Altum Angelfish Care | Breeding guide, Tank Setup, Best places to buy

Altum angelfish

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Altum Angelfish Care | Breeding guide, Tank Setup, Best places to buy

The Altum angelfish, also scientifically known as Pterophyllum altum, are a species of angelfish found in the Orinoco and Rio Atabapo river basins in South America, primarily in Venezuela and Colombia. Altum angelfish are one of the three main species of angelfish, with the other two being the Pterophyllum scalare and Pterophyllum leopoldi. They are highly regarded in the aquarium hobby for their unique and striking appearance.


Altum angelfish are known for their tall, laterally compressed bodies and long, flowing dorsal and anal fins. They have a silvery body with vertical black stripes and a distinctive nape hump or crest on their heads, which sets them apart from other angelfish species. Their appearance is quite different from the more common Pterophyllum scalare, which has a more rounded body shape and shorter fins.


In the wild, Altum angelfish inhabit slow-moving, clear or blackwater rivers and are typically found in areas with submerged tree roots and overhanging vegetation. In the aquarium hobby, they are considered challenging to keep due to their specific water parameter requirements and sensitivity to changes in water quality. Hobbyists interested in keeping Altum angelfish often create specialized setups that mimic their natural habitat conditions, including soft, acidic water and lower lighting.

Due to their unique appearance and care requirements, Altum angelfish are often sought after by experienced aquarists and enthusiasts interested in creating a biotope-style aquarium that replicates the Amazon River basin.

Altum angelfish care guide

Caring for Altum angelfish (Pterophyllum altum) in an aquarium requires careful attention to their specific needs to ensure their health and well-being. Here’s a general care guide covering tank setup, feeding, and disease prevention:

Tank Setup:

  1. Tank Size: Altum angelfish grow larger than the common angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) and need a spacious tank. A 55-gallon (208 liters) or larger aquarium is recommended for a group of Altum angelfish.
  2. Water Parameters:
  • Water Temperature: 78-84°F (25-29°C)
  • pH Level: Slightly acidic to neutral (around 6.0-7.0)
  • Water Hardness: Soft to moderately soft water is preferred.
  1. Filtration: Use a high-quality filtration system to maintain water quality. Altum angelfish are sensitive to changes in water parameters, so regular water changes are crucial.
  2. Aquascape: Create an aquarium environment that mimics their natural habitat. Provide plenty of driftwood, rocks, and plants, especially floating or submerged vegetation. Dim lighting and a dark substrate can help simulate their native blackwater environment.
  3. Tank Mates: Altum angelfish can be kept with other peaceful and appropriately sized fish. Avoid aggressive or nippy tank mates.


  1. Diet: Altum angelfish are omnivorous and can be fed a varied diet. Offer a mix of high-quality flake foods, pellets, frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. Supplement their diet with vegetable matter, like blanched spinach or spirulina flakes.
  2. Feeding Frequency: Feed small amounts multiple times a day to prevent overfeeding and maintain water quality.

Disease Prevention:

  1. Quarantine: Always quarantine new fish for at least a few weeks before introducing them to an established tank to prevent the spread of diseases.
  2. Water Quality: Maintain stable water parameters by regularly testing and performing water changes. Altum angelfish are sensitive to fluctuations in water quality.
  3. Stress Reduction: Minimize stress factors, such as sudden changes in lighting, water temperature, or tank decorations.
  4. Parasite Prevention: Keep an eye out for common fish diseases such as Ich (white spot disease) and treat promptly if necessary. Quarantine tanks can be useful for treating sick fish separately.
  5. Hygiene: Maintain clean equipment and avoid cross-contamination between tanks or aquarium equipment.

Remember that Altum angelfish can be challenging to care for, and their sensitivity to water conditions makes them more suitable for experienced aquarium keepers. Regular observation and attentive care will help ensure the health and longevity of your Altum angelfish.

Breeding guide

Breeding Altum angelfish (Pterophyllum altum) in an aquarium can be a rewarding but challenging task. These fish have specific requirements for breeding success. Here’s a general guide on how to breed Altum angelfish:

1. Select Healthy Breeding Stock:

  • Choose healthy, mature Altum angelfish for breeding. Look for individuals with well-developed nape humps and vibrant colors.

