How Fast Do Angelfish Grow? Real Answers By Real People!

Dec 8, 2021

How Fast Do Angelfish Grow?

I bred and sold angelfish for some quick bucks when I was in college. So, although I’m no expert, I do know a fair share on the subject. And as always, what I know, you know. So let’s start today’s blog with a most commonly asked question – how fast do angelfish grow?

Frankly, there’s no one uniform growth rate. It depends on one too many factors, which I’ll talk about below. But from my own experience and that of many hobbyists I met on fish forums, I’ve come to a conclusion. 

How Fast Do Angelfish Grow? 

Angelfish reach their maximum size potential by 8-12 months. So, by that logic, they grow the size of a dime by 8-10 weeks, the size of nickel by 12-16 weeks, size of a quarter by 4 months, size of a silver dollar by 6 months, and around 4-5 cm by 10 months. 

As I said above, the growth rate is not uniform for all angelfish by any means. It differs from fish to fish. Even the fry from the same clutch will grow at different rates. 

Below, I have pooled some answers shared by real hobbyists like you and me about their experience. As you’ll see, no two hobbyists experienced the same growth rate. 

How Fast Do Angelfish Grow? Real Answers By Real People.

“I have angelfish that started off dime-sized and grew to the size of half a dollar within 2 months. When they’re small, they grow fast. My fish slowed down once they hit the 1.5-inch mark.”

“My black angelfish went from the size of a dime to 6 inches in just 10 months.”

“I have 4 marble angelfish that I’ve had for over a year, and they are barely at the 2-inch mark. I think it has something to do with the temperature. High temperature speeds up the growth but compromises their lifespan.”

“When I first bought my marble angel, she was 3 months old and had a body the size of a nickel. By her first birthday, the body was the size of a dollar piece. Today, she’s a year and 7 months old and is almost the size of my 9-year-old’s hand!”

So you see, it’s different for everyone!

When Do Angelfish Reach Their Full Size?

Angelfish lead a long life – 10 to 12 years. Thus, they don’t grow as rapidly as some fish do. They take around 8-12 months to reach their full-size potential in the best-case scenario. The diet you feed, the size of the tank, and the overall environment play a pivotal role in determining that. 

How Big Do Angelfish Grow? 

Freshwater angelfish usually grows about 6 inches (15.24cm) long in captivity. If you’re lucky, they’ll grow up to 8 inches (20.32). On the other hand, their fins can grow 8 inches (20.32 cm) long. 

To give you a rough idea, their body length is almost equal to 4 times that of neon tetras!

And in the wild, these fish are known to grow to the size of a dinner plate! Magnificent. 

How Big Is The Biggest Freshwater Angelfish? 

Marine angelfish can grow quite big. But did you know the largest freshwater angelfish was an altum angelfish that grew to a length of about 20 inches (50.8 cm), measured from the anal fin tip to the dorsal fin tip? 

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How To Make Angelfish Grow Faster?

Let me be clear. There’s no secret formula or a shortcut to make angelfish grow faster. They’ll grow at the best possible rate nature and their health allow. However, you can always create favorable circumstances to encourage growth. They include performing frequent water changes, feeding the right diet, providing a big tank, and so on. 

Maintain Water Quality 

The ideal water parameters for freshwater angelfish look something like this: 

Temperature78-84°F (25-28°C) 
pH6.8-7.8
Water Hardness54-145 ppm (3-8° dKH)
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
NitrateBelow 20 ppm

It may seem far-fetched at first, but maintaining the right water quality is tied with the angelfish’s growth rate and wellbeing in so many different ways. 

For example, fish are known to release specific pheromones in the water that inhibit the growth of other fish. Therefore, it’s crucial to perform frequent water changes to dilute or eliminate these chemicals. 

Some fishkeepers reported performing 10% water change weekly while others swore by 40% weekly water change. I perform around 30% water change in my 75-gallon angelfish tank. There’s no one rule in stone. 

It all boils down to the tank’s size and the stocking number. 

Let’s look at how temperature affects growth now.

Exposure to higher temperatures enhances the metabolic rate of ectothermic animals like fish to a certain degree and make them grow fast. 

Now, while this may be desirable for fish bred for food, it’s best to stick to the recommended temperature range for pet fish. 

And lastly, you know the drill with nitrogen, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the tank. Even the slightest increase of these compounds can profoundly stress out the fish. 

