Will Angelfish Eat Tetras? The Surprising Answer


Having a community fish tank in your home can be incredibly rewarding, and enthusiasts often enjoy exploring the idea of more exotic species, including Angelfish. But, that commonly comes with plenty of confusion with regard to species compatibility, as many species are more opposing in personality than others. So, will Angelfish eat tetras?

Some tetras are small enough to fit in most Angelfish mouths, making them likely to be eaten, while others are too large and may be a harmonious companion based on behavior. Bleeding Hearts and Lemon Tetras are most compatible with Angelfish out of the tetra species.

It’s widely known that Angelfish are infamous for eating their tank mates. So, finding a good match for them can become quite tricky. Stick around to find out about how Angelfish behave with tetras in community fish tanks, as well as how to go about setting up a comfortable and constructive environment for your Angelfish and their mates.

Can Angelfish Live with Tetras?

Yes, and no. Angelfish can get along with tetras, but this highly depends on a few influential factors. Commonly, certain species of tetras display nipping behavior, which clashes with the delicate protruding fins of Angelfish.

In particular, the Serpae tetra is known for behaving in such manners, and playfully nipping at the peaceful Angelfish’s fins. This aggravates them, which doesn’t contribute to an ideal living situation for either species.

However, there are many species of tetra that can live in harmony with Angelfish, namely the Black Skirt tetra, the Bleeding Hearts tetra, and the Lemon tetra.

The Black Skirt tetra is too large for most Angelfish to eat, as they grow to a length of around 2 inches, making them more suitable than smaller tetra species.

That being said, some Black Skirt tetras are semi-aggressive and display fin-nipping behavior when they are stressed, so this should be monitored closely.

Bleeding Hearts tetras are ideal companions for Angelfish, as are Lemon tetras. They are incredibly peaceful which compliments the natural behavior of Angelfish, and they grow to around 2-3 inches in length which is too large for the mouth of most Angelfish species. This makes them reasonable and suitable options for companionship, but caregivers should still be mindful of behavior and stress levels in the tank.

Will Angelfish Eat Tetra?
Will Angelfish Eat Tetra

Other tetra species which may be able to live with Angelfish include the Rummy Nose tetra, the Blind Cave tetra, the Head and Tail Light tetra, and the Silvertip tetra.

The cardinal tetra and neon tetra do have to compliment personalities for living with Angelfish, but they are small enough to fit in Angelfishes’ mouths which risks them being eaten.

Will Angelfish Eat Tetras?

Yes, and no. A common misbelief is that Angelfish are aggressive, when in fact this is not the case. Angelfish are cichlids, and are opportunistic eaters, meaning that they will not resist eating anything that can fit into their mouth. This means that any tetra species which is small enough to be eaten will most likely be eaten without hesitation.

That being said, this will commonly come down to the species of Angelfish versus the species of tetra. For most Angelfish, anything which grows to a length of 2 inches or more will likely be challenging to eat or be too large to eat. Since Angelfish are not actually aggressive and are in fact peaceful in nature, they will not eat their companions if it is found they are not suitable for consumption.

Compatible tetras as mentioned above are larger, and there are a few tetra species that are infamous for being eaten by Angelfish. This includes cardinal tetras and neon tetras, which are quite small. Despite the fact that both cardinal tetras and neon tetras can live in harmony with Angelfish based on personality and natural behavior, they will likely be eaten. In certain scenarios, such Tetra species may still be compatible

if the species of Angelfish is smaller than most. In such cases, they would indeed be able to live in harmony since the Angelfish will not be able to fit these tetras in their mouths.

How to Prevent Angelfish from Eating Tetras

In most cases, preventing Angelfish from eating tetras comes down to the selection of Angelfish species versus the selection of tetra species. The easiest way to ensure that tetras are not eaten is to make sure that the species is always larger than the selected Angelfish

species’ mouth. This will prevent the Angelfish from consuming them as snacks.

