Tank Setup

Angelfish Tank Requirements

Without a doubt, freshwater angelfish are one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby nowadays.

They’re easy to keep, hardy, and come in a variety of vibrant colors, making them a perfect pet choice for beginners and veterans alike.

However, while angelfish are known for being low maintenance, they aren’t that easy to keep and still need some special tank setup to allow them to thrive.

For starters, Pterophyllum Scalare is one of the most sensitive freshwater fish in terms of pH levels.

They need to have specific water parameters to ensure their well-being such as temperature (both hot and cold), hardness level, nitrates & ammonia content, and many more.

And if your tank is not properly set up, your freshwater fish will show signs of stress or illness very quickly, and you’ll have a high likelihood of losing them.

This article will show you exactly how to prepare a tank properly, so your angelfish can live a long healthy life fulfilled with love from his/her owner.

1. Water Parameters

a. Water Cycling

The Nitrogen Cycle of an Aquarium
The Nitrogen Cycle of an Aquarium by Tankarium

Water quality is the most important aspect of fish keeping and one that often gets quite overlooked by fish newbies.

Angel fish are heavy eaters and produce a huge amount of waste. This waste in addition to the dead plant matter bi-loads your tank with all sources of ammonia and nitrate.

Furthermore, freshwater angelfish produce nitrate through their gills when they breathe. Nitrates in small amounts are not hazardous enough to kill fish directly but they can stress your fish and make it harder for them to breathe, causing them to gasp at the surface.

Ammonia, on the other hand, is highly toxic to fish. For this reason, you need to test your water at least once a week for maintaining pollutants levels in the recommended range.

In most cases, you need 10-20% weekly water changes, and up to 30% if you have lots of fish or really high levels of waste in the tank.

How To Test Ammonia Level In Freshwater Aquarium?

One of the easiest ways to test your water is to use Ammonia Strip Kit. Dipsticks are easy to use and relatively inexpensive, but they can be inaccurate if not used correctly.

To use a dipstick, you simply hold it in a water sample for 10 seconds and then match the color on the stick to the corresponding color on the packaging.

How To Test Nitrates Level In Angelfish Aquarium?

Nitrates in a fish tank should be kept around 0-25ppm. Anything over 50 ppm can lead to problems with the growth and health of your fish and plants.

The best way to test for nitrate levels is with electronic meters. These meters use a probe to take a water sample and then test it for nitrates.

Usually, these meters give you an accurate reading of the nitrate levels in the water and can be found online or at most local fish stores.

b. pH Level

Aquarium Tank pH levels
Aquarium Tank pH levels by the Spruce Pets

When it comes to setting up the best tank for angelfish, our goal is to imitate their natural habitat.

For instance, angelfish are tropical fish that come from freshwater rivers in South America such as the Orinoco and the Amazon Rivers.

These rivers have a pH level that varies between 6 to 8, so you should aim for this range. From our experience, the range between 6.8 and 7.6 is the sweet spot.

Maintaining your fish tank’s pH level isn’t that easy, as the chemicals in the water can ruin the pH level of your tank.

How to Adjust the pH Level of Your Tank?

First, you need to test the pH level of your fish tank. You can do this by using a pH testing kit or strips.

If the pH level is below 6, then you will need to add some baking soda to the tank. While if the pH level is above 8, then you add a ts of vinegar to the tank. You can also use buffers instead of vinegar to adjust your water’s pH level. These buffers come in either powder or liquid form and can be found in almost all pet stores

c. Water Temperature

Adjust the tank's water temperature
Adjust the tank’s water temperature by Wikihow

Unlike other fish, angelfish are cold-blooded, which means that they can’t regulate their own body temperature very well.

For this reason, you need to keep your aquarium temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15–26 Celsius).

If your tank doesn’t have a built-in heater, you can add a tank heater or install an aquarium chiller, which we will talk about in later sections.

It’s important to mention that the water temperature in the tank changes every day, sometimes over the course of a day.

This means that a tank without a thermostat will fluctuate in temperature from one end of the acceptable range to the other, which is bad for your fish’s health. Therefore, make sure to regularly check your water temperature every few days.

2. Tank Setup

a. Tank Size

Fish Tank Sizes
Fish Tank Sizes by Home Stratosphere

Tanks come in a variety of sizes from 1.5 gallons tiny fry tanks to huge 300 gallons aquariums.

In the case of wild angelfish, this fish typically grows tall rather than long, therefore, it’s extremely important to get a tall aquarium.

For young angelfish, you can start out with a 10-20 gallons tank and you can get a bigger tank once they become adult angelfish.

In the case of a pair, a 40-gallon tank is ideal because they like lots of swimming room and once they breed, you can move the fry to a separate tank.

If you decide to keep a little school of Pterophyllum Scalare then an 80-gallon aquarium is required. In general, the bigger your tank, the more stable it will be and the longer you can keep your fish in it.

b. Tank Shape

Fish tank shapes and sizes
Fish Tank Shapes by GankPike

Believe it or not, tank shape is also an extremely important factor.

We recommend you get a simple rectangle or square since these types don’t require too many pieces and stack nicely, which makes the tank much easier to move.

And if you live in a small apartment, there are several compact tanks (tall and thin) that work great with aquarium plants.

Just make sure the lid is tightly closed or else your entire apartment will be flooded with water overnight.

Also, make sure to get your tank from a reputable local fish store as many cheap tanks can topple over or crack under the weight of a full load of water.

c. Aquarium Filter

Angelfish Tank Filter
Angelfish Tank Filter by Build Your Aquarium

Pterophyllum Scalare are aggressive eaters, and their diet contains a lot of living foods such as tiny brine shrimp and algae, which results in a huge amount of waste.

