Skip to Content

Do Angelfish Change Color? (7 Reasons Why They Might)

Do Angelfish Change Color? (7 Reasons Why They Might)

Share this post:

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

For some people, fish are going to be the perfect pets to keep. They’re quiet and they’re absolutely intriguing to look at.

Angelfish are very common fish today simply because of how gorgeous they are. These elegant fish can be entrancing when you watch them swim through the water.

They’re popular due to being easy to care for and very satisfying to observe. If you’ve recently started taking care of angelfish, then you might have been surprised to see its appearance change a bit.

If your angelfish was one color yesterday and appears to be a slightly different color today, then you’re likely alarmed. Is this an indication that you’re doing something wrong as a fish owner?

Read on to learn about whether angelfish change color. This should help you to have a better idea of what’s going on so that you’ll know what to do.

Angelfish Can Change Color

It is indeed possible for angelfish to change color. Angelfish possess what are known as chromatophores and iridophores.

These are located on the dermis, and they’re cells that can work in tandem to reflect light. This allows them to create stunning colors for their scales.

Changing color isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Angelfish can change colors for different reasons.

These fish have two different skin layers known as the dermis and the epidermis. The dermis has the chromatophores that work to develop scales.

The chromatophores work with the iridophores to reflect light, and this allows the fish to have the vibrant colored scales that you’re so familiar with. When it comes to actually changing colors, this happens because of the melanosomes.

Melanosomes are present so that the fish can synthesize melanin. The melanosomes specifically control melanin movement and storage.

Melanin is actually a substance that absorbs light. It’s this that gives the angelfish the interesting ability to change colors.

If all of this sounds very complicated, then don’t worry. You don’t need to understand the science behind how angelfish can change color to know that they’re capable of doing it.

While it’s very interesting to dig into the specifics, it’s fine to just come away with the knowledge that these fish are capable of changing color when necessary. This unique ability is something that helps to make angelfish some of the most beautiful fish around.

Why Would an Angelfish Change Color?

Answering the question of why angelfish change color isn’t quite so simple. There isn’t just one reason why a fish would change color.

To get to the bottom of this, you’re going to have to examine many potential reasons. Below, you’ll be able to read about several situations that might cause an angelfish to change color.

Many of these reasons are not problematic in any way. If you’re concerned about your fish, then just know that there’s a good chance that there’s nothing to worry about.

1 – Environmental Changes

Environmental changes can cause angelfish to change colors. It’s actually very common for these fish to change colors when you get them home and put them in an aquarium.

When angelfish are being kept at a pet store, they’re often going to be living in a cramped tank. These stores need to keep many angelfish in one tank.

The limited space that is available to the fish will keep them agitated and stressed. Therefore, the color of the fish might be different than it would otherwise be if the fish had more space.

After getting the fish home, you might see that your new angelfish will look much more vibrant. Many angelfish owners have stated that their fish look more colorful and cheery after they’ve been placed in a large home tank.

There are other types of environmental changes that can cause fish to change color, too. Just keep in mind that if your fish changed color after getting it home from the store that it’s completely normal.

2 – Changing Color as the Fish Gets Older

Another common thing that you might notice is that angelfish will change color as they age. A young angelfish might not be nearly as colorful as an older one.

As time passes, the fish will begin to grow, and it’ll start changing color to become more vibrant. You don’t need to be concerned if your fish looks a bit dull right now.

It’s just likely that you got the fish when it was quite young. When the fish has time to mature a bit, it’ll change color so that it will look much more colorful and interesting.

Many people who are new to caring for fish will gravitate toward angelfish. Since newcomers haven’t had a lot of time to learn about the fish yet, they usually don’t know that angelfish will look different as they age.

Now that you know, you’ll be able to enjoy seeing the changes in your fish as it grows. Of course, you can also buy an older fish that is already colorful.

3 – Fear and Stress

Sadly, angelfish will sometimes feel the need to change color due to being afraid. There are many reasons why angelfish will choose to change color, and it’s common for them to do so when they’re afraid or stressed.

Earlier, it was mentioned that fish sometimes change color when you get them home from the pet store. You’re taking the fish out of a cramped environment and putting it in a safer and quieter location.

The fish at the pet store are likely all very scared or stressed for different reasons. People are constantly walking up to the fish tanks at these stores, and young kids might tap on the glass to try to get the attention of various fish.

Actions such as this are very scary and stressful for angelfish. They might attempt to change color in an attempt to hide or at least not stand out quite so much.

Angelfish are colorful when they’re comfortable and content with their environments. If the source of fear and stress is eliminated, then the fish will become colorful once again.

What Can Cause an Angelfish to Feel Stressed?

There are many things that can cause an angelfish to feel stressed and scared. For example, you might have children in your home that are bothering the fish by tapping on the glass.

If you have a cat, then the cat could be leering at the fish and pawing at the glass. Even excessive noise near the fish tank could scare the fish.

This is why you need to choose a good location for the aquarium. You should try to choose a spot in your house that isn’t quite so lively so that the fish can feel secure.

It might be wise to keep other pets such as cats or dogs away from the fish too. Even if they can’t get in the fish tank, they could still scare the fish quite a bit.

4 – Light Changes

Sometimes something as simple as light changes will cause angelfish to change color. You learned about how these fish can reflect light earlier, and this means that light plays a role in how the fish will look.

There are angelfish that react more to changes in light than others. Switching off the light for some time might cause the fish to change, and then you’ll notice that it will become brighter when you turn the light on again.

