Angelfish: How long do they live? 3 Things That Improve Their Lifespan

Pterophyllum, or angelfish as they’re more commonly known, are some of the most popular types of aquarium fish.

If you have or are planning to add angelfish to your aquarium, you should deepen your knowledge about caring for them – which includes understanding their needs and lifespan. 

So, how long do angelfish live? Angelfish have an average lifespan of 10-12 years, but can live as short as 5. An angelfish’s lifespan depends on your aquarium’s environment, the food you give your angelfish and the tankmates they have. Let’s cover how to make sure yours live as long as they should. 

This guide explores how to take care of your angelfish so you can increase their lifespan. It will also explore common mistakes that people may make when caring for their angelfish. These mistakes may reduce the lifespan of your angelfish. 

angelfish lifespan
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The Right Habitat

One of the most important ways to increase the lifespan of your angelfish is to design an optimum environment for them to live and thrive in. 

In the wild, angelfish live in both clear and salty water. They frequent dark places with lots of seaweed and corals. To allow angelfish to thrive, try to mimic their natural habitats when designing their environment. 

The Tank 

Angelfish need a large tank that can fit at least 30 gallons of water. They will also be more comfortable in tall tanks as opposed to wide tanks. Ensuring that your tank is the right size will help your angelfish as it will give them plenty of space to move and explore. 

On the other hand, if your tank is too small, your angelfish’s growth may be stunted, or they may become obese. A small environment may also make your angelfish aggressive, leading to them attacking other fish and possibly getting injured. These conditions can all reduce your angelfish’s lifespan. 

Water Conditions

Angelfish are sensitive to changes in water conditions. Angelfish will thrive in water that is between 76-82°F and has a pH of 6.5-7.5. Water that is not at the right pH and temperature can reduce your angelfish’s lifespan and even lead to immediate death. 

Change the water in your tank every two weeks or if you notice the water has become cloudy or excessively dirty. 

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Use a gentle filtration system in a tank with angelfish. Angelfish do not do well in strong currents, so a strong filter may cause them to become stressed. In strong currents, they use a lot more energy to swim, which may stunt their growth. 

Some filters have been designed especially for angelfish tanks. Try the Air Driven 10 Later Biochemical Bio Sponge Filter (available on Amazon) or ask your local pet stores for gentle but effective filter recommendations. 


Angelfish are commonly found in water that has a lot of vegetation. You should try replicating this in your tank with live plants like Amazon Swords, Java Ferns, and Hornworts. These plants will allow your angelfish places to hide and can go a long way in reducing stress and aggressive behavior. Stress can destroy your angelfish’s immune systems. Angelfish that are calmer are more likely to live longer. 

Live plants can also help indicate water quality. If they begin to die or brown, it’s a sure sign that your water quality has deteriorated – you can address this before it begins to affect your angelfish.

You can also place rocks and aquarium driftwood in your tank as added places for your angelfish to shelter. 

The Right Food 

Angelfish in the wild are omnivores. They enjoy munching on worms, insects, as well as plants. 

Live Foods 

If possible, give your angelfish blackworms and bloodworms to feed on. Both are nutritionally rich and can improve the health of your angelfish. You can also give your angelfish live brine shrimp. However, these should be more of a treat than a staple as they don’t have much nutritional value. 

Some pet stores may stock and recommend tubifex worms as feed. But, don’t give them to your angelfish as some tubifex worms can contain parasites that infect your angelfish, causing illness or even death. 

Frozen Foods 

If you can’t store or stomach the thoughts of live foods, then you can also consider frozen food. As well as frozen blood worms and black worms, you can give your angelfish frozen krill, shrimp, and plankton.

A common frozen fish food is beef heart, but experts don’t recommend this for angelfish because it has a lot of fat and very little nutrition. 

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Flake Foods 

Whether you are giving your angelfish live or frozen foods, it’s also a good idea to supplement their diet with ‘flake’ foods. 

Flake foods are packaged fish foods that are commercially produced and contain both plants and animals. Check the ingredients of the flake foods you are buying, making sure they have a high percentage of protein. 

Don’t buy flake foods that have a high percentage of flour or starch as these are not natural ingredients and can severely impact your angelfish’s health. 

How often should you feed your angelfish? 

It’s important not to feed your angelfish too much or too often. Growing angelfish can be fed small handfuls of food three to four times a day. Once an angelfish is fully grown – typically when it’s one or one and a half years old, it needs to be fed only once a day.

Overfeeding an angelfish can lead to obesity, which will reduce their lifespan. At the same time, don’t underfeed your angelfish! While they can survive for up to seven days without fresh food, you should have a regular feeding schedule to keep them healthy.  

Remove any uneaten food in your tank quickly as rotting food can lower your tank’s water quality. 

The Right Company 

Angelfish are fairly territorial, which is why they need lots of space in their tanks. It’s important to be mindful when choosing tankmates for your angelfish. Other fish that are equally aggressive can get into fights with your angelfish, causing injuries and fatalities. 

You should also carefully consider the size of potential tankmates. Angelfish are predatory and will happily gobble down fish, which are much smaller than them. This can cause obesity and even illness in the case of certain fish. 

Good Tankmates 

When looking for tankmates for your angelfish, select fish that have calm or even temperaments. Some good options are mollies, swordtails, rasboras, gouramis, elephant nose, and snake loaches

You can also get a range of tetra varieties, including silver tips, bleeding hearts, neon, and cardinal tetras. Catfish are also calm fish who will peacefully coexist with angelfish. As an added advantage, catfish will help keep your tank clean!

Even if a particular species of fish is considered a good tank mate for angelfish, be sure to observe the dynamics in your tank continuously. Each fish has it’s own individual personality, and even a fish from a calm species can be aggressive or nippy. 

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Tankmates To Steer Clear Of

Don’t get other aggressive fish to cohabit with your angelfish. Other aggressive species of fish are sharks, tiger barbs, and vampire tetras. Two aggressive species of fish will attack each other leading to injuries and deaths. 

Since angelfish have long fins, you should also avoid adding nippy fish to your tank. These involve clown loaches and silver dollar fish. 

Your local pet store or aquarium experts will be able to give you more advice about the right fish to cohabit with your angelfish. Your pet store will also be able to give you directions on how to increase the lifespan of your angelfish. 

The most important factors to keep in mind are the habitat you have created, the food you are giving your angelfish, and the tankmates you choose. By making carefully considered choices, you can ensure your angelfish live for ten years or more.