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Angel Fish Breeding

  • ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture
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tr..\.] Iohanta and S.Sub ramanian*
f\rnamental fish larming is one of
LJtr,. fastest growing fields ol'
,,, , -rculture. The world ornamental
:;Je has already been touched over 5
:;.li.rn US dollar. Although there is a
::.Jdv growth of this trade at the rate
:' ',0 Vc per annum, the contribution of
: -: country towards world's export
-.r.ket is very negligible. There is a
:::nendous scope fbr expansion of this
::Jc' in our country due to both do-
:.:stic and export market. Again, the
: .rniry is also blessed with many wild
'.::ieties of fresh and marine water
nemental fishes in its vast natural
'i.tter resources of both forms i.e. fresh
,:,1 seawater. Until now most of the
:Juarium pet shops in our country are
r:rporting the ornamental fish and other
:quarium accessories from other coun-
tric-s like Singapore, Hongkong, China,
Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Ja-
pan to meet the local demand. One of
the major hindrances faced in our coun-
irv for expansion of this potential trade
is the lack of knowledge regarding the
hreeding techniques among aquarium
fish growers. There is lot of e-business
going on in this area to suPPlY the
quality proven brooders, young adults
and even young ones of different vari-
eties of these beautiful coloured living
jewels throughout the world. Most of
the commercial suppliers are keeping
their successful breeding techniques
as trade secret and earning lot of money
.1:jl1ri1,i.S"ff..q3?..i{fi.l :l1f1i:: 1r;l',1p:1::;;
by doing a sort of monopoly. Even the
standard books/references in ornamen-
tal fish breeding are not available in our
country for the beginners to start with
the breeding programmes in a smaller
scale. This paper discusses the general
biology and basic breeding techniques
of angel fish, Pterophyllum scalare, a
very common household ornamental
lish oi hobhyist's choice.
The first specin-ren of angel fish was
described by Liechtenstein in 1823,
which he named Zeus scalaris. It was
collected in Brazil and deposited in the
Berlin museum. In 1840, Heckel col-
lected other angel fish specimens but
he called tl.rem Pterophyllum scalare'
The genus Ptreophyllum is derived
forrn Greek u'ord for "* in-sed leaves or
fin like leaves" u'hich seems to rightly
or aptly described to the broad long fin
of the flsh. The species name "scalare"
refers to the dorsal fin, which looks like
a "flight of stairs". It is a Latin word
that can also means "ladder".
Angelfish are Cichlids belonging to
the genus Pterophyllurn. South
America is the place of origin for Angel
fish. They are generally found in the
still or slow moving streams and river
tributaries of the Amazon and Guyana
rivers. They prefer the place infested
with heavily grown aquatic weed or
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algae. Sometimes they are also lound in
extensive flooded area with rocky sur-
roundings. Angelfish body is laterally
compressed. It has a flat, upright, disc-
like body with long dorsal and anal
fins, long pectoral fins and widely
splayed tail. Usually three numbers of
vertical bands found on body and flns
with thinner and paler bars in between
them. The fish has two feelers in front
of the anal fin. The tail is verticaliy
oriented and may be from scoop shovel
shape to long and relatively narrow
depending variety. The fully grown
healthy specimen has a majestic and
appealing appearance rvhich justifies
its name as angel fish, i.e.. angel among
the ornamental fish. Its bodv features
are such that it can move throu-sh its
habitat rvith ease. It manages good
escape from its predator or foe due to
its bodl' colour, which is generallY
matches *'ith their natural living habi-
tat. There are over fifty recognized
an-qelfish varieties and more are being
discovered till recently from the rivers
of South America. The commercially
available varieties of angelfish are l)
silver angel, 2) silver veil tail angel, 3)
black angel, 4) black veil tail angle. 5)
black lace angel, 6) ghost an-sel. 7)
diamond angel, 8) white angel. 9) mar-
ble angel (2 types), l0) blushing angei.
I l) zebra angel, I 3) zebra lace angel 1 :
golden marble angel, l5) koie angel, l6)
smokey angel, I 7) half black angel, I 8)
blusher, 19) sunset blusher, 20) German
hlue blusher, 2l) pandas,22) albino
an_eel, 23) pearl angel (2 types) and
rrany others recorded varieties.
Size : Generally it can grow up to 5-6
rnch long. The top and bottom fins
spanning a greater distance in veil tail
r arieties.
Life span : Angel fish can live over l0
rears with the provision of nutrition-
=llv balanced feed, ideal optimum water
quality and maintenance of better sani-
lan' and hygiene. But generally it ca4
survive 5-6 years. "nti:ffi
l[ater quality preference : Fishp
rhe rvater temperature ; 24-26 oO;lfltii,ts'''
6.,i-6.9, dissolved oxy-qep,: 5r6'pm and ..
hardness (mg CaCO3/l) : arouhd:100 .
ppm lor better growth and survival.
Charactersics of angelfish : a) Com-
patible fish'land very much suithble,for
.-ommunity tank, ,b)r v.eiy",hardy and
sturdy fish and easier tii'acclimatize in'
rhe new water envii'o ment, c) swim all
Ievels of aquarium and therefore occu-
pies any Icvels of the tank, d) omnivo-
rous fish which can take wide variety of
food, e) becomes tame very quickly
u.ith the aquarium fish keepers and f)
available across the globe particularly
all tropical countries.
