Angelfish are very popular because of how beautiful they are. It’s nice to be able to have such colorful and graceful fish in your aquarium.
These fish aren’t just popular for being pretty, though. They’re well-liked because of how easy they are to care for.
Overall, angelfish are beginner-friendly, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter problems when caring for them. For instance, you might notice that your angelfish will start acting aggressively toward one another.
Angelfish are a bit feisty, and they might wind up getting into fights sometimes. Even if these fish are often peaceful, it can be worrisome when you see your fish fighting.
If you leave the fish alone, will they keep fighting? Can angelfish kill each other?
Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about angelfish aggression and whether they will kill each other or not. This should help you to understand what you need to watch out for when your goal is to protect the fish in your aquarium.
Angelfish Aren’t Normally That Aggressive
The first thing to know is that angelfish aren’t normally all that aggressive. There are certain reasons why angelfish might become more aggressive, but you’ll learn about that later in this article.
You might be surprised to hear that angelfish are normally fairly peaceful. Since they’re a type of cichlid, you might expect them to be very aggressive fish.
They can be a bit territorial, but they aren’t nearly as aggressive as many other cichlids. You’ll often see angelfish being content and swimming around doing normal things.
So what would cause your angelfish to start fighting with each other? There are quite a few things to consider.
Small Tanks Can Make Angelfish More Territorial
It’s not generally a good idea to keep angelfish in a tank that is too small for them. Angelfish can grow to be fairly large, and you need to take this into consideration when preparing a tank.
Sometimes, new fish owners make the mistake of putting too many fish in one tank. If you fill a 29-gallon fish tank with four angelfish, then that is going to be way too cramped.
Ideally, you should keep the fish in a 55-gallon tank or one that is even larger than that. If you only have something small like a 29-gallon tank, then you should only keep two angelfish in there.
When the angelfish are forced into a cramped environment, it’s harder for them to swim around without bumping into each other. The fish are going to start feeling territorial, and they will fight over the small space that is available to them.
You can avoid problems with fighting if you do your best to keep the fish in large enough tanks. There are still other reasons why angelfish fight to talk about, though.
Males Fighting for Female Attention
If you choose to keep multiple male fish in the same tank, then that will likely lead to more fights. As you might expect, male fish are going to fight over female attention.
When it’s time for the angelfish to pair off so that they can breed, males will begin trying to win favor with the females in the tank. Male fish see any other males that are present as competition, and this means that they will try to assert dominance.
Sometimes male angelfish will fight each other very aggressively. You might see an angelfish chasing other fish around the tank, too.
It’s pretty unlikely that angelfish will fight to the death. However, it’s pretty common for male angelfish to injure each other during these scraps.
For this reason, it might be best to avoid putting more than one male angelfish in the aquarium. You should be able to avoid fights like this by keeping a male fish with pretty much any number of female angelfish.
If you really want to keep multiple male angelfish in the same tank, then ensure that the tank is big enough. Try to give the fish enough space so that they won’t feel as compelled to fight.
Some have said that they’ve had good luck when keeping two males together in tanks that are 100-gallons or larger. These are quite big tanks, but if you have the room to accommodate one of these, then it might be a solid option to consider.
It’s also best to have multiple female angelfish as well. There will still likely be fighting, but it might not be as bad if the males have opportunities to pair off with different females.
Truthfully, it’s easier to just avoid keeping two males in the same tank. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do, though.
Is it Possible for Angelfish to Kill Each Other?
It is indeed possible for angelfish to kill each other. However, you should keep in mind that this is an unlikely outcome.
When two angelfish fight to the death, it’s usually spurred by unusual circumstances. If you were to keep two male angelfish in a very small fish tank, then they would just keep fighting.
At some point, one of the males would kill the other. This is unfortunate, but that can happen if you place the fish in a small tank.
Generally, you only have to worry about males fighting and injuring each other. If you wish to have an easier time caring for the fish, then you can just ensure that you don’t keep two males in the same tank.
Don’t forget about the importance of giving the fish a large enough tank either. You will be better off placing fish in a larger tank than a smaller one.
Will Female Angelfish Fight Each Other?
No, female angelfish do not fight each other the way that males do. You generally won’t see females acting aggressively toward each other.
