Do Angelfish Have Teeth?

Angelfish have well-developed teeth and can grab onto, bite, and tear their food or the flesh of other fish. An angelfish’s teeth are not located at the front of the jaw like other animals. Instead, they have protrusible jaws with a joint that allows them to bite with the pharyngeal teeth in their throats.

These colorful fish can utilize their jaws to aid them in tackling tricky surroundings. And owing to evolution, they have capitalized on exploiting niche areas that other fish cannot. If you are interested, do read on.

Do Angelfish Have Teeth Or Not?

Many fish consume food that floats either in the water or at the surface. They capture prey via suction feeding, where they ultimately suck in water and simultaneously their prey.

Another method of feeding is “ram” feeding, where fish will open their mouths and propel themselves forward to capture food in their pathway. But angelfish are somewhat different.

These opportunistic feeders will not hesitate to consume smaller fish species if the opportunity presents itself or if no other food source is available.

But the question, now that we are aware of them possessing teeth, is how they feed. Additionally, do they chew their food into smaller, more manageable pieces or swallow things whole as some other fish do?

They utilize their ability to protrude their upper and lower jaws, forward and away from their heads, and are capable of relatively hard bites. Reef dwellers use this to extend their jaws, sometimes by several inches, to reach into reef crevices. This, unfortunately for small prey, means there is little chance of hiding.

Furthermore, they can use their teeth to rip, tear, scrape, and clip food that is sometimes tethered to undersea surfaces. This is due to the unique mechanism built into their specialized jaws, designed to “grab and tear” food.

Black and White Orange Angelfish

Do Freshwater Angelfish Have Teeth Too?

Freshwater angelfish or those in your “tropical tank” also have teeth. Although there are more species of other angelfish types, there are at least 20 different variations of freshwater angelfish. All of which possess either the same or similar jaw and teeth structure.

As with its counterparts, the freshwater angelfish also has two jaws. The initial one is flexible, which produces a negative pressure that, to a smaller extent, enables them to suck in food or prey.

Then comes the second jaw, which is the one that is the trademark of the angelfish, the pharyngeal jaw that is positioned within the throat.

This second jaw we are discussing possesses teeth that are seemingly bristle-like and set out in a comb-like arrangement. These teeth are the ones that aid the angelfish in gaining a firm grasp and grip on either food or prey with ease.

Interestingly, like certain other animals and even sea creatures, angelfish lose their teeth and grow new ones throughout their lifetimes.

How Angelfish Make Use Of Their Specialized Jaws

The ability to grasp food and attack prey firmly attached to the reef’s crevices distinguishes angelfish from many other reef fish. They use their jaws to pull their food or prey out of the nooks and crannies of the reef, while other fish cannot do this as they cannot reach that far into the areas of the reefs.

Some species have interestingly specialized structures in terms of feeding methods that allow specific angelfish to gain a monopoly over a particular food source or type. This is due to the angelfish having evolved and broken through barriers that give them a niche in the reef food chain.

They are also considered the sort of fish that is a jack of all trades, but there are variations amongst angelfish species. Varying species have retained the original structure of their jaws, while others have become more specialized over time.

When we think of angelfish, we may only consider the odd ones we have seen in the local pet stores, those we have in our tanks, or those belonging to friends or family.

Still, there is a vast range of angelfish. More specifically, there are at least 80 different species, which vary in color, size, and even what they consume, from algae to other fish.

How Varying Angelfish Species Have Adapted

Different types of angelfish have evolved in various ways, from their size to the configuration of their guts. The species have also adapted to different environments. The sorts you will keep in your tank may well not eat like those found in reefs.

Let’s look at things from an evolutionary point of view, taking Darwin and his findings of finches on the Galapagos Islands.

We will note that similar changes have occurred regarding the various angelfish today. In Darwin’s case, he noted the alterations in beak sizes and their shapes, which allowed the birds to capitalize on different food sources.

The angelfish findings are similar, but they are not as cut and dry as with the finches. The variations, divergence, and adaptation would look like you went to the island and found certain finches feeding on insects and others consuming seeds.

Additionally, the range in size between the birds (in our case, the angelfish) would look similar but differ significantly in size.

Various species of angelfish have evolved in terms of their diet, physical characteristics, gut size and structure, and location within the body.

So, when considering angelfish, remember that there are many variations, each with its own niche in the food chain, determined by several factors that have changed over time.

Do Angelfish Bite One Another With Their Teeth?

Angelfish are known to bite one another and will most likely do so more frequently than you might think, even though they look so peaceful. Also, it must be noted that it is not limited to in-fighting amidst their species.

Angelfish will also attack other fish species. When biting other fish, they typically go after smaller fish than themselves.

One trait they are highly notorious for is that they will engage in fin-nipping, so we recommend that you do not keep them in the same tank as fish with long and flowy fins.

On the flip side, if you house them with too many other schools of fish, such as tetras, these smaller fish will band together and relentlessly go for the angelfish.

Suppose your angelfish are engaging in physical bouts with other fish. In that case, you will see that your other fish will have sustained wounds, usually to the mouth and eye areas.

Additionally, they may be missing scales, and their fins and tails will likely have pieces bitten off from them. These are all telltale signs and warnings to look out for if you are concerned that your fish are fighting.


Angelfish undoubtedly have teeth, but their anatomy is somewhat different and drastically contrasted to the likes of mammals. Their pharyngeal teeth are located on their second jaw, which is found in their throats. Their advanced jaw system, along with the formation of their teeth, enables them to bite and tear and reach into areas that are impossible for other fish.