What are Pearlscale angels?

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I've seen some attractive angels at my local shop which are on sale as Pearlscale angels. Do you know what species they are?

These are a selectively bred form of the domesticated angel, Pterophyllum scalare. Pearlscale angels carry a gene mutation which causes the scales to malform, which gives their skin a nobbly appearance. Fish farmers spotted the trait in fish that they’d bred in the past and then bred from them and fixed the strain.

Like normal Pterophyllum scalare, they reach about 10cm/4” in length and get a little taller. They’re cichlids so will become territorial and may be aggressive during spawning, so be careful what you mix them with.

In a suitable aquarium, say 120/ 30 x 45cm/48 x 12 x 18”, you should be able to keep a pair alongside some small community fish. It’s possible to keep them in a group, too, but you’ll almost certainly need to re-home some when they pair off and start to establish territories.

This item was first published in the August 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.