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Angelfish Male vs. Female, Spawning, Hatching, and Raising Fry


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What’s up everyone?!

While I’m no expert, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two regarding Angelfish in the past couple of years I’ve been growing out Angels, spawning them, hatching eggs, and raising fry. While this is not a comprehensive list, these are the things that work for me and the tips I wish I had when I bought my first Angelfish. 

Males vs. Females:

-I wish there was a definitive list in “X is definitely a male and Y is definitely a female”. I know that Dean gets hit up all the time with the “can you sex my juvenile Angelfish?!” and the answer is basically, no. I can’t, Dean can’t, nobody can really say with 100% certainty whether your juvenile Angelfish is male or female. However, here’s what I’ve noticed with my personal fish. 

-The males I know I have do NOT have nuchal humps. Like, basically none at all. However, in my experience, males are generally bigger than females. 
-The known females I have don’t necessarily have characteristics separating them from the males, but I have noticed that my females tend to be smaller. 

-When it comes to selecting males or females from a store, I recommend purchasing a group and letting them pair off naturally. Even with a couple years under my belt I wouldn’t feel comfortable looking at juveniles and going, “yup, that one is a male and that other one is a female so bag those up for me”. Instead, buy a group of 4-5, grow them out, let them pair off, and then when they start spawning you’ll know 100% which is male and which is female (at least in the breeding pair you now have). 

I snapped some pictures of both my male and female Panda Angelfish tonight, and then an hour later they were spawning. Let’s take a look:


This is the female. You’ll notice her ovipositor is more round and not sharply pointed. In person, it is also much wider than the male. Once you know which fish is male and which is female, it’s pretty easy to differentiate. If you’re confused, don’t worry, I was too at first!

Here’s the male. Again, pictures don’t really do it justice, but he’s much bigger than the female. Also, his “tube” (sorry, idk the name and can’t find it with a quick google search… told you I’m no expert!) is much more pointed and not as wide.

Here we see the female depositing eggs onto the breeding slate. You can really notice the difference in size between the male and female in this picture. The female deposits eggs, and then the male follows behind and fertilizes the eggs.


As mentioned above, the male follows behind the female and fertilizes the eggs. 

In my experience, the actual act of spawning takes a couple of hours. I know the fish are done spawning when the female is using her Pectoral Fins to “fan” the eggs. Once I see that, I know it’s time to snatch the eggs. Either to dispose of them, or hatch them out.

Hatching the eggs:

-When it comes to hatching the eggs there’s a couple of things you can do:

-1. Allow the parents to fan the eggs, watch (and potentially move) the wigglers, and get them to free swimming fry. 
     -If you’ve never seen this, I definitely recommend trying. It’s mind-blowing to me that fish have the natural instincts to do these things even as first time parents. Highly recommend seeing this at least once. Best case scenario, you get some fish that survive. Worst case scenario, you get to see the fish do all these things and then the free swimming fry get eaten. 
-My preferred method is “pulling the spawn” and artificially hatching it myself. To hatch the spawn myself, here’s what I do:

Once I notice the female “fanning” The eggs with her pectoral fins I literally take the slate or Amazon Sword leaf out of the aquarium. The spawn should look like this:


Spawn on an Amazon Sword Leaf.


Spawn on a slate.

Whether the spawn is on a leaf or the slate, the process is the same.

-The leaf or slate gets moved to a 2.5 gallon tank. I fill this tank up to the 2 gallon mark, allowing room for the “lid” to fit, and room for the sponge filter to flow. I add 2 drops of Methylene Blue to the tank, and put an air stone underneath the eggs to constantly flow over the eggs:


From here you do nothing. Literally just let things marinate and the eggs will hatch in due time. In a couple days you’ll have “wigglers”. They literally look like eggs with tails that wiggle back and forth. Again, do nothing. Just sit back, observe, and watch nature do her thing. 
-Some wigglers might fall off the slate/leaf and that’s completely normal. Again, just observe. You don’t need to do anything until the fry become free swimming. 

