So many people buy angelfish for their fish tanks. They’re popular fish that are very easy to care for even as a beginner.
Angelfish are fun to observe and they’re so pretty moving through the water. You might spend quite a bit of time just watching the fish swim around gracefully in the fish tank.
During your time observing the fish, you might sometimes notice the angelfish opening its mouth wide. When it does this, it might look as if the fish is yawning.
Is the angelfish really yawning? Or is it doing something else entirely?
Keep reading to learn a little bit about the “angelfish yawning phenomenon.” There isn’t a reason to be concerned about this, but it’s still interesting to learn about.
Angelfish Don’t Actually Yawn
The angelfish do sometimes look as if they’re yawning. When they open their mouths wide, it might appear as if it is yawning just as humans sometimes do.
However, the fish is not actually yawning at all. It’s most likely that the fish is stretching its jaws in some fashion. This could be that the fish is trying to get its jaw pieces back in alignment.
It’s just something that fish will do from time to time. There isn’t anything complex about it, and you certainly don’t need to worry if anything is wrong with the fish.
Yes, the angelfish will look kind of funny when it’s “yawning” this way, but it’s completely normal. The next time you see the fish doing this, you’ll know that it’s likely just adjusting its jaw pieces by opening its mouth wide.
It Doesn’t Mean That the Angelfish Are Tired
Yawning is generally associated with people being tired. You might yawn quite a bit when you wake up in the morning as you’re trying to shake off the sleepiness.
Since the angelfish look as if they’re yawning, people often think that they’re tired. However, there isn’t any evidence to support that a fish opening its mouth wide is an indication that it’s tired.
It’s more likely that the fish is simply adjusting its jaw pieces as mentioned above. Angelfish can indeed become fatigued, but that doesn’t appear to have anything to do with this behavior.
Relating this action with yawning does make sense since it’s something that all humans are familiar with. It just isn’t quite accurate in this situation.
Why Do the Fish Sometimes Do This in Unison?
One of the reasons why people assume that angelfish yawn has to do with the other fish “yawning” shortly after one fish does it. Is this like some sort of contagious yawn?
Not necessarily. It’s more likely that this is just a coincidence, but it could be some sort of group behavior as well.
Not much is known about this topic and researchers haven’t looked into this “contagious yawn” phenomenon in angelfish. You know that the fish aren’t yawning as humans do, but sometimes the fish will seem to open their mouths wide around the same time.
Perhaps one fish notices another fish doing it and it makes it want to adjust its jaw pieces as well. This is all simply conjecture because there isn’t any scientific research that has been done into the topic.
Humans Yawn Contagiously
Humans yawn contagiously, and this is why so many angelfish owners think that their fish are doing the same thing. An average human is said to yawn twenty times per day.
Whenever you see someone yawning at work, it’s going to make you want to yawn. You might be able to resist the urge if you consciously try, but often you’ll wind up yawning yourself.
Yawning is some type of primitive reflex of the brain stem. Most animals yawn, but there isn’t a known scientific reason why people yawn.
The reason why people yawn after seeing someone else yawn has to do with social mirroring. It’s speculated that this behavior could be linked to mirror neurons in the brain.
Fish are much different than humans. Angelfish are also much different from animals that are known to yawn.
However, it isn’t impossible that some sort of social mirroring phenomenon could be involved with the angelfish. When one angelfish opens its mouth wide to adjust its jaw pieces, others seem to copy the action.
Until a scientific team chooses to look into this, there won’t be a definitive answer. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t an interesting subject, though.
Many Other Fish Do This
If you’re only caring for angelfish, then you likely don’t have experience observing other fish. You wouldn’t know that other fish seem to exhibit this same behavior.
Many other types of fish will open their mouths wide as if they’re yawning, too. It’s also speculated that these fish are opening their mouths this way in an effort to adjust their jaws.
Since this is a fairly common fish behavior, it makes it easier to understand that everything is fine. If you ever add other fish to the tank with your angels, then you might notice them doing the “yawning” thing in the tank right alongside the angelfish.
You Can Safely Ignore the Angelfish “Yawning”
So now you know that you can safely ignore the angelfish yawning. It doesn’t really mean anything, and it’s certainly not something to be concerned with.
If you were worried that this meant the angelfish was fatigued in some way, then you can rest easy. It’s just a normal thing that fish do sometimes.
Continue to take care of your fish the best that you can and everything will be fine. It’s normal to worry a bit when you’re trying your best to care for fish.
You want to ensure that the fish stay in good health, and noticing what you thought was an unusual behavior might make you a bit concerned. Thankfully, this is simply a standard action that many fish seem to do.
Keep on enjoying your time with your angelfish. So long as you’re feeding the angelfish well and taking care of the water parameters, it’s likely that you’ll be able to enjoy having them in your tank for a long time.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.