Stepping Into Science: A for Angelfish

3 min read

Stepping Into Science is a new series where we will explore exciting science from A-Z. There will also be activity ideas accompanying each post to extend your childā€™s learning.

Philippine Blue Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare)

Many first pets are fish. Freshwater angelfish is one of the most popular pet fish because of their colourful appearance. They are not to be confused with marine angelfish, which are vastly different. Some may think that keeping fish is inexpensive and easy, but these creatures need more care than we think. 

King angelfish (Holacanthus passer) – A marine angelfish

1: Angelfish can be aggressive
Tank size is critical when keeping angelfish. Angelfish can be aggressive when they feel restricted in their territory or while protecting their spawn. For these reasons, angelfish should be kept in separate tanks from other breeds of fish. 

2: Angelfish are omnivores in captivity 
Angelfish are generally omnivores in captivity. In captivity, angelfish will eat live food, plants and commercial food such as flakes or pellets formulated for angelfish. Angelfish need to be fed the right food to stay healthy and grow. 

3: Male and female angelfish look similar 
It is difficult to tell a male angelfish from a female angelfish just by looking at them. However, only the female Angelfish can lay eggs. 

Can you spot the differences between male and female angelfish?

4: There are many different varieties of freshwater angelfish 
The freshwater angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) were originally a standard silver. However, mutations in the common colouring have resulted in many interesting varieties.

Common varieties of freshwater angelfish

Fact 5: Angelfish require specific water conditions
Angelfish require clean water with a good filtration system to keep them happy and healthy. They are not good swimmers, and uncontrolled currents in the water can stress them out and make them uncomfortable. With proper care and environmental conditions, angelfish can live up to 10 years.

It is important to remember that the decision to keep a pet should never be taken lightly. Once you are a pet owner, you have to be committed to your pet for its entire life. 

For young children who may not be ready for a pet yet, try the activity below to make their own angelfish!

Items needed

  • Paper tubes (toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes) 
  • Paint
  • White paper cut into fish shape/Angelfish template (to replace)
  • Staple
  • Tray


  1. Press and staple down the middle of the paper tube together to form the shape of the scales.
  2. Pour paint onto a tray.
  3. Dip the ends of the paper tubes in paint and start stamping on the paper fish.
  4. Add buttons for the eyes.

Written by Michelle Ng
Illustrations by Lim Daphne


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