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What Is a Black Angelfish?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters

The angelfish is a freshwater fish that lives in the warm, tropical waters of the Amazon River. The native color of the angelfish is silver or gray with long, vertical black stripes, but humans have created many other color variations of these fish through breeding. The black angelfish has the same body type as other angelfish, but the entire fish is black or nearly black.

This species has a round, disk-shaped body with tall, triangular fins on the top and bottom,with two long ventral fins that begin near the head and hang down underneath the fish. As the fish matures, the fins grow longer and many types develop lengthy tips that trail along as the fish swims. The body is very thin, a design that allows the angelfish to move easily between underwater plants.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Black angelfish come in a wide array of color patterns. Some, called double darks, are black fish with black fins, tail and body. Other black angelfish have black bodies but their tails are lighter, usually with stripes or banding that makes an attractive pattern.

One of the most striking features about the black angelfish is the eyes. Many of these fish have deep red eyes, a color that definitely stands out from the black body. Not all blacks will show this trait, and some strains don’t carry the gene for the red eyes at all. Those that do are stunning to look at. Most other black angelfish have dark eyes that almost seem to disappear when viewed against the black of their bodies.

When black angelfish are bred, they will produce black young, but they may also have other colors of babies. If the fish carries any recessive color genes, such as for silver or gold, it can have offspring of both of the colors it carries. For fish enthusiasts who enjoy the variety of having fish of many different colors, black angelfish that carry the multiple color genes are considered an excellent choice.

Black angelfish are beautiful in an aquarium, but angelfish do not always thrive in a community tank. In some cases, the angelfish are too aggressive for the other fish, and will nip and attack many smaller, less aggressive fish. Some fish, especially barbs and some gouramis, will attack angelfish, nipping off pieces of their fins and causing the angelfish to sicken and sometimes to die.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a black angelfish?

A black angelfish is a color variant of the freshwater angelfish, Pterophyllum scalare, known for its striking dark pigmentation. This tropical fish is popular in the aquarium trade and is admired for its elegant fins and graceful swimming. It's a result of selective breeding to enhance its unique coloration.

Are black angelfish natural or man-made?

Black angelfish are typically the result of selective breeding practices. While angelfish naturally exhibit a range of colors and patterns, the deep black coloration is often enhanced by breeders to appeal to aquarium enthusiasts. This selective breeding has led to the consistent appearance of the black angelfish in the pet trade.

How do you care for a black angelfish?

Caring for a black angelfish involves maintaining clean, warm water between 76-86°F (24-30°C) and a pH of 6.8-7.8. They require a spacious tank with plenty of vertical space to accommodate their tall fins, along with a varied diet of high-quality flakes, pellets, and occasional live or frozen foods. Regular water changes and tank monitoring are essential for their health.

Can black angelfish live with other fish?

Black angelfish can coexist with other fish species, provided they are not overly aggressive or small enough to be considered prey. Ideal tank mates include larger tetras, peaceful barbs, and dwarf cichlids. It's important to introduce new fish carefully and monitor interactions to ensure a harmonious aquarium environment.

How long do black angelfish typically live?

With proper care, black angelfish can live for about 10 years. Their lifespan in an aquarium setting can vary based on factors such as diet, water quality, and stress levels. Providing an optimal environment and regular care can help maximize their longevity and quality of life.

What are the breeding habits of black angelfish?

Black angelfish reach sexual maturity at about 6-12 months of age. They form monogamous pairs and lay eggs on a flat surface, such as a leaf or a piece of slate. The parents typically guard and tend to the eggs, which hatch in about 2-3 days. Fry should be fed specialized food until they can eat standard aquarium fare.

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