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iamgray 10-22-2011 01:56 PM

No success with angelfish... Do I try again?
I love having angelfish, but I have never had one live longer than 6 months or so in my tank. I am currently without any, as I had decided to give up on them. They don't show signs of sickness before dying... i just find them dead after awhile.

My initial assumption was that our city's water is too hard, but I know people in my city who have successfully kept them for years (one who lives about 10 blocks away from me) so I wouldn't think that's the issue. My tank is a 67g that has been set up for over a year. I don't remember the last time I saw an ammonia or nitrite reading. I know there are nitrates present in the tap water - the city's water website says it's around .25 ppm (i THINK that's the unit they use... Same as the API liquid test kit uses, anyways) but I condition with Prime and my tank is moderately-heavily planted. Temperature is steady around 78. ph is around 7.5.

So... Do I give it another shot, or what? In the past when I had angelfish, tank mates were harlequin rasboras, platies, mollies, guppies, yoyo loaches, a bristlenose pleco, and a couple dwarf honey gouramis. Recently I have added zebra loaches and a male betta. Of the original tankmates, might there have been some compatibility issues that contributed to the angels' untimely demise? And if I decide to try again, should I be concerned about aggression with the betta?

My other thought would be if they are easily stressed by activity outside the tank. My cat likes to sit on top of the tank, and try as I might, I can't keep him away. Would his jumping onto the tank and startling them be a factor?

Byron 10-24-2011 02:24 PM

I'm not suggesting this as the reason for your trouble, but more generally, I would not keep angelfish with Betta or gourami. All these are territorial. You would likely have noticed physical aggression toward the angelfish, though not seeing it does not mean it did not exist in the perception of the fish.

How many angels were together at the start? I mention this because it is a shoaling fish, and should be in a group of 5+. A single fish or even 2 (if not a mated pair) might have been part of the issue.

Assuming the angelfish was/were tank raised and not wild caught, your water should not have beeen the issue. Wild fish, which are available though not usually in basic stores, are very sensitive to water, requiring soft slightly acidic and warm (82+) but as I say, this is not applicable to tank raised commercial fish.


iamgray 10-24-2011 07:02 PM

I first purchased a group of 5. As their numbers dwindled, I would replace them to keep them in a group of 5. Thinking that maybe they were still too small of a group, I added a couple more for a total of 7... Then a couple died and I replaced them. Two more died, so I kept a group of 5 for awhile. They seemed ok for awhile, and then started dying off and I stopped replacing them. The last two lived for a few more months, but once they died I just gave up on them.

I never witnessed any aggression between the angels and gouramis... They tended to stick to opposite ends of the tank, but I know there is a lot to be said for their ability to sense the presence of incompatible fishes, and who knows if anything went on after the lights went out.

So, with no other leads as to what might have been killing them, should I stay away from angels until the gouramis and betta are gone? I probably wouldn't try to rehome them, and I wouldn't do anything to harm them/kill them... I would just let them live out their lives in my tank and when they eventually die, then I'd try angels again.

Byron 10-24-2011 07:13 PM

It is interesting that only the angels were affected by whatever it was. Might have been bad fish--did they all come from the same store? This happens.

I myself would not add more angels until the gourami and Betta are gone. Here again, not suggesting this was the issue, but it may have been a contributor. Stress from this or that adds up and weakens the immune system.

What about light and water movement? Bright light is stressful, and so is a strong current. Here again, just throwing out other possible "stress" factors.

Can you talk to those neighbours who have had angels for 10 years and see if something shows up from that discussion?

iamgray 10-24-2011 08:57 PM

I have purchased them from two different stores. PetSmart and PetLand. I rarely had any fish survive that I purchased from PetSmart, although I found their staff to be quite knowledgable and more sociable than the ones at either of the LFSs that I've visited in my city. So I switched to PetLand, and while I've never had issues with any other fish purchased there, the angels all still died. I know there was one time when I went in to replace the ones that had died, and their resident fish encyclopedia employee told me that something had swept through one of their systems and wiped out all of the fish that shared that water, and it included the angels. He made me wait a month or so before he would replace them... so I attributed that to some of the deaths, but if that was the culprit, then as you said, it is strange that I haven't had any problems with the other fish in my tank. This particular instance happened roughly a year ago, and I know for sure that of the fish that would have been in my tank at the same time as those particular angels, a good 95% of them are still alive.

