Black Angelfish – All You Need To Know - "墨燕 black angelfish" by West Zest is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Black Angelfish – All You Need To Know - "墨燕 black angelfish" by West Zest is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


Welcome to the world of the captivating and elegant black angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare). Known for their striking beauty and graceful demeanor, these fish have enthralled aquarium enthusiasts for decades. Originating from the depths of South American waters, black angelfish bring a touch of mystery and allure to any aquarium setting.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the intricate world of black angelfish care, covering everything from their appearance and behavior to tank setup, diet, and compatible tank mates. Whether you’re a seasoned hobbyist or a beginner eager to explore the wonders of keeping these majestic fish, this guide will equip you with the knowledge needed to create a thriving aquatic environment for your black angelfish.


the appearance of black angelfish is one of their most distinctive and captivating features. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Black Coloration: Black angelfish are known for their striking, predominantly black coloration. Their bodies typically exhibit deep, dark shades of black that cover most of their surface area, including their fins. The intensity of black coloration can vary, with some individuals displaying a slightly lighter or darker hue.
  • Fins: Their fins are an important feature that adds to their elegance. The dorsal and anal fins are often elongated, flowing gracefully, and they tend to match the body color, creating a cohesive look. Sometimes, there might be subtle variations in fin patterns, with delicate marbling or speckling of lighter tones against the black.
  • Patterns and Variations: While the base color is black, selective breeding has led to variations in patterns and shades. Some black angelfish may have hints of other colors, like silver, gold, or even iridescence that can shimmer in certain lighting conditions. There are also “veiled” or “blushing” variants, where the dark coloration is less intense, allowing a subtle glimpse of underlying patterns or hues.
  • Selective Breeding: Through careful breeding practices, aquarists have aimed to intensify the black coloration, refine patterns, and create specific variations. This process involves selecting individuals with desired traits (such as deep black color or particular fin shapes) and breeding them to enhance those characteristics in successive generations.
  • Distinguishing Features: Additionally, their triangular body shape and elongated fins set them apart from other fish species. The dorsal and anal fins often have extended tips, giving them a graceful appearance as they move through the water.

It’s fascinating to see how breeders have worked with the inherent traits of black angelfish, manipulating genetics to accentuate certain features and create visually stunning variations within this species.


Black angelfish, like their counterparts, exhibit interesting behaviors in an aquarium environment:

  • Social Interactions: They’re generally peaceful within their species but might display territorial behavior, especially when breeding or establishing a hierarchy. They often form pairs or small groups and establish territories within the tank, which they defend against intruders.
  • Compatibility: Black angelfish can coexist with a variety of tankmates, but compatibility largely depends on the temperament and size of other fish. Avoid pairing them with aggressive or fin-nipping species. Good tankmates include peaceful community fish like tetras, rasboras, dwarf cichlids, and peaceful catfish species. More on this in a later section.
  • Hierarchy and Aggression: When kept in groups or pairs, they might establish a pecking order, which can lead to occasional chasing or fin nipping, particularly during breeding periods or when establishing territories. Providing plenty of hiding spots and visual barriers in the tank can help mitigate aggression.
  • Breeding Behavior: Breeding pairs become highly territorial and might defend a chosen spawning site vigorously. During courtship, they engage in fascinating behaviors such as displaying their fins, cleaning surfaces for egg laying, and taking turns guarding the eggs.
  • Exploration and Curiosity: They’re inquisitive fish and enjoy exploring their environment. Black angelfish might investigate new tank decorations, plants, or even their reflection in the glass.
  • Response to Tankmates: They can be skittish or stressed in the presence of overly active or aggressive tankmates. Providing a calm and well-structured environment with suitable hiding places can help reduce stress levels.
  • Individual Personalities: Like many fish species, black angelfish can exhibit individual personalities. Some might be more bold and outgoing, while others could be more shy or reserved.

Understanding these behaviors can help hobbyists create an environment that accommodates the social dynamics and temperament of black angelfish, ensuring a harmonious tank for all inhabitants.

Tank Mates for Black Angelfish

When choosing tank mates for black angelfish, several considerations can help ensure a harmonious and balanced aquarium environment:

  • Size and Temperament: Opt for species that are similar in size or smaller than the angelfish to prevent aggression or potential fin-nipping. Also, choose peaceful or moderately peaceful fish to avoid stress or conflicts.
  • Swimming Level: Select species that occupy different levels of the tank to utilize the entire space efficiently. This includes bottom-dwellers, mid-level swimmers, and surface-dwelling species.
  • Water Parameters: Ensure that the tank mates have similar water parameter requirements to prevent stress or health issues caused by incompatible water conditions.
  • Dietary Needs: Ideally, choose fish with similar dietary requirements to simplify feeding and ensure all inhabitants receive adequate nutrition.

Here are some good examples of compatible tank mates for black angelfish:

  • Tetras: Peaceful tetras like neon tetras, cardinal tetras, and rummy nose tetras can make excellent tank mates. They are small, peaceful, and tend to inhabit the mid to upper levels of the tank.
  • Corydoras Catfish: These bottom-dwelling catfish species, such as bronze or panda corydoras, are peaceful fish that help keep the substrate clean.
  • Dwarf Cichlids: Species like German ram cichlids Apistogramma can cohabit with angelfish if the tank is spacious enough. They occupy different levels and have relatively peaceful temperaments.
  • Gouramis: Some gourami species, like the honey gourami or pearl gourami, can be compatible if the tank size allows for ample swimming space.
  • Livebearers: Peaceful livebearers such as platies, mollies, or swordtails might be suitable tank mates, particularly if the tank is large enough to accommodate the different swimming patterns.
  • Non-Aggressive Bottom Dwellers: Consider species like bristlenose plecos, which are peaceful bottom-dwelling fish that help with algae control.

