Hot Water Fish

Angelfish (Scalar Fish)

  • Scientific name:  Pterophyllun scalare
  • Common name: Angelfish, Scalar fish
  • Aquarium size:  100 liters
  • Temperament: Calm
  • Temperature:  Between 24º and 30ºC
  • pH: Between 6 and 7.4
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Length:  15 cm, 20 cm high


The Angelfish or Scalar fish, Pterophyllun scalare , is a fish of the family of fresh and warm water cichlids .
Within the cichlids, the Angelfish belongs to the Cichlasomatine subfamily, which in turn is divided into three different tribes: Acaroniini, Heroini and Cichlasomatini.
There are more subdivisions. The Angelfish belongs to the genus Pterophyllun (leaf with wings), of the Heroini tribe, endemic species of South America.
It is a very original fish in its morphology, of which there is a great variety of colors. We can find angelfish in black, gold, koi or the standard color, which is silver.
They are highly appreciated, because they have a very peaceful demeanor. When they are young they behave gregariously, they live in small groups, but when they are adults they look for a partner to whom they are faithful throughout their lives.


They are fish that reach about 15 centimeters in length, and about 20 centimeters or more in height.
There are no obvious differences between the male Angelfish and the female Angelfish. Males have smaller and more pointed genital papillae than females, but it is a difference that is not very easy to detect.
They are flattened in shape, with triangular shaped anal and dorsal fins, highly developed in relation to the size of their body.
Although apparently they may seem very bulky and slow, they are the opposite: agile and fast.

Sexual dimorphism

Different rumors circulate around the Angelfish, about the possibility of differentiating between males and females.
Some of the unfortunate claims say that it is possible to differentiate the male Scalar fish from the female Scalar fish, because:

  • The male Angelfish has a pronounced bump on the forehead, while the female lacks such a bump.
  • In the male Scalar fish a crest can be found at the beginning of its dorsal fin.
  • Other sources affirm that the males present a smaller difference between the ventral and the anal fin, than the female angelfish.

The reality is that it is not possible to sex with fidelity between males and females. We will only be sure of which is the female of the Escalar fish and which is the male, when we observe at the moment of mating, which of the specimens lays the eggs and which one fertilizes them.


In the market we can find different varieties of Angelfish. Most of them have to do with their coloration, but we can also find varieties in their physical morphology, with differences in their fins and veils:

  • Silver angelfish
  • Marble Angelfish
  • Black angelfish
  • Angelfish blushing
  • Gold Angelfish
  • Gold marble angelfish
  • Halfblack Angelfish
  • Koi Angelfish
  • Zebra Angelfish
  • Albino Angelfish
  • Veiltail Angelfish (veil tail)
  • Angelfish sunset blushing
  • Pearl Scale Angelfish
  • Blue ghost angelfish
  • Pinoy Zebra Angelfish
  • Pinoy Angelfish Pariaba
  • Marbled Angel Fish Pariaba
  • Red German Angelfish
  • Blue cobalt angelfish
  • Manacapuru Angelfish
  • Blue Zebra Marble Angelfish
  • Ghost Pinoy Angelfish
  • Pinoy chocolate angelfish
  • Ghost marble angelfish

Distribution and habitat

Angelfish is native to and endemic to the Amazon basin: Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana, Peru and Brazil.
Its habitat is the rivers and fluvial systems of the Amazon, in medium waters provided with great vegetation.

Aquarium decoration

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  • Best artificial plants

Aquarium conditions

The size of the aquarium will depend on whether we are going to have a couple or more angelfish. For a couple, the ideal size would be about 100 liters, but if we are going to have 4 or 5 scalars, the size has to be at least 200 liters. 
It must be covered with tall and leafy plants, which will help a good biological filtration.
It is also advisable to have a good mechanical filtration, which helps to eliminate the large amount of waste produced by the Scalar fish.
The ideal aquarium, in addition to containing a good number of broadleaf aquarium plants , such as anubias, should have trunks and branches in which it can find shelter.
The presence of wood in the water will reproduce the quality of the original water, with a large amount of tannins. Woods such as mopani or mangrove, dried leaves or pine cones
can be used . We can find some commercial products for sale, which are going to be perfect substitutes. The substrate of the aquarium will not influence its habitat much, it is true that a sandy bottom provides a habitat more similar to the natural one, but it is very inadvisable for a planted aquarium. We can use sand only as a decorative effect, or for those areas where there are no plants.

Water parameters

It is a fairly resistant fish that can withstand adverse aquarium conditions, but only occasionally and not continuously.
For the Escalar fish to develop in perfect conditions, the aquarium water must maintain the following characteristics:

  • Temperature between 24ºC and 30ºC
  • pH between 6 and 7.4.
  • Kh 2.3
  • Gh around 10
  • Nitrogen-free water (See: nitrogen cycle )


They are omnivorous. In the wild, they feed on small crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates, although in captivity they will readily accept prepared dry food, which we must supplement with live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex worms …
It is recommended to distribute the food in two daily doses , not too abundant so that you eat everything that is offered and there is no residue in the aquarium.

Best food for aquarium fish

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Behavior and compatibility

They are docile fish with a certain gregarious behavior when they are young, until they find a mate, which they join for life.
To be able to reproduce Angelfish in the aquarium, it is advisable to have at least five young specimens, until you get a stable pair.
They can have a territorial behavior, especially in the breeding season.
Although he does not usually have problems with other fish, if we make him live with smaller fish, they may serve as food.

Fish compatible with Angelfish

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Harlequin fish
  • Snail Apple
  • Betta fish
  • Gourami Pearl
  • Molly fish
  • Otocinclo

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Discus fish
  • Monjita Fish
  • Botia Clown
  • Silver dollar
  • Corydoras
  • Ancistrus
  • Ramirezi 

Restricted Compatible Fish

  • P ez Zebra
  • Platy
  • Drunk
  • Neon Tetra
  • Guppy


During spawning, the female lays her eggs on a wide leaf or a hard , vertical surface , a blackboard or even the walls of the aquarium can serve her.
The eggs are then fertilized by the male. The eggs remain attached to the support, during the three days of incubation, and the parents (both) actively take care of the eggs, aerating them so that the fry are born in good conditions.
Once the eggs hatch and the fry appear, they must be fed infusoria, which will gradually be replaced by Artemia nauplius.


The Escalar fish or Angelfish

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