How Long Do Angelfish Live & How To Improve Life Expectancy

Angelfish (Pterophyllum) are one of the most popular tropical fish kept in aquariums. They come in a wide variety of colors and can be very beautiful to watch. But how long do angelfish live? How can you improve their life expectancy? In this article, we will explore these questions and more.

Angelfish are most commonly freshwater fish living in the Amazon bowl of South America, however, there are varieties of saltwater angelfish. Throughout this article, I will be talking about freshwater angelfish.

How Long Do Angelfish Live

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How Long Do Angelfish Live In A Tank

Angelfish can typically live for 10-12 years in a tank with the right care, and sometimes angelfish can live up to 15 years. The lifespan of angelfish in captivity depends on many factors, such as the size of the tank, the water conditions, and the angelfish diet.

Because angelfish are quite hardy, they will tolerate slight changes in their environment such as in temperature and water pH, but they will do best in a tank that has stable water conditions.

How Long Do Angelfish Live In The Wild

Angelfish typically won’t live as long in the wild as in captivity, usually around 5-10 years. This is probably due to environmental factors such as climate, pollution, and predators. Angelfish in the wild do not have the same specialist care they will receive in captivity.

Environmental factors will affect the lifespan of most fish species because they are less predictable and controllable than that of an aquarium which you can keep at a constant temperature with a regular food source and regular water changes.

How To Improve An Angelfish Lifespan

The best way to improve an angelfish’s lifespan is to provide them with a healthy diet, clean water conditions, and plenty of exercise.

Angelfish are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods, but they should be given a high protein diet. Commercial angelfish food is available at most pet stores, and you can give them a diet of live or frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, or other meaty foods.

Angelfish also need clean water to thrive. Small water changes should be done at least once a week or bi-weekly to maintain good water conditions.

Angelfish need plenty of exercise to stay healthy. They should be given plenty of room to swim and should not be kept in a tank that is too small.

Angelfish Water Parameters

Keeping angelfish in a tank with ideal water parameters will help to improve their lifespan.

You can find the correct water parameters for an angelfish in the table below.

Water ParameterValue
Water Hardness4-12dGH
Water Temperature75°F to 82°F
25°C to 28°C
Best water parameters for angelfish.

What Should You Feed Angelfish

Providing angelfish with a healthy balanced diet will certainly improve their lifespan, and is probably the single most important aspect of maintaining healthy angelfish.

The table below provides examples of the best angelfish food to provide a healthy balanced diet.

Food TypeBest Foods
Live FoodLive Mysis Shrimp
Live Blood worms
Live Brine Shrimp
Frozen Foods or
Freeze-Dried Foods
Mysis Shrimp
Blood worms
Tubifex Worms
Brine Shrimp
VegetablesBoiled, Blanched Pea
Aquarium Plants
The above foods will provide a healthy balanced diet for angelfish.

Live food will provide the most nutrition for your angelfish, but you must be careful where you purchase your food. Live food can carry parasites that can spread to your tank, potentially infecting all inhabitants. This is also true for frozen food.

Although frozen food will not be as nutrient-rich as fresh food, it is much easier to source and still provides plenty of nutrients.

Freeze-dried food benefits from being sterile due to the freeze-drying process, so it will not carry any harmful parasites or bacteria. It is the least amount of nutrients, however, if you buy good quality freeze-dried food, it will often contain added nutrients.

High-quality commercial fish flakes and pellets are another option to feed your angelfish and can be used alongside the other foods listed.

Providing a varied, protein-rich diet is most important for healthy fish.

How Big Do Angelfish Get

With the right diet and plenty of room to swim around, freshwater angelfish can grow to around 6 inches in length and 8 inches tall.

Angelfish growth can become stunted if their tank is too small, the water is too dirty, or not given a varied diet.

Adult angelfish are considered to be full-grown at around 12 months.

What Size Fish Tank For Angelfish

A freshwater angelfish will need a minimum tank size of 20-30 gallons, and they will also prefer a taller tank due to their height.

Angelfish are not generally classed as an aggressive species, and they are typically quite peaceful, placid fish. In captivity, they can sometimes be territorial and show some signs of aggression, especially to other aggressive fish, so angelfish tanks should be larger to give them enough space to have their own territory, and other fish can easily avoid confrontations.

An angelfish aquarium should be densely planted, similar to the natural environment of the Amazon basin. Plants will provide them with places to hide if they become stressed or anxious.

