Angelfish are very common sights in aquariums around the world. The popularity of these fish grows all the time due to how nice they look.
Generally, they’re not hard to care for, and this makes them appealing to beginners. If you’re starting out as an aquarium enthusiast, then buying some angelfish for one of your tanks will be a sensible choice.
You can also breed these fish, and it’ll allow you to get more angelfish. Breeding angelfish isn’t too tough, but there are a lot of things that you need to know if you want to find success.
If you’re trying to breed the fish, then you might notice that the parent fish will sometimes eat their eggs. This seems like a very strange thing for a fish to do.
Why would an angelfish choose to eat its eggs? Is there some practical purpose that isn’t immediately apparent?
Continue reading to learn more about angelfish and why they might sometimes consume their eggs. There’s a lot to discuss, but you’ll feel quite knowledgeable about the subject once you’ve read all of the information.
There Are Various Reasons Why Angelfish Eat Their Eggs
The first thing to know is that there are various reasons why angelfish do this. It might not always be easy to determine the specific reason why angelfish are choosing to eat their eggs.
You should also know that sometimes angelfish will choose to eat their fry after they have hatched as well. This is a bit of a weird situation due to the fact that angelfish are considered to be very protective parents.
When a pair of angelfish are protecting eggs, they will guard them very closely. They keep the eggs clean and protect them from other fish.
When the fry hatch, it’s common for angelfish parents to continue to protect the fry until the stage where the fins are formed. This is quite a long time, and it just goes to show how dedicated angelfish are as parents.
So why would they choose to eat the eggs and the fry? If angelfish are such dedicated protectors, wouldn’t this go against what they’re supposed to be doing?
It would indeed, but there are reasons why this happens. Once you understand the reasons, this whole angelfish cannibalism issue starts to make a little more sense, and it’s easier to determine how to stop them from eating their own eggs.
1 – It Might Be an Overreaction to External Stimuli
There are a lot of theories out there about why angelfish eat their own eggs and fry. Researchers have done a few studies to try to figure things out, and there is some data to consider.
Certain studies have talked about the possibility that angelfish might be overreacting to external stimuli. This means that things are occurring outside of the tank that makes them feel nervous or agitated.
The fish cannot control this overreaction, and they wind up panicking and choosing to eat their eggs. Sometimes this even causes the angelfish to eat the fry that have been hatched.
So what does “too much external stimulation” mean in this case? It could be many things.
It isn’t going to be good for angelfish to get stressed. Different things that occur near the tank can cause great stress to the fish.
For example, people coming up to the fish tank and tapping on the glass will be very bad. This can cause the fish to get scared, and you’ll see the fish become stressed if you do this a lot.
You might have kids, and kids often go up to fish tanks and tap on the glass to try to get the attention of the fish. It’s important to teach your kids not to do this for the sake of the fish.
Pets can also scare fish by making loud noises near the tank or by pawing at the glass. Cats might take an interest in the fish and will try to figure out how to get inside of the tank even if it’s to no avail.
Loud noises are going to be very stressful as well. If your fish tank is too close to your stereo system or the television, then you could be bothering the fish.
External stimulation can make the fish get so stressed that they will make bad decisions. The fish might choose to eat their eggs or fry even though there is no reason to do so.
To try to keep this from happening, it’s going to be best to be careful not to bother the fish. Place the fish tank in a safe and quiet spot where you will still be able to enjoy observing the fish.
Ensure that other pets such as cats and dogs stay away from the fish tank. Also, try to give the fish a proper day and night cycle where there will be less light at night.
2 – Lack of Light Might Cause the Angelfish to Panic
This will sound weird since you just heard that fish need a normal day and night cycle. This is true, but angelfish might also panic if they can’t see what they’re doing while protecting their eggs.
When you’re trying to give the fish a day and night cycle, this doesn’t mean that you need to keep the fish in complete darkness. You simply shouldn’t have bright lights on near the tank during the night.
It’s likely going to be a good idea to keep some sort of “night light” pointed at the area where the angelfish are protecting their eggs. Doing this will help to keep the angelfish at ease.
There have been occasions where angelfish enthusiasts have seen the fish panic during the night when it’s too dark. It’s as if the fish are worrying that they won’t be able to protect the eggs, and this causes them to decide to eat the eggs instead.
3 – Getting Rid of Damaged Eggs
Sometimes there will be practical reasons to get rid of eggs. Angelfish might choose to eat certain eggs because they’re damaged in some way.
The angelfish can tell if the eggs are no longer viable. It won’t always be the case that all of the eggs will be bad.
