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25 Best Angelfish Tank Mates for a Community Aquarium

Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.

The best angelfish tank mates are peaceful fish.

The best angelfish tank mates are peaceful fish.

Freshwater angelfish are very popular in the aquarium world, and it is easy to see why. They’re large, beautiful new-world cichlids, and they come in many different varieties and colors. An adult angelfish looks spectacular in a community tank, peacefully gliding among other fish.

This is where things get a little tricky. As pretty as they are, angelfish can be aggressive in certain situations. Because of their size, they might even eat some of the smaller fish in your aquarium.

They can end up on the receiving end of harassment as well. Their long, flowing fins make them easy targets for semi-aggressive fish and fin nippers.

This should make it clear how important it is to choose the right tank mates for your angelfish. Ideally, you want peaceful, hardy fish that are too large for them to think of as lunch.

If you are new to keeping angelfish, you may want to read up on angelfish care requirements before going any further. If you are ready to choose some tank mates for your angelfish, this guide can get you started.

How to Choose Tank Mates for Angelfish

It is important to choose fish that can live in the same or similar water conditions as your angel. One way to meet this requirement is to consider other fish species that come from South America, especially the Amazon River Basin, which is where wild freshwater angelfish call home.

But this alone doesn’t make a fish a good choice. You must consider all factors when picking angelfish tank mates, including:

  • Minimum Tank Size: Thirty gallons is the minimum, but I like to see adult angelfish in 55-gallon tanks or larger. That’s big enough for many of the fish mentioned in this article, but not all of them. You also need to consider the total number of fish you intend to stock as well as their care needs. This is why is it so important to research a fish before you bring it home.
  • Adult Size: The first reason you need to know the adult size of potential angelfish tank mates is to ensure they don’t become a meal. Big fish eat little fish, and angelfish are formidable ambush predators. The second reason is that you need to determine whether your tank is big enough for all the fish you'd like to include.
  • Temperament: Is a fish aggressive or docile? Is it a fin nipper? Even small fish can pose a threat to an adult angel through harassment and nipping. You can often mitigate these issues with smart tank management strategies, but not always. Learn everything you can about a fish before you bring it home, so you avoid turning your aquarium into a battle zone.
  • Social Requirements: Some fish are best kept as a single specimen. Some prefer to be in pairs and others need to be schools of six or more. This will factor into your decision making, as it will not only dictate the number of fish you keep in your tank but also impact the overall stress level your fish experience.
  • Care Level: In this article, I’ve noted that some fish are best kept only by expert aquarists. Of course, this is only my opinion. You can do whatever you want to do, but I strongly suggest you evaluate your skill and experience as a fishkeeper before bringing fish home. There are many fish that are appropriate for beginners.

As you read through the rest of this article, you may notice that some of my advice is a little vague. That’s intentional. I think one of the worst things a new aquarium owner can do is look up an article on the internet and go out and buy whatever fish the author tells them to. Instead, I’d rather give you the information necessary to make your own decisions.

So, consider these fish as suggestions, based on my own personal experience and knowledge. Ultimately, it is up to you to choose the best tank mates for your angelfish, and it is worth your time to learn as much as you can before bringing fish home.

List of Best Tank Mates for Angelfish

Here are 25 tank mates for angelfish:

  1. Corydoras Catfish
  2. Black Skirt Tetra
  3. Bleeding Heart Tetra
  4. Hatchetfish
  5. Discus Fish
  6. German Blue Ram
  7. Electric Blue Ram
  8. Bolivian Ram
  9. Silver Dollar
  10. Common Plecostomus
  11. Rubbernose Pleco
  12. Bristlenose Pleco
  13. Neon Tetra
  14. Cardinal Tetra
  15. Otocinclus Catfish
  16. Platies
  17. Swordtails
  18. Mollies
  19. Three-spot Gourami
  20. Dwarf Gourami
  21. Boeseman’s Rainbow Fish
  22. Synodontis Catfish
  23. Kribensis Cichlids
  24. Keyhole Cichlids
  25. Kuhli Loach

Please realize that this is not a ranking. Whether or not an individual fish can or should live with your angelfish depends on a wide range of factors. Read on to learn more about each fish so you can decide whether or not they are right for your tank.

Corydoras Catfish

Cories are active little bottom feeders who will putter around your tank cleaning up uneaten fish food and any other edible debris they can find. They are among the most popular types of catfish in the aquarium world and a lot of fun to watch.

Cories only grow to a few inches in length, and they are best kept in schools of six or more. There are many varieties commonly available in pet stores including:

  • Bronze Cory
  • Albino Cory
  • Pepper Cory
  • Bumblebee Cory
  • Panda Cory

If you plan to stock them, it is a good idea to feed sinking pellets to ensure they get enough to eat.

Minimum Tank Size

20 gallons for a school of six.

Adult Size

3 inches

Temperament

Peaceful

Social Requirements

Schooling. Stock in groups of six or more.

