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Are Angelfish Aggressive? (And How They Differ By Species)

Are Angelfish Aggressive? (And How They Differ By Species)

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Taking care of angelfish has the potential to be a very satisfying experience. They’re very pretty fish that can be so fun to observe swimming around in the aquarium.

They’re not too hard to take care of, but there is a lot that you should learn if you want to take care of angelfish to the best of your ability. For example, you need to learn about the water parameters that they need to survive.

It’s also a good idea to learn a bit about angelfish aggression. If you’ve heard from aquarium enthusiast friends that angelfish can be aggressive, then you might be wondering what to expect.

Are angelfish aggressive? Or, are they generally considered to be peaceful fish?

Continue reading to learn everything that you need to know about angelfish aggression. It should make it easier for you to care for angelfish overall.

Angelfish Can Indeed Be Aggressive

Angelfish are considered to be mildly aggressive fish. They aren’t the most aggressive fish that you can buy for your home aquarium, but you’d do well not to underestimate the aggression of angelfish.

You do not want to put fish that are smaller than the angelfish in a tank with them as a general rule. Angelfish will bully and eat fish that are too small.

This is true of many different fish, but you’ll need to be careful if keeping angelfish in a community tank. They can become territorial and might choose to bully other fish even if they can’t eat them.

For this reason, you need to put some thought into the fish that you choose to be tank mates for your angels. There are many fish that are compatible with angelfish, but you’ll just need to do some research ahead of time.

You can put fish such as dwarf gouramis in a community tank with angelfish and everything will be fine. Guppies are also known to work well with angels so long as you put them in the tank while the angelfish are still young.

You’ll be able to choose from many different fish when putting together a community tank with angelfish in mind. Simply remember to check to see if all of the fish that you’d like to add to the tank get along well enough.

Angelfish Aggression with Other Angelfish

It must be said that angelfish don’t always get along with each other. Specifically, male angelfish are known to fight when placed in the same tank.

If you were to put two males in a small tank, then there’s a good chance that they would wind up fighting a lot. Male angelfish will fight over many different things such as territory, potential mates, and food.

There have even been reports of angelfish fighting and severely injuring each other. This mostly happens when you place two males in a very small tank, though.

For instance, placing two males in a 10-gallon fish tank would be a very cruel and bad idea. Angelfish need more space than that, and the two would just wind up constantly fighting.

When you plan to keep multiple male angelfish in the same tank, it’s going to be wise to ensure that the tank is large enough. Truly, going with a larger tank than you technically need would make things better.

If the angelfish have more room to spread out, then there will be less of a chance that the two males will come into conflict. It’d be good to get as big of a tank as you think you can fit (within reason).

Another thing to consider involves aquatic plants. You can help the angelfish out by giving them places to hide so that they can get away from each other.

Angelfish like to hide in aquatic plants in the wild. They’ll do the same thing in the fish tank if you do a good job of putting live plants in there.

There are plenty of aquatic plants that angelfish are known to like. Some of the most popular options include Amazon Sword and Jungle Val.

Do Angelfish Bite?

As someone who is new to taking care of angelfish, you want to do your best to be prepared for anything. This means that you want to prepare for the eventuality of getting bitten by the fish.

When you stick your hand in the fish tank, it’s possible that the fish will bite you. Generally, fish won’t be able to harm you much with their bites.

Do angelfish bite, though? Or, are they not aggressive enough to try to bite a human?

The angelfish might bite you if you place your hand in the fish tank. The aggressive nature of the fish might make it want to bite you since it sees your hand as a threat.

Of course, the fish won’t be able to do much to your hand. A little bite from an angelfish might hurt a bit, but it isn’t likely to require treatment.

That being said, it might not be wise to stick your hand in the fish tank. You generally don’t have a reason to stick your hands in the fish tank.

If you need to scoop a fish or some organic debris out of the tank, then you should be using a scoop or a net of some sort. Using your hands would be far from ideal.

Placing decorations or new plants in the fish tank might require you to put your hands in the tank. Even so, you can do so carefully instead of opening yourself up to being bitten by the angelfish.

In fact, it might be sensible to put gloves on so that the bites truly won’t do anything to you. Keep this in mind for the future.

Do Angelfish Have Teeth?

You know that angelfish bite, but do they have traditional teeth? The answer is a bit more complicated than you might expect.

Since you probably don’t know a lot about fish anatomy, it’s important to note that fish don’t always have teeth where you think they would be. Instead of having teeth near the jaws, angelfish have teeth in their throat.

