Are Angelfish Schooling Fish: Are They Better in Groups?

Angelfish are native to the tropical waters of Central and South America. They are beautiful, gregarious fish that can be kept in most tanks up to 55 gallons or larger. Because they require moderate water temperatures between 78 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, angels should never be placed in a tank with heaters or other hot equipment.

Some angelfish schools in groups, while others swim solo, but the fact that they are highly sociable and like to be in groups gives the impression that they are schooling fish. Angelfish groups are more active during the day when they feed on plankton and other small prey. In addition, there seems to be size-dependent predation. Larger angelfish school in groups, while smaller individuals exhibit a solitary lifestyle.

Why Are Angelfish Not Schooling Fish?

Angelfish are not schooling fish because they do not feed in groups but like to swim in groups. Well-schooled fish are more active and provide better because they can locate food easier. Without a leader to lead them, schooling fish spread out quickly and get lost in the crowd. In addition, even from multiple schools, a fish can still easily be picked out. So while they are more active and fed better in schooled conditions, it is still unclear if these advantages outweigh the disadvantages of being non-schooling.

Can Angelfish Live in Schools?

Yes, angelfish can live in schools. However, this is not their natural way of life, mainly done for the benefit of being in a group. Angelfish school because they feed better when they are organized into groups and have size-dependent predation, meaning larger fish get more food than smaller ones.

Schooling fish are much more active than individual angelfish, so living in schools has its advantages. In addition, some angelfish schools can be huge and occupy an entire aquarium. Additionally, large fish can be aggressive. Therefore, not all angelfish are natural schoolers, and many do quite well in solitary confinement since they tend to socialize better with the other individuals of their species (isolation: limits association between one individual and another).

Can Angelfish Live Alone?

Angelfish can live alone, but it’s not common. They will often live in small groups of 2-5 fish. These groups are usually formed around a dominant individual, and the rest of the fish tend to follow their lead. Plus, individuals that aren’t related to the dominant fish fare better when placed in groups and usually get along pretty well with their neighbors.

How Many Angelfish Can You Keep Together?

This depends on the size of your aquarium and the personality of your angelfish. The larger an aquarium is, the more room you can put into it for a solitary fish; however, if you have a large school of angels, they will probably get along just fine. In addition, if your angelfish have a quirky personality, you may decide to get more than one and split the cost of their tank.

Schooling Fish That Can Live With Angelfish

While angelfish can live alone, they are typically much happier in a group. If you want to keep them as part of a larger tank community, consider schooling fish that are either peaceful or non-aggressive. Some good choices include:

Platies

Platies are an excellent choice for fishkeeping angels because they are peaceful and territorial behavior is minimal. In addition, platies will not nip at the angelfish if they get agitated.

Zebra Loaches

Zebra loaches make an excellent choice for schooling fish as they are also very peaceful but will defend their territory if necessary. They can be kept in groups of six or more and generally get along well with other fish.

Lemon Tetras

Lemon tetras are another excellent schooling option for fishkeeping angels. They are very active and playful, making them a lot of fun to watch. As long as the angelfish do not feel threatened by the other fish, they will probably get along just fine.

Rummy Nose Tetras

Another great schooling fish option for angelfish is the rummy nose tetra. These little guys are peaceful and active, making them perfect companions for angels who want a lot of excitement in their tank.

Corydoras Catfish

Consider a corydoras catfish if you want a tank full of aggression and excitement. These fish are typically high-energy, so they may not be the best choice for angels who want to hang out in their corner of the tank.

Dwarf Gouramis

Dwarf gouramis make an excellent schooling fish option for angelfish because they are very peaceful and passive. This makes them perfect companions for angels who want to be around other fish but don’t necessarily need the excitement of a corydoras catfish.

Keyhole Cichlids

Another good schooling option for fishkeeping angels is the keyhole cichlid. These fish are usually peaceful and get along well with other tankmates, making them an excellent choice for newcomers to the aquarium hobby.

How Do Angelfish in Groups Behave in the Wild?

Angels spend most of their time grazing on aquatic plants and swimming around. They are sometimes solitary animals and do not form territorial behavior like other fish species. In addition, angels also forage for food at night when the eyes of much other fish are closed. In nature, angelfish inhabit soft-water stream areas and tend to avoid deep, fast-moving waters that may contain predatory fishes. 

As a result of their preference to stay out of harm’s way and increase congenial environments for themselves, most wild angels are diminutive, about one foot in length, and juveniles seldom reach this size before death or extinction.

How to Choose and Care for Angelfish Groups?

If you’re planning on keeping freshwater angels, it’s essential to do your research and choose the suitable species. The best options for schooling fish include lemon tetras, rummy nose tetras, dwarf gouramis, and keyhole cichlids. These fish are active and fun-loving companions who will make your tank much more entertaining. 

However, if you’re looking for an aggressive fish that will challenge your angel friends, you may want to reconsider. Most angels are relatively peaceful and will get along just fine with other fish in their tank, but if you are interested in aggressive fish species, be sure to research which ones are compatible with freshwater angelfish before adopting one into your home.

Feeding

Angelfish are opportunistic feeders that will consume various foods, including flakes, pellets, and fresh vegetables. They should be fed several times a day and can be easily managed using a minor bubbling or waterfall-type filter to provide appropriate water conditions while they munch away.

Breeding

Angels are generally not bred in captivity, but you may induce them to spawn by providing them with a male of their species and large quantities of small insects. Spawning usually occurs around the middle of the month and can be seen as cloudiness or motility in the water near plants or gravels. Eggs are deposited on surfaces, where they will hatch into miniature angels within 24 hours.

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