How Long Do Angelfish Live

How Long Do Angelfish Live? [the complete guide to keeping Angelfish]

Are you planning on buying an Angelfish for your fish tank but want to know how long it will live? Well look no further, the answer to your question is here!

There are many kinds of Angelfish including both fresh and saltwater. There are three species of freshwater Angelfish from South America while there are 86 species of saltwater Angelfish from across the globe! With proper care, Angelfish can live for many years! 

how long do angelfish live in a fish tank
How Long Do Angelfish Live in a Fish Tank?

Unfortunately, many saltwater Angelfish are not suited to the home aquarium because of their huge possible size! 

Keep reading to learn everything you want to know about the amazing Angelfish!

Types of Angelfish

Types of Angelfish
Types of Angelfish

Freshwater Angelfish

There are three species of freshwater Angelfish, and many color varieties as well. Here I’ll go over the differences between each one. 

  1. Pterophyllum altum (Altum Angelfish): These are the largest of the freshwater Angelfish and get up to 15 inches tall . These are the rarest of the freshwater angels and water quality must be pristine when keeping them. Their natural habitat is low in water hardness and very acidic so it is important to replicate these water conditions in your home aquarium. They also like it hot, between 78 and 84 degrees. 
  2. Pterophyllum leopoldi (Leopold’s Angelfish or dwarf Angelfish): The smallest freshwater Angelfish species, but also the most aggressive. These Angelfish only get 2 inches long, yet they can still get 6 inches tall! 
  3. Pterophyllum scalare (Freshwater Angelfish): The most common of all the Angelfish, these are also sized between P. altum and P. leopoldi. These are mainly from Peru and Colombia but can also be found in Brazil. Because these are the most commonly available, there are many color forms. These include:
    • Zebra Angelfish
    • Marble Angelfish
    • Koi Angelfish
    • Black veil Angelfish
    • Many others!   

Saltwater Angelfish

Saltwater Angelfish come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There 86 known species of marine Angelfish and many can be good pets for the home aquarium, but it is vitally important you look up the specific species of Angelfish to ensure proper care. 

Some marine Angelfish, such as the Gray Angelfish, are behemoths at two feet long and require home aquariums that are hundreds of gallons. 

Others, such as the Flame Pygmy Angelfish only get to 4 inches long and don’t need as big of an aquarium. 

Where are Angelfish From?

Where are Angelfish From
Where are Angelfish From?

Freshwater Rivers

The freshwater Angelfish are from the Amazon Basin and Orinoco Basin in South America. 

Pterophyllum leopoldi and Pterophyllum scalare both originate from Peru, Colombia, and Brazil in the Amazon River and surrounding drainage basins. 

Pterophyllum altum is mainly from the upper Rio Negro in southern Venezuela and the northern part of Brazil. 

Saltwater Oceans

Marine Angelfish are found all across the globe. Although they can be found in the Atlantic Ocean (especially the Caribbean Sea), they are mainly found in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. 

These marine Angelfish are generally found in shallow water and rarely are found more than 100 feet deep. However, a new species was recently found according to Reef Builders

Centropyge abei has been found nearly 500 feet below the surface of the ocean. Only a few have ever been photographed, and only one is currently for sale. 

If you want this ultra-rare fish, you’ll need to shell out nearly $40,000! Wow!

How to Care for Freshwater Angelfish

Caring for freshwater Angelfish is pretty easy. To ensure proper care, you should look up a full Angelfish care guide, it will help you set up a great natural-looking Angelfish aquarium! 

How to Care for Freshwater Angelfish
How to Care for Freshwater Angelfish?

Best Food for Angelfish

Flake foods

Flake foods are by and far the best way to feed your fish if you are looking for a convenient way to feed your fish. 

Most flake and pellet food is nutritionally complete and can be a supplement or the main course for your Angelfish.

Frozen foods

Frozen foods are the best option if you want most of the health benefits of live foods, and the convenience of flake/pellet foods. 