You don’t need to worry about color change issues such as this. The fish will return to normal just fine, and you don’t have to do anything at all.

5 – Dietary Issues

Dietary issues could easily cause a fish to change color. This is something that you’ll want to be concerned about.

If the fish isn’t getting sufficient nutrients, then it might start to lose its color. Try to make sure that you’ve been feeding the fish properly so that you can rule out dietary issues as the cause of the color change.

Remember that angelfish need to be fed once or twice per day. You generally want to feed angelfish as much as they will be able to eat in two or three minutes.

There’s no reason to go overboard when feeding angelfish, but you don’t want to feed them too little. Also, it’s important to try not to forget to feed them on certain days since that can negatively impact the health of the fish.

You might want to consider whether or not you’re feeding the angelfish the right fish food, too. Most pet stores will recommend that you feed angelfish simple flakes and pellets.

There might be some benefit to mixing up the dietary choices from time to time. Some fish owners choose to alternate different types of fish food each day.

If you’d like specific advice, then you could speak to an exotic veterinarian. A professional such as this should be able to recommend what to feed your fish to perk them up.

6 – Issues with the Water

Issues with the water could be considered to be another type of environmental change. Regardless, this is worth giving its own section because of how important it is.

Remember that most angelfish need to be kept in freshwater. There are also saltwater angelfish, but those are less common.

You need to keep the water temperature in the right range while also ensuring that the pH balance is right. The temperature of the water should be between 78 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ensure that the water maintains a pH balance between 6.8 and 7.8. The water hardness should be between 3 and 8 degrees dKH.

You need to ensure that you have a good filtration system for the tank as well. Once you’ve taken care of all of these issues, you should be able to feel more confident that your actions aren’t causing the fish to change color.

7 – Fish Fighting with Each Other

Another source of stress that hasn’t yet been discussed has to do with angelfish fighting each other. Angelfish are typically considered to be a peaceful species, but that doesn’t mean that they always get along.

If you place two males in the same fish tank, then you should notice that they will start fighting. Males don’t get along very well, and the two will sometimes fight for various reasons.

You might even notice that the fish will injure each other during the fight. This is alarming, and it’s certainly not something that you want to have to deal with.

Generally, angelfish aren’t very likely to kill each other during a fight. That doesn’t mean that it can’t happen, though.

If two males are placed in a fish tank together, then they might wind up fighting to the death. Limited space is very bad for angelfish.

As fish continue to get stressed, they will change in color. A less aggressive fish might try to change color in an attempt to hide or avoid standing out.

There are a few things that you can do to try to keep fish from fighting. The most important thing to consider is getting a larger tank.

Two males might be able to live together in relative peace if they’re placed in a 100-gallon fish tank. You want the fish to have plenty of room to spread out so that they won’t fight.

You never want to put two males in a very small fish tank. Some would say that it simply isn’t a good idea to keep two males in the same tank.

It would be easy to just avoid keeping two male angelfish together, but you can try using a larger tank to see if things get better. You may want to keep an equal number of female fish in the tank so that the males will hopefully pair off with the other fish.

You could attempt to place aquatic plants in the fish tank to keep the fish from fighting quite so much. Aquatic plants give the fish places to hide when they wish to be alone, and it can really cut down on the number of aggressive incidents that you’ll have to deal with.

Admittedly, the problems between two male fish can be very daunting. If you wish to have an easier time, then you might just want to keep one male and one female angelfish together in an appropriately-sized tank.

For two angelfish, you’d need at least a 20-gallon tank to care for them properly. It’d be better to keep them in a 29-gallon tank, though.

Angelfish have the potential to grow pretty large when compared to other popular beginner fish. At maturity, the angelfish will be at least six inches long, and it could grow to be 10 inches long if it’s cared for optimally.

This means that a small tank could get crowded and cause issues with the fish. Go for a bigger tank if you’re in doubt and you have the necessary space in your home.

Do Your Best to Keep Your Fish Healthy

Doing your best to keep your fish healthy is imperative. If you neglect your fish or if you don’t place it in a good environment, then it’s going to have issues.

Stressed fish can experience many problems, and you’ll want to do what you can to mitigate stress. This involves putting the fish in a safe spot as well as ensuring that the fish has an adequate environment.

You’ll also need to care for the fish properly each day. Angelfish are fairly hardy and easy to take care of, but you can’t outright neglect the fish.

An angelfish will need to be fed once or twice each day. You’ll also need to feed them the right type of food to keep them healthy.

Caring for the water is important, too, but it should become very easy the more you get used to it. So long as you have a good filtration system, it shouldn’t be hard to get things right.

There are factors beyond your control when it comes to angelfish changing colors. Sometimes, light changes will cause small color changes.

Your fish will likely change colors if you ever move it to a different tank, too. It takes a fish time to acclimate to a new environment, and then it will become vibrant once it feels that it’s safe.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned a lot about angelfish and why they change color sometimes. It’s good for you to know that color changing in angelfish can be a very natural thing that doesn’t require you to worry.

Often, color changes will occur simply because an angelfish has been moved to a new environment. There are other causes that will require you to make changes to protect the fish, but there’s a chance that you won’t need to do anything at all.

Even if all of this information about caring for fish seems difficult in some ways, it’s not that hard in practice. Angelfish are remarkably easy to take care of, and they require little maintenance when compared to many other popular pet fish.

You should have a simpler time caring for your fish now that you know what to look out for. Hopefully, you’ll only ever see your fish change colors for normal and fairly positive reasons.

Share this post: