How Big Do Angelfish Get and How Long Do They Live?

Author: Terri Mitchell | Reviewed by: Nancy George | January 01, 2024 | Updated January 3, 2024
angelfish, angelfish aquarium, aquarium fish, aquariums
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Photo by Simon Infanger on Unsplash

For new aquarists looking for something special to bring to their freshwater tank, the distinctive angelfish is a great option. The angelfish is from South America and has been dubbed the ”king of the aquarium” due to its beauty and distinctive appearance. Angelfish have wing-shaped fins and are generally silver with gray and black markings when found in their native habitat. Fish in captivity are found with beautifully marbled colors and vibrant orange, yellow and blue hues, with a unique arrow shape that makes them a standout in any aquarium.

Perhaps the most alluring feature of freshwater angelfish is their easy care routine. Also, angelfish are resilient and live for a long time, making them the ideal pet. It is also reassuring to know that owners and aquarists can observe and enjoy their angelfish for many years to come.

Thinking of an angelfish aquarium? Here are a few of the most common questions:

How Big Do Angelfish Get?

angelfish size live

Anne Kroiss on Pixabay

Generally speaking, Freshwater Angelfish in captivity, such as pets in home aquariums, grow to be around six inches in length, depending on the specific species. In nature, with access to a steady food source, angelfish can grow up to 12 inches long. These fish are usually thin with long fins that resemble wings when they swim.

It is worth noting that when aquarists put several angelfish in one tank—or other South American Cichlid, for that matter—they will stay on the smaller side. For optimal growth, make sure that the conditions of the tank are congruent with what they like in their natural habitat, which includes water with a pH between six and eight, ideally. It is imperative to maintain a clean tank when dealing with freshwater fish particularly, and this species prefers a slightly larger tank than needed to lower stress and maintain peace.

The diet that is fed to an angelfish also plays a role in how big the fish will grow. Angelfish are meat eaters and are natural carnivores. In addition to quality pellets or flakes, add shrimp and bloodworms to ensure they get plenty of protein and nourishment for optimal growth.

What Size of Tank Do I Need for Angelfish?

An aquarium kit

The best tank size is at least 30 gallons for two angelfish. At a minimum, a single angelfish needs 10 gallons to thrive. It is far better to double-up these tank sizes—that is, provide a 40-gallon tank for a pair of fish and at least a 20-gallon tank for a solo pet, as angelfish like a lot of room to swim. The SeaClear 40 gal aquarium combo set (sponsored) is an ideal option to get started with angelfish.

You should know that the Cichlid species of angelfish can become a bit aggressive as they get older, so it makes sense to offer these fish plenty of room. Also allow ample room in the tank for features like rocks, plants and ornaments, as angelfish like to explore the bottom of their aquarium. Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to strive for a 30-plus gallon tank and remember that a slightly larger aquarium can lower the stress level of the angelfish, which can directly contribute to their lifespan and growth, too.

What Do Angelfish Like in Their Tank?

angelfish size live

So, it seems that a 30-gallon aquarium is a good starting point for a pair of angelfish, but what else do they like in their tank? Believe it or not, angelfish are a more docile cichlid, less aggressive than other species. For this reason, angelfish like dense vegetation to lurk in.

Other items that angelfish like and help them thrive include the following:

  • Decorations that offer camouflage and concealment; rocks are a necessity for angelfish, who are bottom dwellers.
  • While angelfish prefer a warm tank, the temperature should never exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Angelfish do not like the stimulation or current of fast-moving water, so skip the water features in their aquarium. This type of stress can impact the lifespan and size of the angelfish.
  • Never position the tank in direct sunlight—it can become far too hot for an angelfish.
  • Try putting some kind of a barricade in the center of your tank if you plan on two angelfish. This provides each with their own territory. A plant works well here.

Perhaps the most important element of a habitat for angelfish is the other types of fish that are chosen to share the tank. Be thoughtful—some aggressive species can hurt or harm angelfish, particularly causing damage to the fins of the angelfish.

Plus, angelfish are known to eat smaller fish due to their carnivorous nature. Fast-moving, small fish can make the angelfish anxious which could have catastrophic consequences. Choose cichlids that are similar in size to angelfish, and that are non-aggressive species.

Do Angelfish Grow to the Size of the Tank?

If angelfish are provided with ample room to swim, they will grow a bit bigger. For instance, a fish in a crowded tank will grow to be six inches while the same species may grow up to 10 inches in a larger aquarium. These fish thrive in tanks with water that has a pH of six to eight. Angelfish grow best in a clean tank with fresh water. Arrange plants along the bottom to give each fish their own “space” to lurk and swim; they thrive in this habitat.

How Long Do Angelfish Live?

With attentive Angelfish care, your fish can live up to 15 years. Fish in nature typically live around 10 years, depending on the environment. There are many factors that can impact the lifespan of an angelfish, like environment, diet and whether the fish is in captivity or in nature. While angelfish are easy to care for, there are some aspects of their care that greatly affect the lifespan and life quality of this fascinating, freshwater species.

Angelfish are stunning additions to any aquarium. Carefully consider the care and effort involved in setting up the ideal habitat for angelfish, as well as the 15-year commitment, before investing in these small beauties.

About the Author

Adult full-sized freshwater silver angelfish

Terri Mitchell

Terri Mitchell is a freelance content writer from North Carolina who brings years of research, experience, and passion in animal-assisted therapy to her work. A former Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Terri believes in the power of pets and has seen first-hand the therapeutic advantages of animals with her two dogs, Peppercorn and Mr. Bean.[...] Author Details

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