An angelfish is not a livebearer so this means they are an egg layer.  She does not get pregnant but produces eggs that the male angelfish fertilize. 

 When she is ready to lay her eggs, they will become almost inactive, fat, and have a breeding tube that protrudes.  If you are looking closely at the right time, you might be able to witness her laying the eggs.  

Once the male fertilizes the eggs, he will take care of the fry, or babies.  The process of fertilization is not easy.  It is based on the hit and trial method.  They spawn every two weeks.

Is My Angelfish Male or Female


  • They have a small hump above their nose, which is called a nuchal lump
  • They are more territorial and more aggressive in nature towards their mating partners, food, other males, space,
  • They have a pointed breeding organ called the papilla
  • They are more colorful and have a long, narrow anal fin that is near their tail.


  • She has a flattened papilla
  • If you look closely you may see her producing, or laying eggs
  • They are not as colorful and their fins are fanlike or triangular

The papilla will be visible during breeding time and you will see something protruding from both of them at this time.

angelfish in a wild

How to Tell When Angelfish Are Pregnant

  • Large Belly:  This is the most obvious sign.  If you look at the fish from the upper surface of the aquarium, you will be able to see that the belly is bulging out.  This will take place over 20-40 days so it is a gradual process.  The belly will have a large, round shape.
  • Gravid Spot:  As the pregnancy advances it will grow more pronounced.  It is a patch of red or black.
  • Inactive and Lazy:  When she is ready to produce eggs, they may settle or hide somewhere instead of floating around.  
  • Not Willing to Eat:  When she is ready she will probably not want anything to eat.
  • Protruding Papilla:  When you see something protruding out from her body it will be the breeding tube from which she will produce eggs.
  • Aggressive to Their Aquarium Mates:  They will generally seem more territorial and protective and trying to keep certain places clean in the tank for a spawning type.
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How to Make the Breeding Easier

Remember, in angelfish, the fertilization is a hit and trial.  Even though the females produce eggs, there is no guarantee that the male will fertilize them.  One reason is that the parents may eat the eggs, even if they do get fertilized.  It may take a few tried before they become good parents and make sure that their babies are safe.  So fertilization is not impossible but you just have to be patient.  

Make sure that you are providing a good environment for the fish to breed.

  • Water:  It needs to be changed often to remove any toxins because these and any unwanted particles can hurt the fertilization process.
  • Food:  Make sure that you are giving your angelfish food that is rich in protein.  Even if they are not ready to eat, it should be healthy and make sure that you do not overfeed them.
  • Do Not Disturb Your Angelfish:  When you see them swimming side by side and seem to be protective of each other, it is time to put those two in another aquarium if you have more fish in the regular aquarium.  They need to have their own space so they have no feat.  It will also decrease aggressive behavior a lot.  Do not disturb them by tapping on the glass as they need to have a peaceful environment in which to breed.
angelfish pregnant

How Long do Angelfish Carry Their Eggs

An angelfish will usually carry matured eggs for two weeks but that is a rough estimation.  There are some that will pass that duration while others will lay their eggs sooner.  It all depends on the conditions in the aquarium and the angelfish. 

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They can lay between a hundred and a thousand eggs in a session.  Again it will depend on the fish and condition of the aquarium.  If you leave the eggs in the same aquarium as the parents it will take them long to spawn but if you move the eggs to another aquarium, they will spawn quicker.  

There is also no set standard of eggs that the female will lay every single time.  There are many factors that can affect the number of eggs she will lay.

Why a Female Might Carry her Eggs too Long

  • No Male Angelfish in the Aquarium:  Some have speculated that somehow the female angelfish can tell when there are no male angelfish in the aquarium and figure that their eggs will simply die so they will not lay any more eggs. 
  • Water Conditions:  The temperature of the water is not right or the pH is off. 
  • Mental or Physical Complications:  This can include constipation or dropsy.

How to Encourage Breeding

  • Always make sure that the tank is big enough and also tall enough because they can grow up to 12 inches when fully grown and they need room to swim.  If they do not feel secure then they will not breed.
  • In their natural habitat, they live in a slightly acidic soft water so you have to make sure that your angelfish have the same habitat in their aquarium.  
  • Be picking about what they eat.  Give the blood worms or briny shrimp.


  • If the angelfish do not lay the eggs they are carrying they will just reabsorb back into her body.  It will not cause her to become sick and die.
  • They are oviparous, which means they lay eggs.  They are already full of eggs and just need to be fertilized by the male after they lay them.
  • Their tank should be at least 20 gallons but the ideal tank would be 29 gallows.
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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".