How to Set Up an Aquarium for Angelfish


Freshwater angelfish, which are native to the swamps and rivers of South America, are colorful, active fish that can be the centerpiece of any home aquarium. Over the years, fish breeders have created several different colors of angelfish, like black, albino, or marbled. Healthy angelfish can grow to be as large as 4 inches long, with a fin span twice that length. Though most angelfish sold in stores are domestically bred, they thrive in an aquarium that mimics their native habitat.

Things You'll Need

  • 30 gallon tank or larger
  • Aquatic gravel suitable for plants
  • Aquarium filter
  • Aquarium heater
  • Live aquatic plants
  • Driftwood
  • Light strip
  • Tank cover

Check aquarium for leaks by filling it with water, then draining it. Freshwater angels require a large, tall tank because of their long fins.

Determine how much gravel you need for the tank by measuring the length and width of the tank, multiplying the two numbers and dividing the result by 10. The result is roughly the number of pounds of gravel needed for a 2 inch depth.

Rinse aquatic gravel until the water runs clear.

Add water to tank, treating it as necessary to eliminate harmful chlorine or chloramine.

Set up filtration system and install aquarium heater. Wait for water to clear and reach the right temperature. Freshwater angelfish prefer temperatures of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add aquarium plants and driftwood, leaving plenty of swimming room for the angelfish. Some suitable aquarium plants are sword plants or anubias. Driftwood makes the aquarium water more acidic, similar to the water quality of the angelfish’s wild habitat.

Install lighting. A rough rule of thumb is to allow two to three watts per gallon of aquarium lighting for a tank with live plants.

Introduce smaller fish to the tank three to four weeks before adding the first angelfish. The smaller fish will help the tank develop helpful bacteria that break down harmful ammonia waste products.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always remember to keep the tank covered to prevent fish from jumping out.
  • Cleaning aquatic gravel can be done more easily by rinsing a small portion of gravel at a time, then transferring the clean gravel to the tank.

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