Can angelfish live alone?

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Byron Amazonas

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Yes and no. Angelfish are shoaling fish, meaning that they naturally live in smallish groups. They develop a social hierarchy within the group. A sole fish will thus be deprived of what nature intended, but too many aquarists have maintained healthy sole angelfish to say it is not possible. The worse case is having 2, 3 or even 4 angelfish (except for a mated pair which is a very different thing), as in these cases there is every liklihood that one of the fish will bully one or more of the others.

The other community fish are very important too. Active fish can unsettle the sedate angelfish. Obviously, community fish must not be any of the species likely to nip fins. And they must be large enough not to be considered food by the angelfish. A mature angelfish can easily eat a mature neon tetra for example; I've seen it, and my angelfish was no where near full size either.

This seems a good opportunity to post a video I came across some time back, showing a group (around 11, I believe) of wild-caught angelfish in a very ideal captive environment. You will observe the very sedate behaviour of these fish; they do not swim around much, they remain together and quiet. Their hierarchy is plainly evident, as practically each fish takes a little "poke" at a more passive fish within the group, but never leading to any physical contact. This is how they behave in the wild, and how they behave in a realistic aquarium habitat. The only other fish are corydoras which are not going to pose any issues for the angels or vice-versa. This is truly observing a bit of nature in an aquarium.

Byron.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gXVgWLbZ-g
 
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tonytheboss1

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Agree w/ above. By nature they are shoaling fish so a group of 5 or 6 would be ideal. If you choose to go w/ a single angel be sure the other community choices are compatible.
 

spencerguy1

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Yes. Make sure you have no nipping fish, though. For obvious reasons. And I would add the angel last so it doesn't establish territory before you add the other fish. You should always add large/aggressive/territorial fish last. Good luck.
 

Star_Rider

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word of caution with angels in shoals.
this seems to work best on large tanks 75g + with 5 angles.. keeping a close eye on them as they mature.
angels are prone to pairing up and the aggression level rises to a level where angels in the tank can be in danger.. you may need to do some moving of the fish in smaller tanks as a pair will take over a large portion of the tank.(they are often better off moved from the tank)
but if you can establish a shoal of angels it is pretty impressive to watch them.
btw, the only angels I have had success with doing this has been P. Altum.
I seem to always find the odd overly aggressive P .Scalare.
 

tanker

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I agree with with all the above suggestions. I have 4 large angles in my tank, and they are OK. I have tried to add more without success (the Alpha male attacks any "new" angel). And like they all mention, you will need a large tank.
 

Byron Amazonas

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word of caution with angels in shoals.
this seems to work best on large tanks 75g + with 5 angles.. keeping a close eye on them as they mature.
angels are prone to pairing up and the aggression level rises to a level where angels in the tank can be in danger.. you may need to do some moving of the fish in smaller tanks as a pair will take over a large portion of the tank.(they are often better off moved from the tank)
but if you can establish a shoal of angels it is pretty impressive to watch them.
btw, the only angels I have had success with doing this has been P. Altum.
I seem to always find the odd overly aggressive P .Scalare.
Ed, your observation on the difference between species is rather interesting. Pterophyllum scalare are of course commercially raised, although one can obtain wild caught fish from importers. P. altum is wild caught, unless one buys direct from a breeder. I would wonder if the aggressive tendancy of P. scalare is yet another example of what occurs with generations of inbreeding? Several long-established species of commercially-bred fish are showing signs of various issues from aggression to poor immune systems to considerably shorter life-spans, and biologists don't doubt this is likely due to the isolation of the gene pool. Food for thought. B.
 
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