Identification of sex :
Selection ofa breeding pair is the first
step in the spawning of angel fish. Know-
in-s the sex is very difficult and it is
r-irtually impossible for the beginners to
identiff the male and female in the young
suge. During breeding season some of
the characters found in the body features
are described below. But by following
these identifying characters also, it is
very difficult to know the male and fe-
male. It requires lots of experience and
expertise to segregate the male and fe-
male for breeding purpose .
Character MaIe
Abdomen Flat
Female then kept in a separate tank of approxi-
Swollen mately 100 litre size. They are condi-
Rounded tioned in the breeding tank and are
Larger supplemented with high protein bal-
Vent Pointed
The -eroup pairing method is recom- anced diet. Optimum water quality and
mended for getting the breeding pair better hygiene are to be maintained in
rather than purchasing the proven the tank. The water quality required for
broodersfromthecommercialbrooders. the successful breeding of angelfish
Purchasing commercial brooders is not are: Watertemperature :25-26oC, pH
only costly but also the brooders pur- : 6.5 t0 6.9 (slightly acidic), Hardness
chased from market sometimes may not (mg CaCO.fl): 75-100 ppm, Dissolved
acclimatize or spawn when it is trans- oxgen (DOr) : oVer 5 ppm, Free Ammo-
frffili{o.;a'totally new en'ironment nia(Nl{fi 0:iffi; Nitrite Nitro-
(aquarium/rankof thehobbyistl.There- gen (NO.-): < 0.01 ppm. The lemale
foii, it is suggested that to obtain at prefers to lay eggs on the spawning
leas1,gn1 br3eding pair, six or more site. If spawningsites are not available
h"3}u!.-!..}j.?u.r, tive fish,gS$ about 4-5 then it can dwelop:a habit of laying
,tn$.[.$ftffi"or-!e..ryqarr'...: purchased eggs on the walls and aeration tubing.
ffom''aiepuffi pet shop or dealers. This,is,to be discourag y providing
Under favourable conditions the angel- plastic plants around the spawning
fish reach the breeding size within a year : site, Some breeders uied pots, poly-
o. so 1s*t bne p"ir ir Ud'F-giiii-d'd, i"gt pt..i, slate rectangles.
laigest"fry w"fiieh are_likely tq be t!-re,!j1,ii,tion in the wall of the tank. Eggs are
males, lwo smatlgrif.y'ilt ic1r are tit<ety generally sticky in nature. The pair first
to be fematqq='and-:then tvldiliii' um .. s6liiets the spawning site and thor-
sized fry at rahdo$,are Io be choosed oughly cleaned the site before the
froin the whole lot fry. This method is spawning takes place. The large healthy
especially useful when selecting the female lays up to 1,000 eggs in 2 hours
breeding stock from a group of but the general average fecundity is
angelfishes that are 5 months of ages 400-500 eggs. The female lays her eggs
or older. in a line on the substratum and then
When two angelfish start pairing, it male deposits its sperms over it and
is generally seen that they protect a fertilizes the eggs.
certain area in the aquarium: Young The breeding stimulation is enhanced
male as well as female often spread by raising the water slowly and also
their fins and gills while dancing in a doingpartialwaterexchangeinbrceding
half circle in front of their mate. An- tank(about25Voof total watervolume).
other sign of commencement of breed- Unfertilized eggs become white within
ing and pairing is that the male angel- 24- 48 hours of egg laying. The parents
fish will dart at fish other than its mate particularly female continuously fan the
in order to establish a territory. eggs by its pectoral fin. The fanning
After getting the pair, the male and serves two purposes, viz., firstly, it clean
female brooders are to be immediately the eggs and does not allow the external
removed from the community tank and pathogens like fungi or protozoan5 lo )
trow over the eggs and secondly, it
supply sufficient oxygen to the eggs by
means of fanning.
It is better to remove the fertilized
:ggs and kept in a separate hatching
tank for better hatching. The eggs
ec'nerally hatched afteri2 days. Some-
times the eggs and the freshly hatched
\oung ones are susceptible to external
If they are attacked by pathogens
the safer fungicide like acriflavin, mala-
chite -ereen, copper sulphate, potas-
sium permanganate and formalin are to
be used with the proper dosages. After
hatching the fry are sticked together to
lhe substraturn for about l-2 days be-
tore becoming free swimming. They
attained the free swimming stage after
3-5 days. The lry do not require any
f-eed up to the tiee swirnn.ring stage and
once it attained the lree swimming
stage thc fry should be supplcmented
rvith live feed Iike brine shrimp, daphnia,
moina. blood rvorm. tubilex worm, rotifer
and infusoria etc for at least 2 weeks.
The required feed can be given in split
dosages 5-6 times daily.
They may be fed with commercially
available freeze dried food such as
spirulina, blood worrn, tubifex worm in
the form of powder initially and gran-
ules and pelleted feeds subsequently
as they grow in to bigger size. The fry
rearing tank should be thoroughly
cleaned twice daily in order to remove
the unconsumed excess feed and ex-
creta of fishes. During siphoning the
excess feed care must be taken not to
vacuum up the fry.
Generally it takes 2.5 to 3.0 monrhs
for the liy to become the size of a
quarter. Although the lif'e span of the
fish is recorded up to 10 years the ilsh
fertility of the male and female remain up
to 3-4 years. After that the quality of
eggs and milt are not good enough to
produce the healthy young ones. As
mentioned earlier, the topics discussed
here may consider as a base literature for
the aquarium fish lovers/raiser for breed-
ing angelfish, Pterophyllum scalare.
*ICAR Researclt Contplex, Ela, Old
Goa, Goa, 403 102.
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