Flickr: Carlos Galeano
Pterophyllum scalare or Angelfish as we popularly call it, belongs to the Cichlidae family of aquatic animals. But despite belonging to the Cichlid family, this tropical freshwater fish with a disk shaped rounded body and laterally compressed long and triangular anal and dorsal wings, has a unique appearance. The commonest types of Angels are those that have vertical black stripes on a shining silver body, but there are other varieties of marble, koi, black or golden colour. These beautiful fishes were brought to the European continent around the 1820s and started to be bred in captivity around the 1930s in the United States.
Marine biologists have traced the origin of this marine beauty to the Amazon in South America, where they breed and live in large shoals. However, its ability to live on its own has also made it popular as a pet and it is widely preferred by owners to accentuate the beauty of their aquariums. Due to their long fins, Angels usually require a considerable amount of space to move around freely. Depending on this, you can shelter about 6 to 7 Angels in a single tank.
Angels are so designed that they can hide among plants easily and hide themselves for predators. However, it is advisable that they not be made to live in the same tank with predators that can injure or even kill them. Angels are also extremely intelligent and are well aware of their surroundings. Unlike other fishes that mostly crouch in one part of the fish tank, Angels can be seen playing around of gliding elegantly through the fish tank. This is primarily why most fish enthusiasts like to have this particular variety of fish in their aquariums.
Angels are most comfortable in a temperature range between 82F to 84F (28C to 29C) and feed on almost any type of live, fresh or flake food. It is essentially important that they are fed high levels of protein on a regular basis, so treating them with blood worms or brine shrimp may be a good idea. Also ensure that you feed them a vegetable diet once in a while, to ensure that they grow properly with the right amounts of nutrition.
Angelfish are naturally carnivorous, so they need to be fed the right foods to help them reach optimum size and remain healthy. It’s usually best to offer a daily feeding of flakes or a pelleted diet formulated for angels, and then supplement the fish with live feedings of freshly-hatched brine shrimp, bloodworms and daphnia grown from your cultures to avoid contaminated sources.
Some Quick Facts:
Fresh/ Salt Water: Both Fresh and Salt Water Angels are available in the market. While the Salt Water ones are usually large and more expensive, the Fresh Water ones are comparatively smaller and easier to maintain. This is why, the Angels mostly seen as pets, belong to the Fresh Water type.
Habitat: In their native environment they live among swamps and plants, and may be housed in an aquarium with aquatic plants. Additionally, they can live alone or in a common tank, in a semi-aggressive environment.