Another important factor is the age at which the Angelfish and tetras become acquainted. It’s always best to ensure that the Angelfish and the tetras in the tank grow up together, as this further assists in pacifying them within the context of the living situation.

This is due to the fact that fish are less likely to exhibit aggressive or territorial behavior when they are small, and it may assist in developing a bond or altered mindset on the Angelfish part.

For most large or adult Angelfish who have not been exposed to smaller fish, anything that can fit in their mouth is seen as a snack – nothing more, nothing less. If they grow up with other small fish and form alliances at a young age, they will be more likely to view small fish as friends, and less prone to viewing all small fish as food.

That being said, this does not mean that everything will be perfectly harmonious. As mentioned, some species of tetra are semi-aggressive or simply enjoy displaying their playful nature by nipping at fins. This can be incredibly aggravating for Angelfish, regardless of whether or not they can eat the tetra. So, this will need to be monitored for the safety of both the Angelfish and the tetras within the tank.

Will Angelfish Be Friends With Tetra?
Will Angelfish Be Friends With Tetra

The fins of Angelfish can become seriously damaged if this behavior is allowed to continue, and they may be permanently affected by such an occurrence. Although the Angelfish may not be able to consume the tetra entirely, this does not mean that they will not attack or try to kill them in self-defense.

It’s also important to consider breeding periods and some feeding frenzy situations, as Angelfish can become more aggressive than usual. For breeding, it’s vital to set up a separate tank for Angelfish to avoid harm to other species.

In addition, ensuring that all species in the tank are happy, comfortable, and stress-free is extremely beneficial for promoting peaceful behavior. Fish often become nippy or aggressive when they are experiencing any kind of discomfort or anxiety, and this can completely throw out the dynamics of the tank. Whether it’s the amount of space for roaming and hiding, the water temperature, the cleanliness, or any other factors, all fish species have certain habitat requirements needed to keep them contented. Always do thorough research on the specific Angelfish species and the specific tetra species to ensure that you know exactly how to keep them happy.

If you are interested in learning more about your fish behavior, check out the links below:

Better Mates for Angelfish

There are plenty of potential companions for Angelfish, all of which have differing care needs necessitating varying experience levels. However, it’s always important to consider behavior, natural personality, aggression levels, and the size comparison with the Angelfish species chosen.

Platies: These fish are bright and friendly, and are simple to care for. They grow to around 2.5 inches and get along well with Angelfish.

Corydora Catfish: Otherwise known as Cory Cats, these fish are mostly timid with a peaceful personality and are relatively simple to care for. They grow to around 2.5 inches and are excellent companions for Angelfish.

Bristlenose Pleco: These fish are fantastic for keeping the tank clean, are peaceful, and grow to around 6 inches making them fantastic companions for even larger Angelfish.

Swordtails: These fish are incredibly peaceful, and are similar to Platies as they are related. They can handle some aggression and grow to around 4 inches making them great company for Angelfish.

Swordtail
Male Neon Swordtail Fish

Keyhole Cichlids: These are the fantastic company for Angelfish, as this species is the most peaceful cichlid. They grow to around 5 inches making them ideal companions, but they are quite hard to find.

Mollies: This interesting species can live in a variety of conditions, and can manage well against moderately aggressive tank mates. They grow to around 3 inches, making them ideal companions.

Additional species that may be suitable companions for Angelfish include other medium-sized catfish such as the Synodontis or the Otocinclus, Discus Fish, the German Blue Ram, the Silver Dollar, the Rubbernose Pleco, Mollies, the Kuhli Loach, Rainbowfish, Hatchetfish, Gouramis like the Three-spot or Dwarf Gourami, and Rasboras. Other cichlids may also be compatible, such as the Kribensis Cichlid.

Whether you’ve always dreamed of caring for Angelfish and tetras, are planning a new selection of species, or have noticed that your Angelfish are seeming a little lonely, there are many ways to add tetras or other species without risking impending doom for them. Always make sure to select companions that are more peaceful than your Angelfish, make sure personalities do not clash, and ensure companions are larger than Angelfish’s mouths.

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