Veiltail Zebra Angelfish

Veiltail Zebra Angelfish

Scientific Name : Pterophyllum scalare
Common Names : Zebra Veiltail Angelfish
Angelfish Care Level : Easy
Max Size : Up to 4 inches (10 cm)
pH : 6 - 7.5
Temperature : 74°F - 84°F (23°C - 29°C)
Water Hardness : 5° to 13° dH

Angelfish have long been a staple of the aquarium hobby due to their elegant appearance and graceful movements, and with new varieties consistently becoming available, they make an excellent choice for many home aquarists.

They have an aquatic angelic quality due to their soft flowing lines and graceful movements. Nothing can compare to the sight of angelfish in a tank with lighting casting a shimmering glow on their beautiful bodies. This species is gorgeous and relaxing to watch, and is a very popular part of our hobby.

Angelfish belong to the genus Pterophyllum in the Cichlidae family. It is likely that aquarium strains are hybrids of different wild species, but they are generally considered to be P. scalare. This species is found throughout a very large range in South America and most of the Amazon River Basin.

Although most cichlids are aggressive, angelfish are an exception to the rule. This fun-loving and peaceful species really shines when placed in a proper home aquarium. Their sheer size is enough to catch the eye of children who seem captivated by their every movement. Even people who are unfamiliar with the aquarium hobby can identify an angelfish by its majestic and unique shape because they have become a popular icon for tropical fish.

Physical Attributes
Angelfish are unusually shaped for cichlids because they are laterally compressed, with round bodies and elongated triangular dorsal and anal fins. This unique diamond-shaped body allows them to hide and move easily among roots and plants. Their natural coloration includes dark vertical stripes, thought to provide camouflage like a zebra’s stripes. Angelfish are ambush predators that prey on small fish and invertebrates that they stalk in the plants.

Aquarium Care
Angelfish are easy to care for and can live up to 10 years in captivity if they are provided with proper aquarium conditions. Because of their shape, this species prefers tall aquariums with a capacity of at least 20 gallons. However, if you want to keep several in a beautiful setup, I would highly recommend an aquarium that is 55 gallons or larger. Another advantage of purchasing a larger tank for your angelfish is that the increased space will offer a better feeling of security, and breeding parents will not be as quick to eat their eggs or hatched young. (

Angelfish should be kept in a warm aquarium, with a temperature that remains around 78° to 80°F. Although they come originally from slightly acidic, fairly soft water, angels are quite adaptable to waters of various pH and hardness. Any tank decor should consist of smooth rocks and wood, as the fish can be injured by sharp objects.

Broad leaf aquatic plants such as Amazon sword plants, Echinodorus spp. are great for an angelfish tank because they will allow them a nice natural surface on which to lay their eggs. Java moss, water sprite Ceratopteris spp., and Java fern are also good choices for an angelfish aquarium.

Angelfish will flourish if they are fed a mixture of flake, live, and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and bloodworms. It should be noted that angelfish are gluttons and will gorge themselves on food, so stick with a strict feeding schedule unless you want your aquatic pets to resemble floating basketballs with fins sticking out. Overfeeding also leads to health problems and water fouling.

When choosing tankmates for your angelfish, make sure that you pick non-aggressive species that will not nip at their large, flowing fins. Angelfish are generally peaceful, but can be very aggressive eaters and become territorial while breeding. A common choice is to stock a tank with just angelfish, either one variety or several, and perhaps some cory catfish to provide activity on the bottom.
Health Concerns

Angelfish are hardy, and it is much better to concentrate on disease prevention than on diagnosing and treating illnesses. You can lower the chance of disease by doing frequent water changes and keeping the aquarium environment in top condition. And always quarantine new specimens before adding them to your established tanks.

Water Changes
Angelfish are especially sensitive to poor water quality. They are also one of those fish that really, really respond to large, frequent water changes. Many commercial breeders make 50-percent daily changes on their tanks and attribute spawning success and rapid growth of fry to this simple maintenance procedure.

Ich, also known as white spot disease because of the appearance of the parasites Ichthyophthirius multifiliis on infected fish, is the most common aquarium fish illness. It is usually easily treated with commercially available preparations, so it is a good idea to keep ich medication on hand, though hopefully you won’t need it.

Angelfish form monogamous pairs. Eggs are generally laid on a vertical surface: a piece of wood, a flat leaf, or even the aquarium glass. Breeders often provide an artificial spawning site such as a piece of slate, a ceramic cone, or a vertical piece of plastic pipe.

As is the case with most cichlids, brood care is highly developed. The parents tend the eggs, and when they hatch, the parents hang their fry on vertical surfaces until they become free-swimming. Although experienced angelfish breeders can usually discriminate male from female visually, it isn’t foolproof. Only during spawning will you be able to tell the male from the female because the female has a thick, blunt breeding tube, and the male has a thin, more pointed breeding tube.

Fry Diet
Millions of angelfish fry have been successfully raised on a diet of newly hatched brine shrimp. They should be fed three to four times per day until they are large enough to consume flake food and dried bloodworms. Once their bodies reach the size of a quarter, they can be fed the regular adult food.

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