You might see the fish picking and choosing certain eggs to eat. This is likely because the eggs have been compromised and they know that they won’t be able to hatch.
In this regard, eating the eggs is a perfectly acceptable and normal thing for the angelfish to do. They won’t need to spend time caring for the eggs that won’t make it and can then focus on the remaining eggs.
4 – Eating Some Eggs to Better Supply Remaining Eggs with Oxygen
There could also be a situation where the angelfish has too many eggs. If the female laid many eggs, then they might wind up feeling as if it’ll be too hard to supply them all with oxygen.
The angelfish might choose to eat some of the eggs to make it easier to give oxygen to the rest of the eggs. This is a tough decision, but it could be one that is being made with the survival of the most possible eggs in mind.
Angelfish usually have good instincts when they do things such as this. This is another good reason for the angelfish to eat the eggs.
Of course, it isn’t always easy to tell if the angelfish are eating the eggs for good reasons or not. You might just need to hope that the angelfish are doing what they need to do for the good of the eggs.
5 – Defensively Eating the Eggs
If your angelfish are spawning in a community tank with many other fish, then it’s possible that they might feel threatened. The other fish in the tank might try to eat the eggs.
Generally, the parents will do a good job of chasing away potential threats. They will protect the eggs with all of their might so that they can hatch.
However, there could be situations where the male angelfish doesn’t do as good of a job as it should. Or it could be that there are too many other fish for the angelfish to chase off.
There are many reasons why angelfish might panic and choose to eat the eggs. If they feel very threatened and don’t think that they will be able to continue to protect the eggs, then they might choose to eat them instead.
It’s unfortunate, but this does indeed occur. It might be easier for the angelfish to feel at ease if you place them in a breeding tank that is away from other fish.
Angelfish can still get stressed when they’re in a tank by themselves, though. You’ll still need to do your best to avoid stressing the fish so that they won’t eat all of the eggs.
6 – The Angelfish Need Energy
One reason why angelfish might eat their eggs or fry has to do with needing energy. This means that angelfish might need to eat the eggs just to be able to survive.
Essentially, this is compensation for a lack of food and energy. If the angelfish aren’t getting fed enough, then they might feel the need to eat the eggs.
This is an extremely unfortunate circumstance that should be able to be avoided. So long as you’re feeding the angelfish the recommended amount of food each day, it’s unlikely that the angelfish will need to eat their eggs to keep going.
If you’re not sure how much you should be feeding angelfish, then you’ll be happy to hear that it’s simple. You just want to give the angelfish as much food as they can finish in two or three minutes.
It’s recommended that you feed angelfish twice per day. Try to feed them at the same time each day so that it’s easy to remember.
Feeding angelfish is generally simple, but you might want to mix up what you feed the fish sometimes. Many enthusiasts say that giving the angelfish flakes and shrimp pellets will be a good idea.
You can change out which one you’re feeding the fish so that they don’t get bored. Some people also choose to feed angelfish special worms, frozen shrimp, and other such things.
It is possible to seek out advice from a professional about the ideal angelfish diet. Sometimes workers at the aquarium store will have a lot of information that they can pass down to you, too.
7 – Environmental Issues
Have you considered whether environmental issues could be the problem? It’s possible that you might have something wrong with the tank that is causing the fish to become stressed.
Stress was discussed quite a bit earlier, but you learned more about external factors that caused the stress. Sometimes problems with the tank itself will stress the fish.
There are a few examples that you should try to remember. Firstly, you might have issues with the water parameters that will make it tough for the fish to do what they need to do.
To keep the most common type of angelfish healthy, it’s recommended to have the water maintain a pH balance between 6.8 and 7.8. You also want the water temperature to be between 76 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the purpose of hatching angelfish eggs, it’s likely a good idea to try to keep the water temperature at a consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or so. If the water parameters are not right, then the fish might not be doing well.
Stressed fish will make poor choices, and this could be why the eggs are being devoured by the parents. It’s also possible that the angelfish won’t be healthy if the water parameters are way off.
Aside from water parameters, you need to give angelfish enough space. Angelfish won’t like living in tanks that are far too cramped.
As a general rule, you should be keeping angelfish in tanks that give each angelfish at least ten gallons of space. Ideally, you’d be keeping a pair of angelfish in a much larger tank than that.
The more space you give angelfish the happier they will be. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep two angelfish in a 55-gallon tank, assuming that you have enough space.
When the space is too cramped, the stressed angelfish might eat the eggs instead of protecting them. This is problematic, but it’s something that you can avoid by just putting the fish in a tank that is large enough.