All you need to do is pop the frozen foods into your aquarium and the Angelfish will gobble it up! Frozen foods also allow you to provide a variety of foods you might not be able to with live foods.

Here’s a list of possible frozen foods for your Angelfish aquarium.

Life foods

Live foods are a sure-fire way to get breeding pairs of angels ready to breed. 

They also help enhance the color and activity of your Angelfish as well. In the wild in their natural habitat, Angelfish eat many things including small crustaceans, small insects, and even small fish. 

Just be careful your prized neon tetra doesn’t become accidental live food! Below is a list of some great live foods for freshwater Angelfish. 

  • Brine shrimp
  • Black worms
  • Flightless fruit flies
  • Grindal worms
  • Mosquito larvae

What Tank Size Do You Need for Angelfish?

Because of their body shape, Angelfish need tall tanks with plenty of swimming room. The minimum size you should use for an adult Angelfish should be a 55-gallon tank. 

minimum tank size for angelfish
Minimum Tank Size for Angelfish

Juvenile Angelfish can be housed in a 20-gallon tank or a 29-gallon community tank until they get a bit bigger. 

Remember, it is a myth that fish grow to the size of their tank and it is cruel to keep them in too small of a tank. That is a surefire way to make sure your Angelfish does not live as long as it could!

Water Requirements for Angelfish

Originally, Angelfish are from warm soft acidic waters of the Amazon Basin. That being said, most captive-bred and born fish are very adaptable and hardy fish. 

In general, your tank should be warm, around 76 degrees. Your water hardness should be below 15 degrees, and your nitrogen cycle should be completed. Most tap water is fine for Angelfish. 

If you are buying wild Angelfish, especially Altum Angelfish, you should make sure your water is soft because that is what they are used to and need to thrive. 

You may need to invest in an RO set up for them and your home aquarium. 

How To Care for Saltwater Angelfish

How Large of a Tank Do Saltwater Angelfish Need?

It all depends on the species. Unlike freshwater Angelfish, you can’t generalize marine Angelfish care requirements as they come from different parts all over the globe! 

These 86 different species all grow to be different sizes from a few inches to up to two feet! Because of this, you need to base your tank size on the exact species of marine Angelfish you wish to buy.

How To Feed Saltwater Angelfish

Most saltwater Angelfish can be fed with a variety of live food (including brine shrimp, just like freshwater Angelfish!), frozen foods, and flake/pellet foods. 

How To Feed Angelfish
How To Feed Angelfish

Any specialized pet shop will have adequate foods for your marine Angelfish to live a long and happy life. 

Frozen foods are typically the best mixture of convenience, price, and nutrition and so it is best to keep these foods handy.

Can You Have Coral with Angelfish?

In short: maybe. Unfortunately for aquarium keepers, most marine Angelfish are coral eaters and are not suitable for a reef home aquarium. 

Additionally, the species that are not coral eaters are specialized eaters that are difficult to feed for home hobbyists. 

Some hobbyists have had luck with keeping Angelfish such as Coral Beauties with coral, but results may vary. 

It is important to exercise caution with coral and Angelfish, you certainly don’t want your fish having your prized frag for dinner!

Where Do You Buy an Angelfish?

Pet Stores

Pet stores are by far the easiest and most convenient option for buying adult Angelfish and juvenile Angelfish. 

When looking for Angelfish in local pet shops, make sure to look for healthy fish with no signs of sickness. 

Online Pet Fish Sellers

Online pet fish sellers are easy to find. There are many breeders and wholesalers out there and all it might take is a google search. 

Online sellers may have some of the most beautiful varieties and species of Angelfish available. Below is a list to get you started on your search. 

The one negative thing about online sellers is shipping can be very expensive. Here is a short list of popular online fish sellers.

