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How Fast Do Angelfish Grow? A Comprehensive Guide for Angelfish Owners

By Erika

Angelfish are one of the most popular aquarium fish, prized for their unique shape and graceful swimming. But how big do these fish get, and how fast do they reach their full size? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the growth rate of angelfish at every stage, from tiny fry to fully grown adults. We’ll also explore the key factors that affect their development. Read on for expert insight into raising healthy, thriving angelfish.


Angelfish, or Pterophyllum, are a genus of freshwater cichlids native to the Amazon River basin in South America. With their distinctive triangular shape and long, flowing fins, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular among aquarists. But what’s not always clear is how big they grow, and the rate at which they reach their full size.

In the wild, angelfish can grow up to 6-8 inches in length. However, in captivity they more commonly reach about 5 inches. Their growth is fastest as juveniles and tends to slow down as they mature. Many factors like diet, genetics, water conditions, and tank size can all impact their development.

So if you just brought home a quarter-sized baby angelfish, how long will it take to reach it’s maximum size? Let’s take a deeper look at how these fish grow and the key influences on their growth rate.

How Fast Do Angelfish Fry Grow?

In the first few months of life, angelfish grow at a rapid rate as they transition from the larval stage into juveniles. Reaching this point requires proper care right from birth. Here’s what to expect with baby angelfish growth.

Fry Growth Rate

Angelfish begin life as tiny eggs, each about the size of a pea. After hatching, the larvae are extremely small, less than half an inch long. They’ll start out absorbing nutrients from a yolk sac attached to their belly.

Within a week after hatching, they’ll become free-swimming fry. At this stage, their length may reach around 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 an inch. For the first 2-3 months, the fry will achieve very fast growth, possibly doubling in size every 7-10 days. Their growth rate will start to slow after that initial spurt.

By 3 months old, a well-fed angelfish fry may achieve a size of 1.5-2 inches. Given proper care and feeding, they can reach 3 inches by the age of 6 months. At this point, they will have finished the larval stage and entered the juvenile phase.

Feeding Baby Angelfish

The rapid growth seen in angelfish fry requires sufficient nutrition in their earliest days. There are a few approaches for feeding newly hatched fry:

  • Powdered Fry Food – Specially formulated foods made for baby fish, usually containing egg yolk, spirulina, and other nutrients. Can be fed 2-5 times per day.
  • Infusoria – A mixture of tiny microorganisms grown in water that serves as the first food for many fish fry. Can include paramecium, protozoa, rotifers and more.
  • Microworms – Tiny worms raised as live food. Microworm cultures can be fed directly to the tank.
  • Brine Shrimp – Newly hatched brine shrimp are an excellent starter food. Use decapsulated eggs which fry can eat immediately.
  • Crushed Flakes – As they grow, crushed high quality flakes provide a balanced diet.

No matter what approach you choose, feed babies frequently, at least 3-5 times daily. This ensures they are getting enough nutrition to support their rapid growth phase.

How Fast Do Juvenile Angelfish Grow?

Once past the initial fry stage, juvenile angelfish are still growing quickly as they mature. This adolescent period lasts for the next several months until they reach adulthood. Here’s what to expect.

Juvenile Growth Rate

The juvenile stage for angelfish is generally considered to last from around 3 months old until 12-18 months old. During this time, their growth rate slows from the initial baby phase but remains relatively fast.

From 3 months to 6 months of age, they may reach 4-5 inches in length. After that growth incrementally slows, but steady progress can be seen each month. A 12 month old juvenile may achieve a size around 5-6 inches tip to tip.

Their body shape will also mature, as the characteristic high dorsal and anal fins extend. By a year and a half, young adults will start to resemble full grown angelfish.