8 – It Could Be the First Time That a Pair Has Spawned
It’s a bit weird to say, but angelfish get better at parenting as they gain experience. Angelfish that form pairs will likely not do that great if it’s their first time spawning.
This isn’t always the case, but the pair will usually lack the experience to know what to do. Sometimes the male angelfish might not be as good at protecting the eggs when it’s young.
As the pair gains experience, you’ll be able to see them do a much better job. So you might need to temper your expectations when a new breeding pair are spawning for the first time.
Eventually, the pair will likely be much more successful. The first two or three times might wind up being mostly about gaining experience.
You Could Take Care of the Eggs Yourself
Taking care of the eggs yourself is an option if you want to be sure that the angelfish won’t eat the eggs. You can wait until the breeding pair has laid the eggs and fertilized them before removing the parents.
Removing the parents won’t be hard, and you can place them back in the main tank. Simply take care of the eggs and do what is necessary so that they will hatch.
You’ll need to give the eggs oxygen, keep them clean, and protect them. This can be quite complicated, but you should be able to do what is necessary if you have the proper experience.
Since many people are approaching this topic as beginners, it’s recommended not to try to take care of the eggs yourself. While it’s true that the eggs will be safe from being eaten by the parents, it’s also true that it’s easy to make mistakes as a human trying to care for angelfish eggs.
When you know what you’re doing, it’s not going to be that bad. As a novice, you might feel a bit intimidated.
It should be noted that it’s not easy to move angelfish eggs either. They can be moved, but many enthusiasts describe trying to move angelfish eggs as “nearly impossible.”
This won’t be the case if the eggs are laid on a spawning pad. You can place spawning pads in the breeding tank and hope that the angelfish chooses the pads as the spot to lay the eggs.
You’ll just likely have an easier time putting the angelfish back in the main tank. Depending on how much experience you have with fish, you might want to simply allow the parent fish to care for the eggs.
What If the Eggs Turn White?
What happens if the angelfish eggs turn white? This isn’t the normal color that you expect to see when looking at angelfish eggs.
Normal, healthy angelfish eggs will have a translucent amber color to them. They might also look a bit brown.
Other colors should be seen as signs that something is wrong. If the eggs are white, then this means that they aren’t viable.
Angelfish eggs turn white when they have been exposed to too much bacteria. Generally, the parent fish will keep the eggs clean so that fungal issues won’t occur.
Sometimes problems do pop up, though, and it’ll make it so that the eggs won’t be viable. It’s worth noting that this will never happen to fertilized eggs.
If the eggs are turning white, then this means that the male never fertilized them. Why wouldn’t the male fertilize the eggs?
Well, male angelfish might get distracted if there are too many stress factors in the tank. It’s also sometimes the case that young and inexperienced angelfish might not do what they’re supposed to do.
White angelfish eggs can be discarded since they don’t need to remain in the tank. You can feel free to scoop the eggs out and get rid of them.
It’s also possible that the angelfish will simply eat the eggs. It’s not harmful to the angelfish to eat white eggs, so you don’t need to worry about hurrying to remove the eggs if the angelfish are already trying to eat them.
Learning about why angelfish will sometimes eat their eggs should help you to better understand what is happening. You now know that there are a variety of different reasons why angelfish will eat eggs.
Angelfish sometimes eat their fry, too, and this occurs for mostly the same reasons. It’s frustrating to see the angelfish eat the eggs when you just want the eggs to hatch so that you can have more angelfish.
Some people choose to take care of the eggs themselves to avoid the possibility that the fish will devour the eggs. This is a viable choice, but you will need to properly care for the eggs.
Caring for angelfish eggs can be a bit tougher than many people will be prepared for. If you’re a newcomer to breeding fish, then it might be wise to just allow the parent fish to care for the eggs.
You can try to mitigate the factors that cause the angelfish to want to eat their own eggs. For example, you can do your best to ensure that you aren’t making the fish stressed.
Be sure that you don’t keep the fish tank in an area that is too noisy. Even a lot of foot traffic can bother the fish and make them feel threatened.
Don’t keep the area too dark at night because the parent fish need to be able to see. It’s wise to have some type of light shining on the area where the parents are protecting the eggs.
Hopefully, the steps that you take will help the angelfish to stay calm so that the eggs will survive. There are practical reasons why angelfish eat eggs to consider, but there won’t be anything that you can do about that.
All you can do is continue to take care of the fish the right way. Give the angelfish enough food and be sure to keep them in a breeding tank away from other fish that might harm the eggs.
If you do all of this, then you’ll have the best chance of success. You should be able to see the eggs hatch, and you’ll have more angelfish once the fry mature.
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.