The function of these teeth involves breaking down food that has been swallowed by the fish. They aren’t able to grab onto things with their teeth because of where they’re located.

When the angelfish bite at other fish, they aren’t going to be doing so with teeth. Of course, this is talking about the standard freshwater angelfish that are being sold at pet stores.

Fish such as koi angelfish, zebra angelfish, and silver angelfish all have teeth located in their throat. There are other species of angelfish that are a bit different, though.

For example, the grey saltwater angelfish has teeth located in their jaw. These fish use their teeth to hook onto objects.

Interestingly, these fish can also dislocate their jaws so that they can fit larger prey in their mouths. Generally, these aren’t the types of angelfish that you’ll be caring for in your home aquarium, though.

The angelfish types that you’ll be keeping in your standard freshwater tank don’t have teeth in their jaws. They’re located in their throats, and they aren’t going to be harmful to you.

Reasons for Angelfish Aggression

Are there certain things that will cause angelfish to act more aggressively than usual? Yes, there are indeed things that you should look out for if you want to monitor angelfish aggression.

One of the biggest things involves how much space the angelfish have. If you make the mistake of crowding the tank, then the angelfish might feel the need to fight other fish over territory.

If the fish don’t feel that they have enough room to live comfortably, then that will create problems. It’s going to be important to try to keep situations like this from happening.

Always do your best to put fish in fish tanks that are the proper size. One angelfish is said to need 10 gallons of space.

It’s usually better to give the angelfish more space than it needs, though. Having a larger environment will make aggression issues less problematic.

A lack of plants in the tank might make the fish more aggressive, too. Aquatic plants are a great way to give fish hiding spots, and they help to de-escalate situations.

You should always have plants in a fish tank when you’re taking care of angelfish. They’ll likely help to keep them from trying to bully other fish too much.

It should come as no surprise to hear that putting certain fish in the tank will make angelfish more aggressive as well. If you try to put angelfish in a tank with fish that they aren’t compatible with, then it could easily lead to issues.

Remember that angelfish could wind up getting bullied as well. If you put large bully fish in the tank, then things won’t be easy for the angels.

Consider the conditions in the tank as well. Stressed fish might wind up acting unusual in various ways.

If you’re not doing a good job of keeping the tank clean, then the fish might start acting weird. Sometimes, this could lead to greater angelfish aggression.

You always want to keep the water parameters in mind. Monitor the temperature of the water and also keep an eye on the pH balance.

Remember that the temperature of the water should stay between 76 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit for the angels. The pH balance should remain between 6.8 and 7.8 on average.

Take note that angelfish don’t like wild temperature fluctuations. Generally, it’s going to be best to keep the temperature steady if you want the fish to stay happy and healthy.

Aggression May Differ by Species

Earlier, it was mentioned briefly that there are many different types of angelfish out there. The standard angelfish that you likely take care of in your tank are spoken of above, but there are some that might have slightly different levels of aggression.

Below, you’ll get a brief look at various angelfish types. You’ll learn a little bit about how aggressive each type of angelfish is on average.

Hopefully, this will help you to determine if you want to buy a specific type of angelfish. Just remember that the normal type of angelfish that most people buy from the pet store are being covered first.

Many of the more exotic types of angelfish are meant to be taken care of by veterans. If you’re a novice, then you might want to stay away from saltwater angelfish and some of the larger types of fish.

Once you gain more experience, you might be more interested in returning to the idea of caring for these fish. Either way, it’ll benefit you to have more information.

Koi Angelfish

Koi angelfish are pretty much the standard angelfish that have been discussed already. These angelfish are very commonly sold at pet stores, and they resemble the koi fish because of their coloration.

These fish are pretty much genetically the same as zebra angelfish, silver angelfish, and gold angelfish. They’re just angelfish that have been specifically bred to have different colors or patterns.

All of these fish are considered to be mildly aggressive. They will become territorial in certain situations, and they’re known to try to bully smaller fish.

Even so, they are peaceful enough that they can get along with many fish in a community tank setting. You just need to pick the fish carefully to avoid problems.

Flame Angelfish

Flame angelfish are a lot different because they’re saltwater fish. They’re actually a little bit smaller than koi angelfish on average.

These fish usually don’t grow larger than four inches long. They’re beautiful fish that will make any saltwater fish tank that much more interesting, though.

It’s notable that these fish are hermaphroditic. Distinguishing between males and females can’t be done based on factors such as color.

They don’t usually breed in captivity. It can be done, of course, but it isn’t easy to do at all.

