Question on angelfish behavior

CarissaT

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Hi,
I have a 75g tank that has two angelfish in it. I was hoping I would end up with a male and female, they seemed to hang out together most of the time and one is somewhat larger than the other now. But the other day I did a major pruning since my plants were getting out of control. This morning they are fighting with the larger one basically having driven the smaller one into hiding. So am I safe to assume they are two males at this point? And if so should I get another one or two to hopefully even out the aggression?
 

GaryE

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It's not safe to assume that yet, though it's looking that way. Evening out the aggression would take four more to be sure. Three is the 'number of death'. The life of an angel that's a third wheel is rough.

Newfoundland? Here's three cheers for Carbonear... My family's from Harbour Grace and Bare Need.
 

Byron

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Angelfish cannot be successfully kept with two, three or even four, assuming they are normal in their behaviours and interactions, and depending upon the individual fish. Adding a third now is only going to make things worse. You need to separate the two, re=homing one is probably the easiest assuming you do not have another suitable tank running. The one being bullied is highly stressed and it will most likely die.

Amngelfish are shoaling fish, living in groups. In the aquarium, five is the minimum number (unless you have a bonded breeding pair). But even then, a 75g is a very small space for these fish, and it may or may not work. The group must be placed together at the same time, so they can establish their natural hierarchy. However, this often plays out badly. If a pair does bond, the remaining angelfish will be harassed usually to death, as their is no room in an aquarium for escape as there is in the habitat.

A bonded pair means that a male and female from within a group will accept each other and bond. This bond may last their lives, or it may not, depending upon the individual fish. But it is the only way to acquire a pair.
 
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CarissaT

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Thanks. I think it’s a territorial thing right now having to do with my cutting out some of the plants because this hasn’t happened before. I may try moving around a couple of plants and/or adding some rock scape to give more cover at the very least and see how it goes. A third wheel is definitely a bad idea I agree. So if anything I could consider getting two more. Rehoming isn‘t a great idea because it would basically mean giving it back to the pet shop where I see them sell people fish all the time that they never should have.
 

GaryE

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In a planted 75, I wouldn't consider the standard group of 6 as too much. They are funny fish - variable from individual to individual.
 

Byron

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Thanks. I think it’s a territorial thing right now having to do with my cutting out some of the plants because this hasn’t happened before. I may try moving around a couple of plants and/or adding some rock scape to give more cover at the very least and see how it goes. A third wheel is definitely a bad idea I agree. So if anything I could consider getting two more. Rehoming isn‘t a great idea because it would basically mean giving it back to the pet shop where I see them sell people fish all the time that they never should have.

The fish will be hounded to the point of stress in its present environment, which I do not see as better than being returned. I would agree that many people buy angelfish not understanding things, as here, and they should not, nor should stores sell them to everyone. But we're not likely to change that.

"Territorial thing" is correct, that is what it is. The dominant angelfish considers the entire tank his space. In nature, this plays out differently because the targeted angelfish can swim away and pair up with another fish or whatever. There is not sufficient space in a 4-foot or 5-foot tank for this to work.

This is all programmed into the fish's genetic makeup. An aquarist must research each species and accept their behaviour over time as normal. And provide accordingly.
 
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CarissaT

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I did some rescaping and things have settled down a lot. They are swimming around together most of the time now with an occasional posture. The smaller one is not making any attempts to avoid the larger one. I guess I’ll just have to keep an eye out and do something if the bullying continues and they don’t sort things out. I would rather try adding more if that may help as opposed to returning one. Would adding some other type of fish help? I read that having larger tetras or rasboras could help but I don’t really understand why unless maybe they are more distracting than other types of fish. Incidentally I used to have a school of neons in there but now there are only two or three left so they usually stay among the plants (they are three years old). Also right now there are some platies in there, but they tend to keep to themselves down amongst the plants, occasionally they become a target of Mr Territorial but not very often and there are enough of them that nobody gets singled out.

I would like to know if anyone is able to sex them? Originally I was thinking the smaller one was a female because it seems to have a bulge compared to the other one, I thought maybe eggs? Is it possible for a male to act like this to a female and ultimately pair? First 3 pics are smaller one and last 3 the larger one.
 

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itiwhetu

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I don't believe in the bonded pair thing with Angels. We used to have twenty to thirty fish that were held in a holding tank. When we wanted to breed them, we would select the fish we wanted to mate with each other and put them in their own tanks, about 90% of those pairs would mate.
 

anewbie

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Angelfish cannot be successfully kept with two, three or even four, assuming they are normal in their behaviours and interactions, and depending upon the individual fish. Adding a third now is only going to make things worse. You need to separate the two, re=homing one is probably the easiest assuming you do not have another suitable tank running. The one being bullied is highly stressed and it will most likely die.

Amngelfish are shoaling fish, living in groups. In the aquarium, five is the minimum number (unless you have a bonded breeding pair). But even then, a 75g is a very small space for these fish, and it may or may not work. The group must be placed together at the same time, so they can establish their natural hierarchy. However, this often plays out badly. If a pair does bond, the remaining angelfish will be harassed usually to death, as their is no room in an aquarium for escape as there is in the habitat.