-Once the fry become free swimming, it’s time to do a water change. The Methylene Blue helps the fungused (infertile) eggs from spreading to the fertile eggs, but once the fry are free swimming the Methylene Blue is no longer useful and can actually be detrimental. Once the fry are free swimming, I do a 50% water change. 
-To change water (with tiny little fish) I use airline tubing with coarse sponge shoved in the end. This allows water to flow through the tubing, but shouldn’t suck up any fish. 50% water change is sufficient in my experience. With this initial water change, I also throw in a small ACO cycled sponge filter as the next step is feeding up the fry. 

-The fry have a visible yolk sac on them. While this is still visible, feeding does nothing else other than cloud the water. The fry survive on this yolk sac for the first couple of days. Once the yolk sac is gone, the fry are hungry and ready to actually eat. 

-In the morning I use a tiny dash of Hikari First Bites. I use a straw to remove a small amount of powder from the food container, and then a couple small taps on the straw deposits a small amount of powdered food into the tank. At night, the fry get frozen baby brine shrimp that I hatched myself. In my experience, if the fry are ready to eat they’re ready to eat live or frozen baby brine. This is one of the best parts of Angelfish; they can take baby brine basically immediately. 

-From here, I follow the same routine. First Bites in the morning and baby brine shrimp at night. I change 50% water once per week as the cycled sponge can handle the feeding that I personally do. 

-The fry stay in the 2.5 gallon tank until I feel they’re crowded/I have the time and space available to move the fry. The fry get moved to a 1/2 full 10 gallon tank. 

-The only thing that changes at this point (and honestly probably before they get moved) is that at some point I stop feeding First Bites and start feeding finely crushed flake food. 

-Once in the 1/2 full 10 gallon the fry continue to get crushed flakes in the morning and baby brine shrimp at night. Weekly, with the rest of my maintenance, I’ll add ~1 gallon of water to the tank as a water change. Each week, the water volume is growing right alongside the fry. It takes 4-5 weeks for the 1/2 full 10 gallon to become a full 10 gallon. Here’s some pics:

They’re starting to look like tiny Angels! This is the fry in maybe the 3/4 full 10 gallon so they’ve been in here a couple of weeks.


Here, they really look like tiny Angels and are ready to move out of this tank.


From the 10 gallon tank they move to a 55 gallon tank to finish growing out until they’re ready to be traded to the LFS. 1/3 of the 55 is dedicated to the Angelfish pair and a Bristlenose Pleco pair. The other 2/3 is dedicated to raising fish to trade to the LFS. The Angels continue to get fed twice per day. As they grow, the foods they consume grow. Crushed Krill Flake mixed with Spirulina Flake (I essentially make my own community crave), live and frozen baby brine shrimp, nano pellets, frozen bloodworms, and Vibra Bites all make an appearance as the fish grow. 

Once they’re to the size I normally see at the LFS I hit them up and see if they want the fish. I’ve spent the past couple of years really nurturing that relationship so at this point I go, “Hey, you guys want these?” And they say, “Yup, bring ‘em in any time we’re open”. 

So ya, this is what I do to pair/hatch/raise my Angels. Hopefully this helps others out there, and if you have any questions just give me a holler here! I’m not an expert and I’m not raising 1,000’s of these guys, but I raise what I have the space for and this is what works for me. Appreciate you guys for reading all the way through this!

Edited by AllFishNoBrakes
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Thank you for putting such detail into this post! I am currently working on spawning some angelfish and am at the "buy 5 angels and grow them up" stage, so not too far along, but I'm working on it. I will definitely check back in here frequently as the process continues. I love the idea of filling up the ten gallon as the fry grow, because it seems to not oly help by improving water quality and keeping them confined enough to find food easily, but also helps you know how old each group of fry are. I do have one question though. Where do you get your methylene blue?

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@Levi_Aquatics For sure! Let me know. I’m always happy to help where I can and chat some fish. I feel like I missed some details but I’m always happy to add on and explain. What type of Angels did you buy?!

Agreed that the 1/2 full 10 gallon helps with water quality and keeping food contained. The 2.5 gallon footprint to the 1/2 full 10 seems like a big jump but I’ve never had a problem with it. Works well for me. 

As for the Methylene Blue, I’m pretty sure I got it on Amazon a couple of years ago. It might’ve been labeled as “denim dye” or something along those lines. I took a chance, but it has all worked out. It’s a pretty small bottle, and if I remember correctly I paid less than $10 for it. That sub $10 bottle will be a lifetime supply at 2 drops per spawn. 

