Angelfish and Cichlids Compatibility: Finding Harmony in Your Aquarium

Angel fish Choosing an Angelfish

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Angelfish and Cichlids Compatibility: Finding Harmony in Your Aquarium

Freshwater angelfish and cichlids can be compatible tank mates, as they are both members of the Cichlidae family and generally have similar temperaments. However, there are some factors to consider when keeping these two fish together, such as size, temperament, and activity level.


Angelfish can grow to be quite large, up to 10 inches in length, while many cichlid species are smaller, typically reaching 3-6 inches in length. It is important to choose cichlid species that are not too small to be eaten by angelfish, such as dwarf cichlids, kribensis cichlids, and rams.


Angelfish are generally peaceful fish, but they can be territorial, especially during breeding season. Some cichlid species, such as oscars and jaguars, can be very aggressive and may not be compatible with angelfish. However, there are many peaceful cichlid species that can coexist peacefully with angelfish.

Activity Level

Angelfish are relatively active swimmers, while some cichlid species, such as convict cichlids and zebras, are more sedentary. It is important to choose cichlid species that have a similar activity level to angelfish to avoid stress and aggression.

Here are some tips for keeping freshwater angelfish and cichlids together:

  • Choose cichlid species that are not too small to be eaten by angelfish.
  • Avoid cichlid species that are known to be very aggressive.
  • Provide plenty of hiding places in the aquarium.
  • Monitor the fish closely for signs of aggression.

Here is a table of compatible and incompatible cichlids for angelfish:

Type of CichlidCompatibleIncompatible
Dwarf cichlidsRam, Butterfly, German Ram, KribensisNone
Peaceful cichlidsKeyhole, Electric Blue, FiremouthNone
Semi-aggressive cichlidsJack Dempsey, Jewel, Green TerrorOscars, Jaguars
Aggressive cichlidsOscar, Jaguar, SeverumNone

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With a little planning and careful selection, you can create a harmonious aquarium with freshwater angelfish and cichlids.

Choosing the Right Tank Size

One of the first and most critical considerations when mixing angelfish and cichlids is the tank size. Fish need space to coexist peacefully, and a well-sized tank can significantly reduce territorial disputes. Below is a table summarizing the recommended tank size for various angelfish and cichlid combinations:

Fish CombinationRecommended Tank Size
Angelfish with Peaceful Cichlids55 gallons or larger
Angelfish with Semi-Aggressive Cichlids75 gallons or larger
Angelfish with Aggressive Cichlids100 gallons or larger

Understanding Cichlid Species

Cichlids come in a wide range of species, each with its unique temperament and compatibility with angelfish. Below, we’ll delve into the distinctions and compatibilities of various cichlid species:

Peaceful Community Cichlids

Peaceful community cichlids, such as the German Blue Ram, are more compatible with angelfish due to their gentle disposition. They are less likely to engage in territorial disputes and aggression. Here’s a list of some compatible peaceful cichlid species:

  • German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi): These small cichlids are known for their peaceful nature and vibrant colors, making them an excellent choice for a harmonious community tank with angelfish.

Semi-Aggressive Cichlids

Semi-aggressive cichlids can be a bit more challenging to mix with angelfish, but it’s still possible with a well-planned setup. Examples of semi-aggressive cichlids include:

  • Electric Blue Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata): These cichlids can be a bit territorial, but they may coexist with angelfish in a larger tank with plenty of hiding spots.

Aggressive Cichlids

Aggressive cichlids, such as African and Central American cichlids, can pose a significant threat to angelfish due to their territorial and sometimes hostile nature. Mixing them with angelfish should be approached with caution. Here are a few examples of aggressive cichlid species:

  • African Cichlids (Various Species): Many African cichlids are known for their aggression, especially during breeding and territory defense. Mixing them with angelfish is generally not recommended.
  • Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus): These cichlids are large and highly territorial, making them unsuitable tank mates for angelfish.

Handling Aggression

Dealing with aggression is a primary concern when keeping angelfish and cichlids in the same tank. Aggression can lead to stress, injury, and even death among your fish. To minimize conflicts and foster compatibility, consider the following strategies:

Providing Adequate Hiding Places

Hiding places are essential for reducing aggression and establishing territories in your aquarium. Utilize rocks, caves, and plants to create hiding spots for your fish. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your tank but also provides your fish with shelter.

Choosing Compatible Cichlid Species

If you’re determined to keep angelfish with cichlids, select peaceful or semi-aggressive species that are less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. This choice can help in maintaining a harmonious environment.

