Kathy Potts Angelfish Spawning
 Aqualand’s inside look at
a Succesful Angelfish Spawning

 
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Prologue:  Kathy Potts takes magnifique angelfish photos.  She sent me several bunches over time and a half and offered to let me assemble some of them into an angelfish spawning report.  I think you will appreciate her photos.  I inserted one of mine at the beginning to give us a jumping off point.  We'll cover not just the egg-laying process itself but also how to care for the eggs and fry -- the points where most people lose their spawns.  LA

LA
Here's the original angelfish from which derived all the others.

 
They've Come a Long Way Baby:  For some strange reason this guy is called a "silver."  This is what angelfish looked like for decades -- a striking aquarium inhabitant indeed.  Even non-fishkeepers recognize the angelfish.  Many assorted colors, fin, and scale types have hit the market since angelfish first appeared.  They all spawn together because they're all the same fish  Color has nothing to do with mate selection.  However, selective breeding has resulted in a rainbow of angelfish colors.  I still remember when "golds" first hit the market.  Most didn't turn gold until they were about a year old.  They also had a tendency to spin over backwards when their lights first came on -- very weird behavior.

Silver Variations.  Within the silver barred variety, you may find zebras, blues, and greens.  All look pretty good.

KP

Early Colors:  One of the earlier "colors" was the marble angelfish.  This color was (and is) one of the hardiest.  The blush of red/yellow/orange on the forehead indicates the male in most of the color varieties.  You'll also see a red blotch/spots on the foreheads of the original "wild caught "silvers.
 

KP

More Colors:  Marble angelfish come in at least two variations -- the dark marbles and the silver marbles.  Breed two dark marbles together and the offspring look like mini-versions of their parents.  Breed a dark marble with a silver and you get a light marble.  Both colors are very hardy.  Another variation of the marbles is the half black, smoky, or Sheffield angelfish.  Lots of variations pop up when you start letting the adults pick their own partners.

KP
Bottom angelfish is a koi -- four colors (actually five if you count his "blusher" gill covers).

One of my Male Angelfish
© Kathy Potts 2010
IMG 1214 2KP
More color, bump on head, red eyes -- probable male.

KP
Pointed breeding tube -- definite male.

KP
Blunt breding tube -- definite female.

Sexing:  Male angelfish tend toward the more colorful side.  They're also more likely to have red eyes, a bump on their foreheads, and a smaller gut (even after eating).  A pointed breeding tube serves as a more reliable sexing clue.

KP
Gold marble -- a very strong strain.

Post-Golds:  Solid gold angelfish appeared early.  Then they were crossed with marbles to yield gold marbles.  Note that red blush on his head.  This head coloration varies a great deal.  Some breeders worked to increase the red coloration.  Like the solid blacks, the reddest babies appear to be weaker.  The original albinos were also weaker.  They are much improved these days   All these color variations can pop up in veil (a long finned variety) and pearl (a scale variation).  Then there's blushers and kois and who knows what else by now?  Now let's get into angelfish breeding.
 
KP
Products of a "mixed marriage."


Start Slow:  If you have more time than money, buy six or more young angelfish.  You raise them up for a year and let them pair off on their own.  The more costly method involves starting with a proven pair -- a bit more costly and not always reliable method.  Some refer to them as "mated pairs."  Professional breeders just put a male and a female together and find they pair off rapidly when fed well.  This also makes their progeny more likely to come out looking the same as their parents.     

KP
Two males sparring for the attention of a comely female.


Pre-Pairs Argue:  Some would say that angelfish fight among themselves during the pairing off process.  Some do, but not as seriously as the larger cichlids.  Fighting or arguing probably assures the "survival of the fittest" as Darwin would say.  (Which explains why so many winners in the Ultimate Fighting Arena have such large families.)

KP
The guy in front lost and has a few bruises around the mouth.  He'll have to find another likely female.


Arguments Usually Minor:  Spawning adult angelfish rarely die from their pre-spawning tiffs.  And a failure at breeding with the first female sheds no illumination plus or minus on the success of future couplings.

KP
Females are not real picky about spawning sites.


