14 Angelfish Tank Mates to Consider for Your Aquarium

Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish are beautiful, but finding the right companions for them is much harder than it appears at first glance. The ideal companion for Angels, apart from more Angels, is often hard to find.

Fortunately, there are a ton of tropical fish that make great companions for these magnificent creatures. Read on and I’ll show you my favorites before we touch on what is and isn’t a good companion.

1. Mollies

Mollies

  • Maximum Size: 3 ½” or 6″ if Sailfin
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25g
  • Care Level: Complete Beginner

Mollies are great little livebearers that will get along with most aquatic animals easily. The only real risk for them is whether or not they’ll be eaten, and in this case, they’re good to go. Even a full-grown Angelfish won’t be able to chomp down an adult Molly.

If you’re particularly worried, you can always try Sailfin Mollies. They grow up to about 6″ and even younger specimens will be fine with adult Angelfish.

There is one caveat: Mollies breed prolifically, and your Angelfish will eat the fry. In a heavily planted tank, a few of them may reach adulthood, but it’s not something you can count on.

Apart from that, Mollies are perfect. Any water conditions that will negatively affect them are far outside of the required parameters for Angelfish. They’re also easy-going, and not fast enough to nip fins.

Overall? Easy to care for and easy to mix in with your Angelfish. Give them a shot, especially if you’re not sure what you’re ready for yet.

2. Swordtails

Swordtails

  • Maximum Size: 5 ½”
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25g
  • Care Level: Complete Beginner

Swordtails are another excellent option for amateur aquarists. Hardy, big, and fun to watch. The Swordtail is sure to do just fine in any tank which will support Angelfish quite easily.

These fish are rather active, which some people mistake for aggression. In truth, they’re unlikely to go after an Angelfish, but they’re fast and defensive enough to deal with one that wants to bother them. It’s a good combination for a companion fish.

Like all livebearers, the Swordtail breeds prolifically, with no intervention needed on the part of the aquarist. The fry are unlikely to survive in a tank with Angelfish, but heavy planting and a complex hardscape can keep a few alive.

Swordtails come in a variety of colors. They’re not quite Fancy Guppies, but there’s definitely a visual appeal if you’re careful about the selection. I’d recommend them for those who are greatly worried about aggression from their Angelfish but still want a small school.

Keeping them in groups of three to six is ideal, and the male-to-female ratio should be kept at 1:3. Otherwise, the males may get a bit nippy with each other. That’s the only aggression I’ve seen them display, however, so there’s no issue even if your Angelfish is a veiltail.

3. Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras catfish

  • Maximum Size: 2 ½”
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25g
  • Care Level: Beginner

Corydoras do well with Angelfish. They spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, and they’re tough enough that a curious Angel isn’t going to bother them much. They also come in a ton of different species, so you can find one that suits you.

I’d avoid the Pygmy and Dwarf species of Corydoras in this case. While I’ve never seen it happen, they’re theoretically small enough an Angelfish can try to eat them. Unfortunately, they also have barbs… which means your Angelfish may choke as well.

Learn more: Different Types of Cory Catfish

Corydoras are easy to care for. The only real change that you’ll need to make in most cases is a sandy substrate. They feed by sifting through the bottom of the tank, so putting them with rough gravel is never a good idea.

Corydoras are a dynamic element in any tank. They also work well for handling any food which your Angelfish miss after it hits bottom. Just make sure the species you’re inspecting does well in the 76-80F range that is best for Angelfish.

4. German Blue Rams

German Blue Rams

  • Maximum Size: 3″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30g
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Blue Rams are a small member of the Cichlidae family that are often overlooked. While their most common use these days is in nano-planted tanks, they make excellent companions for your Angels.

Rams are on the smaller side of things when it comes to tank mates. That said, they’re broad enough and tough enough to fight back. It’s rare that an Angelfish will make more than a couple of passes at them.

