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Surfperches Cichlids and Relatives: Labroidei

Freshwater Angelfish (pterophyllum Scalare): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Freshwater angelfish are about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) long. The combination of large triangular dorsal and anal fins above and below a round body gives the fish a diamond-shaped profile. The body is very narrow from side to side. Adults are silver with four dark stripes that extend from the top to the belly of the fish. The young have seven dark bars.

Geographic range: Freshwater angelfish live in South America.

Freshwater angelfish are peaceful fishes that hide in plants. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Freshwater angelfish live in lakes, swamps, and flooded forests with dense plant life and little current.

Diet: Freshwater angelfish eat bottom-dwelling crustaceans, such as shrimp.

Behavior and reproduction: Freshwater angelfish are peaceful fishes that hide in plants. They form pairs for mating. Females spawn on thick leaves, and both parents care for the eggs and young.

Freshwater angelfish and people: Freshwater angelfish are extremely popular for aquariums. Millions are sold every year.

Conservation status: Freshwater angelfish are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Web sites:

Coleman, Ron. "Introducing the Cichlids." Cichlid Research Home Page. http://www.cichlidresearch.com/introducingcichlids.html (accessed on October 26, 2004).

Smith, Richard. "Cleaner Wrasse." Catalyst—ABC TV Science. http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/default.htm (accessed on October 27, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesSurfperches Cichlids and Relatives: Labroidei - Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Cichlids, Surfperches, Their Relatives, And People, Conservation Status - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT