This is a general question, specifically about Angels... I wasn't sure where to put it, so i plumped for here, mods please feel free to move it if you feel appropriate!
It's a question about stunting, which I believe to be the artificial, and unhealthy, reduction of a fishes growth by being kept in a tank that is too small (often misrepresented by the myth that a fish will "grow to the size of it's tank...")
My question is about what causes it; is it simply the lack of space or the poor water quality that may well occur when a fish is kept in a tank that is too small? Also, how soon it can affect fish growth?
I ask, because I have 2 angel fish who are about to move into their third (and hopefully final) home. When I bought them I was unaware of their potential size, being a newbie with no knowledge, and had them in a 10g for about 2 months. They were about 1" when I got them, and I moved them into a 35g when they got to about 2-2.5" across. They have been in the 35g for about 5 months now, and are about 4-5" across, and are soon to be moved into the new 52g, which I hope will suffice them for the rest of their days. (It is 40"W x 20"H x 15"D, approx)
I have always been careful to maintain very good water quality with frequent water changes and the purchase of a bigger filter, and they have never appeared to suffer from illness or any untoward conditions. In fact they have always been the centrepiece of the aquarium with a lovely orange glow!
So, given they have been kept in a tank that is too small for full grown angels, but moved whenever possible to a larger home is it likely that i have stunted the growth of these fish, or will they continue to grow in thir new home, becoming the large and beautiful specimens i hope for?
I ask this mainly because I have been often rebuked (usually politely) for keeping fish in a tank that is too small for their full size growth. I consider myself a responsible fishkeeper and had always planned to upgrade to a larger size as and when I needed to (once, of course, I learnt enough about fish to know ths was needed) putting money aside for the eventuality. I wasn't sure if the criticism was due to the fact that I was actually harming the fish during them being kept in the smaller tanks when they themselves were small, or if folks just didn't know whether I would actually get larger tanks for them, and were erring on the side of caution.
Cheers, folks, I'd just like to know your opinions on this subject!