These beautiful fish can be hard to keep for someone new to aquaria, however. They need softer, acidic water, and they’re particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in water parameters. They’re not super hard to keep, but they’re not a good idea if you’re allergic to test kits.

You should also keep only one in any given Angelfish tank. Like most cichlids, they’ll become quite territorial and aggressive when spawning. That’s bad news for your Angels, who may be meaner on a regular basis. They’re definitely not faster or more determined than your Ram, however.

I find they’re best suited as a singular companion in a 30-40 gallon tank. I’ recommend keeping them with just an Angelfish or two. They’re definitely beautiful, however, just do your research before bringing one home.

5. Boesemani Rainbowfish

Boesemani Rainbowfish

  • Maximum Size: 4″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55g
  • Care Level: Beginner

Boesemani Rainbowfishes are a splash of color that is hard to compete with. While it’s generally the males in this species that is sought after, the females also provide a brilliant silver touch to the front of the tank.

These fish are easy to feed and care for. Their ideal water parameters are easy to attain, and they’re quite peaceful. You’re more likely to have trouble with your Angels bullying a Boesemani than the other way around.

The only real problem with them is that they’re schooling fish. While a school of rainbows is a magnificent sight, the minimum 6-8 per group means that they need a larger aquarium. A 55 gallon may be suitable for one Angel and 6 Bosemanis, but you’ll need to go even larger if you’re planning on keeping a school of Angelfish with them.

Still, as long as you have space, they’re a sure win. Boesemani Rainbowfish can compete with even African cichlids in color. And that’s without the headache of managing their aggression levels. They’re also quite common; just be aware that most commercial specimens look drab, and it takes about a year for them to reach full colors.

6. Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli Loaches

  • Maximum Size: 3 ¼”
  • Minimum Tank Size: 40g
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Kuhli Loaches are a unique, bottom-dwelling fish that do great alongside Angelfish. Their striped, thin bodies are a welcome departure for those tired of the usual fare of livebearers and tetra. As a bonus, they’re also remarkably easy to keep.

These fish prefer soft water and acidic environments, but everything else is tolerated easily. They prefer to live in groups. I’d recommend keeping between 4 and 6 of them at the minimum. Otherwise, they’ll be overly shy.

Kuhli’s have a lot going for them, especially for the aquarist who’s into strange fish. Keep in mind that, like regular eels, they’re adept at escaping. Make sure that your hood is locked down tight, or you may find them on the floor.

There’s another advantage to Kuhli’s: they’re found everywhere. Some of the fish on this list will require a great LFS or sourcing them online. Kuhli Loaches, on the other hand, can even be found in big box stores. They’re one of the most easily accessible and newbie-friendly “weird” fish, which gives them a leg up.

7. Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs

  • Maximum Size: 2″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25g
  • Care Level: Beginner

Cherry Barbs are the only barb that should be kept with Angelfish. The others in the family will fin nip constantly, while Cherries tend to… float around peacefully. They’re rather fast once they’re in action, allowing them to evade getting eaten.

The only problem with Cherries that I’ve seen is people tend to overstock the males. While they’re prettier, you should aim to keep a 1:3 ratio of males to females. 1:2 is also acceptable in schools, which number six to eight fish in total. Otherwise, they can be a bit grumpy with each other.

Cherry Barbs need to be kept in a group. Like most schooling fish, I recommend at least six fish, which means you’ll need more space for them than you’d think.

Cherry Barbs are a personal favorite of mine. That said, there are some reports of fin nipping, although I’ve never seen that sort of behavior out of them. Keep an eye on them when you first put them in with your Angelfish and remove them if there are signs of trouble.

Otherwise, Cherry Barbs are the perfect accompaniment to a planted tank. Doubly so if you have an Angelfish you want to show off!

8. Silver Dollars

Silver Dollars

  • Maximum Size: 6 ½”
  • Minimum Tank Size: 75g
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Tired of the little guys, but not ready for an oddball? Then you’re looking at the perfect fish to accompany your Angel. Silver Dollars should be kept in groups of at least six, so make sure you have the tank to allow them some room.

