, damaged, or unfertilized eggs may start as this color but will change to white quickly. The angelfish parents usually remove unviable eggs, or you can do it yourself to prevent fungus from affecting other viable eggs.
What should you do if your angelfish lays eggs?
If you find a batch of eggs in the tank deposited by your female angelfish, you can leave them in the aquarium or remove them. Leaving eggs in the aquarium will give the adult angelfish practice with their natural parenting instincts, but the eggs can be targets for consumption. Removing the eggs will allow you to raise as many viable eggs as possible or to dispose of them to avoid the rearing process if that is your desire.