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Fish of the Week - Angelfish

June 28, 2014

Pterophyllum Scalare

pH – 6.0 – 8.0
Temp - 24 C - 30 C
Size (max) – 15-18cm
Diet - Omnivore


As graceful as it is beautiful, Pterophyllum Scalare, meaning ‘winged leaf’, better known as the freshwater angelfish, has been in the hobby for many years now and is still as popular as ever. It is easy to see why. With striking colouration and patterning, the angelfish has been a favourite amongst fishkeepers since it was first introduced to the trade in the 1930’s!!

All Pterophyllum species originate from the Amazon River, Orinoco River and Essequibo River basins in tropical South America however breeding of these magnificent fish has been taking place in earnest for decades. Typical of many fish in the family Cichlidae, they are notoriously vigilant in the parental care of their offspring and will defend them vigorously from predators. Due to generations of inbreeding, many angelfish have lost their ‘rearing’ instinct and will often turn on their own young after birth. Removal of the fry into a separate tank and more ‘personal’ attention from the hobbyist is usually a more effective and safe method of rearing their young.

Today, as it stands in the hobby, it can be difficult to know just what kind of angelfish you are buying. It is not known whether all the species have been discovered yet, however, the species that we are most familiar with are often the result of crossbreeding. In saying this, many wild types are still available for purchase. Some of the more well-known variants include P. Scalare, P. Altum, and P. Leopoldi.

Generally speaking, angelfish are ambush predators, preying on small inverterbrates and other small fish. Keep this in mind when housing your angels. Many a time an unsuspecting hobbyist is lured in by their deceptively peaceful and elegant appearance only to find that their appetites are often as large as their striking finnage.

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