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Do Angelfish Eat Plants? (And Which Plants Are Best?)

Do Angelfish Eat Plants? (And Which Plants Are Best?)

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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.

Angelfish are some of the most satisfying fish to keep as pets. These fish are very popular because of how nice they look overall.

Many would say that angelfish are elegant due to how gracefully they move through the water. It’s very easy to see why they have become so well-loved over the years.

If you’ve recently bought some angelfish for your aquarium, then you might be hoping to get some information about what you can put in the tank with them. Most people like to put aquatic plants in fish tanks, but you might want to know whether the fish will eat the plants first.

Do angelfish eat plants? Or will they only eat normal fish food that you buy from the pet store?

Read on to learn more about what angelfish eat. You’ll also get information about the best aquatic plants that you can choose for your tank.

Angelfish Will Sometimes Eat Plants

You will find that angelfish will sometimes eat plants, but it isn’t typical for them to do so. So long as you’re feeding the angelfish properly, it’s unlikely going to try to consume whatever aquatic plants you’ve placed in the fish tank.

Typically, angelfish will nibble on plants a little bit, but they won’t actually eat them. The nibbling that they do won’t harm the aquatic plants, and this means that you don’t have to worry about the plants getting ruined.

However, there could be unusual circumstances where angelfish will attempt to eat aquatic plants. For example, when the fish isn’t getting enough nutrients, it might try to start eating the plants that are in the tank.

So long as you’re feeding your fish regularly, it’s unlikely that this will occur. It is possible that it could happen if you aren’t feeding your fish the right food, too.

You want to make sure that you’re giving the fish food that is recommended for angelfish. If you want specific advice about what to feed angelfish, then you can always discuss the situation with an exotic veterinarian.

That being said, it’s usually fine to give angelfish standard fish food that is meant for angelfish. There are many different types of fish flakes and shrimp pellets.

Some people also choose to feed their angelfish live shrimp as a treat. There are lots of things that angelfish eat because they’re omnivores.

Angelfish will indeed eat plants if they feel that they need to. This shouldn’t stop you from placing aquatic plants in your aquarium, though.

Angelfish Love Having Plants in the Fish Tank

It should be known that angelfish love having plants in the fish tank. Many angelfish enthusiasts would say that the angelfish tank wouldn’t be complete until you’ve added some plants.

If you want the fish to feel comfortable and happy in the fish tank, then it makes sense to put aquatic plants in the tank. There are some types of plants that might work out better than others, of course.

Fish will utilize aquatic plants in many different ways. They like to use the plants as hiding spots when they need to get away from other fish.

You’ll be able to find plenty of different plants that will work nicely in your angelfish tank. Continue reading to get some information about some of the more popular options.

Factors to Consider When Picking Plants

There are a few factors to consider when picking plants for the fish tank. Angelfish are going to grow larger than some people realize.

An angelfish might seem a bit small if you buy it when it’s young, but it can grow a lot. When an angelfish reaches maturity, it can wind up being between six and ten inches long.

For this reason, angelfish do better when they’re placed in tall fish tanks. If you want your fish to thrive, then putting it in a tall tank is going to be the best way to go about things.

Taller tanks and fish that can grow to be fairly large (when compared to many other common pet fish) will make it so that you’ll want plants that can grow tall. Finding aquatic plants that can grow to reach the top of the tank will be a wise idea.

Another consideration involves breeding. If you plan to breed the angelfish, then you’ll need safe spots for the female to lay eggs.

Choosing plants that have big leaves will give the females a place where they can stick their eggs safely. It also provides privacy for the fish so that the male will feel comfortable fertilizing the eggs.

You might be surprised by how shy male angelfish can be when it comes time to fertilize eggs. If they feel exposed or sense danger, then they might not fertilize the eggs.

The Best Plants for Angelfish

Having the right aquatic plants in the tank will make things go smoothly. You should have a good experience if you do a solid job of choosing adequate aquatic plants for the fish tank.

Water Sprite

Water sprite will be a good option when you’re looking for a thick plant that the fish can use as a hiding spot. It’s very good to place plants such as this in the fish tank because of how thick and dense things will be when the plants start to grow.

It’s good for angelfish when they want to hide, but it’s also great for breeding purposes. The fish can hide their eggs among the plants, and males will have a safe spot to go and fertilize the eggs.

You’ll also find that this plant is just tall enough to be perfect for a tall fish tank. These plants can grow to be 13 inches tall when you care for them well.

The downside is that this plant isn’t a fast-growing plant. It’ll take some time for it to grow to the height that you want it to be at.

