• Conformation Standards

    The purpose of developing a conformation standard for angelfish is to give a general guideline to hobbyists and breeders who may be wondering what is generally considered a natural or desirable
    trait. Some traits, although somewhat attractive to a few, may be an indication of a weakness. For
    instance, a very thin caudal peduncle on a superveil angelfish will cause the caudal to droop excessively. There are those who find this attractive, however, this excessive droop is an indication of a generally weak fish that may deteriorate rapidly or produce even more inferior offspring. Therefore, it is in the best interest of angelfish and the hobby to discourage the breeding of such fish. The same can be said for a dwarf angelfish. Although, many find the idea of a dwarf angelfish very interesting, it is likely to end up being a weak strain with many problems, or simply the result of stunting a normal angelfish.

    These standards will be concerned only with visible physical traits. Non-visible qualities, such as fecundity, aggression, parental care and appetite are important, but indiscernible without extensive exposure to the fish, therefore they are not covered here.

    Bodies should be round as possible or slightly higher than long. Long bodied angelfish are considered inferior looking by most people. Head profile should be smooth with no humps. A notch on the predorsal profile is acceptable, as it would appear in wild Pterophyllum scalare. Consequently, a profile
    without a notch is acceptable, as it would also appear in other wild angelfish that have been used to create our domestic strains. Gill plates must be complete. There should be no missing parts to any of the fins. Eyes should appear appropriately sized for the fish's body. Too large and it may be an indication of a stunted fish. Eyes with more color are more desirable. Keep in mind that final eye color cannot generally be judged on juveniles. Bodies should be thick when looking head-on with the fish. There should be no indication of a knife-like edge to the crown area.

    Un-paired Fins should be straight without kinks or twists. We should breed for fish that have no curves in the dorsal, anal or caudal fins. Even with a superveil, your goal should be to obtain a fish
    that comes as close to this criteria as possible. Longer is acceptable, providing that the fins remain as
    straight as possible. Branching filaments like those found in an angelfish exhibiting the combtail trait, are acceptable as long as opposing fins or fin halves on unpaired fins, are similar. Keep in mind that producing a superveil with straight fins is many times more difficult than producing a standard finned angelfish with straight fins. With the standard it is natural. With the superveil it is not. With the
    pelvic fins (ventral) it is acceptable, even desirable to have a curving contour. This contour should
    be gradual with no radical bends or kinks.

    Color and pattern should be as expected for the fish's phenotype. Stripes on striped varieties should run the complete height of the fish, the same as expected in wild caught fish. Stripes should be uninterrupted. Other patterns such as smokey, chocolate and halfblack should be as expected for that phenotype and not partial like a black tail only on halfblacks. Pearlscale when present should cover the majority of the body. Koi angels were named for their appearance when looked at from above being like koi (carp) due to the multicolors. Therefore a koi without good orange color is not show quality.

    One cannot be certain that the lack of expression is environmental in nature. Color is greatly affected by environment and by genetics. Since you won't be able to pinpoint the primary reason for a fish's color, only fish that have the proper color base should be considered to have met the standard. For
    instance, a Silver angelfish must have complete dark stripes. If one also had a beautiful blue iridescence on much of its? body, this would not add to it's acceptability unless the base color (stripes) were complete.

    Size should be appropriate for the age of the fish. Big is beautiful, and all things being equal, the larger fish is generally more desirable. This cannot be judged on juveniles unless the fish were in your possession from the beginning.

    Deportment is important for more than just judging show fish.  Deportment in the aquarium can vary quite a bit. Some fish show a lack of deportment which may be related to its? general health
    or may indicate a fish that has been inbred too many generations. Therefore, we must seek fish that are alert, bold, healthy and active.


    Photo by: Wayne DesLauriers

    Photo by: Dr. Stuart Chale

    Veil and Super-Veil is an elongation of the fins that is not found in the wild. It is difficult to therefore decide what a proper veil should look like. Although standards can be suggested there is a much more
    subjective quality to a veils fins. In this case beauty may be in the eye of the beholder.

    With veils there are several different fin types to address. There is single dose veil V/+ and double dose veil V/V also known as superveil. There are also the combtail combinations of both.

