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Altum Angelfish

(Pterophyllum altum)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 6"
• Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons   • Water Conditions: 75-82° F, KH 1-5, pH 4.8-6.5
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Amazon, Columbia   • Family: Cichlidae
• Species: Angelfish   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

Altum Angelfish native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Altum Angel (Pterophyllum altum) originates from the Northern Amazonian regions of Colombia where it is found in the Orinoco and Essequibo river basins. Freshwater Angels are designed to blend into the tree roots and thick vegetation of the river banks where they live, with the shape of their body and their color pattern reflecting this.

They utilize the thick vegetation for both protection from larger Cichlid species living in the river and as hunting grounds to prey on small fish species and small invertebrate and crustacean species. Altum Angelfish live in clean clear water conditions provided from the large amount of water flow the rivers generate, but also live near the shoreline in dense vegetation where water currents are low to moderate.

Their native rivers provide them with year round stable warm water conditions which include: warm water 80 to 84 °, clean and clear water, acidic water with pH around 5 and plenty of dissolved oxygen in the water. Aquarium hobbyists should look to replicate these water conditions along with aqua-scaping that includes plenty of vegetation and driftwood or wood root.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Altum Angelfish in the home aquarium.

Altum Angels will do well in aquariums that are 55 gallons or larger and have plenty of plants and/or driftwood. As a group freshwater Angelfish are territorial and will squabble with one another until a dominant male is established. They can be kept singularly, in mated pairs or in medium sized groups of 6 or more. Contrary to popular belief, long finned species like the Altum Angel can be kept with barbs and other "fin nipping" species.

The key here is that the barbs be kept in proper sized groups, so that they nip at each other instead of nipping at the Angelfish or other species that are not equipped for this type of behavior. Barbs prefer to be kept in groups and their nipping at each other is normal behavior that will not hurt them at all; however, this behavior is too boisterous for many other fish species and damaging to long finned fish species.

Angelfish in general require fairly constant water parameters and are less forgiving than many other freshwater community species towards fluctuations in pH or temperature. Like with most South American Cichlid species, the Altum Angel prefers soft, acidic water with temperatures that stay between 79 and 83 degrees.

It is important to house Altum Angels with other fish species that are large enough to not be eaten. They will prey on small Tetras like Neon or Cardinal Tetra, picking them off while they sleep. It is very important to acclimate them slowly to their new aquarium, in order to make sure that they do not suffer pH or temperature shock. It is best to pour the fish and the shipping bag water into a plastic bucket and add a medium-fast drip into the bucket from the aquarium.

A faster drip will help offset CO2 breakdown from the bag water that will artificially lower the pH in the bucket. The drip should continue for about 30 to 45 minutes and then the fish should be netted or collected via hand and added to the aquarium. The bag water and water siphoned into the bucket should be discarded and not added to the aquarium.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Altum Angelfish and provide a healthy diet.

Altum Angelfish are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of live and prepared foods that are commonly fed to freshwater tropical fish species. They have a particular love for blood worms and tubifex worms, but will readily consume flake, pellet and frozen foods. They should be fed about twice per day the amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes.

When housed in aquariums with many faster swimming fish species, it may be necessary to increase feedings to 3 times per day to make sure that the Angel is properly fed. Altum Angels will prey on small fish species like small Tetras, Danios or pretty much any small species that will fit into their mouth. They generally wait until the aquarium lights are off for the night and hunt the small fish while they sleep, which makes them easy prey. Because they grow to be a fairly large fish, adult Altum Angels are capable of eating small fish up to 1 to 1.5 inches in length.

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