Altum Angelfish Care Requirements and Tank Selection for Hobbyists
Most tropical fish hobbyists are likely to have maintained the common angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare
) in some form or another. Due to the hard effort and careful care of breeders across the globe, different color forms have been made accessible to the distributor, merchant, and customer since the introduction of angels to the American public in the early 1900s. The many attractive varieties of the common angel have been introduced by combining the numerous available color and pattern strains with the qualities of standard, veiltail, or extended veiltail finnage.
P. scalare became practically prevalent throughout the years as breeders become more proficient in breeding and raising angels. With so much focus on P. scalare, the other two members of the Pterophyllum genus have gotten less attention than their well-known relative.
, the long-nosed angel, is the least common of the three angel species. These cichlid fish are infrequently imported, and little information on their care, breeding behavior, or water chemistry needs has been acquired. The fish has silver and black bands, as do other wild members of the genus, but it also has a dark patch at the base of the dorsal fin and a longer snout than the other two species. In captivity, P. dumerilli has not been produced.
, often known as the deep angel or altum angel, is imported more frequently than P. dumerilli and is nevertheless regarded a rare. This increased availability is fantastic news for real angel fans, since the altum is certainly the most gorgeous of the three species.
The altum will, admittedly, be difficult to come by at your local pet store. If you chance to stumble across any and desire to keep them in an aquarium, it is critical that you educate yourself about the fish and its needs (as you should all fish). The circumstances required for the altum angel to survive vary significantly from those required for any aquarium-reared or wild P. scalare. However, if you are ready to satisfy the altum's conditions, the task may be incredibly rewarding.
Pellegrin initially identified P. altum as a separate species in 1903, and it has only been discovered in the waters of Venezuela's Rio Orinoco. P. altum varies from P. scalare physiologically in a number of ways, the most notable of which being the larger number of soft dorsal and anal fin rays. It also has an unmistakable regal aspect due to its large dorsal and anal fins, more vertical shape, and dramatically concaved forehead region. P. altum has only been bred in captivity on a few occasions. As a consequence, all of the species you would find in store aquariums were imported.
Although wild P. altum and P. scalare both have reddish-black spots on their dorsums, only the altum has a second dark head bar that runs down between the dark bar that passes through the eye and the bar that starts at the base of the first dorsal spines. The unpaired fins of the altum lack the bright marks seen on the unpaired fins of P. scalare. P. altum's mouth parts are noticeably further out from the front of the head than P. scalare's. You'll also observe that altums have a peculiar "yawning" tendency. If you get a chance to observe this, you will see that their lips are significantly bigger when completely opened than they look while closed.
You may note that the specimens in the shop's aquariums seem a touch ragged while picking your altums. The most common issues you may see are torn or split fins and missing scales, which are caused by the rigors of transportation, internal fighting, or predators in the wild. Some specimens may be infected with a condition known as black spot. The sick fish will seem as though it has been sprayed with pepper. The blotches on the fish's skin are really encysted parasites that have buried themselves in the fish's skin. Fish act as intermediate hosts for parasites in the wild, where they can only proliferate and cause damage to the insides of fish-eating birds that eat parasitized fish. The parasites are normally harmless to the fish and are not easily transmitted to other fish.
Because wild fish, in particular, are usually always infected with parasites of some kind, it's essential to keep a quarantine tank for any new species before releasing them into existing community aquariums. My quarantine tank is a 20-gallon aquarium with a hood and a sponge filter for biological filtration, both of which are controlled by a dependable air pump. I check to see whether the water has been dechlorinated. Altums are highly sensitive to high amounts of ammonia and nitrite in their water, so keep that in mind. The importance of effective biological filtration cannot be overstated.
For the whole quarantine period, which lasts 14 to 21 days, the altums are fed a diet of live and frozen brine shrimp. Fish taken in the wild are used to consuming natural meals rather than commercial fish feeds. They quickly accept brine shrimp, and after acceptance you can alternate these feedings with a high-quality granular fish meal and/or frozen blood worms to help them gain strength and weight. A specimen may exhibit a minor incidence of fin rot on occasion. This condition may be effectively treated with a one-week diet consisting only of commercially produced flake food soaked with furazone and tetracycline.
Because of the altum's evident vertical posture and the likelihood of growing to a maximum size of 13 to 15 inches or more, it requires a deep, roomy tank. My altums have thrived in 55-gallon aquariums that are densely planted with large-sized kinds of aquatic plants from the Echinodorus, Vallisneria, and Hygrophila genera. These plants not only add to the beauty of the altums with their long and occasionally wide leaves, but they also offer ideal hiding places for the fish and help them create territories among themselves. Furthermore, the fish like picking at the foliage. Indeed, some voracious altums may leave their imprints on the leaves of your aquatic plants.
Although these cichlids are generally calm, some altums do show the normal cichlid feature of being territorial against other aquarium members. As a result, I make certain that each aquarium has plenty of swimming space for curious visitors who wander too close to another's territory and need to get away quickly! Altums also prefer to pick at the substrate for food, and sharp stones may easily damage them due to their long and fragile mouth parts. To reduce the danger of damage, coarse gravel with rounded edges is recommended.
Altums thrive in water that is both soft and acidic (1 to 6 DH) (pH 5.8 to 6.6). The use of peat makes obtaining these water conditions quite simple. Peat in a power filter or canister filter outdoors performs a fantastic job of lowering the pH and hardness to levels where altums may flourish. When employing peat filtration, you'll notice that the aquarium water takes on a yellowish or brownish hue. One of the side effects of this coloring is that it filters out the wavelengths of light that algae needs to thrive, resulting in substantially less algae growth on the aquarium's glass.
It's best to use replacement water that has the same specifications as the aquarium water when making water changes. You may store dechlorinated water in a 45-gallon plastic container, filtered via a canister filter with peat and granular activated carbon. A submersible heater keeps the water at the proper temperature (see below). The altums are kept active and healthy by changing at least 20% of the water once a week. Its been discovered that if you go more than a week between water changes, the altums go on hunger strikes. The strike may be broken by changing half of the water and boosting the temperature to 88 degrees Fahrenheit for three days.
When maintained at temperatures between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, altums flourish. Keep in mind that altums are sensitive to temperature variations and lack the adaptability of their relative, P. scalare, to such changes.
Altums are not finicky eaters if they are in excellent health. They eat live brine shrimp
, blood worms
, and mosquito larvae very well. These fish dishes are also avidly consumed in their frozen form. Allowing one day of the week to be a fast day is good. The fish are able to empty their digestive tracts as a result of this. Resume their feeding with brine shrimp after the fast day. Brine shrimp have a covering of chitin around their bodies that acts as a source of fiber, which assists in the digestion of the fish and reduces constipation.
It is extremely advised that altums be given a large tank to themselves. Altums are not the greatest communal fish because to their care and maintenance needs. The only exception is catfish from the species Corydoras, which make excellent altum aquarium mates.
Altums have been preserved for many years and are disease resistant as long as the water quality is maintained. Altums, on the other hand, have a high level of sensitivity to various aquarium drugs used to treat illness. Copper sulfate, trichlorofon, and oxytetracycline, in particular, should be avoided wherever feasible.
Altum angels are difficult to come by, as previously stated. Commercial breeders and amateurs must work together to successfully spawn P. altum for two reasons. For starters, there is a growing need for altums. Second, gathering wild specimens to suit this growing demand might harm altums' ability to survive in their native environment.