You might want to consider combining this plant with the next one that’s going to be discussed. It’s often good to have multiple different types of aquatic plants in the fish tank.

Amazon Sword Plants

Amazon sword plants will be a perfect choice when you’re looking for a plant for your fish tank. These plants work so well because the leaves seem to be made for angelfish to lay their eggs.

The leaves of the Amazon sword plant are very big, and this gives the angelfish plenty of space to lay eggs. If you plan on having your angelfish breed, then this is a great plant to put in a breeding tank.

Aside from the fact that these plants are beneficial to the angelfish when it comes to breeding, they’re also the right height. An Amazon sword plant will grow to be between 12 and 16 inches tall on average.

This should be the perfect height that you need for a properly-sized angelfish aquarium. You can get this plant to grow really nicely if you use bright lights and CO2, but it can also grow just fine under moderate light.

When planting this plant, it’s going to be important to root the plant in the substrate. It’s going to need you to add root tabs as well because the plant needs lots of nutrients to thrive.

Jungle Vallisneria

Jungle vallisneria (jungle val for short) is a great plant as well because it can grow to be quite tall. In fact, this aquatic plant can grow so tall that it’ll be much taller than your aquarium.

If you allow the plant to keep growing, it can reach heights of 6.5 feet. That’s going to be way taller than most aquariums that you would find in someone’s home.

When it grows too tall, the tallest parts will reach the surface of the water. You can simply trim the plant back a little bit so that it doesn’t get out of control.

Jungle val is a nice plant that is going to grow to be very thick. As you might expect by the jungle part of its name, it’s going to be dense enough that it will give the angelfish great hiding spots.

It’s an amazing plant when it comes to helping angelfish feel comfortable enough to breed as well. This plant basically looks like tall grass, and your fish won’t feel exposed or vulnerable if they can hide in it.

Java Fern

You might hear other aquarium enthusiasts talking about their love of java ferns sometimes. These are incredibly popular aquatic plants that will work nicely for angelfish tanks.

One of the reasons why it’s so good for angelfish tanks is that the plant has large leaves. The large and sturdy leaves are very good for when female fish need to lay eggs.

The eggs will easily be able to stick to the surface of the large leaves. Then the males will be able to fertilize them in a safe spot.

You’ll see that these plants are fairly bushy. They make for great little hiding spots, but they aren’t as tall as the other options that have been presented so far.

This means that you should pair java ferns with some of the other tall plants that have been discussed. You’d likely find that keeping java ferns and jungle val in the same tank will work out great.

Water Wisteria

Water wisteria is very pretty to look at, and it grows incredibly fast. If you’re into gardening, then you likely know that normal wisteria is an invasive plant that can spread and take over areas.

That connection makes it easy to understand how a plant called water wisteria could grow so fast. You can even propagate this plant easily by trimming the tops so that you can get even more plants for your tanks.

There are a few different ways that you can use water wisteria, too. You could root the plants in the substrate, but you could also allow them to float around in the water.

The angelfish will have fun swimming through this plant. It provides cover for the fish while also adding some aesthetic appeal to the tank.

Dwarf Tiger Lotus

Dwarf tiger lotus is another aquatic plant that deserves consideration. You might find the plant being sold under other names, though.

Sometimes this plant is referred to as a red tiger lotus or a dwarf tiger lily. The plant is really nice to look at, and it’s going to have gorgeous red leaves when it starts to root.

Plants such as these are bought as bulbs that you plant in the substrate. They then grow and form red leaves before reaching up to the surface of the water.

The roots of this plant can take over an aquarium if you aren’t careful, though. This is why many people plant the dwarf tiger lotus in a plastic container and then burying it in the tank.


Ambulia looks great inside of a fish tank, but it can be a bit tough to get it to grow well. You’re going to need to add some CO2 to the water so that the plant can thrive.

It is a fast-growing plant under the right circumstances, though. You can even propagate this plant by replanting the cuttings in the substrate.

Adding some liquid fertilizer to this plant can make it experience rapid growth. If you want a plant that will look really good in the tank, then this should be considered an option.

That being said, if you just want a practical plant for the angelfish, it’d be better to stick with jungle val or Amazon sword. Regardless, this is a fun one to look into that the fish will like.


Hornwort is going to be a fantastic plant to add to your angelfish aquarium. It’s good because this plant is very beginner-friendly and it can grow well when utilizing moderate to bright lighting.

It’s also going to be wise to give this plant a bit of liquid fertilizer to get it to grow really well. Hornwort is very easy to care for, and it has a really nice look.

