UMT MOOC: Ornamental Fish Culture - Topic 3: Quality Characteristic Determination - Angelfish & Schooling Fish

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Discussion on quality characteristics for Angelfish and Schooling fish.

Angelfish. If you're are a beginner aquarist, there is nothing wrong to start with Angelfish or also known as Pterophyllum. Buy juvenile fishes as it's cheaper and they grow very fast. Furthermore, Angelfish is a good addition to your community tank.

On standard, there is one, a conformation (shape or structure) standard of Angelfish by the The Angelfish Society for hobbyists and breeders. The quality characteristics includes (1) Bodies, where round and slightly higher is preferred, no bump in head, appropriate eye to body ratio (2) Un-paired fins, regardless the length, needs to be straight, (3) Colours and patterns, stripes should run through the whole height of the body, (4) Size, bigger is better, (5) Deportment (behaviour), bold, alert, and active is a sign of good health.

For a list of different strains of Angelfish, see the video below.


Schooling fish, a group of fish that stay and swim together. Typical ornamental fishes are Tetra, Barb, Rasbora, and Minnow. As these species are rather on the smaller size, for example, Tetra, there isn't much individual aesthetic characteristics besides the usual sharp colours and symmetry body shapes and fins.

UMT MOOC: Ornamental Fish Culture - Topic 3: Quality Characteristic Determination - Koi & Discus

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This post will delve into the acceptable standards for quality Koi and Discus fish. As I mentioned in my previous posts before, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you're a hobbyist, the first question you should ask yourself. Do you like the fish? Are you excited? If so, regardless the standards, go for what you like. A fish personalities or deportments is hard to gauge and subjective by person to person. Nevertheless, let's continue with our discussions.

Koi fish. Due to enormous varieties and rivalry between breeders around the world, it's quite hard to finalize on which is the best koi. However, there are some guidelines on quality koi which can be summarized into four characteristics: (1) Size where shape, volumes as well as fins are symmetry,  (2) Colours should be deep, intense, and uniform, (3) Patterns should be uniform, scale should be sharp, and not dirty marks, and (4) Presence as in personality and vitality.

The video below should gives us some clues on top notch quality Koi.


Discus fish or I like to call it pancake fish. It seemed we still don't have a good published standard even though there were many competitions held? The general consensus rules for good quality Discus are: (1) Overall impression, the wow factor. (2) Size of the fish on its proportion, the body shape is round and high, (2) Fins are long and extended, symmetry, and good proportion to the body (3) Colours are vivid and unique clear pattern and (4) Eyes size and colour as well as the proportion to the body size, and (4) Swimming pattern is steady. Below is the video on how juries judge Discus fish.


Examples are the show grade Discus at 2nd European Discus Championship as shown in video below.