  • Aqua Bid
  • Dans fish
  • Get Gills
  • The Wet Spot
  • Aquaswap Subreddit
  • That Fish Place

Local breeders

For freshwater Angelfish, local breeders are your best bet. You can be sure that the juvenile Angelfish are taken care of properly and are ready for your home aquarium. 

It may be difficult to find local breeders but you can check Facebook groups or ask at your local pet store. Another possibility is to join your local aquarium club if you have one. 

The best part about local brewers is that the adult and juvenile Angelfish are already accustomed to the local water conditions, so they will likely thrive in your home aquarium. 

How to Make a Community Angelfish Tank

Angelfish Tank Mates

First off, if you want to have a marine Angelfish aquarium it is a good idea to do extensive research about their tank mates. 

Marine Angelfish can be more temperamental and very difficult as they are aggressive fish. Freshwater Angelfish, on the other hand, is a little easier. 

The main thing you need to take into consideration is that Angelfish will get quite large and are predators by nature. 

If a fish can fit in their mouths they will eat it! Smaller fish (like a neon tetra) is not a good idea. You also need to make sure the tank mates also like warm water without much hardness. 

Below is a list of possible tank mates for an Angelfish aquarium that will give you the best results and a natural look.  

  • Cardinal tetras
  • Corydoras
  • Bristlenose pleco
  • Zebra danio
  • Lemon tetras
  • Zebra loaches
  • Keyhole cichlids
  • Kuhli loaches
  • Aquarium snails
  • Siamese algae eater

Best Live Plants for an Angelfish Aquarium

Live plants are great for Angelfish aquariums as they can keep the Angelfish aquarium look more like their natural habitat of the amazon river. 

Best Live Plants for an Angelfish
Best Live Plants for an Angelfish

Live plants also help maintain proper aquarium conditions by reducing nitrates and ammonia. 

Below is a list of easy live plants for you to add to your freshwater aquarium to give it a natural look!

  • Amazon sword
  • Duckweed
  • Salvinia minima
  • Amazon frogbit
  • Java fern
  • Lucky bamboo
  • Super red Ludwigia
  • Green Cryptocoryne
  • Anacharis

Angelfish Lifespan

The lifespan of an Angelfish may vary depending on its species, tank conditions, and other factors. 

In general, you can expect freshwater angels to live up to 8-12 years if kept in good water conditions. 

Angelfish do best in warm soft water in large tanks. Plants can help keep freshwater Angelfish alive for longer as they reduce nitrates and other pollutants in the water. 

The lifespan of saltwater Angelfish is much more variable. Depending on the species, your saltwater Angelfish may live for 5-15 years 

Related Angelfish Questions

What are the World’s Largest Angelfish?

According to Seriously Fish the biggest freshwater Angelfish is the Altum Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum) which is found in Columbia and Venezuela in the Rio Negro. 

Adult Altum Angelfish can grow up to 20 inches tall! For marine Angelfish, the Gray Angelfish is the largest which can be four pounds and two feet long! 

Do Angelfish Get Ich?

Unfortunately, they do. Freshwater Angelfish specifically are very prone to ich, a parasite infection. 

Be sure to keep your Angelfish in clean water and quarantine them when you first bring them home to prevent an ich outbreak. 

If your Angelfish develops ich, make sure to treat it as soon as possible. 

Are Angelfish Cichlids?

Yes! Freshwater Angelfish are in the same family (Cichlidae) as other cichlids from across the world, even African cichlids are in the same family. 

However, just because two fish are related to each other does not mean you should keep them together. 

You have to take water parameters and compatibility into consideration. Marine Angelfish are not cichlids.


How old your Angelfish will live to be is a complicated question with many answers. 

In general, if you have a freshwater Angelfish and you keep it in the right conditions it can live for up to 12 years! 

Saltwater Angelfish on the other hand may live for a few more years, up to 25. Saltwater Angelfish lifespan depends more on the species. 

Remember to always research the fish that you are buying so that it will live a long and happy life!

How Long Do Angelfish Live

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