Altum Angelfish Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

To care for Altum Angelfish as a beginner, you need to focus on proper tank setup, maintaining ideal water conditions, and providing a suitable diet. Ensure their environment has soft and acidic water, gentle filtration, and is furnished with aquatic plants and driftwood.

Altum Angelfish

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Altum Angelfish Species Profile and Identification

The Altum Angelfish, scientifically known as Pterophyllum altum, is the largest and most majestic species within its genus. Native to the upper Rio Negro and Orinoco River tributaries in Colombia and Venezuela, these tropical freshwater fish are admired for their stunning appearance and graceful swimming.

Key features to identify Altum Angelfish include:

  • Three distinctive brownish-red vertical stripes on a silver base color
  • Red striations within their fins
  • An acute incision or notch above the nares (supraorbital indention)
  • A maximum size of 15 inches (38 cm) in height, from tip of the dorsal fin to the tip of the anal fin
  • A preference for warmer temperatures between 78 and 84°F (26 and 29°C)

Keep in mind that true Orinoco Altum specimens bear the supraorbital indention, a characteristic specific to this species. Despite their majestic beauty, Altums can be quite challenging for beginners due to their demanding care requirements and sensitivity to water conditions.

However, with patience and dedication, you can provide the optimal environment for your Altum Angelfish to thrive.

Here is a quick reference table for easy identification:

Feature Altum Angelfish
Size Up to 15 inches (38 cm) in height
Color Silver with three brownish-red vertical stripes
Fin markings Red striations
Nares feature Acute incision or notch (supraorbital indention)
Temperature preference 78 to 84°F (26 to 29°C)

With this understanding of Altum Angelfish identification, you’ll be better equipped to prepare the ideal living conditions for these stunning fish as you venture into the world of aquatics.

Altum Angelfish Supplies

To begin with, you will need a 48-inch tall aquarium to accommodate the height of your Altum Angelfish. A larger size is necessary for this particular species due to their adult height and long, trailing finnage.

  • Aquarium filter: Acquire a high-performance filter that is recommended for Altum Angelfish, offering efficient filtration and gentle water flow. You can find filters highly recommended by your local aquarist community.
  • Heater: Altum Angelfish require a high-quality aquarium heater to maintain a steady water temperature between 82-90°F (28-32°C); this is crucial for their health and comfort.
  • Lighting: Opt for dim lighting for your Altum Angelfish aquarium, as these fish thrive in subdued light. To ensure your angelfish feel comfortable, employ floating plants and broad-leafed plants to help diffuse the light.
  • Substrate: Altum Angelfish can sometimes dig in the substrate, so use a soft, smooth substrate such as sand or fine gravel to avoid causing damage to their fins.
  • Decorations: A well-decorated aquarium with driftwood, roots, and plants will mimic Altum Angelfish’s natural habitat, providing them with ample hiding places and a sense of security.
  • Water testing kit: Since Altum Angelfish have specific water requirements, investing in a water testing kit will help you monitor crucial water parameters, such as pH and hardness.
  • Food: Finally, ensure a balanced diet for your Altum Angelfish by providing a mix of high-quality fish foods, including live and frozen options, as well as flakes and granules. Follow a dietary routine that is suitable for your angelfish to keep them healthy and content.

Setting up an ideal environment for your Altum Angelfish will require thoughtful consideration of their specific needs. Investing in appropriate supplies and maintaining a well-planned aquarium setup will create a comfortable and healthy home for your new aquatic pets.

Altum Angelfish Tank Setup

A well-thought-out tank setup is crucial for the welfare of your Altum Angelfish. Due to their potential adult height and long trailing finnage, they require a taller-than-average aquarium.

  • Aquarium Size: A minimum of a 55-gallon (210-liter) tank is recommended to provide ample swimming space for these sociable cichlids.
  • Substrate: Choose a soft and smooth substrate like sand or fine gravel to protect their delicate finnage when swimming near the bottom.
  • Decoration: Incorporate a good cover of aquatic plants and tall pieces of driftwood to create hiding spots. This will make your Altum Angelfish feel secure and more at ease in the tank.
  • Filtration: Provide efficient filtration to maintain pristine water conditions. However, keep water movement fairly gentle as these fish prefer weaker currents.

