Calico angelfish originate from slow moving tributaries of the Amazon River basin in South America. Juveniles start out entirely jet black before gradually developing their namesake calico patches. These color variations make no two look exactly alike. While calico angelfish prefer soft, acidic water with dim lighting, their breathtaking beauty makes the added considerations worthwhile for devotees.
Introducing Calico Angelfish
- Origin: Indigenous to tributaries of the Amazon River system in Peru and Brazil, South America. Found in shallow, slow-moving waters dense in vegetation like floating meadows.
- Size: Typically reach 5-7 inches as adults. Selectively bred jumbo varieties can grow over 10 inches.
- Lifespan: 10-15 years in ideal aquarium conditions.
- Temperament: Peaceful yet territorial towards other bottom dwelling or open water fish. Can be aggressive to own species when breeding.
- Appearance: Iconic splotched color patterns resembling the coat of calico cats. Base silver and black layers become overlaid with irridescent blue, yellow-green, orange and red spots, giving a multi-colored mosaic appearance. Long flowing fins.
- Varieties: Sunset, galaxy and titanium strains exhibit intensified hues through selective breeding programs. Still being established.
- Price: $25 to $60 USD for juveniles. Rarer color morphs exceed $100+.
Habitat And Tank Requirements
- Natural Habitats: Slow moving streams, side channels, tributaries and floodplain waters connected to the Amazon River system. Areas dense in vegetation, submerged wood and leaf litter that provide refuge and surfaces for grazing microorganisms.
- Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallon aquarium for pair, larger for schools.
- Water Parameters: Soft water with pH 5-7, temperature 76-82°F. Low light.
- Tank Setup: Dimly lit planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spots among driftwood branches, aquatic plants and leaf litter. Fine-grain substrate, filtered to mimic natural habitats. Allow open swimming space.
- Diet: Omnivorous, feeding on small worms, insects, crustaceans and vegetation in the wild. In aquariums they accept a variety of meaty prepared foods along with spirulina-based flakes.
- Feeding Habits: Forage constantly on microorganisms and insect larvae coating leaves and wood in natural habitat. Ready eaters that rise quickly for feedings in home aquariums. Feed 2-4 small meals daily.
- Live or frozen blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimp
- Micro pellet and flake formulas for angelfish
- Spirulina-enriched flakes to bring out natural colors
- Occasional blanched vegetables like zucchini
- Reproduction: Substrate spawners that form monogamous pairs. No parental care. Eggs adhered to solid surfaces, frequently broad leaves. Hatch within 3 days. Fry become free swimming a week later.
- Breeding Requirements: Trigger spawning by gradually raising tank temperature to 82-86°F while performing larger, cooler water changes. Introduce spawning medium like leaves. Well fed, conditioned adults.
- Spawning Process: Ritual of extended fins while circling vertically. Hundreds of small eggs deposited on leaves and retrieved by the male, fertilized externally. Parents may eat some eggs. Fry tiny but grow quickly given microscopic foods.
Common Health Issues
Generally robust fish but issues may include:
- Bacterial Infections: Fin and tail rot, eye cloudiness if subjected to poor water quality. Improve maintenance routines and dose antibiotics. Remove carbon filtration.
- Intestinal Blockages: Overfeeding and gulping air at water surface. Feed soaked freeze-dried foods. Provide vegetables to maintain digestive tract motility.
- Ich Infestations: Susceptible to ich parasite (Ichthyopthirius multifilis). Introduce through new fish. Causes small white specks on fins and body. Use aquarium salt, raise temperature and treat with anti-parasitic medication.
- Compatibility: Suitable tankmates include small tetras, rasboras, Corydoras catfish, Loricariid plecos, hatchetfish and freshwater shrimp. Avoid fin-nipping species.
- Care Instructions: Perform regular partial water testing and changes. Dim lighting to prevent excessive algae. Dose botanical extracts to acidify and soften water. Varied diet fed multiple times small daily. Quarantine new fish.
- Legalities: No regulations on keeping captive-bred calico angelfish. Check local ordinances before collecting any wild specimens which may be illegal without proper licensing and permits.
Compatible species include:
- Other angelfish like standard silver or pearlscale
- Neon tetras, rummy nose tetras, cherry barbs
- Corydoras (peppered, sterbai, pygmy)
- Aquarium shrimp (amanos, cherry shrimp)
- Dwarf gourami, honey gourami
- Hatchetfish, pencilfish
Differences Between Sexes
Males typically grow taller bodies and extended dorsal, anal, and ventral fins compared to plumper females. Vent openings more pointed in males. No reliable visible differences until breeding maturity when genital papillae becomes more apparent in females, allowing egg passage.
“How many species of Calico angelfish?”
Calico angelfish belong to Pterophyllum leopoldi species. Selective breeding programs have established color pattern variants but all share the same genetic lineage.
“How to feed Calico angelfish to make their color brighter?”
Offer a varied diet with ample plant matter and spirulina to naturally accentuate pigments. High quality flake and micro pellet foods also bring out rich colors. Avoid overfeeding.
“How Big do Calico angelfish Grow?”
Calico angelfish typically reach 5-7 inches long in home aquariums. Selectively bred jumbo strains can exceed 10+ inch lengths when fully grown.
“How fast do Calico angelfish grow?”
Providing optimal water quality and diverse nutrition, calico angelfish can achieve most of their growth within the first 10-12 months, slowing afterwards. Juveniles start very small but grow rapidly.
“How long do Calico angelfish live?”
The average lifespan of calico angelfish is 10-15 years. Some may live over 20 years in well maintained aquariums.
“How to take care of Calico angelfish?”
Perform regular partial water changes, feed a varied carnivore-herbivore diet, use soft, acidic water, provide plenty of hiding places and dim lighting in planted aquariums.
“Which food products are the best for Calico angelfish?”
Reputable tropical fish food brands like Hikari, Omega One and New Life Spectrum make high quality angelfish formulas (flakes, pellets) with balanced nutrition.
“Is good to keep Calico angelfish as Pets?”
Yes, their stunning rainbow colors and interactions make calico angelfish entertaining aquarium pets. They adapt well to life in planted community tanks. Provide soft, acidic water and hideaways.
“Why my Calico angelfish die?”
Common causes include rapidly deteriorating water quality, improper diet, bullying by aggressive tankmates, parasites like ich, introduction of pathogens, or jumping from the tank due to unsuitable conditions.
“Are Calico angelfish Aggressive?”
They are generally peaceful but can become territorial towards one another when breeding or defending prime habitat spaces. Not typically aggressive to non-competing fish.
“Do Calico angelfish kill other fish?”
Healthy calico angelfish are unlikely to kill tankmates but may harass slower moving fish, even to death, if severely threatened or while breeding. Remove eggs to reduce protective aggression if issues arise.
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