What are Freshwater Angelfish Varieties?

In fish stores you will see a number of names given to angelfish, from silver to wild to koi. Some are considered “varieties” or angelfish types and some are considered natural colorings.

The term silver angelfish and wild type angelfish are other common names for the scalare angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) species found in the fish trade that have their natural coloring.

half black veil angelfish photo

Half Black Veil Angelfish

There are three species of freshwater angelfish, scalare, altum, and Leopold’s. The scalare angelfish is the most common freshwater angelfish and probably what you have in your fish tank. They are the only species of freshwater angelfish to be bred for various colorations and tail lengths. This specialized breeding produces the many varieties of freshwater angelfish.

Wild Type Angelfish

Scalare angelfish that were caught in the wild, or have wild-caught parents or grandparents are referred to as wild or wild type angelfish. Their body is not the silver you are probably used to. Its ranges in hue from gold to green to blue. Wild angels have exactly three body stripes, one passing through the eye, one down the midline of the body, and one that extends from the dorsal to the ventral fin.

Once bred in captivity, wild types usually produce the silver angelfish with black stripes you are more familiar with. Unless you get angels from wild stock, you’re unlikely to see a true wild type at your local fish store.

Silver Angelfish

According to The Angelfish Society, “The term “silver” describes an angelfish which contains all wild type genes (no mutations) however was not caught in the wild and is considered domestic.” The silver angelfish is naturally silver with three thick black stripes and closely resembles the natural coloring of the scalare angelfish found in the wild.

What’s a Variety of Angelfish Then?

A variety of angelfish, such as the marbled, black, or koi, has been bred to bring out genetic mutations, or traits, that produce desirable colorings and tail lengths. When a genetic mutation appears, such as an extra stripe or marbled black spots, you have a variety. It’s not a new species or even a breed.

All varieties of freshwater angelfish are scalare angelfish. Their ancestors were wild caught scalare angelfish. These varieties are not a different species, but simply different colors of the same species; the scalare angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare).

Key Points About Angelfish Varieties

  • All varieties of angelfish are scalare angelfish (Pterophyllum scarlare), a species of freshwater angelfish.
  • A silver angelfish is representative of the scalare’s natural coloring without any genetic mutations visible.
  • Each variety is not a different species or even considered a breed.
  • Each angelfish variety has different colors and tail lengths produced by breeding desirable genetic traits found in the scalare angelfish species.

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