In seas and oceans, as well as in aquariums, bigger fish eat smaller fish. Angelfish and guppy fish are no exception. Guppies—fry, in particular—are a favorite meal among the large and hardy angelfish. But once guppies are full grown, there isn’t much of a threat.
Angelfish is a freshwater species of fish that’s native to South America. It comes all the way from the Amazon River to add an interesting, vibrant touch to your aquarium with its beautiful shape, pattern, and colors.
Along with popular fish like parrotfish, discus, and oscars, angelfish belong to the Cichlid family. An aquarium can house many different species of fish as long as they’re compatible. Sadly, compatible pairs don’t include angelfish and guppies.
Why Will Angelfish Eat Guppies?
Contrary to what their name implies, angelfish are generally aggressive. Guppies, on the other hand, are peaceful and laid back.
Not getting a sufficient diet is one of the reasons why an angelfish would hunt down and eat guppies among other small fish. Guppies are also at a huge disadvantage compared to angelfish when it comes to size, which makes them vulnerable.
Here are some of the main factors that make guppies easy prey to angelfish.
There’s a big difference in size between angelfish and guppies. Newly born guppy fry measure only about 0.25 inches long, making them a meal for even the smallest angelfish.
Big angelfish will attack and eat big guppies, while small angelfish will eat small guppies. Angelfish are also fast growers and they’re likely to grow quite big. Up to 8 inches long, they’re large compared to the 2-inch guppies. Guppies can easily fit in an angelfish’s mouth.
Having free reign over the guppy population, your angelfish could also end up being overfed. This can lead to constipation, stomach swelling, and an often serious and life-threatening disease called swim bladder disorder.
Angelfish are fast swimmers, giving them an advantage over the much slower guppies. Due to being aggressive, they also like to chase other fish around a lot.
Guppies tend to escape and hide when being chased, but even in an aquarium with plenty of plants and decorations, it’s only a matter of time before they’re found.
This continuous game of hide and seek will cause your guppies a great deal of stress, which will negatively affect their growth, health, fertility, and lifespan.
Although they start out as peaceful and calm, angelfish become very territorial as they mature. They’re aggressive and can fight among themselves over territory, especially when trying to pair off or spawn.
Guppies are no match for this kind of competition. A whole population of this easy-breeding fish can be wiped out fairly quickly.
Angelfish also like harder water, whereas guppies prefer soft water. Not meeting their specific needs can result in them getting sick.
What Do Angelfish Feed On?
Angelfish are omnivores that feed on plants and live foods. Opportunistic in nature, like most fish, they’ll feed on anything they can fit into their mouths, including guppies, tetras, and fry.
In their natural habitat, angelfish mainly forage for worms, insects, invertebrates, small fish, and crustaceans like shrimps. They need a very protein-rich diet.
To help keep the angelfish in your aquarium healthy and reduce the chances of them targeting your guppies, keep them well-fed. Regularly give them cichlid flakes or specially-formulated, protein-rich pellets.
Also give your angelfish live food like bloodworms and mealworms, as well as the occasional vegetables including spinach, peas, zucchini, and lettuce. Feed adult angelfish twice a day, and young angelfish 3-4 times a day.
What Fishes Are Compatible With Angelfish?
There are many compatible tank mates for angelfish. Besides their own kind, compatible fish include larger tetras, catfish, platies, rasboras, mollies, gouramis, corydoras, peaceful barbs, plecos, rainbowfish, and loaches.
Make sure any fish you put in the tank with your angelfish is bigger in size than the angelfish’s mouth so that it doesn’t end up as prey.
How Can You Keep Angelfish and Guppies Together?
If you still want to enjoy this unlikely pair, you can give them the best shot at a peaceful coexistence by keeping the following in mind.
- Angelfish that are raised from the start with smaller species of fish tend to be less aggressive and territorial around them. So, try introducing them to each other as tank mates while the angelfish are still young. This will lessen the chances of the angelfish seeing the guppies as snacks.
- Introduce an angelfish into the guppy tank and never the other way round.
- Keep your angelfish and guppies in separate aquariums. It’s best to use a separate tank to breed guppies.
- If you have a large 50-70 gallon aquarium, you can choose to install a suitable-sized tank divider to keep them safely separated. An added advantage of that is you won’t need to invest in an extra set of filters or heaters for a new tank.
- Never put angelfish and guppies together in a small tank. It has to be a minimum of 50 gallons. This will help lessen the chances of any aggressive interactions.
- Add plenty of decorations and plants such as java moss/ferns, hornwort, or anubias. Those will serve to distract angelfish long enough for the guppies to escape.
- If you put angelfish with guppies together, watch the aquarium dynamics closely. Monitor their behavior and prepare a backup tank to separate them at the first signs of trouble.
In general, guppies aren’t safe around angelfish. Those small, innocent, friendly, and peaceful fish are no match for the large, hardy, and territorial angelfish.
So unless you raise them around each other from a very early age, your poor guppies are likely to become snacks for those angelfish.
If you want to pair angelfish with other fish species, you should consider larger tetras, platies, rasboras, mollies, gouramis, corydoras, peaceful barbs, plecos, rainbowfish, and loaches.