Male vs Female Angelfish

Angelfish is a popular freshwater fish species that is often kept in aquariums due to its beautiful appearance and peaceful temperament. However, it can be challenging for beginners to differentiate between male and female angelfish. In this article, we will discuss the different ways to tell if an angelfish is male or female.

How to Tell if Angelfish Gender (Male or Female)

Look For Physical Differences

The easiest way to differentiate between male and female angelfish is to look for physical differences. Generally, male angelfish have a pointed, vertical anal fin, while a female’s anal fin is rounded and horizontal. The male may also have a more pronounced forehead and be slightly larger in size.

Observe Behavior During Spawning

Angelfish often display different behaviors during spawning, which can help to differentiate between males and females. During spawning, the male angelfish will become more aggressive and territorial, while the female will become more passive and submissive. The female will also develop a rounder belly due to the presence of eggs.

Check Ventral Papillae

Another way to identify a male from a female angelfish is to check their ventral papillae. Ventral papillae are small, pointed structures that protrude from the fish’s vent region. In males, the ventral papillae are long and pointed, whereas, in females, the papillae are shorter and more rounded.

DNA Testing

If you are unable to differentiate between male and female angelfish using physical characteristics or behavior, you can perform a DNA test. DNA testing offers a definitive way to determine the gender of your angelfish.

you can check out this video for more info about angelfish gender.

Can Freshwater Angelfish (Scalare) Change Gender?

No, freshwater[1] angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) cannot change their gender. Unlike some other fish[2] species, angelfish are not hermaphrodites and they are born with a specific gender that remains throughout their life. While they may display some changes in color during different stages of their life, these changes are due to maturation and environmental factors, and not gender changes.


In conclusion, identifying the gender of an angelfish requires careful observation of physical features such as the anal fin and ventral papillae, behavior during spawning, and in some cases, DNA testing. By using these methods, you can determine the gender of your angelfish and ensure that you are providing the right care for them.


Are male or female angelfish better for beginners?

Both male and female angelfish are suitable for beginners, as they require similar care and attention. However, it’s important to have a better understanding of their gender to prevent aggression or spawning in the aquarium.

Can a female angelfish live without a male?

Yes, female angelfish can live without a male. However, if you want to breed angelfish, a male is needed. Additionally, if there are only female angelfish in a tank, they may become more aggressive towards each other because they will compete for dominance.

Do angelfish change gender during their life cycle?

No, angelfish do not change gender during their life cycle. They are born male or female and remain the same gender throughout their life.

Can physical characteristics change in angelfish as they grow older?

Yes, the physical characteristics of angelfish can change as they mature. For example, juvenile angelfish may not have pronounced forehead protrusion or anal fin differences. However, these characteristics can become more pronounced as the fish reach maturity.

Can you keep male and female angelfish together in the same tank?

Yes, male and female angelfish can be kept together in the same tank. However, care should be taken to ensure that there are enough space and hiding places in the aquarium, to minimize aggression and territorial behavior by the male during the spawning season.