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Blue Zebra Angelfish

(Pterophyllum scalare)

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 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

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Species Information

Blue Zebra Angelfish native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Blue Zebra Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) is the result of selective breeding that over the course of decades has produced the brilliantly colored and patterned specimens now found within the aquarium hobby. In addition to the traits common to a Zebra Angelfish, having four to six vertical stripes, the Blue Zebra Angelfish is selectively bred with Angelfish exhibiting the blue color gene in or to combine the both the blue coloration and the wide striped pattern of the Zebra. While generally available for sale within the aquarium hobby, the Blue Zebra Angel is one of the more rare variants to find in the average local fish store. Thus, many hobbyists acquire Blue Zebra Angelfish online from specialty retailers or from breeders at aquarium shows or conferences.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Blue Zebra Angelfish in the home aquarium.

Like all Angelfish, the Blue Zebra 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 plenty 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.

Blue Zebra 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. When kept in groups they will need an aquarium considerably larger than a 30 gallon aquarium that would be appropriate for a single specimen or pair, smaller groups will do well in a 75 gallon and larger groups (more than 6) will need a 125 gallon or larger tank.

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 Blue Zebra 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

How to properly feed Blue Zebra Angelfish and provide a healthy diet.

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, black 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 Blue Zebra Angels are capable of eating small fish up to 1 inch in length.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed Blue Zebra Angelfish in the aquarium environment.

Angelfish form monogamous pairs. They lay eggs on smooth vertical surfaces like a piece of wood, a flat leaf, smooth rocks, slate, or even the aquarium glass. Breeders often provide an artificial spawning site such as a piece of slate, a ceramic cone, or a vertical piece of plastic pipe in order to more easily facilitate removing the eggs from the breeding tank if needed.

Howerver, as with most cichlids, Angelfish perform brood care where the parents will tend to the eggs, and when they hatch the parents will hang the fry on vertical surfaces until they become free-swimming. Sexing angelfish is difficult even for experienced angelfish breeders can usually discriminate male from female visually, it is not foolproof. Only during spawning will you be able to tell the male from the female because the female has a thick, blunt breeding tube, and the male has a thin, more pointed breeding tube.

Breeding specialized variants like the Blue Zebra Angelfish requires a deeper look into the genetics of fish breeding and is beyond the scope of this profile.

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