Do Angelfish Eat Their Eggs?

Unfortunately, angelfish do sometimes eat their eggs and fry. In general, angelfish are caring and devoted parents, so it is pretty contradictory that they also practice filial cannibalism. There is always an outside factor that leads angelfish to eat their eggs, like stress or lack of food/energy. 

Overall, angelfish are known in the aquatic world as devoted parents. They are known to care for their eggs, stay with them until after they hatch, and ensure their fry are healthy and fed until they are old enough to take care of themselves. That is why we wanted to know more about angelfish and their eggs.

Do Angelfish Eat Their Eggs?

Unfortunately, as wonderful parents as angelfish can be, they also participate in filial cannibalism (eating their eggs and fry). Not much is known about why some fish species eat their eggs or fry, but it happens occasionally.

When angelfish lay eggs in a community tank, it puts a lot of stress and pressure on the parental pair, and some studies have hinted that when they feel threatened with no way out, they might start to eat their eggs and even their small fry.

Why Do Angelfish Eat Their Eggs?

Even after years of studies, there are still only a few known reasons angelfish will eat their eggs. Most of the reasons are because of an outside factor, and we will look at each of them.

Two Black Striped Angelfish

The “Spill-Over” Response

The “spill-over” response means an overreaction to external stimuli. This response is not something that the fish can control or stop on their own. When angelfish take care of their eggs, they can easily be stressed.

Outside factors (that should be avoided whenever possible) that can make them stress even more include things like,

  • People moving around the tank and loud, boisterous conversation
  • People/children consistently tapping on the glass of the tank,
  • Pets barking at the tank or clawing at the glass
  • Loud noises if the tank is close to a radio or television

All these factors will cause the angelfish to act out of character and make bad decisions they can’t control. The stress might even lead them to eat the already hatched fry if it gets bad enough.

Getting Rid Of Damaged Eggs

One of the main reasons angelfish eat their eggs is to get rid of defective or infertile eggs. Angelfish can tell which eggs are fertile and will hatch and which eggs have been damaged in some way and won’t hatch.

Angelfish do this so they won’t waste their time caring for eggs that won’t hatch. It helps them focus all their care on the eggs that will hatch. They won’t eat all the eggs, so if that is happening, there is another reason your angelfish is eating its eggs.

A Lack Of Light Might Cause Angelfish To Eat Their Eggs

If you have had fish for a while, you know that fish have a typical day/night cycle. It is true, but when the parental side of an angelfish kicks in, it will check on the eggs during the day and night. Experts have observed angelfish panic when they can’t see the spot where their eggs are hidden.

So while they do require a darker room when it’s night, they need to be able to see their eggs when checking on them. If they can’t see the condition of their eggs, they will panic, and instead of leaving their eggs to who knows what in the dark, they will eat them as a strange form of protection.

To Increase The Oxygen Supply Of Some Eggs

When angelfish have laid too many eggs, they may not be able to care for all of them. So when they sense that some eggs are not getting enough oxygen, they will first try to flap their fins near the eggs to boost oxygen.

However, in the end, they might eat a few to save as many eggs as possible if they feel that there is insufficient oxygen circulation. It’s a tough decision, but they typically have the best intentions.

To Defend Their Eggs Against Other Fish

The other fish might see their eggs as a treat when angelfish spawn in a communal tank. So the angelfish parents will fend them off as long as they can. Then, if they feel that the other fish that want to eat their eggs are too many or the situation causes them too much stress, they will eat their eggs instead of leaving them for the other fish to pick off.

The Angelfish Need The Food

It is an unfortunate state when angelfish need to feed on their own eggs just to survive, but it does happen. If angelfish don’t get enough food (when you have a food hogger) or you don’t give them enough food, they will start cannibalizing their eggs to stay alive.

A Problem With The Tank

Angelfish will eat their eggs when there is a problem with the tank. For example, if the temperature or pH level is not correct, it will stress the angelfish, and they might eat their eggs. The other reason is that whatever is wrong with the tank might have compromised the eggs, which are no longer viable, so the angelfish will eat them.

How To Stop Angelfish From Eating Their Eggs

When you see an angelfish eating their eggs or fry and are unsure why you might want to look at these tips to see if it helps them to stop.

  • Check the state of the tank. Look at the pH level and the temperature and ensure they are correct.
  • Move the tank to a secluded room where there is not a lot of foot traffic and where pets and children can’t scare or stress the fish.
  • Keep a faint light shining at the spot in the tank where the angelfish have their eggs so they can see and take care of them even at night.
  • Ensure you feed your angelfish the correct amount of food so they won’t need to feed off their eggs to stay alive.
  • When spawning season starts, you may want to give your angelfish their own tank so they won’t be stressed when other fish try to eat their eggs.


Angelfish do eat their eggs sometimes. Typically, they are devoted parents who care for their eggs and hatched fry until they can take care of themselves. However, circumstances might cause them to eat their eggs, like a problem with the tank and overreaction to outside stimulation.