A bonded pair means that a male and female from within a group will accept each other and bond. This bond may last their lives, or it may not, depending upon the individual fish. But it is the only way to acquire a pair.
I'm not going to agree with this in totality as it depends a lot on the sex of the fishes (i.e., what you said is sometimes true but in a controlled fashion not always). I've kept as many as 8 in a 120 only to have dynamics break down over time and as few as 3 without issues. It is possible that true shoaling behavior would form in a larger aquarium where the pairs can have greater separation (and next year i will have a 10footx3foot aquarium to play with). Anyway i would give them more time. A single male is usually not territorial my adult male who became 'orphaned' after a bit of an issue was more than willing to accept some new angels (i've added 1 quarter size angels and he just ignores it - and then a month later 2 more which he again ignores; and this is not hte first time i've done that). I'm not recommending that you add more but there are a lot of unknown factors such as age of the angelfishes when you added them - current age and if/when they reached sexual maturity. There is no doubt that behavior will change as the angelfishes age - not just when they reach maturity but also as they age beyond that.

There are a couple of things that might be happening; you might have two females and it could be very well that one female is trying to remove the other (I've found females far more aggressive and deadly than males); you could have two males (in most cases males will establish dominance but not do a lot of chasing - things are a bit worse if both are nearly equal and it takes a longer period to determine who is alpha. You could have a male/female and they might not have decided they are compatible.

Another factor is size of the aquarium and how it is scaped which does have a bit of an impact on dynamics.

Looking at your picture I think you have m/f and they are just deciding if they are compatible.

As to bonding; they tend to loosely bond. If a pair form and they are compatible they will tend to stay together but if after time they they become incompatible the female will remove the male (and i mean physically remove him) but if the pair is split (death/removal) they will readily accept new partner. At least in my aquarium i had a stable bond between a pair that lasted around 4 or 5 year.
 
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CarissaT

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Thanks. I read somewhere that a large water change can disrupt the social structure because it’s partly established with chemicals from their waste, changing a lot of water reduces that and makes them feel they have to establish rank again. When I did the big pruning i also did a water change which was the first for about a month. Yes my bad, I don’t usually let it go that long. So maybe both factors, the rescape and water change combined, triggered this behavior.

I got both of them at the same age and they were about quarter sized then. I’m thinking 6-8 months ago. I’ll post a pic where you can see their relative size difference now. I’ve noticed a difference in size for about the last couple months. With the fins the smaller one is about 3”, the larger closer to 4”.

So far today I haven’t noticed much aggressive behavior. Occasional posturing but no all out brawls ending with one hiding like yesterday. They are always hanging out together, the smaller one seems to follow the larger one around a bit, and is always within eyeshot of the larger one who usually ignores it, which doesn’t seem like a typical bullying situation at least as this point. Even yesterday when they were actually fighting (fin nipping and locking mouths), once the smaller one would hide for a bit it would come back out and go around the larger one again readily, who may or may not then start another fight. With the bullying I’ve been familiar with (mostly gouramis) the victim would almost always try to stay out of sight and whenever the bully would see him he would go after him and that’s definitely not the case here at least not yet.

If anyone else wants to weigh in on whether I have a female/male situation that would be great or any other insights.
 

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TwoTankAmin

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It is hard to tell from your pics but it appears as if their tubes are coming out. This would indicate sexual maturity and with better pics they should be sexable based on the shape of the tube. Males are basically pointed and females are basically more blob-like/rounded. The male only needs to quirt sperm but she needs to be able to pass out eggs.

If you do have a pair and I am correct abiut the tubes, watch for them to select a spot and then clean it preparatory to spawning attempts. If you gave other fish in the tank a pair will keep them all away from a selceted spawning spot and will then aggressively defend their eggs. Here is how one sitr decribes them:
"Male breeding tube is thinner and pointy much like a pencil tip;"
and for the female: "Breeding tube is wider and blunt."

On the other hand I may be wrong re the tubes. You should be able to tell by looking at them closelybetter than what I can see from your pics.
 
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CarissaT

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After many pictures these are the two that look most representative of what I see. The smaller one looks like there could be more like two points on it if any, the larger one is definitely pointy with just one point.

Does the female get a bulge in that area of her belly when she’s full of eggs? The smaller one definitely has a bulge where the larger one does not.

What are the ideal water parameters to get angelfish to spawn?
 

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CarissaT

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Just did a full battery of tests and here are the results:
Ammonia and nitrite 0
Nitrate 5ppm
KH and GH 80ppm each
ph 7.6
temp 78
tds 250ppm
lighting - led around 12 hours a day but ramping up and down, full brightness only a couple hours a day
I dose Flourish excel daily, and lately, only occasionally micro ferts. Ran out of macros a couple weeks ago and figured what the heck I’ll see what happens since I have 95% slow growing plants. Tap water (from a well) is super soft so occasionally I’ll throw in some calcium chloride so I can keep my snail population going. I normally do 25% water changes every couple weeks.

After reading up a bit, I think if they are a male and female and won’t spawn one possible reason is the number of other fish in there. There are about 10 platies more or less besides the 3 neons, also a yo-yo loach and albino bristlenose pleco. One of my reasons for getting the angelfish in the first place was for population control on the platies, and it seems to be working as I’ve only noticed one baby Platy in there recently. But just the same maybe the angels are still getting to maturity.
 
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anewbie

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Naw; they will spawn if they are m/f when they are ready. They are still pretty young - give them a couple of months. Smaller cichlid will sometime be reluctant to spawn but angels are not shy about it even with tank mates.
 
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CarissaT

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Naw; they will spawn if they are m/f when they are ready. They are still pretty young - give them a couple of months. Smaller cichlid will sometime be reluctant to spawn but angels are not shy about it even with tank mates.
K cool
All is calm in fish kingdom today
anyone else want to weigh in on my breeding tube pictures?
 

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