That, in turn, compromises the fish’s immune system and makes it susceptible to diseases. And sickness directly translates to stunted growth. 

Feed The Right Diet 

Angelfish are cichlids. And like most cichlids, they have a large appetite and are greedy eaters. Therefore, they must be fed adequately at the right intervals.

The feeding preference and pattern differ from one hobbyist to another. I follow a piece of advice given by my veterinarian friend. 

Reportedly, giving 3-4 small meals every day instead of 1 or 2 big meals helps reduce a cichlid’s aggression over resources. As for the quantity, provide them with an amount they can consume over 30-40 seconds. 

For a staple diet and reinforcing bulk nutrition, I recommend giving them pellets or flake food formulated for tropical fish like angelfish. 

You can then, of course, reinforce the diet occasionally with food like crickets, mealworms, small crustaceans, mosquito larvae, small fish, microworms, and blanched veggies. 

The foods that I’d recommend avoiding are beefheart, tubifex, bloodworms, and ones made for African cichlids. 

Let’s look at the reasons why respectively: 

  • Fish find it challenging to utilize fat obtained from eating food like beefheart that come from warm-blooded animals. 

  • Tubifex are often infested with harmful parasites as they are sourced from polluted streams. 

  • Bloodworms have been linked with bloating in cichlids. 

  • Food made for African cichlids may have more plant-based ingredients, which may not be ideal for angelfish that prefer a carnivore diet. 

Provide A Bigger Tank 

The size of the tank directly does not dictate the fish’s growth rate. So, in a sense, saying that fish grow to the size of the tank is bogus. 

However, small tanks come with a host of drawbacks. 

And these very drawbacks can potentially stunt your fish’s growth. Let’s see how. 

Smaller tanks are more temperamental. They get polluted easily as the toxic buildups happen fast. This will stress the fish and hamper its overall wellbeing. And it could potentially stunt their growth. 

Fish are known to release a certain pheromone that hinders other fish’s growth. In a small tank, these pheromones will have difficulty getting diluted or washed away. So, they will be absorbed by the fish’s body.

Also, smaller tanks mean less exercise for your fish. If the fish cannot swim properly, it can stunt the fish’s growth in the long run. 

If you want to read up on how many angelfish can live in 55 and 75-gallon tanks, you might want to check out these articles:

How Many Angelfish In A 55-Gallon Tank? Use This Formula!

How Many Angelfish In A 75-Gallon Tank? Use This Golden Rule!

I’ve also shared a scientific rule given by a veteran aquarist on calculating stocking numbers given the tank’s size. 

Create A Suitable Environment 

Angelfish, like all fish, are highly anxious beings. They get stressed at even the slightest hitch. So, when they are exposed to stressors like the sudden change in environment, poor diet, polluted water, and overcrowding, their bodies react. 

The body reacts by stirring up certain hormones that help the fish get through the stress. One such hormone is the growth hormone.

In the natural environment, stress only affects them briefly. They can simply swim away from a stressful situation. Therefore, the hormones quickly reset. 

However, in a confined space like a tank, they will keep on stressing, and the hormones will not restress. 

As a result, it will directly affect the fish’s appetite, reproduction, immunity, metabolism, and development. And all these factors are more than capable of stunting a fish’s growth. 

Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to provide the fish with the right kind of environment that’s completely free of any stress-inducing factors. 

Choose The Fish Wisely

Some things are simply out of our hands, like genetics. For example, some fancier strains of angelfish tend to grow slower and smaller. There’s quite nothing you can do about it. 

Some more examples – French angelfish are reported to grow from 2 to 10 inches within 10-12 months. That’s quite impressive! On the other hand, majestic angelfish take about 5 years to reach the 7-inch benchmark. 

So, if you’re eager about growing your angelfish big and fast, you might want to do some homework on different species and their growth rates. 

10 Types Of Freshwater Angelfish and Maximum Size In Captivity 

There are several different kinds of angelfish coming from the species P. scalare, P. leopoldi, and P. altum of the genus Pterophyllum. However, the ones that we most commonly see and raise in our homes come from the P. scalare species. 

And these fish didn’t always look the way they do now. Domestic freshwater angelfish results from several decades of selective breeding for specific colors and attributes like stripes and spots. 

So, let’s have a look at the 10 most popular types of angelfish and their maximum size potential. 

Silver Angelfish

Silver angelfish are the most commonly seen angelfish variant. They’re, in fact, the poster child. 

