Among the most remarkable characters in the animated film Nemo is an angelfish named Scar. He had elongated, triangular dorsal and anal fins, and black and silver stripes typical of an Angelfish. He was brooding and mysterious, and he moved smoothly around the tank with such a dignified, regal air that has come to epitomize an Angelfish. This is probably why the Angelfish is very popular among pet fish enthusiasts. However, while an Angelfish may look very tranquil and unfussy, taking care of one requires preparation and commitment.
The Angelfish (Pterophyllum) is a relatively small freshwater fish originating from the Amazon River, Orinoco River, and the Essequibo River Basins. It is a cichlid with a peculiar body shape which allows it to take cover among plants and rocks. Many aquarium Angelfish are captive-bred and most sub-types are usually easy to breed. However, it is generally believed that years of in-breeding have resulted to the absence of a rearing instinct in Angelfish. Thus, they are known to eat their young.
Angelfish require relatively large swimming spaces. The general rule is to allocate 4 gallons of water per full-grown Angelfish. It is also important to keep the tank clean. Young Angelfish require more frequent water change – as much as 50% of the water should be changed each day. With a full grown Angelfish, this can be relaxed to about 20% of water change every week. A water temperature of 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is generally advised for non-spawning Angelfish. A slightly higher temperature of about 80 degrees is recommended during spawning.
Angelfish generally look calm, but they are actually categorized as semi-aggressive. Certain fish types like Tetras and Platies can be placed together with an Angelfish in an aquarium. However, many Angelfish owners choose not to mix them with any other fish types because their fins are very vulnerable to nipping, even by smaller fish.
As with any other fish types, Angelfish require proper feeding and the right environment. Angelfish thrive on flakes and live food, including shrimp, bloodworm, and even insects on the water surface. Extra care should be given to spawning fish as they tend to be more aggressive and easily distressed. It is best to place live plants with broad leaves and decorations with flat surfaces for them to lay their eggs.
There are many diseases that can strike Angelfish. These include the infamous Angelfish virus for which there is no cure yet. Symptoms of this disease include lethargy, excessive slime, and clamped fins. The virus can leave an Angelfish infectious for up to six months, so it is important to quarantine sick fish to avoid widespread infection. Hexamita and Capillaria are parasites that cause fish to lose their appetite and slowly deteriorate. Ich is another disease that can hit Angelfish. When infected, tiny white spots appear on the gills and fins and the fish will tend to rub their bodies on rocks and other decors in the aquarium.
Fortunately, these parasites are susceptible to medicine and, with proper application; these problems can be easily remedied. Caring for Angelfish requires meticulous attention and painstaking effort. But all the hard work is paid off by the incomparable beauty and serenity of a healthy Angelfish gliding around the aquarium like a true angel.