How Long Do Angelfish Live? – 5 Tips To Improve Their Lifespan

An Angelfish has an average lifespan of 10-15 years, but this comes down to the kind of care you provide. They need specific water conditions in their tank to live this long: a healthy diet, and suitable tank mates around them. 

You should consider the angelfish when searching for a beautiful fish species to add to your tank. These exotic fish come in various shapes, lengths, and color patterns, and you’ll enjoy getting to know them.  

These angelic creatures have soft fins and are relaxing to watch, so it’s no surprise they are one of the most popular options for first-time and experienced aquarists. It’s scary selecting what fish you want to put in your tank., but with in-depth research and asking the right questions, you can choose the one you can adequately care for with the available resources.

While you can do your best as a fish keeper, sometimes fish don’t live as long as they could due to poor living conditions. To help improve the lifespan of these beautiful creatures, read on below for tips and mistakes to avoid! 

How Long do Angelfish live? 

The life of an angelfish in captivity and their natural habitat is significantly different. These beautiful freshwater fish mainly originate from the tropical waters of South America and Hawaii. Still, you can find them in other parts of the world like the Red Sea and the East African coastline. 

how long can angelifish live without food

In the wild, freshwater angelfish can be found in warm, soft waters with thick vegetation. There, the wild angelfish use the plants to hide from predators and survives on insect larvae when they get hungry.

Their lifespan in the wild is approximately ten years due to stress factors like the presence of predators and pollution. In captivity, however, they can live much longer with the proper tank setup and water parameters.

The good thing is these are some of the easiest fish to take care of, so if you’re a beginner aquarist, don’t worry. You can manage it! 

In an ideal habitat, you must ensure these fish have a heater, a functioning filtration system, and enough food to live a stress-free life.  

Facts Breakdown about Angelfish

An adult angelfish can grow up to 12 inches, so they need plenty of water and space in their tank to be comfortable enough to reach their maximum size. These fish can reach maturity between 6-12 months or more, depending on their living conditions. 

Angelfish are masters at breeding, so be mindful that you may end up with angelfish fry when you keep a male and female angelfish in one tank. Aside from being relatively easy to breed in captivity, these fish are also popular because they come in diverse colors and patterns that would look great in your home aquarium or a community tank.

For their diet, you’ll need to feed your angelfish a mix of live foods and plants to keep them healthy. To raise healthy angelfish, add flake foods, frozen foods, and some vegetables to their diet.

Tropical fish need warm water temperatures to grow healthy and breed more frequently. Warmer temperatures of 75 to 82°F will be comfortable enough for them to thrive. 

Types of Angelfish

With over 90 species of angelfish, you might not know which one you are taking home after staring at them for hours at the pet store. But it’s crucial if you’ll be taking care of them for the next couple of years. 

Some of the most common species of angelfish are the golden angelfish, the koi angelfish, marble angelfish, panda angelfish, silver angelfish, black angelfish, and emperor angelfish. You can mainly differentiate them with their color and unique patterns.  

The flame angelfish has a shorter lifespan than other members of their species. They only live for 5-7 years in captivity. But with a healthy environment and good food, you can add a few more years to their lifespan.

Some angelfish species are lucky enough to live longer. The Emperor angelfish can live between 15-20 years under the right conditions. So it all comes down to the species you choose. 

5 Tips to Improve Their Lifespan

Despite the average lifespan of an angelfish, the fish keepers’ care primarily determines how long they will live. Why? Because they are responsible for creating a living environment that will help these fish thrive and grow to a ripe old age. 

If you’re starting your fish keeping journey and you’re worried about ensuring your angelfish lives longer, we have some tips that will help you: 

1. Pick the right Angelfish for you. 

If you want your angelfish to live a long and healthy life, you need to start by choosing the suitable species of Angelfish to take home. As a beginner aquarist, it’s challenging to account for factors like genetics. So instead of spending hours reading up on fish genes, you can look for a reputable breeder or pet store that will provide that information.

Some angelfish species have poor genetics, making them harder to take care of. Inferior genes will undoubtedly mean a shorter life for your angelfish. With almost no way to tell whether this fish species has inferior genetics, it’s all up to the pet store or breeder to inform you. 

Some common angelfish species with good genes that live healthy lives include:

  • Marble angelfish
  • Half-black angelfish
  • Zebra angelfish
  • Emperor goldfish
  • Gold angelfish

If you’re dealing with a trusted breeder, they can tell you which species you’re getting before you pay or choose other essential equipment like heaters and filtration systems. 