Angelfish Prefer Densely Planted Tanks
Angelfish Prefer Densely Planted Tanks

Best Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish can make great community fish, but you will need to select the best tank mates to ensure a thriving, happy community tank; otherwise, occasional fighting may break out.

Some of the best tank mates for angelfish are:

  • Platies
  • Tetras – such as Neon Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, Ember Tetra.
  • Mollies
  • Gouramis
  • Bottom Feeders such as Loaches and Sharks
  • Other Angelfish (Provided the tank is big enough to avoid conflict)
  • Plecos
  • Most Goldfish Species

Some fish that are either aggressive and territorial or are known fin nippers will not make good tank mates for angelfish.

You should also keep angelfish away from very small or baby fish, which they will happily gobble up, or most invertebrates which will be fair game for a hungry angelfish.

You should avoid the following unsuitable tank mates:

  • Betta fish
  • Oscars
  • Larger Cichlids
  • Tiger Barbs
  • Silver Dollars
  • Most invertebrates such as crabs and shrimp

The lists above are not exhaustive, and many species characteristics vary. Cichlids, for example, can be quite aggressive, but several varieties can be quite shy and placid.

Angelfish fins are quite long, trailing, and delicate, so the general rule is to avoid housing them with aggressive or nippy fish. Angelfish can hold their own and resort to fighting to protect themselves and their territory.

On the flip side, angelfish will happily nip at or eat small fish and babies. Shrimp are often targeted, and angelfish will often try their luck with Tetras and Guppies. However, when kept in numbers of 10 or more, these shoaling fish will usually be left alone.

If you have your angelfish from a young age, they will often show far less aggression toward most fish species as they grow older.

How Many Angelfish Should Be Kept Together

Angelfish prefer to live in small groups of 5 or 6, however, they will be happy in a tank with just 1 or 2 other male and female angelfish.

When in season, angelfish can be aggressive and prone to fighting, so smaller groups will limit this aggressive behavior.

Angelfish Tank Mates
Angelfish are great community fish that like to live in small groups.

I regularly keep only 2 angelfish in a communal tank without any trouble with aggressive behavior, and they are quite social and happy together.

Do Female Angelfish Live Longer Than Male Angelfish

There is no evidence to suggest that female angelfish live longer than male angelfish. They will both live to around 10-12 years with the right care.

Breeding can play a part in lifespan as some experts have found evidence that angelfish used extensively for breeding often live shorter lives.

Are Angelfish Hard To Keep Alive

Angelfish are known to be pretty hardy fish that can tolerate changes to water conditions far better than some less hardy species.

Even healthy angelfish are susceptible to illness, and like all other fish, there are some specific illnesses you should look out for.

Common Angelfish Diseases

Below is a list of the most common illnesses and diseases to watch out for in angelfish.

  • Angelfish Virus
  • Velvet Disease (Gold Dust Disease)
  • Hole In The Head Disease (Hexamita)
  • Angelfish Ich or white spot
  • Dropsy
  • Cotton Mouth or Mouth Fungus
  • Flukes
  • Anchor Worms
  • Popeye

The list above is not exhaustive. Angelfish are susceptible to both viruses and parasites, and many will exhibit the same symptoms, so careful research will need to be done if you intend to self-diagnose.

Diagnosing illness quickly will enable the best treatment to be administered, which will help extend your angelfish lifespan.

I have not written specifically about the above illnesses at the time of writing. I will provide a link to a symptom and treatment guide soon. Until then, this list will give you something to research.

How Can You Tell How Old A Angelfish Is

There is no real way to tell an angelfish’s age. Angelfish are typically full-grown within their first 12 months, so it is not possible to estimate an angelfish’s age from its size.

There are a few things you can look out for that may give you an idea of the age of your angelfish.

The color and markings on an angelfish will usually fade as they get old. Color fading can also be a sign of illness, but if all else is fine and the fading color is prolonged, it would suggest your angelfish is in its later stages of life.

An angelfish’s general appearance can also be a sign of aging. Fins that are bent or crooked may indicate old age, and a general slowing down in their activity levels can indicate later stages of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Jon O'Connell

I have kept both marine and freshwater fish and set up almost 100 aquariums. Although I am no longer doing it professionally, I hope I can help others to enjoy keeping happy, healthy fish by sharing my many years of experience.

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