Your Female Breeds Whether You're Ready or Not:  Filter tubes, heater tubes, and the glass sides of their aquarium are all potential spawning sites -- not the best -- just potential.  Female angelfish actually prefer a different option.

KP
Males will protect the egg site while she's "at work."


Males Also Participate:  Males follow right behind the female after she lays them.  Not all males are equal at this stage.  It usually takes about three spawns for the male to get his technique down pat.  And, it's worth mentioning here that two females will spawn together.  You get lots of eggs with little time in between batches of eggs.

KP
Both sexes care for the eggs.


Males and Females Both Work:  Your parents both care for the eggs.  They fan the eggs to aerate them and to remove any particulate matter that settles on them.  They also protect their eggs from other tank mates.  They cannot protect their eggs from algae eaters or snails.  Both of these egg eaters work the night shift while the parents snooze.  All species of algae eaters and snails love angelfish eggs.  Both the male and female angelfish continually inspect the eggs and remove infertile (white) and deceased eggs.

KP
Amazon sword plant leaf -- spawning site of choice for most angelfish.

KP

KP

KP
Couple of fry from a previous spawn.

Spawning Sites:  Angelfish "return to their roots" when possible.  They love to lay their eggs on Amazon sword plant leaves, even the plastic version.  Usually their site cleaning efforts result in more damage to the leaf than this.

LA Pros prefer a very simple breeding set up.

The Professional Breeder Site:  Breeders that crank out voluminous quantities set up their breeding quarters on the sparse site -- usually a 10-gallon tank with a filter plus a  piece of slate at a 30 degree angle.  (In case you wondered whatever happened to all those blackboards you used to see in the schools.  The only blackboards you see these days are the one Bart Simpson writes on.)  Anyway, the pros set up 30 0r 50 of these in a row and put one pair of angelfish in each aquarium.

LA
Add some anti-fungal juice.


Yanking the Eggs:  Serious breeders yank that piece of slate once the parents lay and fertilize them.  They put the eggs in a gallon jar with a moderate airstone and add methylene blue to discourage fungus.  When the eggs are left with the parents, they will remove fungused eggs before the spreading saprolegnia filaments spread to the healthy eggs.  The pros add enough methykene blue that they can barely see the eggs.

KP
Infertile eggs can cause problems in the spawn.


Egg Fungus Tends to Spread:  Egg fungus can wipe out the whole batch.  You can't add methylene blue to a large breeding tank, and you probably don't need to.  But you can inoculate the one-gallon incubation jars and you probably need to.  Fungus spreads more rapidly in crowded quarters.

KP
Almost newly hatched angelfish eggs fall to the bottom


Newly Hatched Eggs:  When first hatched, angelfish eggs adhere to the spawning site by a sticky "thread."  At first they're little more than blobs with a wiggling tail.  They are not fish or fry.  They are larvae in their developmental stage.  They gradually absorb their yolk sac, get better tails, lose their sticky threads, and start resembling a fish (a little bit).  They just lie on the bottom totally helpless.  In natural spawnings, their parents would move them from site to site to protect them from hungry predators.

KP
Little further along in the maturation process.


Do Not Feed Yet:  The last organs angelfish develop are their mouths and digestive processes -- about the same time they start figuring out how to swim.  When they become free-swimming, they are ready to eat -- but not just any food.  Newly free-swimming angelfish are very particular in the choice for a first food.  First, it has to wiggle.  Second, it has to fit in their mouths.  

LA
Food of first choice -- newly hatched brine shrimp.  Actually, these are two days old.


KP
Six week old angelfish still eagerly eat brine shrimp nauplii.


Newly Hatched Artemia Salinas Rate Very High:  This is the stage at which most people lose their baby angelfish or the vast bulk of them.  Newly swimming baby angelfish do best on newly hatched brine shrimp.  You need to hatch fresh shrimp every day.  If you try to feed the shrimp you hatched today just 24 hours later, they've doubled in size.  They're too large for the newly swimming fry to eat.  Another plus for Artemia: they're phototropic (attracted to the light) as are the baby angelfish.  The Artemia will survive for hours in fresh water.  Learn how to hatch the eggs at Brine Shrimp I  Start hatching them very early in the process to make sure your methods work.  Then hatch them every day for up to four to six weeks.

