are among the most graceful and beautiful South American cichlids. There range is known to occur in the Orinoco River Basin and Upper Rio Negro watershed in Southern Venezuela including Southeastern Columbia and the Northern most region of Brazil. Of the genus Pterophyllum they are the largest species of this group and most recognizable of Angelfish fanciers. Additionally P. altum is the rarest of species in the genus and command the highest prices. This is due to their difficulty spawning and import costs.
Orinoco Angelfish as their sometimes called can grow to be quiet large with specimens exceeding some 50 cm in height which is measured from the tip of the dorsal to the tip of the anal fin. Aside from their size Altum Angels have a distinct body profile and coloration. Their natural color is sliver with brownish colored vertical bars or stripes. There is also a distinctive characteristic in P. altum which is a notch or what’s referred to as an acute incision that is above their nose or nares. It is this trait which allows for identifying true Orinoco Altum specimens.
Breeding Altum Angelfish is challenging and but amazingly rewarding and a major accomplishment. What makes them a challenge is reproducing attributes of their natural environment in the aquarium. In the wild these fish are found in highly oxygenated water which is also extremely soft. So in the aquarium the challenge is maintaining soft water which would have a pH range of 4.5 to 5.8 and a temperature of 78 to 84 degrees. In the wild P. altum has been noted to spawn on submerged roots and tree branches amongst moderate water current.
Altums would do well in a tank which is deeper than stand aquarium sizes to accommodate their lengths. Driftwood also makes a great addition to the tank for a potential spawning platform and for esthetics. To aid in achieving soft water, cichlid hobbyist use catappa leafs for breeding Altum Angelfish. Many breeders agree that placing a catappa leaf in the breeding tank
is essential for successful breeding and for promoting healthy fish.
While this species is difficult to breed its not impossible, however, it makes sense to start out with small group of young fish and allow them to naturally pair off. Spawning Altums occurs in the same fashion as Pterophyllum scalare
as well as feeding them. They can be offered a variety of prepared cichlid foods including freeze dried foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms.
Common names for Altums
Altum Angelfish Videos
Other South America cichlids and related links