The Angelfish Pterophyllum scalare is a graceful disk shaped cichlid. Though it was named for the marine angelfish, it bears little resemblance to these fish or even to any other fish in the Cichlid family. This fish is rather diamond shaped or leaf-like in appearance. It has a rounded body that is greatly compressed laterally accented with long, triangular dorsal and anal fins. Its genus name Pterophyllum is very descriptive of its appearance as this term actually means “winged leaf”. It is also known as the Silver Angelfish, Freshwater Angelfish, and Common Angelfish.
These are some of the most attractive fish and very popular with both the beginner and the long-time aquarists. In the wild they are found with black bars on a silver colored body. But there are also some mutations found in nature as well where these fish are without bars, are solid black, and have lace forms.
Through captive inbreeding its natural mutant forms have become fixed forms for the hobbyist. Angelfish are mostly all captive bred and there are many color and finage varieties available. Some of the best known varieties include the Silver Angelfish, Zebra Angelfish, Marbled Angelfish, Veiltail Angelfish, Blushing Angelfish, and one produced with much effort, the Gold Angelfish.
These are moderately sized cichlids that are very tall and extend to about 6 inches (15 cm) in length. The Veil varieties can be even taller due to their fins. They are moderate to care for but they do need enough room to accommodate their size and swim freely. A 30 gallon tank would be the suggested minimum, but if you are keeping a pair or keeping them in a community, the tank will need to be larger.
The Angelfish are considered a community fish, but they are cichlids. Consequently they may not be as sociable with smaller fish. They will school peacefully when they are young but tend to pair off and become more territorial when they are older. Being a bit timid, they can be frightened by shadows and fast movements. They will feel most at home and comfortable in a warmer aquarium that has hardy plants placed around the inside perimeter, has some rocks and roots for retreat, and has an open area in the center for swimming.