For this reason, it’s important to equip your tank with a powerful filter to get rid of the harmful pollutants and keep your tank cleaner and healthier.

The best fish tank filter won’t only remove harmful chemicals from the environment but also oxygenate and circulate the tank to give it a constant supply of fresh water.

For angelfish, we mainly prefer Large Square Sponge Filters with weighted slate bottoms, especially if you have the intention of breeding angelfish, as sponge filters will prevent angelfish fry from getting caught under them.

A basic HOB Filter can also be a good choice for starters and you can upgrade it later if you decided to. There are also a few options on the market with built-in heaters, CO2 diffusers, and even UV sterilizers if this is something that appeals to you.

d. Tank Heaters

As we mentioned earlier, water temperature influences the behavior of your fish, so you need to find out what they like and spread out their tank evenly between warm and cool areas.

Obviously, the bigger the tank, the more powerful the heater you need.

Here are a few tank heaters guidelines to work with:

Aquarium SizeHeater Size To Raise Temp By Up to 10 DegreesHeater Size To Raise Temp By More Than 10 Degrees
Angelfish tank heater size

e. Lighting

Angelfish Tank Light Requirements
Angelfish Tank Light Requirements by the Spruce Pets

Usually, aquarium kits come with basic lighting that is good enough to display the vibrant and beautiful colors of your angelfish.

However, in some cases, supplemental aquarium lighting is necessary, especially if you are keeping live plants or corals in your tank.

In that case, we recommend 2 watts per gallon. Also, a timer is useful because you need your lights on for about 10 hours a day, as your fish needs sleep and any more than that can disturb the biological cycle of the fish.

f. Aquarium Decorations

Angelfish Tank Decorations
Angelfish Tank Decorations by Aquariphiles

You will need to fill your tank with decorations such as rocks, plants, and bogwood. This will make the tank look more natural and provide places for your fish to hide or swim around, which will significantly reduce stress levels.

You should avoid decorations made out of resin or plastic, as they can be quite sharp and can cut the fish’s body; instead, get natural alternatives (e.g. live plants) that are safer for your fish and they won’t dissolve too easily as other materials can.

Also, your angelfish might eat the rocks or other small decorative items, which is fine in the case of natural decorations, after all, they are called nature’s janitors for a reason.

1. Slate Rocks

Slate rocks are a good option to line your tank with because they won’t dissolve or fall apart easily and you can easily find them at a local pet store.

It’s extremely important to avoid rough surfaces at all costs, as they can cut the fins of your fish. Nevertheless, slate rocks are great for creating natural-looking aquariums.

2. Limestone Rocks
Limestone Rocks
Limestone Rocks by Aqua Maniac

Another option is limestone rocks, which you can get from a quarry near you. Limestone rocks are harder to find but they last longer and look better as aquarium decorations.

1. Amazon Sword Plants

Amazon swords are great for the middle or background of your aquarium. They usually grow up to 3 feet tall so they can cover a lot of empty space in your tank and provide enough shade for smaller fish to hide in.

Make sure you plant this type of plant deeper than it is wide. This will allow it to get a lot of nutrients from the tank’s substrate and grow better.

2. Java Moss

Java moss is another type of plant that you can use in your tank. It doesn’t require a lot of light, making it perfect for nocturnal fish. The only downside is that it’s not very hardy and can easily die.

3. Anacharis Plants

Anacharis plants are a good option to go with if you’re aiming for an underwater feel in your tank. They grow vertically so they don’t look too natural but their leafy, wispy appearance makes them ideal for any type of fish tank.

1. Mopani Wood

Mopani trees make great natural decorations for fish tanks and they can last for a very long time. Just make sure to scrub and clean this type of wood before putting it in your tank because it may contain harmful chemicals.

2. Bamboo Wood
Bamboo Wood for Fish Tank
Bamboo Wood for Fish Tank by Life of Fish

Bamboo wood is another option you have when it comes to natural decorations. It looks nice and adds brightness to your tank, but bamboo is more susceptible to rot, so make sure your fish don’t eat the wood, or else this will lead to some issues later on.

3. Driftwood

This type of wood comes from trees on the shorelines, so it’s guaranteed to be 100% safe for your aquarium and any fish living there with you. It also looks very natural, which makes it a great decor piece to put in the tank.

Overall, you’ll want to avoid sharp or rough objects in your fish tank because these can cut or injure them.

If you have any other questions about natural aquarium decorations, please leave a comment below and we’d be happy to help you out!

g. Substrate Materials

Substrate Materials for Fish Tank
Substrate Materials for Fish Tank by Wikiwand

This authentic-looking substrate will make your tank look like a real piece of nature instead of something man-made.

The gravel also helps with filtration by trapping solid waste and boosting the oxygen levels in the water; it also makes for easier cleaning when you remove fish poop from it.

3. Tank Companions

Angelfish Tank Mates Compatibility Chart
Angelfish Tank Mates Compatibility Chart by Ocean Floor Store

If you decided to go with a community tank, you must choose the tank mates with care. Fish that are aggressive or fin biters might hurt the scalar’s delicate long fins.

Additionally, angelfish isn’t a completely peaceful freshwater fish and will consume tiny fish, such as neon tetras or small dither fish.

Fast-swimming fish may be able to capture food before slower-swimming angels can do so. Their quick movements may also frighten angelfish.

Last Words

I hope my tips on how to care for a scalar have been helpful. Remember, invest in a great aquarium filter and light which will keep your tank clean and healthy for a long time.

We hope you have enjoyed this article as much as we did.

If you still have any questions, please share them with us in the comment section below.