Angelfish Egg Stages – The Complete Guide

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In this article, I will describe the stages angelfish eggs go through from the moment they’re laid to the moment they hatch and enter a larval stage known as “wigglers”.

I’ll also mention some of the things you should focus on in each step until angelfish babies become free swimmers and they accept regular fish food.

If you’re breeding angelfish, it’s useful to know a few things about angelfish egg stages, especially that you may sometimes need to take over the helm from your angelfish pair and care for and hatch the eggs yourself.

Therefore, knowing how to identify each stage and offer the appropriate care in each stage will help you hatch the eggs yourself, should it become necessary.

There are various reasons why you might want to resort to hatching the eggs without the assistance of the angelfish parents, reasons that I will discuss in this article.

Notes About Breeding Angelfish

If you have a cooperative pair of angelfish, breeding these fish isn’t difficult at all. Angelfish will carefully clean the spawning site, lay the eggs, fertilize them, aerate and clean them, and then care for the fry.

However, if your angelfish pair is too young (e.g. it’s their first time breeding), or if they eat their eggs, you may have a more difficult time breeding them.

Angelfish are known to over-react to certain stress factors (e.g. sudden movements around the tank) and eat their eggs in their haste.

If this is the case with your angelfish, removing the eggs from the tank and hatching them in a separate tank becomes necessary.

Angelfish Egg Stages

Angelfish eggs go through the same processes or stages regardless if they’re being hatched by the parents or if they’re hatched artificially.

Before the female angelfish starts laying her eggs, the angelfish couple meticulously cleans the area where the eggs will be deposited.

Angelfish may spend as much as 24 hours cleaning the spawning site, which can be a leaf of a plant, the heater in the tank, or on a slate that you’ve placed in the tank.

Ideally, you don’t want your angelfish to deposit the eggs on a heater or on a random leaf in the tank or — even worse — on something that you can’t remove from the tank.

Therefore, providing them with a slate or other removable spawning site is the best way to ensure that all goes well.

Laying the Eggs



Once the spawning site is clean, the female will lay her sticky eggs row by row, and the male angelfish will brush over the eggs to fertilize them. Angelfish eggs are transparent and smaller than the head of a straight pin.

Eggs that haven’t been fertilized will develop a white fungus on them. Angelfish will make sure to aerate the eggs to get oxygen to them and they’ll continuously guard and clean the eggs.

It’s not a good idea to let angelfish breed in a community tank as other fish may stress them out or may raid the eggs if angelfish are not on guard. Angelfish require a separate breeding tank.

If some of the eggs develop fungus, they rot, or become dirty, the angelfish pair will remove them to prevent rotting or fungus on the other eggs.

Pre-Hatching Stage



When the eggs are about 60 hours or so old, the larvae inside the eggs is developed and curled around the yolk sack.

At this stage, the egg wall is quite transparent and if examined under a microscope, the beating heart and the blood flow through the larvae can both be observed.

Wiggler Stage



The next stage in the angelfish egg development is the wiggler stage, which is the stage right after hatching.

What this essentially means is that the larvae are still attached to the spawning site through a filament that protrudes from their heads.

In the larval stage, eyes, tails, and internal organs are still developing. At this point, there’s no need to feed them as they’re feeding on their yolk sack.

Free-Swimming Fry



As the larval angelfish consume up all their yolk sack, they become free swimmers. This happens in about 3 to 5 days after hatching, if water temperatures permit.

In this stage eyes are already developed, and you can observe respiration under a magnifying glass. For the first two days, they can survive by feeding on microscopic organisms in the tank (infusoria).

Slowly, you can start feeding the fry with freshly hatched brine shrimp or micro worms. In a few weeks, you can start adding crushed fish food to their diet and after another few weeks, slowly make the transition to normal fish food.

Some angelfish parents will continue to raise and protect the fry as far as the fin-growing stage, however, they might also eat their fry, so aquarists often remove them from the tank and place them in a grow-out tank.

Some aquarists believe that the lack of parenting skills of some angelfish can be ascribed to a premature separation from their parents.

In about 6 to 8 months, angelfish become sexually mature and will start to form pairs.

Egg Caring Tips

If you’ve decided to pull the eggs from the tank out of fear that the angelfish may eat them, you’ll need to do everything the parents do in the period after the eggs are laid.

That mean making sure the eggs are oxygenated (air bubbles from an air stone placed in the tank will help with this) and that eggs are protected from fungus.

To protect the eggs from fungus, you’ll need to treat the water with a fungicide like methylene blue, which is a natural dye with antifungal properties.

Final Thoughts

By knowing about each stage that angelfish eggs go through, you’ll know what to expect in each stage and you’ll be better equipped to notice if something is out of the ordinary.

Breeding angelfish is not always easy, and in some cases, if your angelfish don’t rise to the challenge, you may need to take over for your them and care for the eggs yourself.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
Questions and Answers
Terry Kramer September 7, 2020 Reply

I think my angelfish may have paired in a community tank (got them a year or so apart) I was cleaning and one attacked my hand… I noticed some odd behaviors and checked out the plans they were hanging around and saw eggs…never expected this and done know what to do? Thoughts?

    If you want to keep the fry, then you should not disturb them. The adults will take care for the eggs and once hatchet, you can feed powder fish food to the fry. Angelfish usually don’t eat their fry, so you don’t need to worry about this.
    If you don’t want to keep the fry, just scrape off the eggs after the lights are turned off. Angelfish don’t see in the dark, so they will not attack you.
    Keep in mind, that even if you scrape off the eggs, they will probably lay another batch of eggs in a few days.

    You can keep the eggs in the tank with the parents, but is not necessary. The angelfish parents will take care of the eggs until they hatch and will also protect the fry later on.

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