Take the following into consideration when setting up your tank:

  1. Lighting: Altum Angelfish thrive in dimly lit environments. If needed, add floating plants or taller aquatic plants to diffuse bright lighting.
  2. Temperature: These tropical fish require a temperature between 78°F (26°C) and 84°F (29°C). Invest in a high-quality aquarium heater to maintain a stable temperature.
  3. Water Parameters: Altum Angelfish thrive in very soft, acidic water, with a pH range of 4.8-6.2 and hardness levels of up to 5 degrees. A peat filtration system is suggested for achieving the desired water conditions.

By focusing on these key elements of your Altum Angelfish tank setup, you’ll create a comfortable and healthy environment for your fish to thrive. Remember to monitor and maintain the water parameters regularly to ensure their well-being.

Altum Angelfish Water Requirements

When it comes to Altum Angelfish, their water requirements are crucial for their overall health and well-being. It’s essential to provide them with the correct parameters to ensure that they thrive in their aquatic environment.

  • Temperature: Aim for a stable temperature range between 78 and 84 °F (26 and 29 °C), which mimics their natural habitat.
  • pH: Altum Angelfish prefer a very acidic environment with a pH level ranging from 4.8 to 6.2. Do not attempt to keep them in less acidic conditions.
  • Hardness: They require water with very soft to almost non-existent hardness, specifically in the range of 0 to 5°H. Using reverse osmosis (RO) water or filtered rainwater can help achieve the desired water hardness.
  • Water movement: Provide a gentle water flow in the tank, as Altum Angelfish originate from slow-flowing rivers in their natural habitat. Make sure the filtration system doesn’t create too much turbulence.

To maintain these water parameters, regular water changes are crucial. Aim to replace 25% to 30% of the water every week with conditioned, temperature-matched water. This will help keep the tank environment stable and reduce the build-up of harmful substances.

In addition, using peat granules in your filtration system or placing a bag of peat moss in your aquarium can help maintain appropriate pH and water hardness levels. Always monitor these parameters with a reliable test kit to ensure the well-being of your Altum Angelfish.

With proper care and attention to their water requirements, your Altum Angelfish will thrive in a comfortable, healthy environment.

Altum Angelfish Diet and Feeding

Caring for your Altum Angelfish involves understanding the right diet and feeding techniques that suit their needs. As most Altum Angelfish are wild-caught, initially feeding them live food is highly recommended.

Some of the best live food options for Altum Angelfish include:

  • White mosquito larvae
  • Bloodworms
  • Daphnia
  • Vitamin-enriched brine shrimp
  • Mysis shrimp

Live food helps initiate their feeding response, as they may not be used to frozen or processed food in their natural habitat.

Once they have adjusted to their aquarium environment, you can gradually introduce frozen food to their diet by mixing it with their live food during feeding time. This ensures that your fish have a balanced and varied diet that provides them with essential nutrients.

Over time, tank-bred Altum Angelfish may become more open to accepting a variety of food options. This includes flakes, granules, and even small cichlid pellets. When feeding your Altum Angelfish, it’s crucial to monitor their eating habits and adapt their diet accordingly, ensuring that they maintain optimal health and growth.

The key to a healthy diet and proper feeding for Altum Angelfish begins with live food, then gradually transitioning to frozen and other alternative food options. Always be mindful of their preferences and eating habits to ensure they receive adequate nutrition and thrive in their aquarium home.

Altum Angelfish Care Schedule

To maintain a healthy environment for your Altum Angelfish, it’s essential to establish a regular care schedule. This care schedule will include water changes, tank cleaning, water monitoring, and feeding.

  • Weekly water changes: A consistent water change routine is crucial, so make sure to replace approximately 25% of the aquarium water every week. Remember to use dechlorinated, temperature-adjusted water to decrease stress on your fish during these changes.
  • Biweekly tank cleaning: Remove waste and uneaten food from the aquarium floor, clean the glass, and trim overgrown plants every other week. Use a gravel siphon and an aquarium-safe glass-cleaning pad to perform these tasks.
  • Monthly filter maintenance: Clean or replace filter cartridges every month. This helps ensure that your filter continues to run efficiently, keeping the water quality high and your fish healthy.
  • Daily water monitoring: Keeping an eye on your fish’s water parameters is essential for their health. Check the water temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels regularly. Use a high-quality aquarium test kit to make these assessments.
  • Feeding schedule: Start by feeding your Altum Angelfish once or twice a day. Modify the feeding frequency based on their needs, ensuring not to overfeed or underfeed them. Your fish should eat all the food provided within 2-3 minutes.

A well-maintained care schedule helps prevent stress, encourages growth, and maintains health for your Altum Angelfish. By sticking to this routine, you can ensure your fish lead a long, healthy, and happy life.