Like many other angelfish, these flame angels are considered to be mildly aggressive. They might act aggressively toward certain fish and could wind up trying to bully smaller fish.

Be very careful when picking tank mates for this fish. If you put no thought into things, then you’ll likely wind up with a chaotic community tank.

Coral Beauty

Coral beauty angelfish are truly a sight to behold. They’re very easy to care for, and they’re quite similar to the flame angelfish in many ways.

They can grow to be as long as four inches, and they’ll stand out in your fish tank in a good way. Unsurprisingly, these fish are mildly aggressive.

You can expect the same type of aggression out of coral beauty angelfish that you will get from flame angelfish. They aren’t severely aggressive, but they will get territorial sometimes.

When putting coral beauty angelfish in a community tank, you’ll always want to be sure to match them up with compatible fish. Otherwise, you’re not going to have a very good experience.

Queen Angelfish

Queen angelfish are rather large fish that most people won’t be able to keep at home. They’re a bit harder to care for than an average angelfish, and that means that these aren’t meant for beginners.

Also, you’d have to purchase a very large tank to care for one of these. If you want to simply keep a small tank in your home, then you should give up on the idea of purchasing a queen angelfish.

A queen angelfish can grow to be as long as 18 inches. This makes it eight whole inches longer than a fully-grown freshwater angelfish that you’d find at the pet store.

They weigh around three and a half pounds at full size, too. It’s a big fish that is likely going to be one of the larger specimens in your tank if you choose to get one.

These fish are quite aggressive. In fact, they might be considered to be more aggressive than an average angelfish.

If you’re planning to introduce a queen angelfish to a community tank, then you’re going to need to do so last. They will get too territorial if you try to introduce fish into the tank when they are already present.

Emperor Angelfish

Emperor angelfish are also quite big. They grow to be as long as 15 inches, but emperor angelfish might not get that big while in captivity.

You’re supposed to keep these large fish in an aquarium that is at least 100 gallons. Otherwise, you’re not supposed to try to keep an emperor angelfish since smaller aquariums would be too small for the fish to live comfortably.

This is another angelfish that is semi-aggressive, and that means that you will need to be mindful of the potential for the fish to lash out at other fish. The emperor angelfish might become territorial.

It’s also worth knowing that these fish will not tolerate other males. You can’t keep two emperor angelfish males in the same tank.

An emperor angelfish will be able to live with a female angelfish as you might expect, though. You might also be able to get a male emperor angelfish to live with two females if you’re so inclined.

Keep the Angelfish From Getting Stressed

You’ve learned a lot about angelfish aggression at this point. It’s also important to know that stress can cause these fish to experience many problems.

There are many ways that angelfish can become stressed. Improper water conditions can make the fish feel stressed, and it’ll be detrimental to the health of the fish.

Aside from this, too much noise can wind up bothering the fish. You might not want to place an angelfish tank in a room that is very noisy.

Putting the tank too close to a television or a stereo system could easily stress the fish. When the fish are stressed, they might be more aggressive.

Even if you’re not that concerned about aggression issues, you should know that stress can cause harm to the fish. Stressed fish will wind up having compromised immune systems.

When fish have compromised immune systems, they’ll be that much more likely to get sick. They’ll be vulnerable enough that they might get infections from bacteria as well.

Do what you can to try to keep the angelfish safe from stress. You likely won’t be able to mitigate stress issues completely, but you can make it so that the angelfish will be able to live in relative peace if you try.

Final Thoughts

After learning about how aggressive angelfish can be, you might be concerned about caring for them. You shouldn’t be.

These fish really aren’t so aggressive that people would consider them to be problematic. Once you get used to caring for fish more, you’ll discover that many fish are mildly aggressive.

You always have to consider tank mate compatibility when preparing a community tank. If you fail to do so, then you’re not going to be able to keep all of the fish safe.

Fish eat smaller fish to survive, and they have to compete for territory. Your fish tank is just going to be a man-made environment where the fish will exhibit the same behaviors that they would in the wild.

Keep this in mind and pick tank mates for the angelfish that will do a good job of getting along with them. You’re also going to want to give the angelfish enough space so that they won’t feel the need to fight over territory.

Remember that male angelfish don’t get along well, too. You might need a bigger tank if you’re planning to keep multiple male angelfish in the same tank.

If you have friends who are thinking of purchasing some angelfish sometime soon, then let them know about what you learned today. You just might help them to make good choices so that they can have the most pleasant fish tank possible.

Angelfish are great and they’re going to be a joy to care for. You just have to take the time to ensure that you’re doing things right.