The scalare angelfish originated in the Amazon River system of South America where it inhabits vegetated side streams, tributaries and floodplains that dry out into isolated pools during dry seasons. Their ability to spawn on submerged leaves helped spearhead the keeping and propagation of angelfish in early 20th century Europe and America. Over a hundred years of selective breeding has established captive scalare varieties displaying spectacular colors and finnage.
Introducing the Scalare Angelfish
- Origin: Indigenous to tributaries and floodplains in the Amazon River basin of Peru, Colombia and Brazil in South America.
- Size: Typically reach 6-8 inches long as adults. Selective breeding has established giant varieties 12+ inches!
- Lifespan: 10-15 years in home aquariums. Some specimens have reportedly reached 20 years.
- Temperament: Generally peaceful yet territorial with others angelfish, particularly while breeding.
- Appearance: Iconic discus-shaped compressed body with flowing dorsal, anal and ventral fins that can exceed body length. Prominent eye stripe found on face. Wild types silver-black horizontal bands on flanks. Other varieties greatly vary coloration and patterning through selective breeding programs.
- Popular Varieties: Silver/black wild types, gold, albino, pearlscale, marbled/Koi, zebra, silver blushing, and black lace among many others.
- Price: $3-$25 USD for juvenile specimens depending on the color variety. Show quality and rare breeds often exceed $50-$100 per fish.
Habitat And Tank Requirements
- Natural Habitat: Found in smaller, vegetated tributaries, streams and oxbow lakes connected to the Amazon River system. Water conditions vary seasonally during flooded and dry cycles when fish congregate in isolated pools and become crowded.
- Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallon aquariums, larger volumes preferred especially when housed with other fish. Allows plenty of unobstructed swimming space.
- Water Parameters: Temperature 76-82°F. Soft water with pH close to neutral ~6.8-7.2. Tolerates wide water conditions. Light to moderate lighting.
- Tank Setup: Planted aquarium with pieces of driftwood and quality filtration. Layer of fine gravel substrate. Allow open areas for swimming between plants and decorations.
- Diet: Omnivorous, will eat a wide variety of meaty and plant-based foods. Live foods like worms and insects along with vascular plant matter composes much of natural diets.
- Feeding Habits: Forage constantly on all foods along bottom surfaces, at mid-levels and will rise to feed at top. Quickly become hand fed by aquarists. Offer 2-4 small feedings daily.
- Live/frozen blood worms, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp and blackworms
- Daphnia, tubifex worms, blanched veggies
- Quality angelfish or cichlid pellets and flakes
- Reproduction: Substrate spawners that scatter adhesive eggs on flat surfaces. No parental care shown, parents should be removed promptly after spawning.
- Breeding Requirements: Condition on quality foods and perform larger water changes. Introduce tall leaf or piece of slate positioned vertically to serve as spawning site. Maintain soft water conditions between 80-84°F.
- Spawning Process: Several hundred small, adhesive eggs are laid in rows or clustered groups near center of leaf. Male fertilizes externally and guards nearby. High mortality rates for the small but rapidly growing fry.
Common Health Issues
Robust fish when provided with clean water and varied diet. Some potential health issues include:
- Intestinal Parasites: Bloating, emaciation, and observation of trailing white feces. Treat entire aquarium with appropriate anti-parasitic medication.
- Bacterial Infections: Fin rot and tail rot results in reddening and erosion of edges, sometimes caused by injury. Utilize antibiotics, increase water quality. Remove carbon filtration during treatments.
- Ich Infestations: Introduced on new fish. Causes small white dots that resemble salt grains scattered on fins or body. Treat with elevated heat along with parasite-specific medication per label instructions. Increase water agitation.
- Compatibility: Best kept with small, peaceful schooling fish that occupy upper tank levels. Avoid fin nippers. Become aggressive to rival angelfish, particularly when spawning.
- Care Considerations: Perform regular partial water changes of 25% weekly or more for fresh water and filtration. Test water parameters like pH. Soften water or use additives if needed to achieve slightly acidic conditions. Ensure varied diet with occasional live foods if possible. Limit disturbance when acclimating new fish. Use high quality angelfish foods for vibrant colors and health.
- Legalities: None. No regulations on keeping captive-bred varieties. Check local laws before collecting wild specimens.
Compatible community fish include:
- Small tetras like neon, cardinal, glowlight
- Rasboras (harlequin, lambchop, chili)
- Barbs (cherry barb, checker barb)
- Danios (zebra, leopard)
- Hatchetfish, pencilfish
- Small gouramis or bettas depending on temperament
- Whiptail and pygmy Corydoras catfish
- Otocinclus algae eaters
Males develop taller bodies, extended dorsal, anal and ventral fins pointed ends. Females exhibit plumper bellies prior to breeding. Vent opening rounder on females, pointed on males. Males tend to show richer dark coloration while females remain lighter silver-white.
“How many species of Scalare angelfish?”
The Pterophyllum scalare is the sole member species of the scalare angelfish group. Only color varieties have been established through captive breeding programs. No other Pterophyllum species qualify as true “scalare”.
“How to feed Scalare angelfish to make their color brighter?”
Offer a nutritious prepared and frozen angelfish diet. Supplement with occasional feedings of live black worms, brine shrimp. Spirulina-enriched flakes also enhance natural colors.
“How Big do Scalare angelfish Grow?”
On average, scalare angelfish grow 6-8 inches long in home aquariums. Selective breeding has resulted in jumbo varieties reaching 12+ inches length!
“How fast do Scalare angelfish grow?”
When fed a proper diet, juveniles can achieve most growth within their first 8-12 months. Giant scalares take over 18 months to reach maximum proportions.
“How long do Scalare angelfish live?”
The typical lifespan of scalare angelfish is 10-15 years on average. Some well cared for specimens have reportedly reached 20 years of age. Proper maintenance is key.
“How to take care of Scalare angelfish?”
Perform regular partial water changes, feed a variety of meaty and plant-based foods, maintain slightly acidic soft water, provide anchored smooth leaved plants for spawning sites. Remove eggs promptly after laying to prevent parents eating them.
“Which food products are the best for Scalare angelfish?”
Quality brands like Hikari, Tetra, Fluval, and Omega One all produce excellent angel formulas containing nutrients needed for growth and coloration.
“Is good to keep Scalare angelfish as Pets?”
Yes, few freshwater fish can rival scalare angelfish for graceful beauty and movement. Given their long history in the aquarium trade, much is reliably known about properly caring for them. Peaceful and interactive once settled.
“Why my Scalare angelfish die?”
Common causes of premature death include rapid water parameter changes, diet deficiencies, bullying tankmates, parasitic infestations introduced on new fish, bacterial infections, digestive issues, and stunted growth due to poor quality foods and maintenance routines.
“Are Scalare angelfish Aggressive?”
Scalare angelfish are generally peaceful community tank inhabitants. However they can become aggressive towards each other when matched in pairs or trios, especially during spawning activities and defending territory or prime habitat areas.
“Do Scalare angelfish kill other fish?”
It’s unlikely for healthy scalare angelfish to deliberately kill smaller tankmates. However, newly hatched fry and small fish are sometimes treated as prey food items by angelfish parents after spawnings. Accidental deaths may also happen to very undersized fish that swim into an angelfish’s mouth during feeding time. Proper selections of appropriately sized tankmates greatly reduce risks.
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