Altum Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum)

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Altum Angelfish
Pterophyllum altum
Altum Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum)
Name Altum Angelfish
Name Lat. Pterophyllum altum
Family Cichlids
Family lat. Cichlidae
Order Cichlids
Order lat. Cichliformes
Origin South America
Habitat Rivers, tributaries
Diet Omnivore
pH 5.0-7.0
Behavior Peaceful
Keeping Group
Care Level Difficult
Reproduction Substrate spawner
Breeding Difficult
Life Span 5-10 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 18 cm
Temperature 26-30 °C
Hardness 1-5 °dH
Aquarium 250 l
US Units
Size 7"
Temperature 79-86 °F
Hardness 18-89 ppm
Aquarium 65 gal

Distribution and habitat

The high sailfin are native to Colombia and Venezuela, where they occur in the upper Rio Negro and its tributaries, as well as in the river system of the upper Rio Orinoco (Rio Inirida, Rio Atabapo). They live in the calm sections of larger rivers and in lakes.


The aquarium should have dense planting, with plants partly flooding to the water surface (vallisnerias, sword plants, etc.), stones and roots as hiding places, and plenty of free swimming space. A dark substrate, some subdued light (floating plants) and soft, slightly acidic water is ideal.

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the aquarium size is required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


The food supply consists of live, frozen and dry food. For a balanced diet, feed once a day with a high-quality dry food (flakes, granules, pellets) as well as cyclops, daphnia, mosquito larvae and artemia (live or frozen). In addition, they need regular vegetable food, such as algae leaves, pureed leafy and wild vegetables or dry food with vegetable ingredients (e.g. spirulina, kelp)

It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day. Only as much should be fed as is eaten within a few minutes. Regular and varied feeding promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms

Behaviour and compatibility

At least 5 high sailfin should be kept together. They are very peaceful fish and can be socialized well with other calm, slightly larger fish. Small fish are considered food. They should not be kept together with fin twitching fish, such as Sumatran barbs or blood tetras. Basically, only compatible fish species with similar water condition and water temperature requirements should be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

Outside the spawning season the sexes are hardly distinguishable. With some experience, the sexes can be determined during mating by the shape of the genital papilla, which is pointed in the male and round in the female.

Reproduction and breeding

They are substrate spawners. The female usually spawns on hard plant leaves. The fry hatch after about 48 hours and swim freely after 3-5 days. Together, the parents caringly nurture and guard the clutch and care for their offspring for a long time.

Fry must be fed several times a day with special rearing food (Artemia nauplii). In community tanks breeding is hardly possible, because the fry are easy prey.


They are very sensitive to poor water quality

Due to their body height, which can be up to 25 cm, the aquarium must be at least 50 cm high

The well-being of the fish must be checked regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even if the pollutant level has not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: petdata

Source: BMELV (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); RIEHL & BAENSCH (2006): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 1, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF