- Half-Black Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare)
Quick Care Facts
- Care Level: Easy
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive
- Maximum Size: 6"
- Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
- Water Conditions: 75-82° F, KH 1-5, pH 5.8-7.0
- Diet: Omnivore
- Origin: Captive bred
- Family: Cichlidae
- Species: Angelfish
- Aquarium Type: Community
The Half-Black Angelfish (Pterophyllum sp.) is the result of selective breeding that over the course of decades has produced the brilliantly patterned specimens now found within the aquarium hobby. It is believed that breeders from Asia were able to breed wild type silver angelfish with a specific single recessive gene, that when properly environmentally influenced would produce Half-Black Angelfish. While generally available for sale within the aquarium hobby, the Half-Black Angel is considerably more rare than most selectively bred freshwater angelfish due to the extra effort and difficulty in raising this species. Thus, their brilliant appearance and rarity has made this variant one of the more sought after freshwater angelfish variants currently available within the freshwater aquarium fish trade.
Like all Angelfish, the Half-Black prefers warm temperate waters similar to that of their native Amazon basin in South America, where they are found in calm waterways and flood plains. In nature, Angels are found living in areas with losts of dense vegetation and tree roots, which they use for protection against larger fish species and as a place to hunt insect larvae and other foodstuffs.
Half-Black Angelfish will do well in aquariums that are at least 30 gallons or larger and have plenty of plants and/or driftwood. As a group freshwater Angelfish are territorial and will squabble with one another until a dominant male is established. They can be kept singularly, in mated pairs or in medium sized groups of 6 or more. Contrary to popular belief, long finned species like the Angelfish can be kept with barbs and other "fin nipping" species. The key here is that the fin nipping species be kept in proper sized groups, so that they nip at each other instead of nipping at the Angelfish or other species that are not equipped for this type of behavior.
Angelfish in general require fairly constant water parameters and are less forgiving than many other freshwater community species towards fluctuations in pH or temperature. Like with most South American cichlid species, the Half-Black Angelfish prefers soft, slightly acidic water with temperatures that stay between 79 and 83 degrees. However, the farm bred specimens that are generally sold in aquarium stores are more tolerant of a wider range of water parameters than their wild caught cousins.
Feeding & Nutrition
Angelfish are omnivores and should be fed a variety of foods including meaty and vegetable based foods. They have a particular love for blood worms, tubifex worms and similar food items, but will readily consume flake, pellet and frozen foods. They should be fed about twice per day the amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When housed in aquariums with many faster swimming fish species, it may be necessary to increase feedings to 3 times per day to make sure that the Angel is properly fed. This is rarely an issue with adult angelfish as they will generally feed very aggressively and are rarely intimidated by other community fish species.
Full grown Angelfish will prey on small fish species like small Neon Tetras, Mosquito Danios or pretty much any small species that will fit into their mouth. They generally wait until the aquarium lights are off for the night and hunt the small fish while they sleep, which makes them easy prey. Because they grow to be a fairly large fish, adult Half-Black Angels are capable of eating small fish up to 1 inch in length.
The basics in breeding Half-Black Angelfish is that the pattern is inherited, most likely as a single recessive gene, and that they are environmentally influenced. A key factor in producing Half-Black Angelfish that while the parents need to be genetically Half-Blacks, the fry must be raised with specific environmental parameters in order to produce primarily Half-Black offspring. If they fry are raised incorrectly, the half-black pattern will generally be inhibited and the fry will only develop a basic silver coloration.
To raise Half-Black Angelfish, first obtain a mated pair with the full half-black pattern, not ones having only a partial half-black pattern. Then after a successful breeding the real work in producing half-black angelfish begins. It is recommended to raise about 100 to 130 fry per 30 to 40 gallon tank, maintain warm consistent water temperature of 80° F to 82° F, feed newly hatched brine shrimp twice per day and make large frequent water changes in order to maintain pristine water conditions. Be sure to pay special attention to matching the water temperature during water changes to avoid any sudden fluctuation.
Continue with this regimen until the fry are about 4 weeks old, then reduce water changes to about twice a week and introduce other quality foods like frozen brine shrimp, blackworms or high quality commercial dry foods.
Stimulating quick growth through warm water, frequent feedings and excellent water quality has shown to be the most reliable way of getting a pair of Half-Black Angelfish to produce half-black babies.