There could be some minor squabbles if the fish are placed in a tank that is too small, but it’s not the same as what happens between two males. If you want to keep multiple females in the same tank, then all you truly need to be concerned with is getting a large enough tank.
Keeping one male with the females will be perfectly fine. The females shouldn’t fight to try to get the male’s attention or anything like that.
There are many people who just keep female angelfish in their tanks because they’re easier to deal with. If you want to breed angelfish, then you’ll need to have at least one fertile male, of course.
Some have said that keeping too many females with one male can make females a bit agitated. When it comes time for females to lay their eggs, they want to be able to have access to a male.
The female fish wish to be able to pair off with a male so that the eggs can be fertilized. The presence of too many other females could throw everything off.
For this reason, you might wish to try to keep an even number of male and female fish. Of course, this will require you to have a very large tank.
To make things easier, you could get a 100-gallon tank to keep the males from fighting. You could then place two or three pairs of angelfish in the tank and things should go okay.
You might still notice the fish fighting a bit, but it will limit female agitation. It probably isn’t a big problem to keep one male with two or three females either, but you can decide the best route to take.
How Large Should Tanks Be?
The question of how large tanks should be will really depend on several factors. If you want the angelfish to be able to thrive, then it’d be better to give them more than enough space.
It’s acceptable to give the angelfish the bare minimum amount of space that they need, but you might not have the happiest fish. You’ll need to have at least 10-gallons of space for each fish that you plan to add to the tank.
So if you wish to keep two angelfish in one tank, then you’d need to have a 20-gallon tank, at the very least. Many experts would say that a 20-gallon tank is too small, though, and they’d recommend going with a 29-gallon tank for two fish.
Those who wish to keep four or more angelfish would be better off purchasing 55-gallon tanks or even larger ones. Generally, it’s better to have more space than too little.
Of course, you’ll have to ensure that you have enough room in your home to accommodate the tank. This is something that you can plan out before you buy the angelfish.
Angel Mating Rituals
It’s possible that you could be mistaking angelfish mating rituals for fighting. If you don’t have two male fish in the same tank, then it’s unlikely that the angelfish are fighting with each other.
When it’s time for fish to pair off and breed, the fish will start doing certain things. They might look like they’re fighting, but the fish are actually just sizing each other up to see if they want to form a pair.
You might notice the two fish wagging their tails back and forth. This is sometimes done when fish are fighting, but it’s also a common sight during mating rituals.
Angelfish will also lock lips and shake each other when they’re pairing off. This can look aggressive to untrained eyes, but it’s just a big sign that the two fish have formed a pair.
You’ll likely see the female fish lay eggs soon after noticing the two fish locking lips. Once the eggs are laid, the male fish will take the time to fertilize them.
Once you’re more used to caring for angelfish, you’ll get used to how they act during mating rituals. It might look like the fish are fighting, but they’re really just getting ready to mate.
Add Plants to the Tank
Plants can help to keep angelfish aggression levels in check. If you add plants to the tank, then that will give the fish places to hide when they’re being bothered.
If a male is tired of being chased around by another male, then it can go hide in the plants somewhere. This is a very good thing that can help to protect the less aggressive males that might be in the tank.
Plus, adding plants to the aquarium can make it look even more presentable. There are plenty of good aquatic plants that you could add to the fish tank if you want to.
Aquatic plants for aquariums can be purchased online, but you might wish to go down to your local pet store to get what you need. You can even ask for advice if you’re not sure what to purchase.
Add Other Fish to the Tank
Adding other fish species to the tank might give the angelfish something else to chase around. Angelfish will be aggressive toward each other sometimes when there’s nothing else to take their aggression out on.
There are a few options that you can consider. You could place some slightly smaller fish in the tank that the angelfish will be able to chase around and essentially play with.
This will help to keep the fish busy. You need to ensure that the smaller fish aren’t so small that they will get eaten by the angelfish, though.
It might be fine to place slightly larger fish in the tank as well, but you’ll want them to be a less aggressive species. This will mean that the angelfish will still be able to chase them around.
While it isn’t completely necessary to add other fish types to the fish tank to keep things safe, it can be a good idea. It can also be fun to add some diversity to the tank.
Just remember that adding more fish can make things crowded. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have a tank that is big enough to keep things comfortable.
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.