Name: Pterophyllum altum
These beautiful fishes need space to roam. They used to live with 50 full size cardinal tetras. Now I have 1 left after 9 months. They hunt the small fishes at night in group. If you want to put them in community tank, make sure their tankmates are at least 4 or bottom feeder (they never harass my cory catfish colony). Too bad I am moving back to Thailand and I have to put the whole tank for sell now.
They are rare in the hobby. All are wild caught in the pet stores, since commercial fish farms do not breed them yet. They are different from the common angels, they're in my opinion more beautiful and the fins are generally longer and pointy compared to the common angels.
The Altum is becoming a common import since the last couple of years. They have a huge mortality rate if acclimated by the wrong procedure. The old procedure of slowly adding tank water to the bag is completely wrong for the following reason. Due to ammonia in the bag, and the presence of CO2 (therefore lowering the pH) the ammonia is kept mostly in the ammonium form, not in the more toxic form. Upon opening the bag, CO2 escapes and the pH rises to the true pH of the water, converting the ammonia to the toxic form. As temp increases, so does ammonia toxicity. The fins get burned, as do the gills. You see shortening of the fins within days, and columnaris attaches to the gills, resulting in death between 6 hours to a few days later. The fish have not been exposed to this organism, and they have not got an immune response ready, so they drop. A pH of 6 will prevent the columnaris attachment, and the damage will heal without medication. Better is to open the bag, and net the fish straight to the tank. A temp of 32°C for 2 weeks will also protect the fish from infection. Other than that, a problem-free fish! Breeding is becoming less rare. Happy Altum Keeping!
I have three wild caught scalares and two altums I obtained from an importer. In my 470 liter tank, altums grow at a much faster rate and are as agressive as scalares, since they outgrow them quickly. The altums have a totally different coloration. They are brown and black with green and blue hues in their head area. Scalares are srictly black and silver. Other differences have been documented by Kullander. As a hobbyist, I am impressed with their growth rate and finnage. I feed them a variety of foods and change the water every two weeks (15%) and keep the pH at 6.0 to 6.5. There is no comparison in the beauty of these two species (if you believe that they are in fact separate species...Kullander would say yes; Burgess disagrees.). The altums are now 18 cm in height, and I have only had them four months. I understand they can become giants of over 30 cm in height. What an awesome fish!
I've got three of these, identical to the photo. Their behaviour is typical of Angels. I must make a comment here, more than one person has told me that Angels are aggressive, well I'm still waiting after six months to see any signs of aggression, maybe when they breed. But I've come to understand, most fish are aggressive when breeding. Anyhow these Altums change the colour of their stripes from plain creamy colour to the stripes you see in the picture, and back again. They do it for camouflage, and also at feeding times when they get excited. The pH in my 100 L tank is almost 7.5 and the temp is 26°C. and these fish are fine. They might not breed in those conditions, but they manage quite fine. These are Beauties.
I have 4 altums, 2 about 18 cm in height and two about 14 cm. These are real quiet fish, that seem to enjoy watching my other angels. During feeding they might get a little excited and chase the other angels, but otherwise are very very peaceful. They love bloodworms, but also take flake readily. My pH is 7 and temperature is 28°C.