No matter what diet or excellent tank conditions you provide, an angelfish with poor genetics won’t live very long. They might not even make it to half a decade. 

Remember that a reputable fish store will only stock high-quality fish species, so if this is your first purchase as an aquarist, you need to pay more attention to where you decide to buy your angelfish. 

2. Ensure They Have an Ideal Habitat

The most important consideration to improve your angelfish’s lifespan is making their habitat the most comfortable place. Here are the essential considerations to make when providing your angelfish with the ideal habitat:

Tank Size

Their habitat- the fish tank, must be the right shape and size for a fish as big as an angelfish. For a single angelfish, the minimum tank size they will be happy in is a 20- gallon tank. 

You’ll have to buy a large tank if you intend to add more angelfish or other fish species. Because they grow longer than most fish, the tank must be tall and wide. This way, they can be comfortable swimming upwards and not only horizontally. 

Water Parameters

The water quality is a crucial determinant of how long your angelfish will live. What is the water temperature? Is the water clean enough? How frequently do you make water changes? 

As a fish keeper, these might only be a few of the questions constantly running through your mind at the moment.  

The correct temperatures for angelfish are between 76-82 degrees. It’s on the warmer side because they are tropical fish that depend on warm water to flourish. 

Maintaining this water temperature is simple with a water heater and thermometer. Not all heaters will work for angelfish, but numerous options offer just what you want to suit their temperature requirements. 

You’ll have to carry out frequent water changes if you intend to keep an angelfish in your home aquarium. Fish waste can quickly cause ammonia buildup in the tank, so weekly maintenance will help ensure the water is safe. Excess ammonia is toxic and harmful to your angelfish, shortening their lifespan even further. 

Proper Lighting

It’s a myth that healthy fish are scared of bright lights. The truth is, like all living creatures, fish need sunlight for their health and eye development. 

The same goes for angelfish because they need to know the difference between night and day. It helps them know when to expect food and how much time passes. Remember that fish also must sleep when they get tired of swimming and playing with other fish all day. 

In their natural habitat, angelfish get plenty of light even in the shallow waters with aquatic vegetation, so you should offer them proper lighting no matter where the tank is placed. 

 These hardy fish can survive different light variations in their angelfish tank. You can add artificial lights to the fish tank if they can’t get direct sunlight from where you’ve placed the tank. 

Adding Decorations and Plants To The Tank

A tank setup is never complete without decorations like stones, caves, and some plants to lighten the mood inside the tank. You’ll find angelfish surrounded by dense vegetation in the wild, so they love the green. 

In the angelfish tank, you can include both live and plastic plants. They are essential to an angelfish’s ecosystem because most angelfish breed on plants, use them to feel safe from unfriendly tank mates, or even eat them when they need a snack before their specific feeding times.  

If you opt for live plants, here are some popular low-maintenance options that can fit in a spacious angelfish tank: 

  • Amazon Sword
  • Java Fern
  • Hornwort
  • Vallisneria

A tank without plants will stress your angelfish, affecting their overall health. While live plants are great because they provide oxygen for the tank, they require more maintenance than plastic ones. So if you don’t have that much time to set aside for pruning, live plants might just add to your workload.  

3. Provide Proper Diet

Angelfish are omnivores, so you have plenty of options regarding what to feed them. A steady diet of vegetables and meat-like food like blood worms will keep them healthy and active throughout their lives. 

 Here are some other foods you can add to your angelfish’s diet: 

  • Flake foods 
  • Frozen mysis shrimp & brine shrimp
  • Freeze dried foods

You should also consider feeding times and the amount of food you are giving these colorful fish. Although they can grow quite big at 12 inches, they are still at risk of overfeeding, primarily if you feed them more than three times a day. 

One way to tell if your angelfish can’t keep up with the meal plan is you’ll find uneaten food flakes at the bottom of the tank while cleaning. Overfeeding is dangerous because it leads to sickness, and that’s one of the fastest ways to reduce your angelfish lifespan. 

You’ll notice they will be excited every time they see you because, to them, it signals that it’s time to eat, and they have a large appetite.

4. Keep them with Friendly Tank mates

Don’t let the Angel in their name fool you; these fish can be aggressive when they want to. Choosing a suitable tank mate is crucial because angelfish tend to get aggressive with their territory or young ones. 

