10 Best Tank Mates for Angelfish

Angelfish are pretty, but don’t let that fool you. They can be real bullies in a community tank that’s got the wrong mix of species.

But like all bullies, you put another aggressive fish in your tank and your angels can become the victim.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through what you need to look for when picking your tank mates for your angelfish and share my top 10 picks.

What Makes An Ideal Tank Mate For Angelfish?

Aquarium Level

Angelfish are top water dwellers that spend most of their cruising near the surface. 

Ideally, you should get tank mates that occupy lower levels of the aquarium. That will keep them from competing for space and coming into conflict with your angelfish.

Similar Parameters

Angelfish are South American cichlids that originate from soft and acidic waters. They are tropical fish that require warm temperatures in the range of 78°-80°F (25.6°-26.7°C).

It’s best to match fish with tank mates that have similar needs. 

Stay away from cold water species like goldfish.

Size 

It’s kind of hard to imagine when you see juvenile angelfish at the live fish store, but those adorable little guys will end up being 6-8 inches (15-20 centimeters) long when they’re adults.

And angels will gladly eat up any fish small enough to fit in their mouths. So tiny 1 inch (2.5  centimeter) fish will end up being snacks when your angelfish become adults. 

It’s best to go with fish that are at least 2 inches (5 centimeters) long. 

On the flipside, you also don’t want to put angelfish in with big whoppers like jaguar cichlids, Oscars or redhead cichlids.

These big bruisers might not be able to eat an angelfish in one gulp, but they could definitely beat up an angelfish enough to kill it.

Aggression Levels

You’ve got to balance out how aggressive your angelfish are with how aggressive their tank mates will be.

Don’t let the pretty fins fool you, angels can be big bullies that terrorize meek fish. 

But on the other hand, they can also be the victims of bullying, especially when it comes to fish that are notorious fin nippers, like tiger barbs or serpae tetras.

So you want fish that aren’t total wusses, but that also aren’t homicidal maniacs. 

It’s good to stay with fairly peaceful community fish and stay away from anything that has a reputation for aggression, like convict cichlids.

10 Best Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish in community aquarium

1. Boesemani Rainbow Fish (Melanotaenia boesemani)

  • Care Level: easy
  • Temperament: peaceful (sometimes squabble amongst themselves)
  • Size: 4 inches (10 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons (113 liters)

OK, I have to admit a major bias when it comes to these fish. I’ve kept them for years and they’re one of my most favorite kinds of fish.

Boesemani start out being a somewhat dull gray with a yellow tail as juveniles but quickly develop stunning color. The front half of their body is iridescent blue and the back half is bright yellow.

They’re a good size at 4 inches, way too big to be in danger of being eaten, and they pretty much ignore other species of fish and just interact with each other.

This species does prefer slightly hard water, but they’re tank bred and can be acclimated to softer water as well. I keep mine is fairly soft water and they’ve done really well.

Boesemani are so gorgeous, they may outshine your angelfish!  

2. Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras sp.)

  • Care Level: easy
  • Temperament: peaceful (must be kept in groups of 5 or more)
  • Size: 2-4 inches (5-10 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (75 liters)

Cory cats originate from South America, just like angelfish. There are several different species available in the hobby, but they’re all similar when it comes to care and needs.

A school of cories will romp around the tank, scouring the bottom for uneaten food. So not only are they cute, but they’re also a great cleaner fish.

It’s important for these fish to be kept in a school. In the wild, they travel in groups that number in the hundreds. Plan on keeping at least five, but ten or more is even better.

You’ll never regret adding this species. It’s great to watch them play and interact with each other or see them take a little snooze in a shady spot.

3. Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

  • Care Level: easy
  • Temperament: peaceful (only one male can be kept in a tank)
  • Size: 3.5 inches (9 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (38 liters)

Dwarf gouramis originate from Southeast Asia, but their native water conditions are very similar to those of angelfish.

This species can be a little shy, so make sure to provide them with densely planted areas so they can hide when they feel threatened.

You might be tempted to get more than one since they’re so brightly colored, but just be aware that you shouldn’t keep more than one male in a tank (groups of females are fine). Males will fight with each other to the point that one or both can get stressed and die.

4. Praecox Rainbow Fish (Melanotaenia praecox)

  • Care Level: easy
  • Temperament: peaceful (should be kept in groups of 5 or more)
  • Size: 3 inches (7.5 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons (151 liters)

The smaller cousin of the Boesemani rainbow fish, Praecox rainbows have a silver body that has an iridescent blue sheen. Their fins and tail are a bright red color.

They are a peaceful schooling fish that is more than big enough to hang with angelfish. 

If you see juveniles, and aren’t that impressed, take my word for it, they will be stunning as adults.

These beauties are hardy and undemanding, a great addition to a community tank.

5. Zebra Loaches (Botia striata)

  • Care Level: easy
  • Temperament: peaceful (should be kept in a group of 5 or more)
  • Size: 3.5 inches (9 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons (151 liters)

Zebra loaches are another schooling bottom feeder that is great for an angelfish tank. 