Altum Angelfish Health Problems

When it comes to Altum angelfish, these beautiful and sensitive fish are prone to several health problems, especially if they don’t get the right care and attention they need. Some of the most common issues that can affect these stunning creatures are covered in this section.

  • Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis): Also known as white spot disease, ich is a common parasite that infects the skin and gills of your angelfish. You may notice small white spots on their body, fins, or gills. To treat ich, you can raise the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) for about 3 days and add some aquarium salt or a commercial ich treatment.
  • Fin rot: This is a bacterial infection resulting in ragged and decaying fins on your angelfish. Fin rot can be caused by poor water quality, sudden changes in water parameters, or overcrowding. Treatment options include improving water condition, removing affected fish to a quarantine tank and using a fin rot medication.
  • Hole-in-the-head disease: One of the most distressing health problems affecting angelfish, hole-in-the-head disease is characterized by eroding lesions on the head and body of the fish. The exact cause is still unknown, but it is believed that stress, nutritional deficiencies, and poor water conditions may be the culprits. Cure involves addressing these issues and, if necessary, using Metronidazole-based medication.
  • Fungal infections: As with any aquarium fish, Altum angelfish can suffer from various fungal infections. These often appear as white, cotton-like growths on the fish, often caused by stress or injury. Keep a watchful eye on your angelfish and treat any early signs of fungal infection with a commercial antifungal medication.

To prevent these health problems, maintaining optimal water conditions, providing a well-rounded diet, and giving your angelfish tank mates that work well together are essential. Remember, a healthy angelfish is a beautiful and rewarding pet for any aquarist.

Altum Angelfish Tank Mates

When it comes to choosing tank mates for your Altum angelfish, keep in mind that these are delicate and somewhat territorial fish. Selecting the right tank mates is crucial for promoting a peaceful and stress-free environment.

Suitable tank mates:

  • Larger, deeper-bodied characins
  • Peaceful South American cichlids
  • Sizeable Corydoras catfish
  • Larger tetras, such as Cardinal or Rummy-nose Tetras


  • Small fish like Neon Tetras and Guppies (can become prey)
  • Aggressive or territorial fish like Oscars or Jack Dempseys
  • Species that prefer hard, alkaline water (incompatible water requirements)

To address the needs and requirements of your Altum angelfish, you should select tank mates that thrive in similar water conditions: soft and acidic. Moreover, avoiding smaller fish that can fit in the Altum’s mouth will prevent possible predation.

In addition, house your Altum angelfish with tank mates that are not known to be aggressive or highly territorial, as this will help maintain a harmonious atmosphere. However, note that if a pair of Altum Angelfish forms, they may become territorial when breeding. It is best to observe them closely, but having a large tank should avoid any major issues.

Altum Angelfish Breeding

Breeding Altum Angelfish can be a challenge for beginners, but with proper care and preparation, it is possible to achieve success. The first step in breeding these majestic fish is to provide the right environment and water conditions, which include very soft, acidic water with a pH range between 4.8-6.2, dH up to 5 degrees, and a temperature range between 78 and 84 °F (26 and 29 °C).

When setting up a breeding tank, consider the following:

  • A minimum tank size of 40-50 gallons to accommodate a pair of adult Altum Angels
  • Dim lighting, or cover the tank with floating plants to mimic their natural habitat
  • Substrate that is smooth and soft, such as sand or fine gravel
  • Plenty of hiding spots with broad-leaved plants and vertical slates, as they prefer to spawn on these surfaces

Pair selection and bonding: Obtaining a bonded pair is crucial for successful Altum Angel reproduction. Start by raising a group of at least six juveniles, which increases the likelihood of a bonding pair.

Spawning behavior: Altum Angelfish lay their eggs on flat surfaces like leaves or slates. The spawning process usually lasts for a few hours, during which the female will lay eggs, and the male follows to fertilize them.

Post-spawning care: Both parents participate in guarding and fanning the eggs to ensure proper oxygen flow. However, if the pair consistently eats their eggs, it may be necessary to separate them from the spawn and provide artificial care.

Remember that patience is key when attempting to breed Altum Angelfish. Give them time to adjust and settle into the breeding tank, and don’t be discouraged if the first few attempts are unsuccessful.


Caring for Altum Angelfish can be a rewarding experience for dedicated aquarists who are willing to put in the effort. With the right knowledge and guidance, even beginners can successfully raise these majestic, graceful fish.

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