Can Angelfish And African Cichlids Live Together?

Angelfish and African cichlids are two beautiful but different cichlids with different care needs. This article seeks to tell you all you need to know about caring for these interesting and lovely fish.  

You will find information about each fish’s temperament, what they eat, and how to set the tank up in a way that is perfect for each of these fish. 

Fish Temperament 

Fish are varied in their behavior. Some fish are peaceful, meaning they will not bother other tankmates. Other fish are semi-aggressive, or flat out aggressive.  

It is important for fish keepers to know temperaments of fish because it will determine how that fish behaves toward others in the tank. An aggressive or semi-aggressive fish placed with peaceful fish is not a good idea as it can lead to stress among other tankmates. 

(Find out whether angelfish and gouramis can live together!)

Angelfish Temperament 

Angelfish are beautiful, but not overly aggressive fish. They are by no means peaceful fish and are known to form small schools, mostly filling their time in the middle of your tank. They get very territorial as they mature and get older. 

These fish are not social creatures. They create hierarchies in their own group and fight to hold their rank. Save for mating; these fish do not interact with one another. Foraging as a group or swimming in schools is not something Angelfish do. 

Angelfish do care for their young upon laying eggs, with females doing all that is necessary to defend their eggs from danger like predators. Eggs and the subsequent fry are protected for up to two months after they are laid.  

(Check out some of the best tankmates for cichlids in general!)

African Cichlid Temperament 

Many people wish to begin keeping African Cichlids because of how beautiful and colorful they look. However, appearances can be deceiving! African cichlids are very aggressive and very territorial. Some fish keepers caution that only cichlids should be kept with other cichlids, even going so far as to keep them with fish found in their native regions of Africa. 

African Cichlids can and will attack fish that are peaceful or semi-aggressive, resulting in serious injury or death. Make sure you carefully read about your desired species’ aggression level before placing it with any other fish. 

(Why not try keeping guppies and angelfish together?)

Habitats and Tank Requirements 

When adding a new fish to your tank, your goal is to make the habitat as close to their natural habitat as possible. It is a good idea to read about the natural zones in which the fish once lived so you can more closely recreate it in your own tank.  

Many of the fish you buy will have been bred in captivity, but still require conditions that are reminiscent of what they would get in the wild. Plant life, water pH, and temperature are all important things to keep track of. 

Angelfish Habitat 

Angelfish are found in the Amazon River as well as its tributaries. There, they reside in the swamps and streams of the Amazon river basin. They like their water warm, with temperatures ranging from 75 to 82 degrees being optimal. Swampy conditions with lots of plant life are best, and a sandy substrate is great for them. 

They are often found in areas where the water is nice and clear, where the sun’s natural light can reach them. 

Angelfish Tank Requirements 

Freshwater angelfish love temps that range from 75F to 82F and enjoy a pH of 6.8 to 7. A low water flow provided by an under-gravel filter will do nicely, or even low flow aeration. (Check out how to maintain the best pH level for angelfish.)

Substrate should be soft so that it prevents damage to fins and scales. Sand is a good choice. Be sure to provide 8-12 hours of light each day using a sunlight-mimicking aquarium light.   

Plants Angelfish love include Java moss, Java fern, and the Amazon sword plant. Avoid duckweed, as it prevents light from coming in.  

You will need at least 10 gallons per angelfish, and if you have a breeding pair, you will need at least 30 gallons. This will keep the aggression at a minimum. 

African Cichlid Habitat 

African cichlids are found in Africa’s great lakes, where the waters are warm, and temps range from 72F to 84F. The substrate is sandy and rocky, and the currents are small. 

Moderate lighting is OK for these fish, and cichlids enjoy nibbling and hiding on plants such as Java fern, Anubias, and Amazon sword plants. 

(Find out about the different types of cichlid.)

African Cichlid Tank Requirements 

Your main goal when housing African Cichlids is space. You will want to make sure you have a large, spacious tank as many varieties of African Cichlids get up about 6 inches in length by the time, they reach adulthood.  

A 20-gallon tank is necessary for most cichlids, while a 30-gallon tank is required for species that reach 8 inches in adulthood.  Depending on the cichlid you have, water current will also be necessary. 

For many, the current that your water filter generates will be satisfactory, but for other types like the Nigerian Green Cichlid, an air pump or water pump will be needed to recreate the conditions of the wild. 

Cichlids like their water hard as that is how it is in the African lakes these fish hail from. pH for the cichlid is best at 7.8 and 8.5, and the perfect number will depend on the specific variety of cichlid you are keeping.  

Water temps are best at 75 to 85 degrees F. Substrate should consist of rubble and rocks as well as sand. Cichlids are fans of digging in the substrate, so be sure to choose one that won’t injure them, such as sand. 

(Did you know angelfish and mollies also make great tank mates?)

Diet 

Having a good diet for your fish matters for a few reasons. For starters, you will provide your fish the nutrients they need to live healthy, function, feel satisfied, and ward off injury and illness. Second, a diet with variety gives your fish enrichment and even helps them look their best with healthy color and scales. 

Angelfish Diet 

Angelfish are omnivorous fish and feed on small, live prey. You can find them eating rotifers, larvae, and bugs in the wild. Plant material is consumed by these fish, but not as often as meat. These fish demand a diet high in protein and fiber.  

Live or frozen foods are the way to go- we advise frozen as it minimizes the risk of parasites being introduced to the tank. Some good live or frozen foods you can procure include tubifex worms, brine shrimp, or water fleas.  

Fish pellets and flakes should also be kept on hand as they provide good baseline nutrition for your angelfish. Blanched veggies like spinach and zucchini may also be given to your angelfish for further enrichment. 

Feed your angelfish as much as they can eat in just a few minutes and then remove any uneaten food. Veggies can be left in the tank for two hours so the fish can enjoy them but should be removed once that time is up to avoid polluting water. 

(Check out the best tank mates for African Cichlids!)

African Cichlid Diet 

African cichlids are omnivorous fish. It is important to follow good feeding practices to ensure your fish does not wind up overfed.  

You can feed your cichlids specialized sinking pellets and flake food for their staple, and then provide frozen or live foods also. Brine shrimp and bloodworms are favorites of African Cichlids. You can provide the cichlid greens, such as spinach, once in a while also.  

Place live or frozen food in the tank and allow the cichlid to eat as much as they can for a few minutes, then clear away any uneaten food. Veggies can be left for two hours before they have to be cleared away.   

(You may also have luck adding neon tetras and angelfish together!)

How to Make It Work? 

  • Opt for a large tank- 30 gallons minimum but go as big as your space will allow. Make sure to research how large your cichlids will get.  
  • Fill the tank with a soft substrate such as sand and add in rocks and aquarium caves to provide hiding and resting places.  
  • Add in plants such as Java moss, Java fern, or the Amazon sword plant, so your fish have a place to hide and nibble. 
  • Provide a mix of food such as flakes, pellets, frozen food, and veggies for each of the fish.  
  • Keep the pH at 7, depending on the particular cichlid you wish to keep.  
  • Provide light that mimics the sun 8-12 hours a day for the angelfish. Moderate lighting is OK for the cichlid- having enough places to hide, and rest will help your cichlid get the amount of sun they desire. 
  • Keep temperatures at 75F to 82F. 

Conclusion 

African cichlids and angelfish can get along, but it is not without careful research and consideration. Make sure to choose species of African cichlid that are not very aggressive, as they can and will harass your angelfish, which are a semi-aggressive species. 

Great water quality, optimum temps, and plenty of space to swim, hide, and rest will help make the reality of keeping angelfish and African cichlids together a reality. 

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