2. Set Up a Breeding Tank:

  • Prepare a separate breeding tank, preferably a 20-gallon (75-liter) aquarium, with similar water parameters to the main tank but with some differences (explained below).

3. Water Parameters:

  • Altum angelfish are sensitive to water conditions. To encourage breeding, replicate their natural habitat conditions:
    • Water Temperature: 82-84°F (28-29°C).
    • pH Level: Slightly acidic to neutral (around 6.0-7.0).
    • Water Hardness: Soft to moderately soft water.
    • Perform small, frequent water changes to maintain stable conditions.

4. Substrate and Decorations:

  • Use a dark substrate and provide plenty of vertical structures for the angelfish to lay their eggs. Driftwood, broad leaves, and vertical plants like Java moss or spawning cones can be used.

5. Conditioning and Pairing:

  • Condition the breeding pair with a high-quality diet rich in protein, live or frozen foods. Separate potential breeding pairs in the breeding tank, and allow them to establish territories.

6. Courtship and Egg Laying:

  • Altum angelfish typically engage in courtship rituals, including fin displays, body wiggling, and lip-locking. Eventually, the female will lay eggs on a clean, vertical surface, and the male will fertilize them.

7. Parental Care:

  • Altum angelfish are known to be dedicated parents. Both the male and female will guard and fan the eggs to prevent fungal growth. They will also protect the fry after hatching.

8. Hatching and Rearing Fry:

  • The eggs will typically hatch within a few days (temperature-dependent). After hatching, the parents will continue to care for the fry, which will feed on their yolk sacs initially.
  • As the fry become free-swimming, you can start feeding them with finely crushed or powdered fry food, infusoria, or commercially available liquid fry food.
  • Gradually introduce larger foods as the fry grow, such as newly hatched brine shrimp or micro worms.

9. Monitor Water Quality:

  • Maintain excellent water quality throughout the breeding process, as the fry are sensitive to water parameters.

10. Patience:

  • Breeding Altum angelfish can be a time-consuming process. Be patient and attentive to the needs of the breeding pair and their offspring.

Successful breeding of Altum angelfish may take some time and effort due to their specific requirements and sensitivity to water conditions. It’s essential to be well-prepared and to closely monitor the breeding tank to ensure the health and well-being of the fish and their offspring.

Best places to buy

The availability of Altum angelfish (Pterophyllum altum) can vary depending on your location and the availability of specialty aquarium stores in your area. If you’re looking to purchase Altum angelfish, here are some common options:

  1. Local Aquarium Stores: Start by visiting local aquarium stores or fish breeders in your area. They may carry Altum angelfish, and you can inspect the fish in person before making a purchase. Prices can vary depending on the quality and size of the fish, but they are typically more expensive than common angelfish.
  2. Online Retailers: Many online retailers and specialized fish vendors offer Altum angelfish for sale. When buying online, consider the reputation of the seller, reviews from previous customers, and shipping policies. Online prices can vary significantly depending on the source, the size of the fish, and their quality. Expect to pay more for larger, high-quality specimens.
  3. Aquarium Forums and Groups: Joining online aquarium forums, social media groups, or local fishkeeping clubs can be a great way to connect with experienced hobbyists who may have Altum angelfish for sale or be able to recommend reputable sellers.

As for the average price, it can vary widely depending on factors like the size, quality, and the source of the fish. Generally, Altum angelfish tend to be more expensive than the common angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) due to their unique appearance and specific care requirements. Prices can range from $30 to $100 or more per fish, with larger, high-quality specimens often commanding higher prices.

Keep in mind that the availability and pricing of Altum angelfish can fluctuate, so it’s a good idea to do some research, compare prices, and be prepared for potential additional costs associated with setting up and maintaining an aquarium for these beautiful and sensitive fish.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

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I love sharing my knowledge about all things aquarium related. I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and cannot imagine a life without an aquarium. 

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