Maintaining Suitable Water Parameters

Both angelfish and cichlids have specific water parameter preferences. Ensure that your tank’s water conditions align with the needs of both fish species. Here’s a summary of ideal water parameters for angelfish and cichlids:

Temperature75-82°F (24-28°C)Varies by species
pH Level6.5-7.5Varies by species
Water Hardness (GH)3-8 dGHVaries by species

Maintaining appropriate water parameters can reduce stress and aggression among your fish.

Tank Decor for Compatibility

The layout and decorations in your aquarium play a significant role in promoting compatibility between angelfish and cichlids. Consider the following tips:

Creating Visual Barriers

Visual barriers can prevent direct line-of-sight between fish, reducing confrontations. Use plants, driftwood, and rocks strategically to create these barriers in your tank.

Diverse Aquascape

A diverse aquascape with a mix of open swimming spaces and hiding spots can provide the right balance for angelfish and cichlids. This setup allows both species to establish territories while maintaining overall harmony.

Monitoring and Management

Maintaining a watchful eye on your fish is crucial when mixing angelfish and cichlids. Observe their behavior and interactions regularly, especially during feeding and breeding times. If you notice signs of aggression or stress, consider these actions:

  • Separation: If aggression becomes a persistent issue, consider separating the angelfish or the aggressive cichlid(s) into a separate tank.
  • Rehoming: If compatibility remains a problem, you might need to rehome one of the species to a different tank with more suitable tankmates.

Angelfish are generally peaceful fish, but they can be territorial and aggressive towards other angelfish or smaller fish, especially during breeding season. Therefore, it is important to choose tank mates that are compatible with angelfish in terms of size, temperament, and activity level.

Here are some fish that are considered bad tank mates for angelfish:

  1. Small fish: Angelfish are opportunistic feeders, and they may eat smaller fish, such as guppies, neon tetras, and rasboras.
  2. Fin-nippers: Some fish, such as tiger barbs, serpae tetras, and danios, are known for nipping at the fins of other fish. This can cause stress and injury to angelfish.
  3. Aggressive fish: Larger cichlids, such as oscars and jaguars, can be aggressive towards angelfish. They may chase, nip, or even kill angelfish.
  4. Betta fish: Betta fish are territorial and can be aggressive towards other fish, including angelfish. They may fight over territory or food.
  5. Shrimp: Angelfish may eat shrimp, especially smaller species.
  6. Snails: Angelfish may damage or destroy snails.

Here are some additional tips for choosing tank mates for angelfish:

  • Choose fish that are similar in size and temperament to angelfish.
  • Avoid fish that are known to be fin-nippers.
  • Provide plenty of hiding places in the aquarium.
  • Monitor the fish closely for signs of aggression.

Here is a table of good and bad tank mates for angelfish:

Type of FishGood Tank MatesBad Tank Mates
TetrasLarger tetras, such as emperor tetras and lemon tetrasSmall tetras, such as neon tetras and cardinal tetras
RasborasLarger rasboras, such as harlequin rasboras and celestial pearl daniosSmall rasboras, such as chili rasboras and espei rasboras
BarbsPeaceful barbs, such as cherry barbs and clown barbsFin-nipping barbs, such as tiger barbs and serpae tetras
GouramisPeaceful gouramis, such as dwarf gouramis and pearl gouramisAggressive gouramis, such as honey gouramis and blue gouramis
CatfishMedium-sized catfish, such as corydoras and bristlenose catfishSmall catfish, such as kuhli loaches and pygmy corydoras
CichlidsPeaceful cichlids, such as rams and keyhole cichlidsAggressive cichlids, such as oscars and jaguars
Betta fishNot compatibleNot compatible
ShrimpNot compatibleNot compatible
SnailsSome species of snails are compatibleSome species of snails are not compatible

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In conclusion, mixing angelfish and cichlids in the same aquarium can be a rewarding experience with proper planning and care. Understanding the specific needs and temperaments of both angelfish and cichlid species is essential. By providing adequate tank size, selecting compatible cichlid species, managing aggression, maintaining suitable water parameters, and creating the right tank decor, you can increase the likelihood of a harmonious coexistence. Remember to monitor your fish and be prepared to take action if conflicts arise. With the right approach, you can enjoy the beauty and diversity of these two fish types in a single aquarium.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

Aquarium Enthusiast

I love sharing my knowledge about all things aquarium related. I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and cannot imagine a life without an aquarium. 

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