Are Angelfish Aggressive

Are Angelfish Aggressive? How to Reduce Their Aggression

Are angelfish aggressive? 

I assume you are looking to add a new fish to your community fish aquarium. And you’ve got an eye on one particular fish.

The angelfish! 

Angelfish has always been, and will always be, one of my favorite freshwater fish. Throughout my fishkeeping journey, I’ve kept angelfish on many occasions. 

I can’t say that it was all a bed of roses. But I can’t complain, either. 

I’ve kept different kinds of angelfish. All with different characters. 

One of the many things angelfish are known for is that they are aggressive. But are they really? 

In this article, we’ll answer that question once for all. In addition, we’ll talk about what you need to do if you angelfish show signs of aggression. But first, let’s answer the question. 

Are angelfish aggressive? Angelfish are semi-aggressive fish which makes them a good, but not great community fish. However, like any other cichlids, they can get quite aggressive towards fish from on its kind. 

Why is my angelfish aggressive? 

If you are first time owner of angelfish, you’ve might be surprised by how aggressive these fish can be. 

I wouldn’t call that aggressive, but for a beginner aquarist, it sure looks like it. 

If you’ve never kept cichlids, you are probably not used to this behavior. But, it’s pretty normal actually. 

Angelfish, being a cichlid, is no exception to the rule. In my experience, these are the most common reasons why are angelfish so aggressive. 

Angelfish are territorial fish by nature. I can’t count how many times I’ve witnessed my angelfish chasing each other in the tank. They do that to establish a hierarchy in the tank. 

Angelfish can show aggression towards smaller fish, and quite often eating them. One of the main reasons is insufficient diet. Make sure you always keep your fish well-fed to avoid such scenarios in the near future. 

Angelfish almost always show signs of aggression when they form pairs and start breeding. It’s kind of the worst type of aggression. It’s the time of the month when one pair holds off half of the aquarium. 

Those are the most common reasons why angelfish are aggressive. In the next section, we’ll talk about what you should do to reduce aggression as much as possible. 

How do you stop angelfish aggression? 

Now that you know why are angelfish aggressive, you should also learn how to reduce their aggression. 

Let’s start with their territorial behavior. 

Every single fish has its territory in the tank. The alpha holds off the biggest territory with the other fish spreading out in small territories all across the tank. To avoid such type of aggression, you can do two things. Make sure that the tank is big enough so can every fish have plenty of space, or reduce the number of fish you keep in your tank. 

However, in my experience, even with plenty of space, some fish will remain bullies. In that case, the wise thing is to remove the most aggressive angelfish. 

One mistake that I have made is introducing juveniles in a tank where adults have already established territories. Make sure that you buy angelfish in similar sizes, all in once, and from the same source. I’ve learned that the hard way loosing several fish in the process. 

Another thing to do to reduce aggression in your tank is to make fewer water changes. I know it sounds silly, but hear me out. 

According to one study, angelfish release chemical signals in the water, through the urine, to mark territory. It is a way to establish some kind of social status in the group. 

Through frequent water changes, those chemicals dilute, which means the hierarchy in the tank needs to reestablish again. Interesting, isn’t it? 

What if pair form and start breeding in your tank? This is a tricky one. 

This is the time when they show the most aggression. In this case, the best thing to do is move the angelfish in separate tanks whenever a pair forms. Otherwise, you’ll see a lot of aggressive behavior that sometimes leads to losing fish. 

Final Thoughts 

Keeping angelfish might present a few challenges for their owners. 

At first sight, it seems that keeping angelfish is not worth it. However, that’s far from the truth. I personally love keeping angelfish. I am confident if you try it, you’ll love it too. 

Unlike other similar types of fish, such as the Discus fish, angelfish are quite hardy. 

The only thing you need to do to be successful in keeping these fish is to choose appropriate tankmates and to buy them at similar sizes. Assuming you’ve already set up an appropriate tank for them, of course. 

Before you go, I’d like to hear from you.

Do your angelfish have ever shown signs of aggression? If so, what have you done to reduce it? 

Let me know in the comments below! 

3 thoughts on “Are Angelfish Aggressive? How to Reduce Their Aggression”

  1. Bought two Angel fish over a year ago and they seem to be best friends until recently. One started chasing the other and the slightly smaller one was getting attacked. I separated the bully for 24 hours, bought another object to hide in thinking it was a territorial issue. First hour they swam side by side and were getting alone it seems. The bully tried again and I tapped the tank which worked. Should I wait a day or so before separating them again?

  2. Kristi O'Sullivan

    I have two lovely silver-blue angel fish – I am confident my tank is big enough and the community of fish is not too many. I had 12 neon tetras – found one body a while ago – over the last number of weeks I now only have 8 or 9 neons – no bodies. I do a ‘head count’ of all my fish every morning. Did my Angels eat my neons? They were juveniles and are now pretty big. I note your point about providing enough food – though I feed 2x day, I may no provide enough due to fear of over feeding (and causing death). Water is good. What’s the best hypotheses?

  3. I have a 40 gal tall aquarium w four Angelfish. Two are adults which have paired off and two that were purchased as juveniles, a Blue Cobalt Zebra and a Premium Gold. They are now approx 7-8 months old or 4.5″. The Gold bullies, bites and chases the Zebra throughout the tank to the point where the Zebra is now trying to find hiding places, including a too small of cave that the smaller fish use. Ive never seen or heard of angelfish hiding in caves. The Premium Gold is a beautiful angel but im about ready to donate him to my local pet store. He is very aggressive towards other angel claiming the entire tank as his “territory.” Thank you for your help.

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