Leopold’s Angelfish (Pterophyllum Leopoldi)

Order: Cichliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genus & Species: Pterophyllum Leopoldi
Common Names: Leopold’s Angelfish, Dwarf Angelfish, Teardrop Angelfish, Roman-Nosed Angelfish
​Temperature: 75 – 86ºF (24 – 30ºC)
pH: 5.0 – 7.0
GH: 2.0 – 8.0 dGH
Max Size: 6.3 cm (2.5 inches) in height and 5 cm (2 inches) in length
Lifespan: 5 – 6 years
Depth Preference: Mid dweller & top dweller
Tank Size: 40 gallons

The leopold’s angelfish, which belongs to the Pterophyllum Leopoldi genus and are the smallest freshwater angelfish, can easily be distinguished from other Pterophyllum species by two distinctive characteristics: a large black spot between the dorsal spine and dorsal fins, and an unnotched predorsal contour.

Origin & Habitat

Leopold’s Angelfish are a freshwater species of fish endemic to Guyana and Brazil in South America, and some accounts in Venezuela and Colombia, notably the Llanos basin that may have drained the Essequibo River’s precursor, which could explain the presence of P. Leopoldi.

Although, the majority of this species’ range is restricted to the Amazon River, its tributaries, and the Rupununi River in Guyana’s Essequibo River basin and the Solimoes-Amazon River between Lago Manacapuru and Santarem in Brazil.

They frequently inhabit slower-moving water, typically hidden beneath overhanging vegetation or floating plants, as well as in other densely populated habitats. This species can be found in both clear and tannin-stained blackwater; however, the waters in which they reside are always acidic.

Leopold’s Angelfish Care

Due to the leopold’s angelfish’s Amazonian habitat, which includes soft, acidic waters, and its sensitivity to hard water and poor water quality. The water parameters from the place where they are acquired should be carefully matched prior to releasing them into a new aquarium.

Depending on stock levels, a 50% water change bi-weekly at minimum is recommended in conjunction with a 20 – 25% water change every other week.

Water quality is crucial because these fish frequently suffer from water-related stress caused by the accumulation of toxins and poor water quality, frequently displaying external fin or scale injuries brought on by parasites or fungus infections. Methylene blue is an effective treatment for these conditions.

Since they are a territorial species, the tank should be meticulously designed in order to provide a haven for less dominant members of the group. By dividing the tank into several areas using decorations such as large rocks, driftwood, and broad-leafed plants.

Leopold’s angelfish occasionally sift through the sand to a lesser extent than most Cichlidae, though some may do so regularly in search of food. To protect their long ventral fins, which may be vulnerable to damage when in contact with sharp rocks, substrates should consist of a soft, sandy-like texture.

Leopold’s Angelfish Diet & Feeding

Leopold’s angelfish are an omnivorous species of fish that primarily feed on insects, zoobenthos, crustaceans, algae, detritus, and other aquatic invertebrates.

The best sources of food for the leopold’s angelfish will consist of a well-balanced diet that includes both protein and algae-based ingredients. Regular rotation of an algae-based food like spirulina should be done while simultaneously offering high-quality cichlid flake or pellet foods. Blood worms, tubifex worms, mysis shrimp, insect larvae, and brine shrimp are all excellent sources of protein and ought to be provided often.

They are a voracious species that will greedily accept any live, frozen or dried food that is offered. As a result, feeding should be restricted to whatever they can consume in one minute, but with increased feedings throughout the day, 3 – 4 feedings per day should be sufficient.

In contrast to most other species of angelfish, this species appears to frequently graze on algae in an aquarium. They generally do not harm or uproot planted environments, nevertheless.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Leopold’s angelfish are a shoaling species of fish typically found in loose groups. Of all the Pterophyllum species, the Pterophyllum Leopoldi genus is the smallest and widely regarded as being the most aggressive. While they frequently leave other fish alone unless they wander in too close to their spawning area, their aggression is typically directed toward their own species.

Since they are social fish, it is recommended to keep them in groups of at least 6 to 8, with an even ratio of males to females. This is because both males and females have a tendency to become slightly more aggressive when they pair off and attempt to establish a territory. A balanced population of males and females is typically inherited when collecting a sizable number of leopold’s angelfish.

To avoid excessive aggression, make sure that each pair of fish in an aquarium has enough territories to accommodate them. The aim is to break up the line of sight throughout the tank by rearranging decorations to divide it into separate areas where each pair can settle.

