Why Does My Angelfish Twitch and Jerk, And What To Do About It

Last Updated on January 28, 2022 by cmoarz

Have you recently noticed your angelfish moving around, appearing like it’s twitching?

If you have, you might be wondering why does my angelfish twitch around like that? There’s actually a very good explanation for this, and to put your mind at ease, it’s not anything serious you need to worry about. Here’s what it is.

Why Is My Angelfish Jerking and Twitching?

The cause for this is quite simple and the reason is a natural behavior that can be caused by a couple of things.

Just like a betta fish that flares its gills at other fish, An angelfish will twitch at other angels and fish as a sign of dominance or arousal.

This is a natural behavior and is nothing to be concerned with, but if your angels are in a community tank this can cause problems. This behavior is usually seen in males and they will do it when trying to show dominance or when breeding. If you have female angelfish that are close together they can also start this behavior.

But you might be thinking “There is nothing else in my angelfish tank for it to dominate”.

That’s where many aquarists start to wonder if something is wrong, But the truth is your angel is probably seeing its own reflection in the glass.

Angelfish can see their reflections in your tank’s glass and will try to attack this reflection thinking it is another angelfish or fish invading his territory.

This can cause the twitching and jerking behavior you are witnessing.

To bring it back to the betta fish, it’s the same principle as when you put a mirror in with a beta.

It will flare up and attempt to attack its own reflection. It’s completely normal behavior, but you need to make sure this behavior doesn’t get out of hand.

All this show of dominance can be stressful on the angelfish and it can make them very aggressive towards other fish, which is not what you want.

How To Prevent This Show Of Dominance And Twitching Behavior

To prevent angelfish from attacking or being intimidated by their own reflection in the tank’s glass, you can try doing one of two things.

The first thing is to cover up all the reflective surfaces in your aquarium. This means covering over or moving away from any decor that has a glossy surface. You usually won’t need to go this far, however.

The other thing you can do when it’s feasible is to make sure the back of your tank has a tank wallpaper that will kill the reflection. You can also cover up the sides of the fish tank with something similar, or a piece of cloth.

Obviously, this isn’t ideal if you spend time looking at your tank from the side.

For the most part, though, This behavior can be ignored and will rarely get to the point where you need to intervene.

Your fish should be completely fine.


Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!