When it comes to lighting in my tank, I would think it's probably on the low side, as far as a 4ft long tank goes... rather than having lights that go all the way across the top, I just have one 24" fluorescent strip in the centre, so the corners of the tank are always relatively dim. It is a 6500k tube from Home Depot... I'm not sure how many watts. It's the old fat kind (T12?). I also have always kept some floating plants... sometimes they've gotten a bit on the sparse side but there is always something. I think the current is also quite low. My filter is an eheim classic 2213. However when I first got into fishkeeping, I had an aquaclear 110, which created a huge current, so maybe that contributed to the early demise of my first angels?

I have asked my friend about my lack of success with angelfish, and he is just as baffled as I am. According to him, I keep a better maintenance schedule on my tanks than he does, and I have way more plants than him, too. But then, I'm not too sure what the tankmates are... if I remember correctly, though, there are no gouramis in his tank... maybe some mollies and rainbowfish. I can try talking to him again though.

DKRST 10-24-2011 09:01 PM

You didn't observed any signs before they die such as a change in appetite?
Angelfish may harbor internal parasites that may not be apparent. I do not know if that's the cause in your case, but I had that issue. I didn't realize my guppies had parasitic worms until I saw the worms hanging from my Angelfish's vent opening. I treated my tank (after having 11 angelfish and a ton of guppies die), and that took care of the problem in my case.

iamgray 10-24-2011 09:10 PM

Nope... they always seemed completely normal. If I were to observe anything odd, it would be within hours before they died... I'd watch the tank, everything would be fine... then a little while later I'd look again and one would be floating around aimlessly, but still alive... but not for long. Other than that, it was just a matter of finding another dead one without personally witnessing the aimless floating.

Are there parasites that would occur in one type of fish without affecting the others, though? I have always assumed that if it's in the water with the fish, any of them might get it.

DKRST 10-24-2011 09:29 PM

Interestingly, nothing seemed to bother my corys, they were in the same tank the entire time, never lost one.

1077 10-25-2011 02:17 AM

I might wonder what size Angelfish are being purchased.
if fish are lasting five or six month's, and are purchased at quarter size,, they should easily approach four to five inches with numerous small feeding's each day as is required for for most juvenile fish to attain good growth.
Larger fish when purchased ,,would be even a bit larger at five or six month's.
Small fish really do benefit from the small frequent feeding's and water changes may need to be increased in both size and frequency.
Smaller fishes may grab most of the food offered(Angelfish aren't as quick) and that which fall's to the bottom would quickly be set upon by fish such as the loaches you mentioned (Yo Yo,Zebra).Not much foraging opportunity for Angelfish.
The loaches could also make resting more difficult than need be for the Angelfish due in large part to their activity after dark.(most are extremely active at night) I attempted to keep a group of loaches (clown) with a group of Discus some years ago, and their activity at night while Discus were resting,,unnerved the Discus as they moved about the tank in an effort to avoid the loaches antic's.
I think stress can come in many way's and as Byron eluded to, best to provide a stress free enviornment in so much as we are able.
If the fishes being purchased are Adult fish,and are close to same size to prevent extreme bullying, then I may consider food's being offered to ensure fish are getting wide variety of FRESH foods as opposed to one or two.
I would lay off blood worms,or tubifex(these have proved problematic for me) and substitute with earthworm flake,Krill,Spirulina Brine shrimp,and a good pellet food such as New Life Spectrum or Hikari Cichlid pellet's.
I do not believe the Honey gourami would pose much of a threat to three or four inch Angelfish and they are not as likely to harbor iridovirus sometimes called.. Dwarf Gourami Disease such as other gourami are prone to, but I might still try and raise the Angelfish without their presence and I would not add any new fish to the Tank holding New Angelfish should you decide to try again.
I am on board with Byron,, I do not believe your source water from the tap to be a problem with domestic Angelfish, nor do I believe that any toxins such as paint fumes.deodorant spray's,hair gel,soap ,etc are entering the tank lest ALL fish begin exhibiting abnormal behaivor.
Would look to food's offered, and more sedate tankmates especially those that are active at night.
Cory's would maybe be my choice, for they don't grow as large as Yo Yo's, or Zebra'a, and are not seen by fish as any sort of threat or source of irritation at night.
No chinese alage eater's,shark's,etc Know what I mean? I thought so.8-)

iamgray 10-25-2011 10:45 AM

Interesting comments about the size/feeding. I had honestly never thought of that. The majority of the angelfish have been pretty small, probably quarter sized or a little larger. The ones that lived the longest were the ones that were largest when I bought them. From what you described, it may very well have been that i wasn't feeding enough... I only feed once a day, and it's a combination of medium sized sinking pellets and occasional flake food, and I break up a couple algae wafers and drop them in for the loaches and bn pleco... maybe once a week or so I feed frozen bloodworms. They always seemed to eagerly/readily accept bloodworms from my hand... maybe they were just that starving. :(

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