Home » Angelfish: The Scientific Name and Common Names of Angelfish

Angelfish: The Scientific Name and Common Names of Angelfish

Introduction to Angelfish

Angelfish, scientifically known as Pterophyllum, are a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts due to their striking appearance and graceful swimming style. These freshwater fish originate from the Amazon basin in South America and are known for their distinctive triangular shape and vibrant colors. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the fascinating world of angelfish, exploring their scientific and common names, the importance of scientific names in identification, the benefits of knowing common names, and popular species within the angelfish family.

Key Takeaways
Angelfish (Pterophyllum) are popular among enthusiasts for their appearance and origins in the Amazon basin.
The scientific name (Pterophyllum) aids in accurate identification worldwide and avoids confusion.
Common names may vary, but the scientific name remains constant for precise identification.
Understanding both names aids communication among enthusiasts.
Fun facts include descriptive names, localized origins, and vibrant color morphs.
Familiarity with popular angelfish species enables informed selection and care.

The Scientific Name of Angelfish - blue marble angelfish

The Scientific Name of Angelfish

The scientific name of angelfish is Pterophyllum, which is derived from the Greek words “pteron” meaning wing and “phyllon” meaning leaf. This name is a testament to their unique and elegant appearance, resembling a wing or leaf gliding through the water. The scientific name is crucial in the classification and identification of angelfish, as it provides a standardized nomenclature that is recognized worldwide.

Taxonomic Tree

Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Metazoa
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cichliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genus: Pterophyllum
Species: Pterophyllum scalare (Common Angelfish)
Species: Pterophyllum altum (Altum Angelfish)
Species: Pterophyllum leopoldi (Dwarf Angelfish)
Species: Pterophyllum dumerilii (Manacapuru Angelfish)
Species: Pterophyllum scalare “Marble” (Marble Angelfish)
Species: Pterophyllum scalare “Veil” (Veil Angelfish)
Species: Pterophyllum altum “Peruvian Altum” (Peruvian Altum Angelfish) Species: Pterophyllum sp. (Various species within the genus)

Common Names of Angelfish

Angelfish are known by various common names depending on their specific species and geographical location. Some of the most commonly used names include freshwater angelfish, Amazon angelfish, and South American angelfish. These names often reflect the natural habitat or region from which the angelfish originates. It is important to note that while common names may vary, the scientific name remains constant, ensuring accurate identification and communication among fish enthusiasts.

Common Names of Angelfish - dwarf angelfish

Importance of Scientific Names in Angelfish Identification

The scientific name of angelfish plays a crucial role in their identification, especially when dealing with different species and variations within the angelfish family. Unlike common names, which can be ambiguous and vary across regions, the scientific name provides a standardized and universally recognized classification system. It allows researchers, hobbyists, and aquarists to accurately identify and differentiate between various species of angelfish, ensuring proper care and management.

For example, two common names, “blue angelfish” and “blue marble angelfish,” may refer to different species or color variations within the angelfish family. By using the scientific name, Pterophyllum scalare for the blue angelfish and Pterophyllum altum for the blue marble angelfish, confusion and misidentification can be avoided.

Benefits of Knowing Common Names for Angelfish

While scientific names are essential for accurate identification, common names also serve a purpose in the angelfish community. Common names are often more accessible and easier to remember for hobbyists and beginners who may not be familiar with scientific nomenclature. Additionally, common names can provide valuable insights into the appearance, behavior, or origin of a particular angelfish species.

Knowing common names can facilitate communication and discussion among fish enthusiasts, allowing them to share experiences, tips, and advice on caring for specific angelfish species. Additionally, it facilitates the search and acquisition of angelfish, as fish enthusiasts commonly use common names in pet stores, online marketplaces, and aquarium forums.

History and Evolution of Angelfish Names

History and Evolution of Angelfish Names - manacapuru angelfish

The history and evolution of angelfish names trace a fascinating journey through time and across cultures. The use of common names for angelfish dates back centuries when indigenous communities living near the Amazon River basin first encountered these captivating creatures. These early human interactions led to the emergence of local names that often reflected the fish’s appearance, behavior, or habitat.

As the exploration of South America progressed, and knowledge about its biodiversity spread, European naturalists and explorers began documenting various species, eventually leading to the establishment of scientific nomenclature. Experts coined the scientific name, Pterophyllum, based on Greek words, thereby adding a universal dimension to the angelfish identification process.

Over the years, the popularity of angelfish in the aquarium hobby further contributed to the diversity of common names as enthusiasts from different regions shared their own interpretations. As trade and globalization increased, angelfish found their way to different parts of the world, acquiring new names as they journeyed from one aquarium to another.

Today, angelfish names continue to evolve, with some species gaining local monikers in areas far from their natural habitats. This ongoing evolution underscores the dynamic nature of language and the rich tapestry of human connections with these magnificent aquatic beings. By understanding the history of angelfish names, we gain insight into the cultural significance of these creatures and the fascinating ways in which human knowledge and appreciation have shaped their identities.

