Hatching baby angel...
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Hatching baby angelfish

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I put adult Angels into a large tank to pair up, usually a 55 or 75 gallon tank. When two of them decide to be a pair they will pick a spot and keep all others away. They will drop their spawning tube and start cleaning a leaf or other surface in earnest. When this happens, I either put them into their own tank or put a divider in their tank to separate them and give them a little privacy.


I put a slate in the breeding tanks for the pairs to spawn on. Sometimes they will clean the slate for days before spawning and sometimes they will make a couple quick passes and then get right to it. When they have completed spawning I pull the slate and put it in a one gallon jar with fresh tap water. RO water seems to work too if you have it around. Some people advocate using tank water but I feel there are too many bad things in tank water to chance it. I put the slate in the jar with the eggs facing down so nothing can settle on them. The jar goes into a ten gallon running tank to maintain the temperature. The tank usually has the last spawn growing out in it. Lower the water level in the 10 or set the jar on something so the water in the jar doesn’t mix with the water in the tank. Anything between 76 and 82 seems to work, I keep them at right around 78F.

Air supply to the jar is a piece of rigid air line connected to the air supply by a piece of regular flexible air line. Some people like to use an air stone for the small bubbles. I like the large bubbles from the air line. Crank up the air to get good circulation in the jar but don’t let the bubbles strike the eggs directly. Put your favorite anti-fungus into the jar. Some people use methylene blue or hydrogen peroxide, I use Jungle Fungus Clear Tabs I buy at Walmart. A half a tab per 1 gallon jar works good, no fungus. I don’t do any water changes on the jar. Methylene blue and hydrogen peroxide will harm the wigglers so they need to be removed when the babies hatch. The Jungle fungus tabs do not harm the babies so it can be removed gradually after the hatch.

On day 3 the eggs will hatch into wigglers. You can tell because they will me moving on the slate waving in the flow. I then siphon them off the slate into a cup and remove the slate. I don’t worry if I get a few white eggs along with the wigglers, just try not to get too many. The wigglers will come off the slate easier than the white eggs,  After taking out the slate, be sure to siphon the ones off the bottom of the jar as there will always be some that fall off the slate. I am not especially gentle with them at this stage as they seem to be pretty hardy.

I then put them into an Angels Plus sponge hatching jar with half fresh water and half tank water, put them right back in the 10 and forget about them until they go free swimming and need to be fed. Or I willput them directly into a 2=1/2 gallon tank with a heater and air line or sponge filter. Some people meticulously try to remove all the white eggs, I have found that a few on the sponge with the wigglers doesn't really hurt anything. In a 10 gallon there is about an inch of water above the top sponge which is plenty. I have seen jars in deeper tanks but don’t know how they work as I have never tried them in deeper tanks. Be sure to crank up the air in the hatching jar, the more flow the better.

Some things to watch for concerning the sponges. The seal between the bottom sponge and the inside of the jar and around the airlift tube is critical. There shouldn’t be any gaps. It seems that the water flow is stronger where there are gaps and it will pull all the wigglers into any gaps and trap and kill them. Needless to say, if the gap goes all the way through the foam, they will get below the bottom foam and be blown up the riser tube and into the tank for everybody else to eat. Been there done that. On some bottom foam I’ve cut myself I have experimented with a 1” strip of a old towel around the sponge to seal the gaps. Have also experimented with a strip of regular pillow foam. Both seem to work pretty good but there has to be a better way.

The top sponge needs to be kept really clean. If it gets clogged it will restrict the water flow and kill the fry. Nothing kills them faster than slow or no water flow to bring them oxygen. If it gets really clogged, it will actually suck into the jar and allow tank inhabitants in to eat the wigglers. The top sponge could be a little coarser than the bottom sponge to increase water flow, but a coarser sponge will allow a little more gunk to get into the jar.


An alternative to 1 gallon jar and the hatching jar is to put the wigglers into a clean 2-1/2 gallon tank. I siphon the wigglers out of the gallon jar and into a clean, bare bottom tank. I have a sponge filter and a heater in the tank. The small Tetra heaters work great. They are small and preset to 78 F, no adjustments necessary. I do a 20% water change with fresh aged water on the 2-1/2 tank every day.

On day 8 (at 78F) they will usually go free swimming, sometimes on day 9.. The day before they will start to launch themselves. They will swim up an inch or two and then stop and let the water flow drop them back down. The water flow seems to favor any gaps in the sponge in the hatching jar so they will be pulled into any gaps. If they can’t get out again, they will die.

I put a 4-5 inch piece of the rigid air line down past the top sponge to feed them. I feed exclusively newly hatched baby brine shrimp while they are in the jar. There is a tendency to turn off the air while feeding them. This didn’t work very well for me. I have killed more than one batch by forgetting to turn the air back on. The only oxygen they get is what is in the water drawn into the sponge jar from the tank. If the flow stops for very long, they will die in short order.

I have also lost large batches of free swimmers in the jar because they just couldn’t get enough oxygen into the sponge jar to survive. Now I only leave them in the jar a few days. The bigger the batch, the sooner they come out of the jar and go into a 2-1/2 gallon tank. Even if there are only 10 or 12, I never let them in the sponge jar more than a week, just too big of a chance of killing them. Just as often when I siphon the wigglers out of the jar I put them directly into the 2-1/2 gallon tank.


Some people want to put the wigglers and new free swimmers into 5 or 10 or even larger gallon tanks. I think the larger tanks are too big for the baby Angels and they will have a hard time finding the food. I feed them newly hatched baby brine shrimp twice a day.  Some feed more often. Be sure to keep the bottom of the tank clean,. I use a piece of rigid airline connected to a piece of flexible airline as a siphon to clean the bottom. When they eat the baby brine shrimp their stomachs get full and turn orange. This is how you can tell they are eating. When you see those orange bellies you are on your way to a successful hatch. The babies can go a day or two without eating so if you miss a feeding once in a while don’t panic.


I keep them in the 2-1/2 gallon tank until they start to look crowded and then they get gently dumped into a ten gallon tank. This can be anywhere from a week to a month depending on how big the spawn is. For a batch of 8 or 10 it might be a month or more in the 2-1/2, and for a batch of 400 it might only be a few days. Once they start to look crowded in the 10 gallon they get moved to a bigger tank for grow out, usually a 29 or 55 gallon tank.


Some people claim that Angelfish eggs will not hatch in hard water. My well water is 8.3 pH and 26 dH and I have no problem hatching baby Angels. We once had a Culligan man come out. When he tested the water his comment was “wow, I have never seen water so hard”. So it is not necessary to do a lot of adjusting on your water to raise Angels.