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Sunday, July 10, 2016

An Exciting Week!

This has been an exciting week for me because for the first time in two years, I have a breeding pair of angelfish.

If you've been following my posts for awhile, you may remember that Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick had so many successful clutches that I lost count. But after Stevie passed away, Lindsay was uninterested in anyone else. Angelfish usually mate for life.

I have a black angel and a silver angel in a community tank that includes a marble angel, a pleco, about two dozen tetras and about a dozen corydoras. When they decided to lay eggs on an intake, I didn't give it much thought because with so many others in the tank, there would be little chance that they would survive.

However, John and Christie McFish (of Fleetfish Mac fame) have surprised me. Their eggs hatched within a few days and I now have several dozen babies ready to swim.

Once the eggs hatch, the mother or father catch the babies in their mouths and spit them out someplace where they can get plenty of food. In this case, it's on the intake itself where algae has formed. The angelfish stay glued to this by their little heads. In this stage, they are called wigglers.

As they grow, they become strong enough to eventually pop off and swim on their own. This is a dangerous time because they could get sucked into the intake itself, or they could be eaten by another fish. They are barely the size of a hat pin, and they are translucent. They are also shaped like bullets and not the shape we identify with angelfish.

During this phase, the parents will need to keep them corralled. Normally, I would have had them in a tank by themselves with a piece of foam over the intake to prevent anyone from being sucked into it, and there would be no predators in the tank. However, because they are in a community tank, I inserted a small screen between them and the others; it only reaches partway but it prevents a direct line-of-sight. I also removed the third angelfish to another community tank. The pleco was found dead the morning after they laid their eggs; I suspect during the night, the pleco attempted to eat the eggs and the parents viciously defended them.

The tetras and corys are remaining at the far end of the tank and both angelfish check frequently to make sure they stay on their side!

The next phase is called the Invisible Phase. Many of the babies will seem to disappear; they are actually living on the bottom of the tank, in the gravel, where predators are less likely to discover them. I do have an infant tank at the ready, filled with water from the original tank, and I will attempt to capture at least a few. Then I'll see what the survival rate is between those that are in the dedicated infant tank versus those that are kept with the parents.

And what do babies eat when they are barely the size of a hatpin? I will feed them First Bites, which is manufactured specifically for baby fish, and finely crumbled brine shrimp. As they grow over the course of the next eight weeks, they will eventually be weaned onto finely crumbled fish flakes, and then onto regular fish flakes.

Between the age of eight and twelve weeks (depending on their size) they will go to the local pet shop for sale. Although some breeders will sell the babies when they are the size of a dime, I wait until mine are the size of a quarter. By then, their coloring has taken effect and they have the beautiful lines of the angelfish.

To read more about my angelfish breeding, check out other blog posts at

p.m.terrell is the author of more than 18 books in several genres. Her award-winning Black Swamp Mysteries features CIA operatives who use fronts as angelfish breeders to conceal their real identities. Visit for more information and to read sample chapters.