Common scalar

In the underwater world, there are many beautiful marine life with an extravagant, memorable appearance. Such fish “with a twist” include the common angelfish. For its charming appearance, unpretentiousness and accommodating disposition, it has long become a permanent resident of not only tropical rivers, but also home aquariums.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Common Angelfish

Photo: Common Angelfish

The scalar genus took its beginning in nature from bony fish that appeared as a result of evolution 290 million years ago. Further, from the bony progenitors, 70 million years ago, all perciformes originated, which subsequently diversified so much that at present the order Perciformes is considered the most numerous in terms of the number of fish species (11,255 species).

Video: Common angelfish


The first literary information about scalars dates back to 1823, when they were described by the German scientist researcher Schulze, he called them Zeus scalaris. In Europe, fish began to be imported from South America in 1911, but all specimens died. Successful breeding of angelfish began much later in 1924.

An interesting fact: “In Russia, success in breeding angelfish was achieved by chance. In 1928, the owner of the scalar fish A. Smirnov went to the theater, at that time the heater flared up in the aquarium and the water heated up to 32 ° C. When he returned home, a surprise awaited him – the angelfish began to actively spawn.

At present, due to the efforts of breeders, the common angelfish has received wide demand in the aquarium trade, besides, the bred individuals differ from natural inhabitants in a more diverse range of colors body. The genus Skalaria is part of the Tsikhlovye family, the Ray-finned class, the Perch-like order.

In nature, there are three types of scalars:

  • Ordinary;
  • High;
  • Leopold’s scalar.

The Latin name of the scalar species was received from the Austrian zoologist I.Ya. Haeckel in 1840 — Pterophyllum scalare. The translation of the name into Russian sounds like “winged leaf”, which is very consistent with their external image. The most common nickname for angelfish is the angelfish. The common angelfish differs from relatives in the family by a number of morphological features, behavior and reproduction features.

Appearance and features

Photo: Common angelfish

Photo: Common angelfish

The common angelfish has the following specific features:

  • The body is high, narrow, laterally flattened. The head has the shape of a triangle, red large eyes are located on its sides;
  • The size of the fish is medium, the length of adults is up to 12-15 cm, and the height is up to 20 cm. The male and female are almost the same in parameters , the male is slightly larger;
  • The dorsal and anal fins are elongated with pointed ends, due to which the appearance of the fish resembles a crescent. The pectoral fins look like long antennae;
  • The color of the body of the common scalar is silver-gray with a slight blue tint, against which four dark vertical stripes stand out; The first stripe crosses the eyes of the fish, the last one passes in the region of the caudal fin. The back is a darker shade.

An interesting fact: “The common angelfish is able to change the color of the vertical stripes on the body to a paler one. Such a transformation happens to her in stressful situations.”

Males and females differ little from each other. In adulthood, the male has a longer dorsal fin and has a fat sac on its forehead, so the forehead is rounded, while the female has a flat one. Noticeable distinguishing features appear only during the breeding season. The male has a pointed and narrow oviduct under the abdomen, while the female has a wide ovipositor.

Where does the common angelfish live?

Photo: Scalar fish

Photo: Angelfish

The common angelfish is a tropical freshwater fish. Its permanent habitat is the reservoirs of the South American continent, the basin of the world’s largest river, the Amazon, stretching from Peru to the eastern shores of Brazil, and the paradise river Orinoco. Sometimes it is also found in the form of small populations in the rivers of the Guiana and Brazilian plateau.

The territory of the Amazon is considered an ideal habitat for angelfish, as it constantly has a high water temperature, which is extremely important for the reproduction of these fish. In its waters, they coexist with other friendly inhabitants of these fascinating places, for example: guppies, swordtails, neons, discus. Together they make up a huge number of river inhabitants – more than 2.5 thousand.

The population of angelfish most of all prefers to live in narrow channels of slow-flowing rivers, river backwaters, swamps and flooded river valleys. Water thickets are a prerequisite for their habitat.

When breeding, common angelfish lay their eggs on the wide leaves of aquatic plants, so they prefer to live in reservoirs with dense vegetation, among which growing young growth can also easily hide from enemies .

What does the common angelfish eat?

Photo: Common angelfish

Photo: Common angelfish

In the natural environment, common angelfish act as predatory fish.

The basis of their daily diet are such animals:

  • small invertebrates – daphnia, cyclops, tubifex;
  • small insects and their larvae that live on the surface of the water;
  • fry of other small fish.

Trying to overtake the prey, scalars develop great speed, which they easily succeed with the help of a narrow body and long strong fins. Despite the fact that these fish spend a lot of time hiding in algae, they are not used as a nutrient substrate, as they need protein food.

The larvae of the common angelfish use the contents of the yolk sac as a nutrient substrate. As they turn from larvae to fry, they gradually switch to feeding on small plankton. Adult fry learn to hunt larger prey with the help of their parents.