In the tank, they can grow up to 6 inches long. But they’re known to reach up to 10 inches in the wild. 

Their physical features are characterized by a silver body with 3 signature black stripes. And the eyes are a piercing shade of red. 

Altum Angelfish

Credits: Christ Sherlock (Creative Commons license)

The biggest recorded angelfish was an altum. These fish aren’t as popular as most fish in this list, but they’re nothing short of magnificence. 

They grow up to 7 inches long and 9 inches tall in the tank!

Altum angelfish have a silver body with brown or black stripes running vertically. These fish are comparatively larger, flatter, and deeper than most angelfish. 

Zebra Angelfish

Zebra angelfish grow up to a maximum size of 6 inches like most in the species. 

These fish look almost identical to silver angelfish, but there’s one crucial distinction. Zebra angelfish have a total of four stripes as opposed to 3 stripes in silver angelfish. 

One of the stripes runs through the eye, and 3 run down the body. 

Half-Black Angelfish

Half black angelfish grow around 6 inches long as adults. 

This is the most interesting-looking angelfish in my opinion. As the name suggests, half of their body (the lower half) is entirely black, while the upper half is an iridescent shade of silver. 

However, like most beautiful things, these fish are pretty rare – owing to their difficulty in breeding. 

Koi Angelfish 

Credits: Visa Kopu (Creative Commons license)

Koi angelfish grow up to 6 inches long. 

This particular strain has been bred to have the same coloration as the Japanese koi fish. What I found interesting is that the amount of orange seen in the fish’s body varies depending on its stress level. 

The orange will darken when the fish is stressed. 

Blushing Angelfish

Blushing angelfish too grow to a maximum size of 6 inches in captivity. 

The story behind ‘blushing’ in their name is super interesting. It’s actually that the gill cover lacks pigmentation. Therefore, the red coloration of the gills is perfectly visible. 

As for the rest of the body, it sports a brilliant shade of iridescent white. 

Golden Angelfish

Golden angelfish grow around 6 inches long in a tank. 

The story behind the very existence of this fish is quite beguiling. In the late 1960s, a breeder was taken aback when he found a golden-colored fry in a school of black lace angel fry. The black sheep eventually grew to develop a beautiful naja gold color. 

Today, these fish are quite common and in the trade. 

Marble Angelfish

Credits: PINKE (Creative Commons license)

Like almost all angelfish, the marble variant grows 6 inches long in captivity. 

Actually, several color variations include the genes for color marbling – a beautiful mottled arrangement of color that forms a unique pattern on every fish. 

So, you can say every single fish from the marble angelfish family is unique! 

Black Lace Angelfish 

Black lace angelfish reach 6 inches in length in a fish tank. 

This black lace variation is, in fact, a variation in zebra or silver angelfish in which extra black genes are present. So, they’re considered one of the most attractive angelfish to ever exist. 

They were first only bred in the 1950s. 

Golden Marble Angelfish 

Golden marble angelfish grow up to 6 inches in captivity. 

The main physical characteristic of these fish is the gold patches alongside the unique marbled patterns on the body. Therefore, no two fish will look exactly the same. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Long Do Angelfish Fry Take To Grow? 

After hatching, angelfish fry take about 6-7 days to grow into free-swimming fry. They then reach sexual maturity at 5-7 months of age. And they will continue to grow up to 12 months before plateauing. 

Do Angelfish Grow To The Size Of The Tank?

The answer is both yes and no. No fish, including angelfish, consciously grow to the size of their tank. However, a smaller tank means a lack of exercise, heightened stress, and poor water parameters. And all of these things are fully capable of stunting an angelfish’s growth rate. 

How Can You Tell Angelfish’s Age?

There’s no certain way to tell an angelfish’s exact age unless you know its date of birth. However, from what I read on different forums, the bigger the eyes, the older the angelfish is. 

So, if some of your angelfish have comparatively bigger eyes than the rest, they may be the seniors of the tank. 

Final Words: How Fast Do Angelfish Grow?

The article grew pretty long, didn’t it? 

Don’t worry! Here’s a short recap for you:

In general, angelfish are as big as a dime at 8-10 weeks, as big as a nickel at 12-16 months, as big as a quarter by 4 months, as big as a silver dollar by 6 months, and about 4-5 cm by 10 months. 

This is just a ballpark figure. 

As you can see from the quotes above, real hobbyists’ real answers, the growth rate is unique for each fish! 

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rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.