These large fish are quite peaceful. They’re pretty much impervious to the small mouths of Angelfish, especially since they’re so laterally compressed. They rarely bother other sizable fish. You do need to be careful with smaller tankmates; Silver Dollars will eat them if they can.

There’s really only one thing I don’t like about them. While they’re technically omnivores, Silver Dollars love eating plants. Anubias sp. and Java Ferns will be ignored, thankfully. If you have an established log or rock with Java Moss, you can create a grazing area for them, pretty much nothing actually kills the moss and it’ll come back.

They’re hardy fish that fit well into the ideal parameters for Angelfish. The only real challenge is maintaining a large enough tank and getting around their voracious appetite for plants. If you can do that, they’re a sure-in for larger Angelfish tanks.

9. Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra

  • Maximum Size: 2″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 40g
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Cardinal Tetra, as opposed to Neons, are compatible with most Angelfish. Those which are particularly determined and large may manage to eat them, however.

Cardinals are separated from Neons by their larger size. They also have an entirely red portion underneath the lateral line. The biggest difference is that they’re a bit touchier about water quality.

Soft, acidic water is what you need here. It’s roughly the same as the ideal for an Angelfish. Frankly, Angelfish are more touchy than the usual guppies and plecos. If your Angel is healthy, then you should be able to keep Cardinal Tetra without difficulty.

There’s not a whole lot to say about Cardinals. They’re peaceful, schooling fish that require a minimum group of 8. Just make sure the tank is large enough for both the Cardinals and your Angel, and you’ll be in good hands.

10. Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco

  • Maximum Size: 6″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30g
  • Care Level: Beginner

Bristlenose Pleco, in contrast to the common Pleco, are relatively small bottom feeders. They’re armored enough that an Angelfish can’t even bother them for the most part. There are a few different coloration patterns out there as well if you want something more unique.

As a bottom dweller, your Bristlenose is unlikely to interact with your Angelfish much. They will help clean the bottom of the tank, however, which is a nice bonus to keeping them. Far from being sedate, Bristlenose Pleco are rather active creatures.

The only real requirement for their care is to have some driftwood in the tank. Like all Plecostomus sp., the Bristlenose Pleco rasps on wood to aid its digestion. Plecos are some of the few vertebrates that actually eat wood, so make sure you have some.

You’ll also need to provide some hiding spots. If these minimum requirements are kept, then your Bristlenose will thrive. They add some animation to the bottom of the tank as well, making them an impressive accompaniment to your Angelfish.

11. Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami

  • Maximum Size: 4″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25g
  • Care Level: Beginner

Looking for something to add a dash of color? If so, then you may want to look into acquiring a Dwarf Gourami for your tank. These colorful, peaceful fish are just as intelligent as Angelfish. They’ve got some personality, to say the least.

Actually, most species of Gourami do well with Angelfish. They tend to be tougher than other fish their size, have a larger body and aren’t a slouch when it comes to returning aggression. They’ll rarely start something, but they’re able to fend off an Angelfish.

My favorite part about Gourami? Their ventral fins. The so-called whiskers located just underneath the gills of the fish are used to get sensory information. They can even taste with them! Watching them explore their surroundings is a joy.

Dwarf Gourami are one of the few smart fish that can be kept with Angels, and that alone makes them worth a closer look. There’s a Gourami out there for everyone. It’s just up to you to find it.

12. Peacock Eel

Peacock Eel

  • Maximum Size: 10″ to 15″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55g
  • Care Level: Advanced

Peacock Eel are awesome. They’re also one of the great oddball companions for your Angels, as long as you can care for the eel. That’s the real question in this case. Peacock Eel are an advanced fish to keep.

They’re particularly sensitive to water quality fluctuations. You’ll need to keep your test kit at the ready to make sure that you know your nitrate levels. Keep them under 5ppm for the best results. They’re also notoriously prone to infections, so keep aquarium medications on hand.