Ideal leopold’s angelfish tank mates are larger than 1″ and do not have long-flowing fins. Slower moving peaceful fish are not suitable candidates due to their more aggressive behavior. Other peaceful or lesser aggressive species of fish such as barbs, South American cichlids, Lake Malawi cichlids, dwarf cichlids, giant danios, corydoras, loaches, catfish, tetras, rasboras, and plecos are all excellent tank mates.

Male & Female Differences

Like most other species of angelfish, sexing younger specimens is extremely difficult; sexual dimorphic traits are generally observed in fully mature individuals or during spawning seasons.

A male will typically have a larger and more protrusive crown called nuchal humps (humps or horns on their foreheads) commonly seen in most Cichlidae. On their underbellies next to their ventral fins will be a small tube-like appendage, males will have a thin pointed tube and a female will have either a triangular-shaped or blunt tube.

Shoal of Dwarf Angelfish (Pterophyllum Leopoldi)

Breeding & Spawning

The appropriate spawning conditions are not nearly as demanding to leopold’sangelfish as they are to altum angelfish. However, it’s crucial to establish the proper conditions, maintain strict tank cleaning standards, and monitor water quality to achieve the greatest results.

Leopold’s angelfish spawn on smooth vertical surfaces such as broad-leaved plants, aquarium glass, roots, driftwood, and rocks. Using the aforementioned decorations, set up a sizable breeding tank with enough territories created for two or three pairs of males and females to pursue different spawning locations.

The success of spawning will be greatly influenced by the state of the water, water parameters should be set to a pH between 5.5 and 6.0, a low mineral concentration between 1 and 3 dH, and a temperature of 82.5 °F (28 °C).

To meet these requirements, rain or demineralized water will be required, along with the incorporation of almond leaves, driftwood, peat moss, or coconut-derived materials to provide a tannic-stained environment to further reduce the pH.

Less than 1 cm of a soft, sandy-like substrate should be present at the tank’s base. Thorough maintenance and weekly 50% water changes will be required throughout the spawning period, and the thin layer of substrate will make it easy to readily siphon away leftover food and any other residual waste.

Once a small shoal of mature adults has been successfully introduced into the breeding tank, the process of a male and female pairing will likely take several weeks, especially if there are more males than females present. In this scenario, there will be obvious displays of aggression amongst the males as they pursue the female.

Once a pair has been established, they will aggressively guard their territory by chasing away any other leopold’s angelfish that approach too closely. Prior to selecting a suitable spawning area, the female will scout numerous potential spawning sites and clean the surfaces by fanning water onto them.

During spawning activity, both the male and female will display vivid red colorations on their dorsal and caudal fin, which is typically a sign that they are about ready to spawn.

A female is capable of laying upwards of 60 – 100 eggs by placing small deposits of 6 – 10 each time, and the entire process usually only takes around an hour. Initially, eggs are approximately 1 mm in size, and yellowish in appearance.

Any other fish in the aquarium should be removed as soon as the female has visibly laid a batch of eggs. While being very careful not to separate the male and female pair, as both are essential to the larvae’s development and will alternately fan the eggs to supply oxygen.

In order to avoid fungus from forming on the eggs, it is also recommended to start performing daily 10% water changes to thoroughly clean the tank’s substrate. Adding a few drops of methylene blue may be necessary if any fungus is discovered or if an excessive number of eggs are turning white.

However, the male and female adults alternately use their mouths to remove any expired eggs that have gone white. Regularly monitoring the population of eggs will be the only way to detect the population’s mortality rates.

Larvae will hatch in 48 to 72 hours after which they will spend 6 to 7 days suspended on their spawning site while absorbing their yolk sac before they become free-swimming. When performing tank maintenance, extra caution must be used because some larvae will likely fall and land at the base of the tank.

After a week, they can be fed four to five times per day with cultured infusoria, small baby brine shrimp, or frozen brine shrimp. At this time, they are also easily irritated by mild currents and prefer still water conditions with lots of aeration.

More Information

Pterophyllum Leopoldi was first described by Gosse in 1963 as Plataxoides Leopoldi. After it was established that Pterophyllum Leopoldi was linked to Pterophyllum Scalare and Pterophyllum Altum, it was formally described as Pterophyllum Dumerilii, with Pterophyllum Leopoldi serving as a synonym.

In some aspects, Pterophyllum Leopoldi is unique from its relatives. Along with being large-scaled, short-finned, and rather slender, it also has fewer scales along the lateral line and a shortened caudal fin with marginal filiform extensions.

One of the earliest records of this species of fish successfully spawning in captivity was reported in 1986 by Swedish aquarist Jorgen Erlandsson.

The scientific name (Pterophyllum Leopoldi) pays tribute to Belgian King Leopold III, who funded the voyage to the Amazon where this species was collected.

Similar Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular Articles