Feeding Juvenile Angelfish

The juvenile growth phase requires a diet that provides complete nutrition. At this stage, angelfish fry can be transitioned to feeding on:

  • Flake foods – High quality flakes with plenty of protein should form the nutritional base. Choose a brand made specifically for cichlids.
  • Pellets – Sinking pellets help supplement their diet. Look for varieties with additional spirulina, krill or color enhancers.
  • Frozen foods – Brine shrimp, blood worms and daphnia will be eagerly accepted. Feed a few times per week for variety.
  • Algae wafers – Spirulina-based wafers provide balanced plant nutrition.
  • Vegetables – Bits of blanched zucchini, cucumber, spinach or romaine can complement their diet.

Feed juveniles twice daily, providing as much as they can eat within a few minutes. This ensures adequate nutrition for continued growth and development.

How Fast Do Adult Angelfish Grow?

Reaching full maturity around 18 months, angelfish become adults with the iconic shape and fins. Growth continues but at a more modest pace. Here’s what to expect as they finish growing.

Adult Growth Rate

By the age of 18 months, angelfish will have reached approximate full adult size. A mature angelfish living in ideal tank conditions may achieve 6 inches in length from nose to tail by 2 years old.

After that point, growth slows significantly, with very minimal size gains. An older adult of 3-5 years may reach a maximum length of 6.5-7 inches. But most will remain in the range of 5.5-6 inches at full growth.

Their body shape will fill out as adults, becoming thicker with a pronounced forehead hump. Fin extensions will reach their peak flow and transparency. Full grown adults will display the most intense coloration and patterns as well.

Feeding Adult Angelfish

Adult angelfish can be fed much the same diet as juveniles, focusing on a variety of quality foods. Key staples include:

  • Flake foods – Several feedings per week of a nutritionally balanced flake food.
  • Pellets – Daily meals of a sinking cichlid pellet.
  • Frozen or freeze dried – A mix of brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, blood worms and daphnia provides variety 2-3 times per week.
  • Algae wafers – Occasional spirulina wafers give supplementary nutrition.
  • Vegetables – Fresh vegetables like zucchini, spinach and cucumber can be fed a few times a week.

Adults should be fed once or twice daily. Give only an amount they can consume within a few minutes, to reduce waste. This diet will provide optimal nutrition for minimal growth.

Factors That Affect Angelfish Growth

While age and life stage plays a key role, many variables influence the growth of angelfish. Ensuring proper conditions will allow them to reach their maximum genetic potential. Here are some of the top factors impacting development.


The genetic background of angelfish affects their size potential. Species such as Pterophyllum scalare may only reach 3-4 inches, while Pterophyllum altum can exceed 7 inches in the right environment. Selective breeding practices also produce fish capable of larger than average dimensions.


A nutritious, varied diet is crucial for angelfish to achieve healthy growth. Fry and juveniles especially require frequent feedings of high quality foods. Deficiencies can easily stunt development. Offer a mix of flakes, pellets, frozen or live foods for the best results.

Water Quality

Angelfish require clean, warm water to thrive. Ideal parameters are 76-82°F temperature, pH 6.5-7.5, and minimal levels of ammonia and nitrite. Regular water testing and partial water changes preserve water quality. Filters and aeration also support a healthy environment.

Tank Size

Allowing ample swimming room supports proper growth. Aim for at least 20 gallons for a pair of angelfish, and 10 additional gallons per fish beyond the initial two. Taller tanks will make use of their full height in nature. Plants and hiding spots reduce territorial disputes, as well.

With the right diet, tank setup, water parameters, and genetic background, angelfish can achieve their full potential. Monitoring growth milestones will help ensure they develop on track.


Raising angelfish from tiny fry to fully grown adults is an incredibly rewarding journey for any aquarist. Understanding their growth timeline helps set proper expectations. With the right care, most angelfish will reach 5-6 inches long within their first 2 years.

Fry and juveniles will experience quick spurts in length, especially with frequent feedings of nutritious foods. Growth gradually slows as fish mature, until ultimately reaching full size around 18 months old. Adult angelfish will continue to fill out in body shape after that point.

Genetics set the boundaries for maximum possible size. But factors like diet, water quality, ample tank space and more enable angelfish to reach their individual growth potential. With the guidelines provided here, you’ll be set up for successfully raising healthy, thriving angelfish.

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