These eels are also shy. You’ll need to supply them with heavy planting, a sandy substrate, and plenty of spots for them to hide. After that, it will take them a week or two to acclimate to the tank. Just be patient.

These eels are primarily active at night. If you want to observe them, then a red light does best. Many fish can’t see the red light, and LEDs are easy to find.

They’re definitely different, and if you can handle the stringent water parameters, you’ll have a great companion for your Angelfish.

13. Discus

Discus

  • Maximum Size:
  • Minimum Tank Size: 75g
  • Care Level: Advanced

Whether you’d consider Discus as a companion to Angelfish or vice versa is up to you. The two species do well together, however, and having a school of both is an incredible sight. Just be sure that you have space for them.

Discus are notoriously touchy fish. They’re expensive, require acidic water, and are generally not the easiest fish to keep. They’re the “King of Aquariums” after all. There are even groups that deal with nothing but Discus.

Even more fun? They do best in groups—at least six, preferably a dozen.

The point is this: they’re hard to keep and expensive to get into. I can’t say I’ve seen many people regret starting a Discus tank, but I’ve seen a lot of people regret placing Discus into an existing tank.

For those up for the challenge? It’s possible to keep two of the most iconic, beautiful freshwater fish together. It’s just quite a bit harder than breeding guppies or having a Betta bowl.

14. Black Ghost Knifefish

Black Ghost Knifefish

  • Maximum Size: 12-18″
  • Minimum Tank Size: 75g
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Black Ghost Knifefish barely look like fish. For those unfamiliar with them, check this out:

Yeah, the Black Ghost Knife is the oddball to top all oddballs in freshwater aquaria. They’re completely blind as well, using electric fields to sense what’s going on around them. There’s really nothing like them, especially in the world of tropical fish.

The best part? They’re not hard to care for. They inhabit the same type of waters as Angelfish in the wild, and they’re not really able to harm Angels. They’re primarily nocturnal, so there should be minimal clashing.

There are only two things you’re looking at, as far as specialized care goes. The first is that they need a cave. Mine usually occupy a piece of clear plastic tube at the front of the tank; an old gravel siphon tube works quite well.

The second is feeding. In a tank, with Angelfish, you’ll have to hand them their food for the most part. Beefheart or frozen bloodworms can be fed every two or three days.

Still, these fish are always a big hit. Especially for those who’ve never seen them, and they work perfectly alongside a school of Angelfish.

What to Look for in an Angelfish Tank Mate

The full spectrum of fish that can be kept alongside Angelfish is too extensive for a single article. That said, there are a few easy ways you can check to see if an individual fish is a good match:

  • Aggression: Angelfish can be aggressive, but they actually can’t compete with other fish of comparable size due to their smaller mouths. Any fish which is overly aggressive will end up killing your Angel in the long run.
  • Size: All fish should be at least 2″ to be considered safe to keep with an Angelfish. Likewise, anything which reaches a size of 10″ should be looked at carefully. Some oddballs are okay, but a comparably sized cichlid or characin isn’t compatible.
  • Inhabited Layer: All fish have a preferred layer in the tank. Most Angelfish prefer to be in the middle of the water column, so it’s important to be careful which mid-dwellers you place in a tank. Likewise, large top-dwellers are a bad idea and can stress the fish even if they’re harmless.
  • Special Needs: Some fish are fine with Angels, except they have special needs that make it hard. Ghost Knifefish are a great example. It’s up to you to find a workaround and to determine if it’s worth it.

You’ll also want to avoid anything that is too far outside ideal Angelfish parameters as well.

There’s one other factor to keep in mind: Angelfish are much better with other animals if you put them in an already stocked tank as juveniles. The younger, the better, and avoid dropping in small fish (like Cardinals) with full-grown Angelfish.

Giving Your Angels Company

Angelfish are wonderful, but putting them in a community tank takes some extra consideration. It’s not as hard as many people make it out to be, however, and if you follow some simple guidelines, you’ll find ideal tank mates in no time. So, get out there and find them!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shares