Can Angelfish Be Kept Alone

Angelfish are best kept in small groups of even numbers but need plenty of space as they grow to a mature size of six by eight inches. A single specimen can be kept in a community tank with suitable tank mates. Breeding pairs will do best in a single species tank with the correct parameters.

Once you have their tank setup correctly, angelfish are very rewarding and easy to keep. They live a long time and grow quite large, so they need plenty of space. Should you be keeping them alone or together, and how much space will one angelfish need?

Can You Keep One Angelfish Alone?

There are three main species of freshwater angelfish, but the most usual one you’ll find in pet stores is Pterophyllum scalare, which you’ll often see kept in groups in tanks. If they have the space to keep more than one angelfish, many aquarists will keep a small shoal as they look so impressive.

Angelfish are not shoaling fish like danios, rasboras, and tetras; they don’t need the numbers to make them feel safe. Though they may move around in a loose group, they won’t display typical schooling behavior, moving as a single unit.

Angelfish are a kind of cichlid, a fish known to be quite territorial, and if an angelfish feels that it does not have the room it needs, it can become rather aggressive and bullying. They will attack other fish and their own kind if the tank size and parameters are incorrect.

This behavior will worsen if they are pairing off to breed, but if they have enough space, they will usually be a peaceful addition to an aquarium.

If you do not have a big enough tank, keeping one angelfish is better than having it crowded in with other angelfish. However, do not keep a single angelfish in a tank with no other companions.

Blue Angelfish

How Many Angelfish Should Be Kept Together

How many angelfish you keep together will depend on how much tank space you have. Most aquarists recommend 10-20 gallons of space per angelfish, with the first angelfish having twenty gallons and ten gallons for each subsequent fish.

If you have a tank that is large enough to accommodate several angelfish, certain things will make keeping them in a group together more rewarding.

Keep your angelfish in a tall tank rather than a long shallow one. They are tall fish – up to eight inches high – and need plenty of vertical space to swim comfortably.

When buying your angelfish as juveniles, buy the number you want in total, and raise them together. You will probably have to deal with aggression if you introduce new angelfish to the group later.

Buy your angelfish in pairs, as they tend to pair off, and an excess angelfish may be hounded and bullied by the other pairs.

Six is a good number of angelfish to keep in a single species tank.

Can You Keep Angelfish in Pairs?

If you have a large enough tank to keep two angelfish, buying them as a breeding pair is a good idea. Juvenile angelfish are difficult to sex, and even adult angelfish may not like the mate you paired them with.

You can determine the sex of an angelfish by the shape of their breeding tubes, but this is not always easy to spot. If you have a group of angelfish, it’s possible to wait until they pair off naturally to breed and transfer the breeding pairs to their separate tanks.

Angelfish, like many cichlids, form long-term breeding pairs, and they will protect each other from other fish in the tank. If they spawn, both parents will guard the eggs.

If you’re not interested in breeding them, keeping a pair of unmatched angelfish is fine as long as they have enough space.

Two Angelfish in Front of Plants

Do Angelfish Need Companions?

Angelfish are not like bettas which can be kept in a tank alone, and the worst thing you can do is keep a single angelfish in a too-small tank, or even worse, a fish bowl.

If you have only one angelfish, it’s best kept in a large community tank with other similarly-sized fish.

Can Angelfish Be Kept Singly In A Community Tank

While a pair of angelfish, or a small group of six, will look incredible as part of a community tank, they need a lot of space. Not only do they reach a large size, but they can also become territorial and aggressive when breeding.

Some fish keepers have found that having a single specimen in a community tank works well and that the single fish is less likely to be aggressive and will make a peaceful addition to a community tank.

However, you need to ensure that the tank is the right size and shape, that the water parameters are correct, and that you choose suitable tank mates. Much smaller fish may end up as snacks for your angelfish, and large predatory fish could eat them.

Try to choose suitable tank mates that share the same water conditions, are peaceful, and are similar in size.

You can avoid angelfish eating smaller fish such as tetras if you introduce the angelfish when it is still young and small, but this is not a guarantee that they won’t try to eat some smaller fish.

Can You Keep One Angelfish In A 10 Gallon Tank

You should never keep a single angelfish in a ten-gallon tank. This is far too small for them and will shorten their lifespan.

While the juveniles may be small, they rapidly grow much larger and will soon have outgrown a ten-gallon tank.

Your tank will also have equipment such as heaters, flters, gravel, and decorations, leaving even less space for your angelfish.

How Big Does One Angelfish Get

A single angelfish of the species Pterophyllum scalare, the most common type kept in freshwater aquariums, can grow to full size of six inches in length and eight inches in height.

The second most common type is the Pteropyhllum altum, which can grow even bigger, with a maximum height of ten inches.

The minimum recommended tank size for two angelfish is 29 gallons, but they will be happier with more space. An ideal size tank for a pair would be at least 40 gallons.

What Size Tank Does One Angelfish Need?

Aim to give it at least 20 gallons of space if you keep one angelfish in a tank. I recommend only keeping angelfish if you can give them plenty of space. Otherwise, they will be stressed, and their life span will shorten.


Angelfish can be kept alone in a community tank, and a single angelfish can make a striking specimen fish in these conditions. If you’re keeping angelfish in a species tank, I recommend keeping four to six in a group, although you will need a tank of about 80 gallons.

You will need a much larger aquarium setup if you want to keep more than a small shoal of angelfish.