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Angelfish Fry

How long can angelfish fry be left with adult angelfish?

By Lee Newman |

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Q. I’ve had experience with spawning my freshwater angelfish recently but have always removed the fry shortly after they became free-swimming. I was wondering how long the fry could stay with the adults if I leave them together.
Barb Smythe
Seattle, Washington

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angelfish fry
Angelfish fry by Tony Terceria.

juvenile angelfish
Two-week-old angelfish by Tony Terceira.

A. The length of time you can leave free-swimming angelfish (Pterophyllum) fry with their parents depends on a number of things. However, because you are removing them after they have become free-swimming indicates that the parents are not given to eating their own offspring, as is somewhat common in freshwater angelfish – at least the domesticated varieties.

First, freshwater angelfish tend to produce a lot of fry each time they spawn, so when the fry become mobile, they take up a lot of space in the aquarium as they spread out looking for food. Unfortunately, if there are other tropical fish in the aquarium, any of the fry that wander away from the watchful gaze of their parents will likely be eaten. Many species of aquarium fish find fry to be an almost irresistible addition to the menu. To limit the losses of the fry, remove any other tropical fish housed in the aquarium.

Another predator to your freshwater angelfish fry could be your filtration system. Power filters are notorious for sucking up fry that venture too close to the intake tube. However, there’s an easy solution to that problem. You can “muzzle” your filter by simply wrapping the intake tube (and factory-supplied screen) with a piece of foam – in fact, an old filter insert would work very well for that. Keep the foam in place until the fry are no longer small enough to get through the factory-supplied screen on the end of the intake tube.

If there’s no predatory threat to your freshwater angelfish fry, and they have regular access to appropriate food, you should be able to leave the fry with the pair for at least three weeks. The longer you leave the fry with the pair, the more it will delay the onset of another reproductive cycle. Eventually the parents will tire of their fry, but by then you will have had to thin out the population unless you’ve spawned them in a very large aquarium. Be careful. It is easy to inadvertently overstock an aquarium by leaving in the offspring of a successful spawning. Once the fry look like little freshwater angelfish, it is probably time to move them and give the adult pair a break. Good luck!

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Reader Comments

Katie    Watertown, NY

12/9/2014 3:25:33 PM

Hello, may Angelfish had babies & they are doing well, swimming on their own. I will need to move them soon I imagine. All I have is 2 adult angelfish in a 10 gal tank & there's tons of babies now! My question is: every single time I turn my aquarium light on the parents eat the babies. Actually the first time they laid eggs the parents would do the same thing, but if I flipped the light back off quickly they would spit the babies out back into the spot they wanted them (stuck to the lighthouse décor, each in their own gooey sack). But, one day my son left the light on by mistake and they were gone when I got home. So, I learned to keep it off this time but still... the second I flip the light on, in goes one in their mouth, I turn it off, presto, no eating. Why is this? I've never done this before so I will do more Google-ing but I would like to turn my light on at some point and I am hoping some of the babies survive.

Linda    Rainier, OR

12/5/2014 4:12:54 PM

Will Angelfish fertilize more than one females spawn if there are more females delivering than males available?

Kevin    Gainesville, VA

6/3/2014 1:48:07 PM

How often do you suggest feeding the angelfish fry/juveniles?

Also, how often do you recommend conducting partial water changes, while rearing the fry?

Thanks for the informative article,

Helen    International

2/13/2014 12:31:57 PM

My pair have spawned 5 times now. The 3rd time i decided to move the parents and the wigglers to a bigger tank to stay by themselves. I placed the whole plant with the wigglers plus the parents in a bucket with some floating plants on top but during the move the male took the wigglers in his mouth and in the bigger tank he carefully placed them on top of a stone...Then they moved them to a big leaf but it was maybe too much current around the leaf which was swaying a bit so they moved them again to calmer corner on top of another leaf. When the free swimmers were about a week old the parents spawned again...while i was at work. I came home to find a leaf full with new eggs and half of the free swimmers gone, prolly eaten by the protect the eggs? After that night they ate all the eggs. Now i had 25 one week old free swimmers...When the fry was 2 weeks old the parents spawned AGAIN...but that time i removed the eggs. Now they are together with their fry, let´s see what happens next...I wonder what is best to do if they keep spawning, to move them back to the old tank to let the fry grow up to at least dime size before putting back the parents again? i have no tank to move the fry to as my other tank does have other fish in it.

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