LA
Microworms are your second choice.

KP
Baby angelfish eating microworms.  Their little bellies turn white.

KP
Newly swimming fry eating microworms


Microworms Rate Fairly High:  Your second choice for fry food:  Microworms.  Serve them as a first food or a second food.  They make an excellent addition to a mono-diet of brine shrimp nauplii.  Their main fault is their tendency to fall to the bottom.  A strong airstone can keep them in the water column.

LA
Mini vacuum cleaner for your fry tank.

Remove Excess Food:  You don't want to overfeed, but you will.  Add a mystery snail to clean up any excess food on the bottom.  Also remove any unwanted debris.

LA
Change your fry tank water with this little gadget.


Change Your Water:  The smaller your fry-rearing tank, the oftener (is that a word?) you need to make water changes.  This little gadget works very slowly.  So just drain your tank into a nearby container and go do something else.  Come back when it's done.  Then refill with aged water.

KP
When angels get their wings, you can start feeding ground up flake food.

Time to Get off the Baby Food:  Once your angels get their wings (you can hear the little bell), you can start adding frozen baby brine shrimp, shredded frozen adult brine shrimp (slice it with a razor blade), powdered fry food, or pulverized flake food.  Feed them a variety for best results.

KP
Angelfish keep eating baby brine shrimp way past their baby stage.
 

KP
Juvie angelfish go nuts every time you feed them.


Angelfish Love to Eat:  Every time you wave your hand over their tank, your angelfish immediately rush to the top looking for food.  They are not picky eaters after they grow past the dime size.

KP
Lots of variety in their litters.


Beau Coup Color Varieties Now Available:  You won't see all the angelfish varieties on a single day. There's just too many of them.  But over a couple months' span, you'll get some idea of what's available.

LA

LA
Jet blacks are the hardest to find.  There's some lethal genes in their genetic code.

KP
Some of Kathy's angels avoiding the gravel vacuum cleaner.


Next to Last Words:  When we think of color varieties, we usually think of platys or bettas.  However, don't ignore the color varieties available in the angelfish family tree.  And when you get right down to it, the regular silver is still a striking fish.  Thanks Kathy for letting me use your excellent photos.  I had to use some of mine for the color varieties.  LA

Questions from Kathy Potts.   Once I wrote this page, I sent it to Kathy for her approval.  Well, she came up with several questions (good questions) well worth including.  So, here's her Qs and my As.  LA

Q1)  At what age do angelfish become sexually mature?

A:  Usually one year plus or minus two months.  Of course, you don't always know how old they are when you acquire them -- about silver dollar size.

Q2)  The breeding tubes usually come down a couple of days in advance 
of the actual spawn.

A:  Sometimes earlier it starts coming out gradually.

Q3)  Will two males also pair off?

A:  I've never seen that happen, but probably.

Q4)  At what temperature do you hatch the eggs?

A:  Somewhere between 70 and 80 F.  They develop slower at lower temps and are more susceptible to fungus.  Too warm lowers the oxygen level and thus stresses the eggs.

Q5)  What is the best way to remove the white dead eggs?

A:  If you leave the eggs with their parents, they do all the work.  When practicing artificial incubation, use a piece of airline tubing with a piece of hard plastic tubing.  Use it as a mini-vacuum.

Q6)  When transferring the eggs to another location to hatch, should 
you keep them submerged?

A:  If you move quickly enough, brief exposure to the air does not hurt them.

Q7)  A bare bottom tank is most helpful.

A:  True -- much easier to clean.

Q8)  How do you use a one gallon incubation jar?

A:  Gallon glass jars are getting harder to come by.  You fill the jar with water from the breeding tank.  Add methylene blue, an airstone. and a heater if needed.  If you are dexterous you can add the eggs at this point without exposing the eggs to the atmosphere.

Q9)  Do you put a heater in the jar?

A:  If you need one to keep the water around 75 degrees F.

Q10) If you have like a 10 gallon tank, could you float bags with their 
tops rolled down in the 10 gallon tank with eggs in them?  One tank 
with multiple bags floating?

A:  Probably.  Clip each bag to the aquarium lip with a clothespin (do you still see these) or a potato chip bag clip. 