Always monitor the behavior of tank mates after introducing them and be prepared to rehome any fish that show signs of aggression or stress. Providing hiding spots and plenty of space can help reduce conflicts and promote a peaceful cohabitation among different species.

Aquarium Setup for Black Angelfish

Setting up an aquarium for black angelfish and their tank mates involves creating an environment that accommodates their needs in terms of space, water parameters, decor, and compatibility. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Tank Size: Aim for a spacious tank, as angelfish can grow relatively large. A 20-gallon tank (80 liters) can be suitable for a couple of angelfish, but a larger tank (40 gallons (160 liters) or more) is better for a pair or multiple angelfish along with compatible tank mates.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain stable water conditions. Angelfish thrive in slightly acidic to neutral water with temperatures between 75-82°F (24-28°C) and a pH range of 6.5-7.5. Regularly test water parameters to ensure they remain within suitable ranges.
  • Filtration and Aeration: Use a good-quality filter suitable for the tank size to maintain water quality. Adequate aeration and water movement are crucial for oxygenation and ensuring a healthy environment.
  • Substrate and Decor: Choose a substrate like sand or fine gravel, as angelfish may forage in the substrate. Provide ample plants (live or artificial) for cover and to create territories. Ensure there are open spaces for swimming as well.
  • Hardscape: Include driftwood, rocks, or caves to offer hiding spots and break lines of sight, which can help reduce aggression among tank mates. Ensure that these decorations are stable and won’t harm the fish.
  • Lighting: Opt for subdued lighting as angelfish prefer subdued or dim lighting. Consider using floating plants or adjustable lighting to provide shaded areas.
  • Aquascaping: Arrange the tank to create different zones—open swimming areas, planted regions, and hiding spots. This accommodates various species’ preferences and provides a diverse habitat.
  • Compatibility and Arrangement: Introduce tank mates gradually to reduce stress and monitor interactions. Start with introducing less aggressive or smaller fish before introducing larger or potentially more aggressive species.
  • Maintenance Routine: Establish a regular maintenance routine involving water changes, filter cleaning, and checking water parameters to maintain a healthy and stable environment for all inhabitants.

Remember to research the specific needs of each species you plan to keep alongside the black angelfish to ensure they are compatible in terms of water conditions, behavior, and space requirements. Regular observation and adjustments to the setup can help create a thriving and balanced aquarium ecosystem.

Black Angelfish – All You Need To Know - "墨燕 black angelfish" by West Zest is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Black Angelfish – All You Need To Know – “墨燕 black angelfish” by West Zest is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding black angelfish a varied and balanced diet is crucial for their health and vibrant coloration. Here’s a comprehensive guide on their diet and feeding:

  • Flake or Pellet Food: High-quality flake or pellet food formulated for tropical fish can serve as a staple diet. Look for options specifically designed for angelfish or cichlids, as these often contain the necessary nutrients and protein sources.
  • Live and Frozen Foods: Offer live or frozen foods to mimic their natural diet and add variety. Black angelfish enjoy live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and blackworms. These live/frozen foods are rich in protein and are excellent supplements to their diet.
  • Vegetables and Greens: Although primarily carnivorous, angelfish can benefit from occasional vegetable matter. Blanched vegetables like spinach, zucchini, or cucumber can be offered as occasional treats.
  • Frequency and Portion Control: Feed small amounts multiple times a day, rather than one large feeding. This approach helps prevent overeating and maintains water quality. Angelfish have hearty appetites but can be prone to overeating, leading to health issues.
  • Feeding Techniques: To ensure all fish receive their share, consider using feeding rings or spots in the tank to disperse food. This prevents aggressive feeding behaviors and ensures all fish get their fair share of food.
  • Observation: Watch for signs of underfeeding (thin appearance, decreased activity) or overfeeding (bulging stomach, uneaten food). Adjust feeding amounts accordingly.
  • Supplements: Occasionally, consider offering vitamin-enriched or specially formulated angelfish food to supplement their diet and ensure they receive all essential nutrients.
  • Fasting: Periodic fasting is beneficial for the digestive health of angelfish. Consider fasting them for a day or two each week to mimic their natural feeding patterns and allow their digestive system to rest.
  • Water Quality: Uneaten food can contribute to deteriorating water quality. Remove any uneaten food after feeding to maintain clean water conditions.
  • Adaptation Period: When introducing new fish or changing their diet, allow time for adaptation. Some fish might be hesitant to accept new foods initially.

By providing a diverse and balanced diet, you can ensure that your black angelfish receive the necessary nutrients to thrive, exhibit vibrant colors, and maintain good health in your aquarium.


In conclusion, the black angelfish stands as a testament to the beauty and wonder of the aquatic world. Their striking black coloration, graceful fins, and intriguing behavior make them a prized addition to any aquarium. By understanding their unique characteristics, providing a suitable environment, offering a balanced diet, and selecting compatible tank mates, enthusiasts can ensure the well-being and vibrancy of these remarkable fish.

As you embark on your journey of caring for black angelfish, remember the importance of patience, observation, and maintaining a harmonious ecosystem within your aquarium. With proper care and attention to their needs, these mesmerizing creatures will continue to captivate and bring joy to aquarists worldwide. Enjoy the splendor of the black angelfish and the tranquil beauty they bring to your aquatic sanctuary.