The plant can grow to be fairly tall which is great for the angelfish. You can also place them just about anywhere in the tank.

Angelfish should be able to use these plants for cover. They’ll enjoy swimming between the stems, and your tank will look nicer than ever.


Anubias is yet another popular plant that people like to place in fish tanks. One of the reasons why this one is recommended for angelfish is because it has thick leaves.

This should be perfect for the angelfish to lay eggs on. It’s better for breeding purposes than it is for the fish to swim through, though.

The leaves are so thick and the stems are, too. Your fish won’t be able to swim through these plants in the same way that they would Amazon sword or jungle val.

That doesn’t mean that this isn’t an excellent addition to the tank. It’s just likely that you’ll want to add some other plants to go alongside the anubias.

Dwarf Sagittaria

Dwarf sagittaria is a smaller plant that might not seem ideal at first. However, it makes sense to add plants to every part of the tank so that the fish can have a truly pleasing environment to explore.

You should be able to easily add these smaller plants to the front of the aquarium. Give these plants bright lights and they will become exceptional foreground plants.

It might be possible to get these plants to grow tall as well. They typically don’t get too tall, but some fish tank owners have been able to coax these plants to grow taller to reach for the light.

If the plants become taller, then they could serve as middleground plants. Otherwise, they’ll be great when utilized as foreground plants.

Water Lettuce

Water lettuce is fun to add to the fish tank. It isn’t crucial like some of the earlier plants that were discussed, but the fish will likely enjoy interacting with water lettuce.

These plants are going to be placed in the tank as floating plants. Your fish might wind up using them to hide, sort of like using blankets.

They can make fish feel very protected and safe. Also, the water lettuce looks really good floating in the tank.

All you need to do to keep water lettuce alive is provide the aquarium with light. You’ll also want to use a bit of liquid fertilizer so that the aquarium has enough nutrients.

It should also be said that these plants won’t do well with fast currents. So you won’t want to put them in tanks if the water is moving too fast.

Do Angelfish Need Live Plants?

You might be wondering if you have to use live plants in the fish tank. Would angelfish be okay if you didn’t add any live plants at all?

Technically, angelfish don’t need live plants in the tank to be able to live. They’ll be just fine without the plants, but they might not be as happy.

You want the angelfish to feel comfortable in the fish tank. This keeps them in good health, and it makes it more likely that they will maintain a colorful appearance.

Simply put, the angelfish will benefit substantially if you choose to place aquatic plants in the tank. It will give them places to hide, and they’ll be able to have an easier time breeding.

Plants also do a good job of keeping the tank clean. The plants will remove nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia from the water. The plants get rid of substances that are toxic to your fish. That’s reason enough to keep live plants in the tank.

You’ll also be doing a better job of making the fish feel as if they’re in a natural habitat. Without plants, it’s not going to feel natural at all.

Various types of plants will make your fish tank look a lot prettier. If you wish to create a fish tank that is fun to look at, then adding plants makes sense.

You could choose to add plastic plants, but the fish won’t like those as much. Many fake aquatic plants look nice, but they won’t be able to replicate the live plants.

Final Thoughts

After learning everything that you need to know about angelfish and plants, you should have a better understanding of what you need to do. While it isn’t necessary to add live plants to the aquarium, your fish are really going to like it if you do.

While you might occasionally find angelfish eating plants, they don’t do so under normal circumstances. If you add plants to the tank, then it’s likely that the fish will nibble on the plants a bit.

The fish won’t actually be consuming the plants, though. Under normal circumstances, fish won’t bother to try to eat the plants in the tank.

When an angelfish isn’t getting enough nutrients, it might turn to eating plants. If you’re doing a good job of feeding your fish daily, then you shouldn’t have to worry about that.

Remember to feed your fish once or twice per day. You want to give the angelfish as much food as it can finish in two or three minutes.

It’s not necessary to go overboard when feeding these fish so try to be careful not to give them too much at once. Also, you need to give the angelfish the right type of food so that its nutritional needs can be met.

This generally means giving the fish flakes and pellets that you buy from the pet store. Some fish owners will choose to feed fish live shrimp sometimes, too.

If you do your best to feed the fish well, then it won’t have a tough time getting enough nutrients. You’ll almost surely never see your fish eating the plants in the tank.

When you notice a fish nibbling a plant, it’s not necessary to be concerned. They just do that sometimes because they like to, but the fish isn’t actually going to eat the plant.

Enjoy your angelfish to the fullest. They’re fantastic fish when you do your best to care for them properly.

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