How Long Do Angelfish Live?

Angelfish live for about 10 years in a tank if they are well cared for. In their natural environment, they can live for up to 15 years. You can prolong the lifespan of your angelfish by maintaining good water quality, the correct water temperature, and feeding them high-quality food. 

Stress is the main factor that can cut an angelfish’s life short. Angelfish suffer from stress in overcrowded tanks, in poor water conditions, and when they are kept in isolation. This article discusses how long angelfish generally live and the factors that may increase or decrease their lifespan.

How Long Do Angelfish Live In A Tank?

There are three main species of angelfish kept by aquarists – Pterophyllum scalare (commonly called freshwater angelfish), Pterophyllum leopoldi (otherwise known as Leopold’s angelfish, dwarf angelfish, or Roman nose angelfish), and Pterophyllum altum (AKA the Altum angel).

All three of these angelfish species have similar lifespans in captivity. Freshwater angelfish, Leopold’s angelfish, and Altum angels can live for up to 10 years in an aquarium, provided they are well taken care of.

Freshwater angelfish mostly live for between 5 and 10 years. Leopold’s angelfish generally live for 7 to 8 years, and Altum angels live for around 10 years.

You can extend the lifespan of angelfish past 10 years by giving them optimal water conditions, tank environment, and nutrition.

Angelfish with Groups of Plants

How Long Do Angelfish Live In The Wild?

Angelfish are tropical species that originate from South America. In the wild, angelfish species can be found in the Amazon and Orinoco River Basins.

In their natural habitat, angelfish have much longer lifespans than in captivity. They are happier and healthier in the wild.

Angelfish can live for up to 15 years in the rivers and streams where they are naturally found. Of course, due to predators, not all wild angelfish make it to this ripe old age!

How Long Do Angelfish Take To Reach Full Size?

When angelfish are young, they grow rapidly, but past about 6 months, their growth rate begins to slow. Angelfish can reach 10 inches in length when fully grown, but most angelfish in captivity only reach about 6 inches.

It takes about 6 months for angelfish to grow to 4 inches long. After that, it takes another 6 months for angelfish to reach their mature size.

Therefore, it takes about a year for angelfish to reach their full size of 6 to 10 inches.

Factors That Shorten Angelfish’s Lifespan

Angelfish can live for up to 10 or even 15 years, but most often, they do not. If you do not provide the optimal conditions for your angelfish in their tank, they will not reach 10 years of age.

Many different factors cause angelfish to die before the end of their natural lifespan. If angelfish are stressed, it weakens their immune systems and makes them more susceptible to diseases and pests that can be fatal.

The following things cause stress in angelfish:

  • A tank that is too small. Angelfish are active fish that grow quite large and need enough space in the tank. If the aquarium is not big enough for the number of angelfish you have, they will become stressed, decreasing their lifespan significantly.
  • Being isolated. Angelfish are social animals, so being alone in a tank is distressing. Never keep an angelfish alone in a tank!
  • Underfeeding or overfeeding. Underfeeding angelfish is unhealthy for them long-term. Overfeeding can make them sick, decreasing water quality because excess food pollutes the tank water.
  • Poor water conditions (high levels of ammonia, nitrates, nitrites). You must have an aquarium filter that is strong enough to provide adequate filtration so that toxic compounds do not build up in the water. These toxins can make angelfish sick and decrease their lifespan.
  • Low oxygen levels in the water. A water pump and diffuser are essential for oxygenating the tank water for angelfish. Certain aquatic plants also help to oxygenate the water. Angelfish are not like goldfish, which can survive in low oxygen conditions.
  • Diseases and pests. Ich, dropsy, fin rot, velvet disease, pop eye disease, hole-in-the-head disease, cotton wool disease, gill flukes, anchor worms, mouth fungus, and viral infections are all far more likely to affect angelfish in poor water conditions. These pests and diseases can drastically reduce your angelfish’s lifespan.
  • Aggressive tank mates. Angelfish are dominant, territorial, and semi-aggressive by nature, so if they are kept in a community tank, it should be with peaceful fish that are bottom dwellers. Putting other aggressive fish in the tank will stress the angelfish and shorten their lives.
  • Insufficient aquarium lighting. Angelfish need lights to help them tell day from night. Without good lighting, their inner clock gets muddled, and this causes them stress. Lighting is also essential for oxygen-producing plants in the tank. Without enough light, the fish and plants will not be happy.

How To Maximize Angelfish’s Lifespan

The main thing you need to do to prolong your angelfish’s lifespan is to provide them with the ideal living conditions.

Angelfish need a large enough tank, with a few aquatic plants and rocks as hiding places. This helps them feel safe and minimizes stress.

They need water temperatures between 76- and 82 degrees F, pH between 6.5 and 7.5, and hardness between 5 and 13. These water parameters will keep angelfish healthy.

Angelfish need the right amount of food and the right type. It is key to give them high-quality tropical fish flakes or pellets.

Feed angelfish once or twice daily, and only give them as much food as they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes.


While angelfish live for around 15 years in the wild, they can live for up to 10 years in a tank if they get the right care. Stress is the main thing that shortens the life expectancy of angelfish. Stressed fish are more prone to diseases.

To keep angelfish’s stress levels low and prolong their lifespan, you must provide them with ideal water conditions and the right tank environment.