Currently, the angelfish is widely recognized and used as an ornamental fish in aquariums, where it is fed with a combination of meat ingredients (bloodworm, mosquito larvae) and herbal supplements (pieces of spinach and lettuce). Food can be in the form of dry flakes, as well as in a live and frozen state.

Character and Lifestyle Features

Photo: Angelfish

Photo: Angelfish

Angelfish are ordinary peaceful inhabitants of tropical waters. They prefer to live in flocks in which pairs form between males and females. A notable feature in pairs of scalars is their devotion to each other throughout their lives.

An interesting fact: “If one of the spouses dies in a couple, then the one left to live will never look for another life partner ”.

Representatives of the common angelfish species are diurnal, spending most of their time among water thickets. Due to their flattened body, they easily swim between the thalli of algae, and vertical stripes on the body serve as a camouflage.

During the day, they hunt for food, and at night they rest, hiding in thickets of aquatic vegetation. Before hunting, angelfish are grouped into small flocks. They hide in algae in anticipation of prey. When suitable food appears on the horizon, they rush to it in a flock and tear it to pieces.

Outside the breeding season, sexually mature individuals are quite peaceful neighbors. But during the spawning period, they are particularly aggressive, trying to protect their territory and offspring. It is interesting that the male and female take care of the eggs and fry together.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Common Angelfish

Photo: Common Angelfish

In a population, angelfish become sexually mature individuals in the period from 8 to 12 months of life. With the onset of the spawning period, pairs are formed between them, which occupy a specific territory in the habitat and prepare for reproduction. To do this, they find a place where they will lay eggs. It can be a stone or a wide part of an aquatic plant. Together they clean it of debris and plaque for several days, and then throw large, light eggs on its surface.

On average, a female common angelfish can lay 150-200 eggs. Then comes a difficult period of protection of their offspring, which the male and female also experience together. They remove dead eggs and clean the living ones. Protect them from attack by other fish. Two days later, larvae appear from the eggs, which remain glued to each other and are under the auspices of their parents. If a threat suddenly appears, then the male and female can even transfer them in their mouths to a safe place.

Within two weeks, the larvae transform into fry. For some time, caring parents continue to care for the not yet mature offspring. They collect fry in a group and accompany them, protecting them from dangers. They help to grind large plankton so that the fry can eat. Based on the behavior of angelfish during the mating season, these fish can be confidently called real intellectuals of the underwater world. Life time in natural conditions and in captivity is approximately 8-10 years.

Natural enemies of common angelfish

Photo: Angelfish male

Photo: Angelfish male

Living in the rivers of the Amazon, the common angelfish faces its natural enemies there. Since the fish is relatively small, it can become prey for both large fish species and medium-sized representatives of the river fauna.

Such fish include:

  • piranhas, which are particularly gluttonous and have very sharp teeth, they can bite even a finger or a stick with them;
  • payara is a little-known fish that has two pairs of sharp teeth, one pair of which is visible, and the other is folded inside the jaw, also has a good appetite;
  • Arawana is a large predatory fish that lives in the backwaters of rivers with stagnant water and feeds on the fish living there.

Caimans can also be attributed to the enemies of the angelfish. Due to their small size, they often have to settle for small fish as a source of food. In the struggle for life, the scalar was able to adapt in the process of evolution.

Its main “trump cards” in the battle with enemies are:

  • a flattened body for easy maneuvering between algae ;
  • strong, long fins, allowing you to quickly develop high speed;
  • vertical contrast stripes on the body help to camouflage among algae thalli.

Population and species status

Photo: Common angelfish

Photo: Common angelfish

The population of common angelfish has the following characteristics:

  • In nature, they live in packs of 10 or more individuals, in which a strict hierarchy operates. Larger and stronger pairs are leading during the hunt and occupy the best breeding territories, which are jealously guarded;
  • It is difficult to calculate the population size due to active selection and breeding of these fish in urban and home aquariums. But we can definitely say that the population is in its heyday;
  • Thanks to the active care of eggs, larvae and fry, angelfish manage to save most of the offspring from death.

It is worth noting that it is quite difficult to meet natural forms of angelfish in aquarium conditions, since this fish is practically not exported from America. But over the years, scientific breeders have been able to bring out a lot of variations of this type of angelfish, which cannot be overlooked by amateur aquarists.

Interesting fact: “Breeders have bred a fluorescent species of angelfish that glow in the dark ”.

Given the fact of the wide selection of angelfish, there is no particular need for the mass capture of these fish from their natural habitats. Therefore, the common angelfish species is currently considered prosperous. An ordinary angelfish is a small fish with an unusual appearance, which, with its “everyday” way of life, peaceful character, as well as a colorful and diverse appearance, has won the hearts of mankind all over the globe.

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