Fun Facts about Angelfish Names


Delving into angelfish names reveals intriguing facts. Descriptive names portray features or behaviors. For example, “Altum Angelfish” comes from the Latin “altum,” meaning “deep,” referring to its tall body.

Fascinatingly, localized names pay homage to the fish’s origin. “Manacapuru Angelfish” hails from Brazil’s Manacapuru region, a tribute to its habitat.

Color morphs lead to diverse names based on vibrant hues and patterns. “Marble Angelfish” and “Veil Angelfish” showcase stunning diversity.

The history of angelfish names highlights cross-cultural exchanges. Greek scientific nomenclature coexists with local names rooted in native traditions.

Fun facts add intrigue to the world of elegant freshwater fish. Appreciating name richness enhances understanding and admiration for these alluring companions.

Popular Species of Angelfish

  1. Pterophyllum scalare (Common Angelfish):
    • Size: Common angelfish typically grow to a height of 6 inches and a length of 8 inches.
    • Appearance: They have a triangular body, and elongated fins, and come in various color variations, including silver, black, and marbled patterns.
    • Behavior: Common angelfish are generally peaceful but may become territorial during breeding.
    • Habitat: They are native to the Amazon River basin and prefer slow waters with dense vegetation.
  2. Pterophyllum altum (Altum Angelfish):
    • Size: Altum angelfish are larger than common angelfish, reaching heights of up to 10 inches and lengths of 12 inches.
    • Appearance: They are more elongated, with long, flowing fins and a distinct vertical band pattern on their body.
    • Behavior: Altum angelfish are known for their shy and skittish nature, requiring a calm and well-established aquarium environment.
    • Habitat: They are found in the Orinoco River basin and require soft, acidic water conditions.
  3. Pterophyllum leopoldi (Dwarf Angelfish):
    • Size: Dwarf angelfish are the smallest among the angelfish species, growing to a height of around 3 inches and a length of 4 inches.
    • Appearance: They have a compact body, shorter fins, and exhibit vibrant colors such as orange, yellow, and black.
    • Behavior: Dwarf angelfish generally exhibit peaceful behavior and are suitable for keeping in smaller aquariums..
    • Habitat: They are native to the Rio Negro basin and thrive in slightly acidic water with ample hiding places.
  4. Pterophyllum dumerilii (Manacapuru Angelfish):
    • Size: Manacapuru angelfish grow to a similar size as common angelfish. It has a height of 6 inches and a length of 8 inches.
    • Appearance: They have a unique coloration, with a deep red body and contrasting white stripes along their fins.
    • Behavior: Manacapuru angelfish are generally peaceful and can be kept in community aquariums.
    • Habitat: They are found in the Rio Negro region and prefer slow-moving waters with moderate vegetation.

Fun Facts about Angelfish Names - stripped manacapuru angelfish

What are some lesser-known angelfish species not mentioned in the article?

The article mentioned popular angelfish species like Pterophyllum scalare, Pterophyllum altum, Pterophyllum leopoldi, and Pterophyllum dumerilii. However, there are other lesser-known species within the Pterophyllum genus, such as Pterophyllum eimekei and Pterophyllum vezeorum.

How do angelfish get their common names in different regions?

Angelfish commonly receive their common names based on their appearance, behavior, or the region from which they originate. Local communities near their natural habitats often influence the naming process.

Are there any angelfish species that are critically endangered?

While the article mentioned several popular angelfish species, it did not cover their conservation status. Some angelfish species may be facing threats in the wild due to habitat loss and over-collection, leading to a critical endangered status. Research and conservation efforts are essential to protect these species.

What are the recommended water parameters for keeping angelfish in an aquarium?

The article covered the native habitats of angelfish, but it did not provide specific information on water parameters required for keeping them in an aquarium. Generally, angelfish prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels and soft to moderately hard water.

How long do angelfish typically live in captivity?

The article provided details about angelfish behavior and habitat but did not mention their average lifespan in captivity. On average, well-cared-for angelfish can live anywhere from 8 to 10 years, sometimes even longer with proper care.


In conclusion, angelfish are captivating creatures that have captured the hearts of many aquarium enthusiasts. Their scientific name, Pterophyllum, provides a standardized classification system that aids in accurate identification and communication within the angelfish community.

Common names offer accessibility and facilitate discussions among hobbyists. Understanding scientific names and knowing common names helps fish enthusiasts navigate the world of angelfish with confidence.

Familiarizing oneself with popular angelfish species—common angelfish, altum angelfish, dwarf angelfish, and Manacapuru angelfish—enables informed decision-making for selecting and caring for these magnificent creatures. Dive into the world of angelfish and create a vibrant and captivating aquatic environment at home.

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