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@AllFishNoBrakes Thank you! I will certainly reach out if I need some advice, which I'm sure I will need at some point. I have 3 black and gold marbles and 2 with more "natural"colors. I would love to get into keeping koi or pandas, but my lfs had these in from a local breeder at a decent size for $7, so I couldn't turn that down. I also think it is smart to start with some cheaper stock and work my way up.

Okay, I will have to check that out. Is the bottle you purchased 100 percet methylene blue? Because I have seen some that say (x) percent methylene blue and stuff, but I'm not sure if that's what I want or not? Thanks in advance!:) 

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@Levi_Aquatics Rad! I have my pair of Panda’s separated off as they are more lucrative to trade. These are my bread and butter when it comes to trading to the LFS for store credit. 

I also have 1 all black female, 1 additional Panda Male, 1 black and gold Marbled Male, and 1 gold (assumed male) in a community tank. The all black female switches between the Marbled Male and the second Panda Male in the community tank. She’s scandalous, that’s for sure. 

If I don’t have a current batch of Pandas, but the community tank is spawning I’ll raise up those fry to fill the gaps, but mostly I focus on the Panda’s as I get 2x per fish for the Pandas than I do for the “mixed generic Angelfish”. 

For the Methylene Blue, here’s the packaging and the bottle:




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@AllFishNoBrakes that sounds like a fun time with all the different types of angels you have going!! I know Dean also uses his angels to fund his fish room, so I am thinking of trying to do the same thing with that. 

Here’s a picture of four of the five angelfish I currently have that was taken a few weeks ago. My favorite one is the marble I the front because of how much gold/ orange he has on his head and because of the cool pattern on his caudal fin. Hopefully he decides to pair up with a female soon, but it’s just a waiting game at this point. 

Thanks for the info on the methylene blue! I will probably be receiving an Amazon package soon lol. 

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@Levi_Aquatics I’ve heard Dean say that too, and I totally believe it. Right now I have:

~75 Panda juveniles growing out in the 55 gallon tank. I’ll trade these off ~20 at a time starting with the biggest ones and giving the little guys a chance to grow out

~25 additional Panda fry in the 2.5 gallon tank. Hatched a full spawn and then fed off a bunch of the fry to cull it down to a manageable number. 

Since hatching the next batch (the 25 in the 2.5 gallon) I’ve had 3 additional spawns. The Panda’s spawned again (the picture on the slate in my original posting), and the community tank spawned in that same week (the Amazon Sword leaf picture in my original positing). The Panda’s spawned AGAIN last night, hence how I was able to get pictures of them individually and then in the act of spawning. All 3 of these spawns have been disposed of as I literally can’t raise all those fish, lol. 

Dean says Angels can fund your whole fish room and Cory says a spawn is worthless until it’s sold. Both are true and you have to balance it. 

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Wow, that’s great!! I’m sure it can be a lot to manage so many fry, but it also sounds like you are making good money with those panda angels which is great! And even if you can’t raise every batch of eggs, it still shows your fish are really happy which is  always a good thing! I will make sure too keep you in the loop if there are any developments with my angels. Thanks again for all the excellent advice!

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On 3/14/2023 at 11:23 PM, AllFishNoBrakes said:

What’s up everyone?!

While I’m no expert, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two regarding Angelfish in the past couple of years I’ve been growing out Angels, spawning them, hatching eggs, and raising fry. While this is not a comprehensive list, these are the things that work for me and the tips I wish I had when I bought my first Angelfish. 

What a thoughtful and helpful post. Thank you for putting it together and including those great photos. The very last thing I need is to breed angelfish but my goodness the sight of those babies has me wanting to! Adorable and kudos to you for figuring out what works well for you.

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On 3/17/2023 at 11:58 AM, PineSong said:

The very last thing I need is to breed angelfish but my goodness the sight of those babies has me wanting to!

It’s super fun! My Panda’s breed true, which is nice and makes it easy. When the Black Female and the Panda Male breed it’s about 50/50 Panda/All Black. When the Black Female/Marbled Male breed I get some super fun combos. At the end of the day, Angels are pretty easy to raise and are readily consumed in the hobby so it makes it worth my time to stack some credit. 

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