Page 1 of 1

Breeding Angelfish

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:49 pm
by Crazygar
Breeding Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare)

Angelfish are historically one of the most popular fish available in the hobby. With the combination of their long flowing finnage (even more flagrant on veil and super veil strains) and unique coloring patterns, angels have long held the place as one of the most elegant aquarium fish. This coupled with their reasonable pricing for most varieties makes them an attractive fish, and attractive to breed as well.

The common angelfish, known scientifically as Pterophyllum scalare, have long been tank-bred and raised in large numbers. Over the years, numerous color and pattern variations have been achieved. There is a group of people dedicated solely to these beautiful fish: The Angelfish Society. Through years of breeding and research, members of this group have made available the Angelfish Calculator, which can accurately predict the outcome of breeding different varieties together based on phenotype (exterior appearance) and genotype (actual genetic makeup). I would highly recommend joining this group for the calculator alone.

The variety of angelfish colors and patterns available can be astounding. In addition to the standard wild-form silver, there are also marbled, black, gold, gold marbled, zebra, lace, veil, super-veil, koi, blue, blushing, stripe less, half-black, albino...and this just starts to scrape the surface of the different genes that have been discovered to go into the makeup of these fish. New varieties thanks to line breeding have been appearing yearly.

Through their years of being tank-bred, angelfish have come to accept a wide variety of set-ups and water chemistries to breed in. Although there are some good guidelines to follow, angels have been known to reproduce in situations previously thought impossible. While they are very flexible, I will discuss the more accepted specific requirements of angelfish breeding.

Obtaining a pair of angels can be done in many ways. Purchasing a group of juveniles and growing them out will normally net you one or two pair. Pairs are often available, but normally will fetch premium prices, as angelfish are one species of fish that normally will actually make the breeder money.

If you were interested in specific strains of angelfish, you would be best served by locating a local breeder who specializes in these fish to see if they might be able to offer you some. Most pet store angels are imported from large farms or Asia and are of sub-standard quality for breeding purposes. Check with the owner of the store to find out if they obtain their angels locally. Some will share the breeder's information with you as well.

Externally sexing angels is very difficult until you've been doing it for quite a while. There are very subtle differences between males and females, and normally they're not very distinct until fully mature. Even then, determining male from female can be difficult. During spawning is often the best time to tell. Males have a smaller, pointier tube that will stick out while fertilizing the eggs, while the female will have a thicker tube in order for the eggs to pass through it. Never fear, as the fish can tell, so your input isn't really needed.

Once you have established that you indeed do have a pair, it's best to remove the pair to their own tank. A 20 gallon high or 29 gallon tank are fine for a pair of angels. Nothing too fancy is really needed. A well-seasoned sponge filter, a heater and a piece of slate are the bare minimum needed. A broad-leafed plant (such as an Amazon sword) may also be utilized so that the fish may lay their eggs on it.

Angelfish prefer laying on vertically inclined surfaces, so the slate can be leaned upright against the side of the tank. Really, any upright surface will suffice, as there are plenty of specialty breeding cones and other devices out there. Slate is cheap and easy to work with.

Keep a close eye on the pair, as they can get rather boisterous during breeding time.

Condition the pair with high-quality foods at a temperature around 75 degrees. Raising the temp slowly to around 78-82 after a few days should induce the pair to spawn. Softer water and a neutral or lower pH are ideal (under 400ppm GH and pH 6.5-7.0) for spawning angels, though they are adaptable and will spawn in a wide variety of conditions in most cases. The water softness is much more imperative for proper egg development, especially if you choose to let them attempt parent raising.

Removing the eggs or leaving them to allow the parents to raise them is at your personal discretion. Angels are mostly quite far from their natural habitats, and often will be poor parents, eating the first few spawns. Many pairs will pick up the parenting trait after a few attempts, and allowing them to raise the fry is easier than artificially rearing them on your own. If the parents are good, they will take care of keeping the eggs clean and move the fry around as needed.

If you decide to pull the eggs and hatch them yourself, it's best to wait and make sure the male is done fertilizing. Once they parents have quit laying the eggs and started attending to them, it's probably fine to pull them. Be careful, as being cichlids, angels (thought they're normally pretty mellow) will defend their eggs and won't hesitate to offer your hand a nip.

The eggs can be placed in a container or separate tank with a temperature range from 72-85 degrees. Hatch rate will increase with higher temperatures. Hydrogen peroxide (standard 3 percent solution) can be added at a rate of 5 drops per quarter gallon at the same time each day to ward off any fungus or bacterial infections.

The water for hatching out the eggs should be soft for proper hardening and development of the embryo. Harder water has more elements dissolved in it, and thus the particles are larger, and many are too large to pass through the membrane of the eggs in order to oxygenate them. Pure reverse osmosis or very soft water is ideal for hatching eggs.

Once the eggs have hatched and are about to become free-swimming, discontinue use of the peroxide.

Fry should be moved to a larger tank (2.5 and 5.5 gallon tanks work well) with an established sponge filter. They are large enough to accept newly hatched baby brine shrimp, and can be weaned onto non-living foods at about the second week.

Consistent water changes and good feeding are the keys to fast growth out of the fry. While performing water changes, you can now begin to slowly adapt the fish to your local tap water. Only feed when the fry need it, as it's very easy to overfeed and they will continue to eat as long as food is available. Remember that fry are tiny; four or five baby brine shrimp will fill them up, so feed sparingly. Once the fry are full and have little orange bellies about the size of a pinhead, it's safest to siphon out any uneaten brine shrimp. Feeding can be done twice per day, about twelve hours in between each feeding.

Fry should continually be moved into larger quarters as they grow. At about 10-12 weeks, they should be of saleable size.

Written by: AquaticEnterprises

If you are having disease related problems, or if you just have questions regarding the medicines listed above, please feel free to visit the Tropical Fish Hobbyist Discussion Forum where our experts will surely be able to assist you.