They don’t get massive, like their cousins the clown loach, and they do well in the same parameters as angelfish. 

They also have spunky little personalities that won’t take any flak from a bossy angel.

This species does a great job of keeping your substrate and decor clean. I have a group of these loaches in one of my tanks right now. They really don’t go above the mid-water region of the tank and do a great job searching the substrate and decor for uneaten food.

They’re also really cute and interesting to watch.

6. Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)

  • Care Level: easy
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Size: 2.5 inches (6.5 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (38 liters)

Platies are colorful, active little livebearers that make a great addition to an angelfish tank. They come in many different colors and patterns.

I love that they’re constantly active in the tank when the lights are on. A tank with platies is never boring.

They prefer moderately hard to hard water, but they can be acclimated to slightly softer conditions.

These fish can and will breed like crazy in an aquarium. Pretty much, if you have a male and female, they will have babies. If want to keep their young, you can place heavily pregnant females in a breeding box so you can easily separate the fry.

If you don’t want to keep the babies, other adult fish in the tank will more than likely eat most of the fry. 

It’s best to keep two females for every one male. Males can be pretty persistent when they’re looking for love. If there is a higher percentage of females, it spreads out the males’ attention so no one female is constantly being harassed.

7. Mollies (Poecilia sp.)

  • Care Level: easy
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Size: 3-6 inches (7.5-15 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (75 liters)

Mollies are another Central American livebearer. There are several species available in the trade and lots of different color morphs. 

These fish are hardy and easy to take care of, great for beginners.

They too come from waterways with higher mineral contents, but they can be acclimated to softer water. 

Since they’re livebearers, just like platies, they will readily breed in the tank. But adult fish will eat most of the fry so you probably won’t be overrun with baby mollies.

Mollies are a good size to be angelfish tank mates, especially sailfin mollies that can reach lengths of 4-5 inches (10-13 centimeters).

8. Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)

  • Care Level: medium
  • Temperament: peaceful (can be aggressive when breeding)
  • Size: 4 inches (10 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallon (113 liters)

Kribensis, also known as rainbow kribs, are a species of dwarf cichlid known for their bright colors and peaceful temperaments. They are an African cichlid, but they originate from softer waters that are compatible with the conditions in an angelfish tank.

Kribs do breed readily in an aquarium and can get aggressive with other fish that come near their fry.

This species prefers the mid and bottom levels of the aquarium, so they won’t interact that much with angelfish.

Keep in mind, kribs do need caves so that they can establish their own small territory. Resin decor caves, rocks or terracotta flower pots placed along the bottom give kribs a place to hide when they feel threatened.

9. Bushynose Pleco (Ancistrus sp.)

  • Care Level: medium
  • Temperament: peaceful (it’s best to keep only one per tank)
  • Size: 4-6 inches (10-15 centimeters)
  • Diet: herbivore
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallon (113 liters)

The thing that I love about bushynose plecos is that they are absolutely great algae eaters that don’t get huge. 

Unfortunately, the common plecos that you see in the aquarium trade grow into 2 foot (60  centimeter) tank busters.

But bushynose stay relatively small. Despite their small size, bushynose are little workhorses that scour your glass, substrate and decor, devouring algae and uneaten fish food. 

They’re also an interesting oddball, males have a bunch of fleshy tentacles that grow from their faces, making them one of the weirdest looking fish in the aquarium trade.

One downside, they can and will eat up live plants if they feel hungry. You can try to supplement their diet with things like algae wafers and blanched veggies, but you may never get them to leave your plants alone.

Bushynose are pretty shy so they may hide all day and you might only see them if you have a nightlight on your tank. 

10. Ram Cichlids (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)

  • Care Level: moderate-difficult
  • Temperament: peaceful (males may squabble)
  • Size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
  • Diet: omnivore
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (75 liters)

Ram cichlids are another super colorful fish that’s a great match for angels. They originate from South America and will thrive in the same water parameters as angelfish.

Rams mostly occupy the bottom and mid-water so they probably won’t interact that much with your angels.

These little guys are sometimes pretty small when you get them from the live fish store, so be cautious when mixing them with adult angels.

Rams have a reputation for being delicate; they may not be the best choice for beginning fish keepers. The key to success with this species is maintaining near pristine water conditions with a strict water change schedule.

Related: Blue Ram Cichlid Care Guide

Which Tank Mate is Right for You?

All of these species would be a great fit in an angelfish tank. They’re a good size that can handle how pushy angels can be. And they’re not overly aggressive species that might bully the angelfish.

For me, choosing which ones to add to your aquarium comes down to tank size. 

Several of the species I listed are schooling fish that have to be kept in groups of five or more for them to feel secure and happy.

So you need a tank large enough to house them and the angelfish long term. 

If you have a 55 gallon (208 liter) or bigger, you have plenty of room to have a few angelfish and a school of cory cats, zebra loaches or rainbowfish. 

But if you have a smaller tank, it’s better to go with something like a few platies or a dwarf gourami.

Just like with any other fish purchase, make sure to research the species that you’re interested in to make sure that your tank is a good fit for their needs.

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