Care Level

Beginner

Black Skirt Tetra

Black skirt tetras are schooling fish, though they often scatter throughout your tank in a loose shoal. They a little too big for angelfish to eat and they grow to an adult length of around two inches. That makes them an excellent choice if you are looking for a mid-level schooling fish for your aquarium.

While I’ve kept black skirts and angels without issue, some fishkeepers report that they nip fins, and even call them semi-aggressive. I’ve noticed most tetras get a little nippy when they are stressed, so this is something you’ll want to watch for if you intend to stock them.

Minimum Tank Size

15 Gallons

Adult Size

Two inches

Temperament

Peaceful; may nip fins when stressed

Social Requirements

Schooling fish; keep in groups of six or more.

Care Level

Beginner

Bleeding Heart Tetra

Here is another tetra that can do well in an angelfish tank. Like many tetras, these are schooling fish you’ll want to house in a group of six or more. They grow to an adult size of around three inches. This fish gets its name for the splotch of red over its “heart”.

Bleeding hearts are very peaceful fish, and they are too big for angels to eat. They should get along well, but you always want to keep a lookout for trouble in your tank. Making sure everyone’s care needs are met often goes a long way toward heading off aggressive behaviors in an aquarium.

Minimum Tank Size

20 Gallons

Adult Size

Three inches

Temperament

Peaceful

Social Requirements

Schooling fish; keep in groups of six or more.

Care Level

Beginner / Intermediate

Hatchetfish

Hatchetfish are among my favorite fish, but there are a few things you need to know about them if you intend to keep them with angels. They are schooling fish, so the six-or-more rule applies. Adult hatchetfish ought to be large enough to avoid becoming a meal for an adult angelfish. However, I suggest you avoid keeping juvenile hatchetfish with large, adult angels.

The most important thing you need to know about hatchetfish is that they like to jump. It is a defense mechanism, and the presence of an angelfish may occasionally trigger it. Be sure your tank is completely and securely covered.

Minimum Tank Size

30 gallons

Adult Size

Two inches

Temperament

Peaceful but skittish

Social Requirements

School of six or more.

Care Level

Beginner / Intermediate

Discus Fish

Discus fish come from the same region of the world as angelfish and are potentially great tank mates. They are beautiful, docile new-world cichlids, and some of the most colorful freshwater aquarium fish you'll find.

If you have calm, peaceful angelfish, it could be a match made in heaven. On the other hand, if your angelfish are a little aggressive, it could be a match made in that other place.

For that reason, along with the fact that discus are large, expensive fish that have some special care requirements, I suggest avoiding them unless you are an expert fishkeeper prepared to deal with potential conflicts.

Minimum Tank Size

100 gallons

Adult Size

Ten inches

Temperament

Peaceful

Social Requirements

School of six or more.

Care Level

Expert

Ram Cichlids

Ram cichlids are another group of peaceful fish that can live with angelfish. They are dwarf new-world cichlids, and there are several types you might consider:

  • Bolivian Ram
  • German Blue Ram
  • Electric Blue Ram

Each has a slightly different temperament and care requirement, but in general, they are small, colorful, docile if somewhat quirky fish.

This is another fish I suggest left only to expert fishkeepers. They are best kept in pairs, and even though their water parameters are compatible with angels with they are a little more fragile.

Minimum Tank Size

10 gallons

Adult Size

Three inches

Temperament

Peaceful

Social Requirements

Best kept in pairs

Care Level

Expert

Silver Dollar

Silver dollars come from the Amazon River Basin. They’re relatives of the piranha, believe it or not. However, they don’t share the same fierce reputation. Silver dollars are peaceful fish that pose no threat to angels, though they might nibble on the live plants in your aquarium.

The thing is, silver dollars are large freshwater fish that require a very large tank. They are also schooling fish and best kept in groups of six or more. Ideally, you’ll want a long tank that holds at least 100 gallons. If you can otherwise meet their care requirements, silver dollars make excellent tank mates for angelfish.

Minimum Tank Size

100 gallon long

Adult Size

Six inches

Temperament

Peaceful

Social Requirements

Schooling; keep in groups of six or more

Care Level

Expert

Plecostomus

The pleco is one of the best algae eaters and a fun addition to a freshwater tank if you have the room. I say this because the common pleco has the potential to grow to an adult size of two feet! You’ll need a very large tank if you intend to house this fish, but if you keep a school of angelfish, a gigantic tank might be exactly what you have.

If not, consider a smaller species such as the rubbernose or bristlenose pleco. They eat algae like their bigger cousin, but they only grow to an adult length of around six inches. For most fishkeepers, these are better options than the common pleco.

Minimum Tank Size

150 gallons for common pleco; 55 gallons for smaller species

Adult Size

24 inches common pleco; 5-7 inches for smaller species

Temperament

Mostly peaceful, may become aggressive if needs aren't met.

