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How Often Do Angelfish Lay Eggs? Reproductive Cycle Explained

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Orinoco angelfish

Angelfish are native to tropical South America, where they thrive in quiet, slow-moving rivers, preferring to hide underneath low-hanging vegetation or dense water plants.  Their unique coloration makes them one of the most easily recognizable species of aquarium fish. They are also comparatively easy to care for and hardy, able to thrive in less-than-ideal aquarium conditions.

If you have a pair of breeding Angelfish in your tank, you may be wondering how often they breed and lay eggs. Depending on the age of your Angelfish, they can lay eggs as frequently as once a week or every 10 days, provided that the eggs are removed from their tank. The process will take longer if the females have eggs to look after.

In this article, we look at how often Angelfish lay eggs, how many they lay, and go over a few tips on how to successfully raise the fry. Let’s dive in!

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Angelfish breeding

Angelfish mate for life, so they live, feed, and travel in pairs  until one or both fish die. A lone Angelfish that has lost their partner will rarely seek out a new one.

Angelfish are comparatively easy fish to breed, but differentiating between males and females is one of the most challenging aspects for novice owners. Males and females are similar in size and color, and the only way to readily identify a male is by the size of their papillae — the male is always the fish with the larger papillae.

Both parents are greatly involved with their offspring and will care for the eggs and hatchlings until they are swimming freely and ready to be alone.

group of Platinum angelfish
Image By: Supermop, Shutterstock

When do Angelfish lay eggs?

Female Angelfish do not need a male around to lay eggs, and they will still produce eggs regardless, although these eggs will be unfertilized. Once they reach maturity—at between 6–12 months—Angelfish will lay eggs every 7–12 days, depending on their age.

There are several ways that you can tell that your Angelfish is ready to lay eggs, including a protruded belly and a slight change in coloration. Your Angelfish will also be fairly inactive and may act aggressively toward their tank mates just before laying. If there are males around, the female will begin to pair herself with her chosen male.

Once the female has a mate, she will claim a small part of the tank as her own and prevent other fish from coming into the area, often aggressively. You’ll notice the male and female separating themselves from the rest of the fish in your tank, and they usually prefer a safe spot with foliage to lay eggs onto.

Once the female lays her eggs in a small neat row, which can be anywhere between 100-1,000 eggs in a single laying, the male will fertilize them. With successful fertilization, they should begin to hatch within 2–3 days. If the eggs turn white, the fertilization has failed and the process must be repeated.

Caring for Angelfish fry

If your Angelfish is in a community tank, she may not be able to provide the protection needed for her eggs, and you’ll need to help protect them from other fish. This is best done by removing the eggs and placing them in a separate tank with the parents. The tank should have plenty of plants for security, with a water temperature of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Angelfish fry are mostly immobile for the first few days after they hatch and stay close to where they have hatched and to their parents. Their parents will usually feed and care for them, although this may not happen in captivity. You will likely need to feed them starter formula food to prevent starvation. The fry will be ready to eat normal solid foods after about 4 weeks, at which point, the parents will usually stop caring for them.

Angelfish usually reach full maturity between 6 and 12 months old, depending on the conditions of their tank, and they typically live for 10–12 years.


Final Thoughts

A mature, healthy Angelfish will typically lay eggs every 7–10 days, provided that you remove the eggs from the tank after laying. If you leave the eggs, the female will make caring for them her priority and cease spawning until they are hatched. Depending on her age and the tank conditions, females can lay between 100–1,000 eggs per spawn! Raising Angelfish fry is a challenging but rewarding experience, and we highly recommend attempting it!

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Feature Image Credit: Roberto Dani, Shutterstock

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