Their aggressive behavior could be because of keeping them with the wrong tank mates. The anxiety of being defensive with other fish will cause them stress which can shorten their lifespan.  

If you want to add years to their life, you need to give them a peaceful environment so they can thrive. That includes keeping them around friendly fish species. 

Some friendly tank mates that will enjoy being around an angelfish include:  

  • German rams
  • Cherry barbs
  • Common Plecos
  • Bolivian Rams
  • Yoyo Loach
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • Kuhli Loaches

You should be careful not to keep them with tiny fish that are small enough to eat. You don’t want to wonder where a fellow tank mate disappeared to only to find out later it was on your angelfish’s dinner menu. 

Angelfish can also become prey for larger fish species, so it’s best not to have them in the same tank.  Some of the fish species you should avoid putting in a tank with angelfish are: 

  • Tiger barbs
  • Oscars
  • Wolf cichlids
  • Bucktooth tetra
  • Redtail
  • Flowerhorn cichlids

If you intend to add more fish to the angelfish tank, you’ll need to move them to a tank larger than 20 gallons. 

5. Avoid These Mistakes

The best way to improve your angelfish lifespan is by providing them with the right environment to thrive. But we’re human, so it’s normal to make mistakes sometimes. So here are some mistakes you  should avoid when taking care of your angelfish: 

Keeping them alone

Contrary to what most people believe, angelfish don’t like being kept in a tank alone. They can be unfriendly, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the company of other fish. 

angelfish in tank

With the right tank-mates, these species can live a full and happy life in their tank. Being alone can cause them stress and shorten their lifespan. Keep an eye out for new tank mates because some aggressive species can harm angelfish when kept in a large tank. 

You might have to keep angelfish in a pair, so ensure they are in a large enough tank that offers plenty of swimming space and room to add tank equipment like heaters. They could be more peaceful living with their species for a while. 

Using a poor water filter

Whether keeping angelfish fry or mature angelfish, you should never have a tank without a sponge filter. Sponge filters will help maintain the nitrogen cycle in the tank. 

Angelfish are extra sensitive to ammonia and ammonium in the tank, which is all part of the nitrogen cycle. They’ll help maintain the right pH levels for your angelfish tank because they reduce ammonia levels. High ammonia levels are toxic to angelfish and can reduce the number of years you have with them. 

These sponges also reduce the fast-moving currents in the tank, so your angelfish doesn’t get too tired too quickly. Ensure you place the filters correctly to prevent those harsh currents from wearing out your angelfish. 

Infrequent water changes

As much as you can be tempted to change the tank’s water when you feel like it, this can affect your angelfish’s health.

You should change the water at least weekly for an angelfish tank, which is likely more than 20 gallons. A mistake most fish keepers make is not changing the water enough or changing vast amounts of water too fast for the angelfish to have time to adjust. 

You can do 15% water changes twice weekly to prevent temperature shock due to drastic water changes.

This way, you’ll keep the water clean without stressing your angelfish. 


How long can Angelfish live without food? 

With the right water conditions, an angelfish can live for up to three days without eating anything. The amount of time, however, also depends on their age, genes, or the diet you provide. Angelfish fry need to be fed small portions of food more frequently for their rapid growth compared to adult angelfish.

How long can angelfish live without a heater?

Angelfish can’t live without a heater because they need warm water temperatures to survive. If the temperature drops too much, they can go into cold temperature shock, which slows down their essential bodily functions like digestion. 

How long can angelfish live without a filter? 

These fish can only stay up to 12 hours without a filter in their tank. The only way they can last 12 hours is if the water parameters are correct in their fish tank. If you’re keeping them in a cramped aquarium with unhealthy water parameters, your angelfish may not survive that long.

Which lives longer? Male or female angelfish?

Both male and female angelfish live for the same number of years when kept under optimal living conditions. Female angelfish are said to live longer than their male counterparts, but that time can be shorter if they start breeding.

The Lifespan of an Angelfish

The quality and length of an Angelfish’s life are primarily determined by their genes and their surrounding environment in the fish tank. From the food to the water quality and the tankmates, many reasons could shorten the lifespan of these fish species. 

But you can turn the situation around to ensure your pet angelfish lives long. The secret is providing a living environment that mirrors their natural habitat using the above tips. You can improve their lifespan if you get them a good-sized tank with the right water parameters and a good diet.

No matter how old your angelfish is, with a few adjustments, you can still give them an exciting and healthy life while you’re together. 

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