Social Requirements

Can be kept as single fish

Care Level

Intermediate

Neon Tetra

Neons are small, schooling fish that come from the same region as angels. From that standpoint, they’re among the best-suited tank mates for angelfish. However, neons are tiny, and angelfish will see them as food. You will want to think long and hard before pairing these two together.

One strategy, if you have a large enough aquarium, is to keep a huge school of neons in a heavily planted tank. Six or more is the guideline for schooling fish, but in this case, you’ll want more like thirty of them. This will help them use their natural defenses, but you’ll probably still notice a few missing now and then.

Cardinal tetras are another popular fish similar to neons. The same general advice applies: Stock them at your own risk.

Minimum Tank Size

10 gallons for a school of six.

Adult Size

1-2 inches

Temperament

Peaceful, but may get nippy in poor conditions

Social Requirements

Schooling. Stock in groups of six or more.

Care Level

Beginner

Otocinclus Catfish

I often advise new fishkeepers to give the plecostomus a pass and instead opt for a school of otos. These little algae eaters will hide in your plants and tuck themselves away in the corners of your tank. You’ll occasionally see them stuck to the aquarium glass like plecos. But, unlike the plecostomus, they won’t demolish your live plants.

But they are very small, and despite their stealthy lifestyle, they can end up as prey for bigger fish. As with neons, you’ll want to put some serious thought into whether you’ll risk stocking them with a large angelfish.

Minimum Tank Size

10 gallons for a school of six, but larger is better.

Adult Size

2 inches

Temperament

Peaceful

Social Requirements

Schooling. Stock in groups of six or more.

Care Level

Beginner

More Angelfish Tank Mates

Here are a few fish from other parts of the world you may consider as tank mates for your angelfish. As always, be sure to do extensive research before you bring a fish home.

  • Platies
  • Swordtails
  • Mollies
  • Three-spot Gourami
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Boeseman’s Rainbow Fish
  • Synodontis Catfish
  • Kribensis Cichlids
  • Keyhole Cichlids
  • Kuhli Loach

Angelfish Tank Mates FAQ

Here are the answers to some common questions about angelfish and the fish that can (or should not) live with them.

How big do angelfish get?

In rare cases, from the bottom of their ventral fins to the top of their dorsal fin, angelfish may grow to a foot in height. More commonly, adult angelfish in large home aquariums grow to around six to eight inches tall.

How many angelfish can live together?

In large tanks, angelfish are best kept in schools of six or more when managed by an experienced fishkeeper. However, because angelfish can be territorial, especially if they pair up, many aquarium owners choose to keep a single angelfish.

Can tetras live with angelfish?

Sure they can. Whether they should is another matter. Many tetras, such as neons, are so small that angelfish will eat them. Others are fin nippers that will harass your angelfish. It is up to you to do the research and accept the risks should you choose to keep tetras and angelfish together.

Can oscars live with angelfish?

Oscars and angelfish are generally not a good combination. Oscars are big, aggressive fish. Expert aquarists may make it work in very large tanks, but most fishkeepers should avoid pairing angels and oscars.

Can I keep just one angelfish in a community tank?

Yes, you can. In fact, it is a wise choice for many beginning and intermediate aquarium owners. While angels live in schools in the wild, in the home aquarium their behaviors are tough to manage.

What bottom feeders can live with angelfish?

Angelfish can potentially live with a bunch of different catfish and bottom feeders, including:

  • Cory catfish
  • Common Plecostomus
  • Rubbernose Pleco
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Kuhli Loach

Can angelfish live with cichlids?

Angelfish can potentially live with some peaceful South American cichlids such as discus fish and Bolivian rams. They should not live with aggressive new-world or African cichlids.

Do angelfish kill other fish?

Angels can and might kill other fish. In certain circumstances they may eat other fish or attack them for territorial reasons. This is one reason it is very important to put a lot of thought into which fish you choose to live with angelfish.

Think Carefully Before Choosing Angelfish Tank Mates

I’ve had good angelfish and bad angelfish. Some were docile and got along fine with the other fish in the tank. Others were aggressive and always looking for a fight.

One was so mean I bought another tank just so I could separate it from the other fish. It lived alone from then on, and my wife joked that it was “in jail”. Looking back, there are things I know now that probably could have made my life, and the lives of my fish, much easier.

I always tell readers to remember that my articles are based on my own experience, research, and knowledge. Just like you, I am always learning. I highly suggest seeking other opinions and doing as much research as you can. The more you can learn the better you will get at the aquarium hobby

You never really know what a fish will do until you get it in your tank. It is up to you to determine which fish are right for your aquarium. That’s important with any fish, but even more so when choosing tank mates for a complex species like the freshwater angelfish.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 16, 2020:

Thanks, Peggy! I hope it is helpful.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 14, 2020:

My keeping of fish in aquariums is now a thing of the past, but I enjoy the beauty of them when I see them. I particularly enjoy the schooling fish like neons. Your article about what fish to keep with angelfish will be helpful to many people who are considering them for their aquariums. The photos illustrated your article beautifully.