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What Is a Leopard Angelfish?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer

A leopard doesn’t change its spots, but a leopard angelfish does. An aquarist who buys a leopard angelfish for her home aquarium because of its beautiful spots may end up feeling disappointed with the purchase as well as deceived if she doesn’t research the fish in advance. A leopard angelfish is a beautiful creature, one of many colorful variations available to angelfish lovers and collectors, but its spots fade as the fish matures from a young fry to an adult.

The color and spot variations found on a leopard angelfish are the product of genetics. The fish’s unique leopard spots are a combination of the genes found in two types of angelfish, the zebra and the smokey. Zebra angelfish display black stripes on their bodies, and smokey angelfish are black on their rear half. Young leopard angelfish display the attractive spotting pattern on their bodies as well as on their long, graceful fins. By adulthood, the fish turns nearly entirely black, and on occasion can show blue coloring at the head.

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Woman holding a book

A freshwater aquarium fish, the angelfish can be a welcome addition to a homeowner’s fish tank because of its graceful motion and elegant, lacy fins. Watching them swim through the water, which looks almost like gliding, is a peaceful and calming experience. That’s fitting, because the angelfish itself is basically a calm and non-aggressive creature that gets along well with other freshwater fish, for the most part. It can, however, be the object of bullying behavior and the nipping of fins if kept with some of the more aggressive types of freshwater fish.

Hobby aquarists enjoy the interaction an angelfish provides in addition to its beauty. An angelfish will swim to the side of an aquarium to see a visitor who peers through the glass side, and it will respond quickly at feeding time by swimming to the top to await its food. A conscientious angelfish hobbyist who keeps her aquarium in good shape will be rewarded by the mating of her angelfish and the pair’s frequent production of numerous spawn.

Keeping a tank in good condition also will reduce he chance of angelfish succumbing to disease. A product of warm water in its native environment, angelfish kept in a tank that is too cold for their nature, or one that is too crowded, can develop cotton wool disease. Angelfish also are susceptible to other bacteria and parasites, too, including white spot disease.

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