Originating in South America, wild ghost angelfish inhabit slow-moving Amazon tributaries shaded by dense forest canopies. Their pale bodies and bold stripes provide camouflage in those shadowed waters. Though rarely encountered in the ornamental trade until recently, captive breeding programs now offer sustainable ghost angelfish specimens for devoted aquarists.
Introducing Ghost Angelfish
- Origin: Indigenous to slow-moving forest tributaries of the Rio Negro basin within the Amazon River system of Brazil, Peru and Colombia in South America.
- Size: Typically reach 5-7 inches long as adults in home aquariums.
- Lifespan: Approximately 10-15 years with proper care and maintenance.
- Temperament: Shy but peaceful. Reclusive and easily stressed by commotion. Often retreat from threats rather than show aggression.
- Appearance: Translucent white, silver and pale yellow body with 7 dark vertical stripes and oversized eyes placed high on the head. Two dorsal fins, pointed anal fin, sweeping ventral fins, lengthy filament extensions in mature males.
- Varieties: A few color morphs like platinum, golden and smoke ghost angelfish have been recently developed through selective breeding programs. Still very rare.
- Price: $40 to over $100 USD for juveniles and young adults of captive bred strains due to rarity and breeding difficulties.
Habitat And Tank Requirements
- Natural Habitat: Found inhabiting slow-moving, shaded black and clearwater tributaries connected to the Amazon River system in South America. Waters low in minerals and dissolved nutrients. Areas dense with leaf litter and submerged woody debris that provide refuge and foraging sites. Low light conditions.
- Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallon or larger strongly recommended.
- Water Parameters: Very soft (<4 dGH), acidic (pH 5-6.5). Darkwater extract helps recreate natural ecosystems. Dim lighting, ambient room temperatures around 76-82°F.
- Tank Setup: Dimly lit blackwater biotope aquarium densely planted with driftwood branches, dried leaf litter and floating vegetation to provide shaded hiding spots. Use fine, sand-like substrate. Moderate water flow.
- Diet: Insects, worms, crustaceans and some algae in the wild. Flake and micro pellet foods, live or frozen treats including brine shrimp, blood worms and daphnia in home aquariums.
- Feeding: Forage primarily at dawn and dusk in natural habitats. Accept most dropped or floating foods in aquaria though shy and easily intimidated from feeding by boisterous tankmates. Offer live and frozen organisms to stimulate shy appetites.
- Live/frozen blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimp
- Micro angelfish pellets and flakes
- Algae wafers, blanched veggies
- Occasional treats of black worms, small crickets
- Reproduction: Substrate spawners exhibiting no parental care. Form monogamous pairs that spawn on flattened leaves. No bubblenests built by males. Hundreds of small eggs deposited during spawning, most perish rapidly without intervention.
- Breeding Requirements: Condition pairs with live and frozen foods prior to inducing spawns. Lower water level, introduce spawning medium. Maintain soft, acidic, tannin-stained water between 80-84°F.
- Spawning Process: Ritual circling by pair who turn upside down while passing over deposited eggs, fertilizing externally. Hatching within 48 hours, tiny fry perish quickly without infusoria and special care. Remove parents promptly.
Common Health Issues
Sensitive to water quality fluctuations. Health concerns include:
- Fungal Infections: Displayed as cottony growth on head, body and fins. Result from poor water conditions. Improve maintenance while using antifungal treatments.
- Intestinal Blockages: Overfeeding or improper foods may obstruct digestive tracts. Feed frozen then thawed meaty items. Fast then feed peas to clear blockages.
- Jumping: Known jumpers. Ensure tank covered securely. Lower water levels and increase hiding places to curb jumping sparked by poor conditions.
Special Care Considerations
- Compatibility: Extremely shy and peaceful. Best kept species tanks or with small, calm species that tolerate similar water parameters.
- Special Instructions: Require dim lighting and softened acidic water. Shelter frequently. Quarantine new arrivals a minimum 30 days before adding display tanks. Test for pathogens. Use tight-fitting tank covers.
- Legalities: None. Captive-bred ghost angelfish pose no legal restrictions on ownership. Check local statutes before collecting any wild specimens.
Compatible community tankmates include:
- Other small, peaceful angelfish species
- Hatchetfish, pencilfish
- Tetras, rasboras (ember tetras, green rasbora)
- Pygmy Corydoras, Otocinclus catfish
- Freshwater shrimp (crystal red, bee shrimp)
Males develop extended dorsal, anal, ventral fins and filament trailers that may exceed the length of their bodies. Females exhibit plumper bellies, especially prior to spawning. Vent openings appear more rounded in females and pointed in males. No other reliable visible differences.
“How many species of Ghost angelfish?”
The ghost angelfish belongs to the Parapetenia genus of which it is the sole species – Parapetenia macrophthalma. A few recently developed color varieties exist through selective breeding.
“How to feed Ghost angelfish to make their color brighter?”
Offer a variety of high quality prepared and frozen foods to provide good nutrition. Maintain darkwater conditions and shy temperaments limit color display intensity.
“How Big do Ghost angelfish Grow?”
In home aquariums, ghost angelfish typically reach between 5 and 7 inches long when fully grown. Some captive bred strains are bred for larger sizes.
“How fast do Ghost angelfish grow?”
When fed optimal diets, juveniles may reach over two inches long within their first 6 months before slowing. Achieve full grown size around 12-14 months old.
“How long do Ghost angelfish live?”
The average reported lifespan of ghost angelfish is approximately 10 to 15 years in well-maintained aquarium environments. Some hobbyists report fish exceeding 20 years.
“How to take care of Ghost angelfish?”
Offer soft, acidic blackwater conditions, dim lighting, plenty of hiding places and high quality foods. Perform regular partial water changes and monitor water parameters.
“Which food products are the best for Ghost angelfish?”
Recommended brands like Fluval Bug Bites, Hikari micropellets, Omega One angelfish formulas provide excellent nutrition for ghost angelfish.
“Is good to keep Ghost angelfish as Pets?”
Yes, their ghostly appearance and behaviors make them unique additions to advanced planted aquariums. Require some specialty care like soft acidic water. Peaceful by nature.
“Why my Ghost angelfish die?”
Common reasons include rapid water parameter fluctuations, poor diet, bullying tankmates, parasites like ich due to adding infected fish, or suffocation from jumping out of tank.
“Are Ghost angelfish Aggressive?”
No. They are very peaceful, more likely to dart and hide than show any aggression. Care should be taken when selecting appropriate shy and calm tankmates.
“Do Ghost angelfish kill other fish?”
Healthy ghost angelfish present no risks of deliberately killing tankmates. However, much smaller fish may become inadvertent prey if they can fit in an angelfish’s mouth during feedings. Rare occurrences.
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