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S.O.S. - My MALE Angelfish laid eggs!!!


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Ok. Here's a weird one for you. A while back I spent time on line trying to determine whether my Angelfish is male of female. Based on the info out there I determined that it is most definitely a male fish.

Well, yesterday my "MALE" Angelfish decide to prove me wrong by laying several hundred eggs on one of the Anubias leaves. I was going to write asking advice about what to do because "SHE" is terrorizing any fish that comes near her eggs; especially my swordtails. However, I woke up this morning to discover that all the eggs were gone. I have a feeling that my Pleco decide to feast over night while she slept. Don't know for sure.

With that said, here are my questions:

1) I only have one Angelfish and I've had her since she was the size of a quarter (she's roughly 3.5 inches now). Do Angelfish lay eggs periodically even if there are no males around or is this a case of immaculate conception? Perhaps this is a confused male fish after all?!

2) What is the best way to handle this issue in the future (assuming the possibility that somehow the eggs were fertile)? Do I cut the leaf off and move it to another tank? Do I relocate all the other fish and leave her to tend to her eggs?

3) Now that there are no more eggs, will she understand that there are no eggs left to protect and calm down from her hostility towards the other fish? Do I need to move her out for a while? I was planning next week to buy a Blue Gourami to add to the tank and introduce it in about a week or so. Should I wait?

Looking forwards to your answers.


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Your fish is a female. It's nearly impossible to accurately sex angelfish without looking at their papilla as many masculine characteristics are present in females and vice versa. Angelfish females will produce eggs if well fed and lay them regularly regardless of male presence. If she were to spawn with a male, the eggs would most likely be eaten by the parents or tankmates. Some parents will raise their spawns however this trait has largely been bred out of angelfish unintentionally by fish farms who pull the eggs from the parents in order to maximize output (angelfish will not spawn if they are raising fry so pulling the eggs will cause them to spawn again sooner).

Territorialism is very common in angelfish and partially depends on the tank size. I have a male who is territorial when he wants to spawn or around food. I have a female who is territorial when she spawns. I have two others who don't give a hoot about other fish. In general I wouldn't put an angelfish with a gourami. They like similar water conditions but both are somewhat known for being territorial and if you do decide to go forward with the blue gourami I would suggest that you have a backup plan ready in case things don't go as planned.

Are there any other fish in the tank? Usually for mixed species setups it's recommended to add the most docile fish first and then put the most aggressive species in last so that the aggressive fish can't establish its territory before other fish move in.

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Hi MaxM,

Yes, many egg layers will go thru the motion from time to time. It's totally natural.  In nature, and better seen in captivity, there are a lot of egg laying species that sometimes become 'confused' when it comes to mating.

For the future, let nature takes it's course.  Clearly without the opposite sex the eggs will never be fertile.  If you do see another egg deposit, quite often they will eat their own. 

As for adding a Gourami, in my experience... go for it.  Gourami's (especially the dwarf variety) are pretty laid back.

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