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A beginners guide to breeding angelfish.
By: Michael Bryant



My Way, Certainly Not The Only Way

There are many ways to successfully breed Angelfish and raise their fry. I have tried many of them and failed at most. I did, however, find a method that proved very successful for me. First and foremost you will need a breeding pair of Angels. Not simply a male and female, rather a pair that has gone through the "test of worthiness". The easiest way to obtain a pair is to purchase 6 young specimens, house them together in an adequately sized tank and let nature take her course. The odds of getting one pair is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80%. You may end up with two pair if you are fortunate. Once the pair bond is established separate housing is recommended. It is common in the early stages to witness squabbles, chasing and lip-locking. These are natural traits and rarely result in injury. The "test of worthiness" is just that, the female will put the male through a series of tests to see if he is strong enough and basically suitable to be her mate. As the pair reaches maturity the tests continue, usually right before the female chooses her spot to spawn. Once a suitable spot is found the female will start to prepare the site by cleaning it. Usually a broad leaf is chosen if there is no breeding slate provided, sometimes however, she will choose the filter intake tube or even the heater. Not the best choices!!

Photo courtesy of an old friend

The cleaning process usually triggers the male and he will help with the chores, sound familiar guys? At this point the breeding tubes should be extended and easy to locate. The female will have a wide, short tube for passing the eggs, while the male will have a longer, pointed tube to aid in fertilization. The female will begin to make some test runs along the chosen spot eventually depositing the eggs. The male will follow her, dragging his tube along the eggs thereby fertilizing them. This can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.


Photo courtesy of an old friend

Once the male has been given adequate time to do his job, I give him at least two hours, I remove the spawning site. With my pairs this is either a piece of slate, leaf from an Amazon sword or a broad leaf from a plastic plant. I put the slate or leaf into a 10 gallon bare bottom tank, with heater and air stone. I position the air stone at the bottom of the tank, in front of the slate or leaf so that the bubbles rise close to, but not disturbing, the eggs. This mimics the parents fanning the eggs to keep them debris free. I use fresh dechlorinated tap water and match the main tanks temperature. I dose the tank with an anti fungal such as Liquid Fungus Cure at a rate of 1 tsp per 5 gallons. Notice I have not mentioned a filter as of yet. I typically will use a sponge filter, which has been seeded in the main tank for a couple of weeks. I do not put it in the tank until the fry hit the freeswim stage. This will usually occur in 7 days.

I will start my brine shrimp hatchery on day 5 with a test batch to ensure all is well. First feeding of BBS will happen once all of the fry are freeswimming. By that time the yolk sac should be almost gone. First feed is usually on the light side. I feed three times per day BBS only! Nothing else has proven as good as fresh baby brine shrimp.


San Francisco Bay Brand:
Brine Shrimp Hatchery Kit

  • This newly revised brine shrimp hatchery kit is easier to fill with water, easier to clean, less expensive and you no longer need to find a place to hang the bottle.
  • The kit comes with a base, an air tube, 3 packets of hatch mix and complete instructions.
  • All you need is a small air pump, a light source and a 2 liter bottle.

Typical maintenance at this stage, once freeswim is obtained, is a daily 25% water change into a bucket. Any fry that are sucked up can be rescued using a simple turkey baster and placed back into the tank. Another suggestion is to wipe down the bottom of the tank once a day. I use a scrunched up paper towel for this.

Once you notice the fry occupying all four corners of the tank, it is time to move half of them to another tank. I use a second 10 gallon tank for this. Again, when they occupy all four corners, another move is in order. I use a 20 gallon at this point. Typically after this I utilize a 25 gallon and ultimately a 55 gallon tank. All of these tanks will house the fry until they are large enough to move on to the LFS. This has worked for me time after time with once exception. I foolishly kept 2 spawns from two pairs and used the above mentioned tank configuration. In my opinion, there was not enough tank space. I did not have any greater losses, but I did notice a size difference in the fry. They simply need room to grow and what I have is not enough. I won't keep 2 spawns again….unless I get another large tank!!

I feed BBS for the first 4-6 weeks, then introduce frozen BBS and even Hikari First Bites. Eventually they are moved onto a high quality crushed flake. Warning, these critters can pack away the food so keep a good stock on hand. Further warning, if you do breed Angels, please make sure you have a destination confirmed beforehand. It is not always easy to find a taker for 150-200 baby Angels. Some local fish stores will accept them and give you store credit, some will not. Find out this stuff before you breed!!

I hope you can use some of the information contained in this ramble, and I hope you enjoy breeding these magnificent creatures as much as I do!! If I have missed anything or if you have questions, you know where I'll be!!





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