Pterophyllum scalare, commonly known as the Angel, originates from northern South America & reaches a length of around 6 inches with long trailing ventral fins & tall dorsal & anal fins.
The common wild form of Angel are silver in colour with four dark bands along the body.
Other more colourful & patterned selectively bred forms are now quite common in the aquarist hobby, such as marbled, golden, black, & koi variants being some of the more popular ones.
Sexing the Angel can be very hard & it is often best to purchase a group of young fish to pair off naturally if you intend to try breeding them. However once paired off they will become increasingly intolerant to other similar sized fish once spawning begins & should really be moved to a tank of their own once sexually mature.
As with most South American Cichlids ideal conditions for breeding requires fairly soft slightly acidic water at a temperature range of around 25 to 28 & DEG C
The Tank should have large broad leaved plants such as Amazon Sword plant & a tall flat rock such as slate as potential spawn sites.
Getting Angels to breeding condition is easily achieved by feeding a good quality varied diet with occasional high protein feeds such as brine shrimp & bloodworm.
Once a spawn site is chosen, the pair will meticulously clean the site before spawning.
Angels are egg layers & they will defend the eggs & their young aggressively.
The parents take turns in tending to the eggs, cleaning & fanning the eggs.
Once the eggs hatch after around 3 days, the parents will move the fry to various pre cleaned sites around the tank which will cling to a leaf or rock in a tightly stuck together group.
The wrigglers will live off of their yolk sacks for around 3 to 4 days until free swimming, when they will actively seek out food. Suitable fry food can be a liquid fry food or microworm until they are large enough to take newly hatched brine shrimp.
Eventually they will be large enough to separate from the parents into a tank to grow on, leaving the parents free to start another new family.
In some cases the parents may eat their eggs or fry, especially if they are young parents.
With time & practice they will get better, but you may decide to remove the eggs or fry to a separate tank containing the same water as the original tank.
Passing a light stream of bubbles from an air stone over the eggs will replicate the parents fanning the eggs & help a successful hatch.
© Vincent Balman & Strood & District Aquarist Society 2006.