Do Angelfish Like Current?

Angelfish need a tall, well-planted aquarium with a filter that provides some water movement. The filters in the angelfish tank should not cause a strong current as angelfish prefer slow-moving water. Use a filter with a gallon per hour rating that will cycle the tank four times an hour.

Angelfish are some of the most popular cichlids in the fishkeeping hobby. They are relatively easy to keep and very rewarding. When setting up your angelfish aquarium, you will need to get the size of the tank and the filtration and current right. So you will need to know — do angelfish like current?

Do Angelfish Like Current?

When you set up a tank for your fish, the best thing to do is create an aquarium environment that emulates your fish’s natural environment. The closer you get the tank and the water to your fish’s natural habitat, the happier and healthier they will be.

By taking your cues from nature, you’ll easily work out the correct temperature, water parameters, and current flow that will work best for keeping angelfish.

Let’s look at the angelfish’s natural habitat. Freshwater angelfish originally hail from the Amazon basin in South America. Even though the angelfish at the pet store are not wild caught but bred in captivity, you still want to look at those conditions to replicate.

So what do we know about the rivers of the Amazon basin—they’re warm, tropical waters with lots of submerged wood, dark, soft water with lots of tannins, and a slow current. Generally, these wide rivers are not filled with fast-moving rapids and waterfalls.

Even an angelfish body shape shows us that they are not usually found in fast streams. The wide flat shape is better suited to slow movement through water filled with lots of vertical plant life.

From this, we can see that angelfish will want some current but won’t want very turbulent water. So how to get this set up correctly in your angelfish tank?

Angelfish with Long Fins

What Do You Need for an Angelfish Tank for Current?

When setting up your angelfish aquarium, you know you want to create an environment similar to rivers of the Amazon basin, such as the Orinoco. You can either have your angelfish in a single-species tank or a community tank with other fish that need a similar set-up.

Tank Size

The minimum recommended tank is 29 gallons, which will give your angelfish enough height in the tank, but if you can go bigger, that will be far better. Especially if you’re planning a community tank, I suggest 55 gallons or more.


You’ll need filtration that can cope with the heavy bioload of angelfish. These cichlids grow quite big, so you can expect them to produce more waste.

A good aquarium filter will help keep the water clean and moving.

When buying a filter for an angelfish tank, take care not to ‘over-filter’ your tank, as this will cause too hard a water flow, and the angelfish will end up stressed and unhealthy from continually fighting the current.

If you have a very large, well-planted tank, it is better to get two smaller filters set up at either end than to use one much more powerful filter.

Fish and plants need some current, which helps oxygenate the water and move nutrients about the tank. The flow also helps the filter clean the water of dirt and algae.

As your filter material fills up with debris, the flow becomes weaker, and filtration is ineffective. Clean the filter material by rinsing it out in a bowl filled with water from your fish tank—not tap water—and replace the cleaned filter, and your current should return to normal.

Plus, the water you used to clean the filter materials is great for house pants!


As with most tropical fish, you’ll need to keep your tank heated with an aquarium heater. The usual recommended temperature is around 78 F.

Substrate, Plants, Decorations

Your substrate needs to support plant growth, as your angelfish will be much happier in a well-planted tank. By providing long, vertical decorations like tree branches, you’ll also help create a more natural environment.

Tannins from the wood will help darken the water and make it softer. The plants and décor also help regulate strong areas of current by providing obstacles to the flow.


Aeration can be helpful in a big tank to create some current, but you don’t want to provide too much current. In a smaller tank, you won’t need extra aeration.


You’ll need lighting for your tank to encourage plant growth, but your angelfish will prefer to have some dimmer areas of their tank, usually provided by plant shade.

How Do You Tell If The Current Is Too Strong For Fish?

Once your tank is set up and properly cycled, you can introduce your angelfish. If the current flow is correct for them, they will settle in happily, but there are signs to look for to tell if you need to adjust the current.

Your angelfish will like to float in one place, so if you see them visibly fighting against a current, your filter pump setting is too high. If your plants are waving in the current, that’s another clear sign of strong flow.

Angelfish may initially seem to accept the strong flow, but they will gradually become exhausted fighting the current and may move to parts of the tank furthest from the flow and stay hiding there.

They may have trouble reaching the surface to feed if the current is too strong. Your angelfish will quickly deteriorate if they are exhausted and unable to eat due to too strong a current.

How To Get The Correct Current For Angelfish

If the pump creates too much current, you’ll need to change to a lower pump or lower the settings.

You will find the filter flow rate is set at GpH, which means Gallons per Hour. This rate indicates how many gallons of water pass through your tank’s filter every hour.

Choose filters that will cycle your tank about four times in an hour. So for a 29-gallon tank, look for a filter with a GPH setting of around 150-200.

Another option is to dissipate the flow from the pump by placing aquarium decoration in front of the outlet nozzle and planting larger plants such as amazon swords.

You can also adjust the nozzle direction so that the flow focuses on the side of the tank.

Don’t go in the opposite direction where the filtration and flow are too weak, and you end up with a tank with ‘dead spots’ where the water becomes stagnant. In this case, you may need two small filters through the tank rather than one large one.


Angelfish come from slow-moving rivers, and their bodies are not evolved for fast currents. As such, when setting up an aquarium for angelfish, you need to consider that they prefer water that isn’t overly agitated.

Keep their tank filter set with a slow current, and use décor and plants to divert strong flows. Buy the correct power filter for your tank size, and clean it regularly to keep the flow constant and the water in optimum condition for your angelfish.