What are the differences between male and female Angelfish?

In this article, we will answer the question “What are the differences between male and female Angelfish?”. We will discuss the main characteristics of each gender and also learn how to keep male and female Angelfish together.

What are the differences between male and female Angelfish?

Some smooth differences can be found between their behavioural pattern and morphology (body and head shape, dorsal and ventral fins, and breeding tube). The differences between male and female Angelfish are very tricky, even the most experienced aquarists may have issues when determining the Angelfish gender.

How to sex Angelfish?

Angelfish are semi-aggressive fish, which means they can get somewhat aggressive according to the context they are in and the situation. They also tend to become aggressive during breeding periods and while taking care of their offspring. Males tend to be more aggressive and display territorial behaviours than females. 

Beginner aquarists, in general, only get interested in Angelfish sex when they start to consider breeding their fish. However, determining the gender of juvenile Angelfish is almost impossible. These fish will only reach sexual maturity between 6 and 8 months old when they start to pair up.

As soon as these fish reach maturity, some characteristics become more evident, making it possible to distinguish them between males and females. These characteristics can be morphological or behavioural.

Morphological differences

The most direct way of trying to determine the Angelfish sex is looking for the breeding tube. The breeding tube format associated with other few physical characteristics will make the sexing more certain. 

A general list of these traits of each gender is below:

Male Angelfish

  • Males usually have a bigger rounded, fat and robust body than females;
  • They show an enlarged hump during breeding periods;
  • They have a more rounded forehead close to the eyes area;
  • Their breeding tube is thinner and has a pointy tip;
  • They have ventral fins fork-shaped;
  • They usually grow faster than females.

Female Angelfish

  • Females have a more angular, skinny body;
  • They tend to be smaller than the males;
  • Their fins are smoother;
  • They have an angular belly line;
  • Their breeding tube is broader and blunted.

Although there are these main morphological differences between males and females, it is still possible to mistake them. Some other aspects should also be considered, such as behavioural patterns, mainly during breeding periods.

Behavioural differences

Possibly the most remarkable distinction between the behavioural patterns of females and males is the territorial behaviour that male Angelfish exhibit, which is more evident during mating periods.

Male Angelfish usually become hostile or territorial towards other male Angelfish or males of similar-shaped species. Female Angelfish do not become aggressive usually, and when it occurs is related to protecting juveniles.

Due to this potential behaviour of aggressive, Angelfish tank mates should be considered carefully. Violent species or species that are fin-nippers should be strongly avoided. Good tankmates would be Corydoras, platies, kuhli loaches, and some plecos.

During the reproductive period, to interest a female, the male Angelfish will move their fins and softly swing them. The females will get closer to the male and vibrate her fins as a signal to being receptive.

Male and female Angelfish swimming patter may also vary. Males frequently keep their bodies horizontally from mouth to tail, while females typically keep their mouths just a bit above the middle of their tails.

What to know about Angelfish breeding

If you opt for breeding Angelfish, you will need to give some tries to paring them up and form couples. Firstly, because you will have to try to find a male-female pair. Secondly, even if you find the male-female, it does not mean there are going to pair up. This should be easier and more practical if you let them choose and pair up naturally. However, this would require you to have a large tank with enough space for an Angelfish group. 

When they pair up naturally, the chances of successful breeding are higher. Sometimes it is almost impossible to sex the Angelfish pair before they start laying eggs and guarding for the eggs and juveniles.

It is quite easy to detect if your Angelfish pair is prepared for breeding. They just stick together and begin to avoid other fish. This means they have chosen the site to lay their eggs and there are preparing for spawning.

They usually choose the site and start cleaning it in turns. Once the eggs are mature, the female’s belly swells and the breeding tube becomes more evident. Then, the female lays hundreds of eggs in rows, and the male fertilizes them, one by one.

After fertilization, the pair start taking cleaning and guarding turns and remove any non-fertilized ones. A few days later, the hatchlings are born and stay stuck to the water surface. After a week, the juveniles become free-swimming individuals in search of food.

During the entire developing period, the Angelfish pair keeps taking care of the offspring until they are strong and independent enough to survive on their own.

Ideal tank conditions for breeding Angelfish

Although it looks very easy and simple to breed Angelfish, some tank conditions should be provided to avoid stress and end up with the parents eating their eggs and juveniles.

Angelfish tend to breed easily when they are the single species in the tank. Thus, it is recommended to set a breeding tank for your Angelfish with proper conditions. You also need to feed them properly with a healthy and varied diet

The cleaning routine should also be more careful during this period. Consequently, keep running water changes consistently and provide plenty of plants with lots of shade and hiding spots.

Some other conditions are recommended for a breeding tank, such as:

  • Check the water hardness and pH, if too hard or alkaline, you should opt for deionized or reverse osmosis water;
  • The temperature should range between 72° and 82°F;
  • Try to keep the tank more similar to the Angelfish natural habitat as possible. You can paint tank walls and bottom to help you with that;
  • Some dither fish might also be helpful in some situations;
  • Sponge filters are recommended to minimize contaminants levels in the water.

It is very common to have issues with paired up Angelfish breeding. Thus, the best solution is to try all the factors combinations listed above. Some pairs will easily breed, while others will take their time and require you to experiment with different conditions until they feel comfortable spawning.


In this article, we answered the question “What are the differences between male and female Angelfish?”. We discussed the main characteristics of each gender and also learnt how to keep male and female Angelfish together.

If you have any thoughts or doubts, feel free to drop us in a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are the differences between male and female Angelfish?

Do male and female Angelfish fight?

It is not common for male Angelfish to attack and fight females. However, this is not impossible. Usually, male Angelfish only get aggressive towards other Angelfish males or similar-shaped species males for territory and females.

Can male Angelfish kill a female?

Although this is not common, it is also not impossible. In overpopulated tanks, male Angelfish get more aggressive and can even be aggressive towards females, resulting in their death.

Can Angelfish change gender?

No, differently from other fish species, freshwater Angelfish cannot change gender. 

Will 2 male Angelfish fight?

This will depend on the size of the tank they are housed in. If the tank has enough space for both to establish their territory, then they will probably not fight with each other. However, it is important to observe them closely at the beginning.

Can a female Angelfish lay eggs in the absence of males?

Yes, female Angelfish will lay mature eggs. Then if there is a male around, the eggs will be fertilized. However, if there is no male around, the eggs will remain unfertilized.

How long does it take for Angelfish to become sexually mature?

Angelfish individuals will become sexually mature around 6 to 8 months old. This is when they start paring up to breed.


Gurung, R. 2021. How To Know Male And Female Angelfish? Picture Guide. https://urbanfishkeeping.com/how-to-know-male-and-female-angelfish/

Page, A. 2021. Male Vs. Female Angelfish: How To Tell Them Apart. https://www.tankarium.com/male-vs-female-angelfish/

Taylor, M. How To Sex Angelfish? (Male Vs. Female Angelfish). https://aquariumfishcity.com/freshwater/cichlids/angelfish/gender/

Fabian. How to Determine the Gender of Angelfish? https://smartaquariumguide.com/angelfish-gender/