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Altum Angelfish: The Orinoco´s King

The Altum Scalare (Pterophyllum altum) is the largest species of angelfish.

They are about 7.09 inches long and very tall, with large fins reaching up to 7.88 inches in height.

Altum Angelfish Description

The Altum Angelfish is very similar to the wild form of the other Scalare species. But it is larger both in length and height.

It typically reaches about 7.09 inches in length and is about 7.88 inches tall from the tip of the dorsal fin to the tip of the anal fin.

There are some reported anomalies of wild specimens reaching up to 19.68 inches in height and some aquarium specimens said to reach over 15.75 inches in height.

The body is laterally compressedwith a distinctive diamond shape and a pronounced forehead with a “notch” at the top of its snout, just above the nostrils, and a steeply rising forehead.

They have extended dorsal and anal fins which, along with the tail fin, tend to be very long and flowing.

In mature fish, the caudal fin may develop streamers at the outer corners.

The pelvic fins are also very long and delicate.

Scalare Altum Characteristics

They can have a life of 10 to 15 years if properly cared for in a scalare aquarium well maintained.

The body has a general silver coloration that can be accentuated with a greenish tint.

three wide barsdark brown/reddish running vertically along body, plus some less pronounced bars.

Fins may show red streaksand adults may have some red spots and a greenish-blue cast on the dorsal fin.

When excited, they will exhibit a black spot on the gill cover.

It is larger than its close and well-known relative, the silver Pterophyllum Scalare or common scalare.This disc-shaped cichlid is very graceful. It is also known as the Orinoco Angelfish, the Atlum Angelfish, and the Deep Angelfish.

In the past, only wild-caught specimens of this fish were possible.

This was due to a high mortality rate that for years made the fish virtually impossible to breed.

More recently, however, it has been successfully bred by some hobbyists and captive-bred specimens are now occasionally available, as well as wild-caught.

The Scalare Altum is considered the most peaceful of all angelfish species.

However, he is a bit shy and can be frightened by shadows and fast movements. This is especially true when first acquired, but once acclimatized it is a friendly and pleasant fish.

This angelfish is considered a community fish, but being a cichlid it may not be as social with smaller fish.

They are moderately difficult to keep as they have more stringent requirements than regular angelfish.

Scalare Altum Habitat

They are found in the rivers of South America; the Amazon River basin in the upper Negro River drainage and the Orinoco River basin in the upper Orinoco River tributaries (Inírida and Atabapo rivers) to Puerto Ayacucho.

In the wild, these cichlids live in river basins and floodplains where there are moderate amounts of water flow, submerged tree and plant roots, and underwater vegetation. They are most often found in very soft, well-oxygenated waters.

Altum Scalare Feeding

Since they are omnivores, Altum Angelfish will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flaked foods.

To maintain a good balance, give them a high-quality porridge every day.

Feed them brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or bloodworms.

You can even feed them lettuce or spinach.

Feed them the mosquito larvae very little, as they will tend to overeat it.

Overeating can result in a buildup of fats, which can lead to inactivity and potentially kill the fish.

Aquarium To Climb Altum

They need enough space to accommodate their size and swim freely.

A 52.84 gallon tank would be the suggested minimum, but if you have more than one, the aquarium will need to be larger.

They will feel at home and comfortable in a warmer tank that has roots and some rocks to offer places of refuge. They also like hardy plants placed around the interior perimeter, keeping an open area in the center for swimming.

Altum angelfish need a strict water change regimen of at least 25% every week.

The Angel is very sensitive to the fluctuation of the water. The water should be soft for 0-5dH.

Be sure to do water changes to carefully vacuum up the substrate. Take great care when cleaning the tank and changing the water so as not to cause undue or excessive stress to the fish, as they are prone to stress-related illnesses.

Water changes: weekly

Aquarium setup

A minimum tank of 52.84 gallons is fine for a single fish, although a larger tank is suggested if you have more.

They need good water movement along with very strong and efficient filtration. As they come from a natural environment with soft, well-oxygenated water, it is recommended to provide filtered water.

Provide a warm tank that has roots and some rocks to offer places of refuge. They also like hardy plants placed around the interior perimeter, keeping an open area in the center for swimming. They prefer dim lighting. These fish do not burrow and will not damage plants as much as other cichlids.

The Altum Angelfish is more sensitive to water conditions than the Common Angelfish, making it more suitable for people experienced in keeping fish.

Playing Scalare Altum

The Altum Scalare is a difficult fish to breed. For years it was considered impossible to breed.

More recently, it has been successfully bred by some hobbyists.

Hybrids are also being developed by crossing P. altum with P. Scalare called “Orinoco Altum”. The characteristic “notched” nose of the pureblood fish may or may not be present in the hybrid version, or it may simply appear less pronounced.

Climb Altum Orinoco

These egg layers prefer to spawn on submerged roots and tree branches in the wild.

It is difficult for them to have sexual relations, so it is best to start with a small group of 4-8 fish and let them establish pairs.

The pair will need very clean water and must be conditioned to reproduce.

Supplement their current diet with high-protein foods, but make sure you don’t overfeed them.

Breeding water should be soft, acidic, and warm.

pH between 5.8 – 6.2. hardness at 1 – 5 ° dGH, and temperatures between 30 – 31 ° C.

The female will lay between a few hundred and more than 1000 eggs on carefully cleaned leaves and the male will follow and fertilize them.

The eggs will hatchin a few days and the fry will be free-swimming in a week.

The parents will swim with a school of fry in tow.

The fry can be fed with brine shrimp newly hatched for the first week or two.

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