    Body shape should be as described for standard finned angels. The body is unchanged by the veil
    gene. Of note is that the body of veils rarely grow to as large of a body size as the larger standard finned fish. Some varieties do generally grow larger.  Smokey veils are known to potentially grow to a larger size than many other varieties.  A veil with a body size of the larger wild types with proportionally longer fins would be an impressive sight.

    In veils all of the fins are lengthened.  Most notably the dorsal, anal and caudal fin.  However both the ventral and pectoral fins are lengthened as well.  Given optimal water conditions and enough room the dorsal and anal fins will be straight or at most show a gentle rearward
    curve.  Both the dorsal and anal fin should be  about 1.5 to 2 times the body size in length, and equal to each other.  Longer fins although unusual would be preferred.

    As fish grown under optimal conditions have long straight fins,  this is the standard against
    which all others should be judged.  Any variation from this should be considered inferior.

    When water conditions or space are not optimal, the fins will often be shorter or more curved, especially at the top of the dorsal.  Some fish demonstrate a more rearward curve to the fins especially the dorsal fin.  The fin is often wider in the nicer looking fish with this characteristic.  This can often still be considered a desirable fish but this is one instance where some may find it appealing while others do not.  In no instance should any of the fins show an acute bend.  The amount of curve that is still appealing will vary from one admirer to the next.  A fish with otherwise similar characteristics with straight fins should  be judged ahead of the fish with a curve to its fins.

    The Ventral fins are also lengthened in proportion to the anal fin.  They should gently curve rearward without any splaying or kinking.

    The caudal fin can be very variable.  In single dose veils the caudal fin usually spreads out at about a 30 to 60 degree angle.  Tails in the 45 to 60 degree range generally give  better appearance.  The wider the better.  The rays in the fin branch to accomplish this.  The rays in some fish branch more times than others making for a wider fin.  Injured tails may grow back normally, although sometimes they re-grow without branching resulting in a longer narrower fin than originally.  The trailing edge of the caudal fin should be straight or at least smooth and symmetrical if curved or scalloped. Trailing rays off of the top and bottom should be present.

    Pectoral fins should be full, symmetrical and extend straight out form the body of the fish.  They have a tendency to curve up or down especially in superveils.  Although not a a major flaw, they sometimes curve in opposite directions, which looks asymmetrical when the fish is viewed head on.

    In superveils the fins are lengthened even more than in single dose veils.  The dorsal and anal fins are often widened as well.  It is much more difficult to raise a superveil with straight fins especially the dorsal fin and tail.  The best that we can usually hope for is a gentle curve to the dorsal fin and a gentle droop to the tail.  Superveils with very thin fins sometimes referred to as longfins should be avoided.  Again the trailing edge of the caudal fin should at least be symmetrical.  It is often irregular in superveils.

    The combtail trait adds extensions to the fins especially notable on the caudal fin.  Each ray can extend beyond the trailing edge of the fin.  Even in single dose veils the combtail trait often elongates tail and widens the dorsal and anal fin.  Expression is variable but again symmetrical fins are desired.  An even fringe on the tail and unpaired fins is desired.  Often with repeated damage the trailing edge of the fins can become asymmetrical.

    Some fish show extensive combtail trait on the dorsal and anal fins as well.  It is very difficult to produce fish with these fin extensions unless optimal growing conditions are maintained throughout the fish's life.

    Ventral fins are often forked several times especially in the lower half in combtails.  This is the normal state and not a defect.

    The exact genetics of the combtail trait has not been worked out.

    Although the dorsal is curved in these two marble pearlscale veils they are still very pretty fish.  If they had straighter longer dorsal fins they would be judged better.

    We are still seaking photos depicting the following examples:
    • Improved image of a Veiltail (V/+)
    • Clear image of a Super Veil (V/V)
    • Combtail
    • Close up of non combtail (V/+)
    • Close up of combtail
    • Good looking veil with a gentle curve to dorsal
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. chocolateplaty's Avatar
      chocolateplaty -
      How do you enlarge the pictures so one can see clearly what is being referred to?
    1. Mugwump's Avatar
      Mugwump -
      Those are just examples..go to the library to see larger shots...
    1. catsma_97504's Avatar
      catsma_97504 -
      I was able to locate larger images and have replaced all but one (no larger version on the server). Hopefully, these larger images will help to make this document a better resource.