Q11)  How many times per day do you need to feed the fry?

A:  Absolutely at least once per day.  Four or five small feedings per day yield the fastest growth.  Don't forget your water changes.

Q12)  A good way to get food down to the fry is to take an eye dropper, turkey baster, or a child's medication dropper and add a little food to it and suck up water into it and then shake and squirt towards babies.

A:  Or just rinse your brine shrimp net into their tank (the laziest method).

Q13)  A new product called "Instant Baby Brine Shrimp" is a good food. Must be refrigerated and will last up to 6 weeks.  Dip a toothpick into it and then dip toothpick with the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp into the tank with the fry.

A:  Just make sure you feed your fry the live nauplii their first two to four weeks.

Q14)  Another new product out now to feed is Golden Pearls and also decapsulated baby brine shrimp.  (You can order it from Kens Fish.com a 1/2 lb. of decapuslated baby brine shrimp is running $8.00.  For the Golden Pearls it runs 1/2 lb. for $9.95.  Will be enough to last for a very long time.  What I am going to do is take the 1/2 lb. and divide it up into smaller portions and vacuum seal it, to use later.  If you don't vacuum seal it, you can store the excess in the refrigerator and it should last up to a year.  The tooth pick method is also a good delivery system for the food to be fed to the fry.)

A:  Once again, feed live shrimps at first.

Q15)  After becoming free swimming, I have also added a small bristle 
nose pleco to help eat the uneaten food.

A:  Or a couple mystery snails.  Pros raise their baby corys in with their angelfish fry.

Q16)  What kind of growth rate can you expect?

A:  Depending upon feeding schedule, food type, temperature, size of the litter, water changes, and tank size, you can raise them to nickel size in two to four months.

Q17)  If you leave the eggs with the parents, it is a good idea to leave a night light on.  It makes the parents feel more secure.

A:  It also encourages the fry to eat more often.

Q18)  I have heard that it is a good idea to leave the light on with the fry for one week after they become free swimming 24/7.  It gives them a jump start so that they can eat 24 hours a day.  Not recommended to leave it on after the first week.

A:  24 hour lighting will keep them eating more.  I doubt it stresses the fry.

Q19)  What did you think about the pictures that I sent you yesterday? Are you thinking about adding them?  Also can you tell me about selective breeding? What about inbreeding?

A:  Great pictures.  I'm adding most of them.  Selective breeding just means you pick the parents rather than letting them pair off on their own..  Line breeding mates the male or female with their off spring or brothers with sisters.  This will usually set a strain in two generations.  Some people consider this inbreeding.  If the breeding stock has defects, they will likely pass it to their offspring.  Ditto with good traits.  Non-related breeding stock results in hybrid vigor.  Inbreeding is illegal in humans but livestock and plant researchers do all the above all the time. 

Q from LA:  What size tank works for rearing baby angels?

A:  Bigger the better, of course.  The pros I knew made their own tanks out of refrigerator liners.  They'd saw out a square in the front and silicon seal a piece of glass on the inside.  Put pieces of glass plus sealer on the other miscellaneous holes -- ugly but econo large tanks.

Kathy Potts, Moultrie, GA, October 6, 2010
Larry, I was just wondering if constant spawning with Angelfish is ok?  In 
the wild they must have a spawning season.  Temperature, weather, and 
rains should play a role in this creating a period of dormancy thus 
giving the female Angelfish time to rebuild and replenish herself.  
But in our aquariums, everything pretty much stays constant year 
around.  This consistency of conditions sets the stage for a constant 
breeding frequency.  So my questions:
Q1)   Will the constant spawning continue year round?

A1:  Unlikely.  Most pairs go thru a non-egglaying period.

Q2)   Will constant spawning deplete the female of vital nutrients?

A2:  I doubt it.  White leghorn chickens (hens) create 280 eggs per year.  (Up from the 200 per year they were kicking out way back when I was building those 20,000 hen houses.)  Anyway, when not properly nourished, they just stop producing eggs.

Q3)   Will such frequent spawns shorten the female's life expectancy?

A3:  When leghorn hens produce way below their required production, low egg production shortens their life.  (Leghorn roosters never even get a chance to get started.)

Q4)   Should the pair be broken up for a period of time to give them 
a chance to reestablish and refurbish their bodies?

A4:
 I think egg production indicates excellent health.  No need to separate them.  Healthy single females often produce eggs on their own.
 
Q5)   If so, for how long?

A5:  Moot.

Q6)   When reintroduced with each other, will they still recognize 
one another?

A6:  I don't think fish have a very long memory.  They'd just pair up again if there were no other options.

Q7)   Do Angels mate for life?

A7:  No.  Swans do.  Angelfish are like people.

Q8)   If something happens to one mate, will the other find another 
mate?

A8:  Usually.

Q9)   Can you change up pairs?

A9:  Yes to breed specific colors.

Q10)  If two Angelfish of the same sex pair off, can you break them 
apart and introduce other Angels hoping for a new bonded pair?
Hope you don't mind these additional questions?  Give me some time and 
I will probably come up with some more LOL LOL :-)

A10:  It's easier to put a male and a female in their own tank rather than offering other angels to choose from.
No prob on the extra Qs.  Just remember that these are my As and not to be regarded as highly as the 10As that Moses brought down from the mountain.  LA


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Headstanders
Killies, Econ.
Killies, Golden
Killies, Peat
Killies, Plant
Misc Mini-Fish
Pacús 

Piranha, Black
Piranha, Red
Rainbowfish

Rainbowfish, Dwarf Neon
Rainbowfish, Irian

Silver Dollar
Tetras, Larger
Tetras, Smaller
Tetras, Spawn
Tetra, Vampire
White Clouds

Pond Fish
Carp
Channel Cat
Gold. Comets
Gold. Fantails
More Fantails
Gold. Oriental  
Gold Oriental II 
Gold. Spawn
Kloubec Koi Farm
Koi
Koi II

Koi III
Oranda Spawn
Plecostomus
Shubunkins

Oddballs  
Af. Butterfly
Af. Lungfish
Af. Mudskippr
American Eel
Archer Fish

Arowana
Bichirs
Borneo Suckers
Brackish I
Brackish II
Brackish III
Brackish IV
Brackish V
Michael Troung's Pix
Butterfly/Wasp
Chameleon Fish
Chromides

Chin Alg Eater
Crazy Fish
Crocodile Fish

Datnioides

Dojo
Dwarf Puffers
Electric Cat
Electric Eels

Elephant Nose
Exodon paradoxus
Flounder
Gars
 
Glassfish
Goby Bumble
Goby Butterfly
Goby Dragon
Goby Misc.
Half-Beak
Knife African
Knife Clown
Knife Ghost
Loach Botias
Loach Clown
Loach Kuhli
Loach Weather

Longear Sunfish
Moray Eel  
Peacock Gudgeons
Polypterids
Puffers

Ropefish
Scats
Siam Algae Eater
 
Spiny Eels 
Snakehead
Stingray
Stonefish
Wasp Fish
Wolffish
Wrest Half-Beak
Misc Mini-Fishes
Misc Odd
Misc Odd II
Misc Odd III
Misc Odd  IV

Misc Odd V
Misc Odd VI

Sharks  
Bala
Black
Bull
Chinese Hi-Fin Banded
Iridescent
Red-Tail
Siam Algae Eater

Pond Info 
Blank Park Zoo
Bob Humphrey's Ponds
Cattails
Maffett Reservoir
DMACC's Pond
D.M. Botanical Center
D.M. Water Works
Dr. Ervanian's Garden
Duckweed

Dwarf Lily
Ewing Park "Pond"
Jan & Chris's Water Garden
John McDonald's Pond
Hall's Four Acres
Klines' Water Garden
Landscaper Effects
Mini-Pond Pics
Pioneer Corn's Pond
Pond Fish Predators
Pond on 38th Street 
Pond Pics
Pond Plants
More Pond Plants
Pond Plants III
Reiman Ponds
River Scenes
Riverview Island
Selin's Water Gardens
Selin's Japanese Garden
Tom's Used Cars Pond
Urbandale Duck Pond
Water Hyacinth
Water Lettuce
Wild Ponds