Altum Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum): Ultimate Care Guide

The absolute beauty of the Angelfish will ensure that it always has a place in home aquariums. Every variant and sub-species of Angelfish are very coveted. The Altum Angelfish is no exception to that. However, despite their gorgeous look and unique bodies, these fish are not easy to keep in captivity. Despite the difficulty of owning an Altum Angelfish, you can easily do it with enough research and preparation. If you wish to take on the task of owning an Altum Angelfish, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Continue reading for a brief overview of the Altum Angelfish and some necessary care information.

The Altum Angelfish, also known as the Deep Angelfish or Orinoco Angelfish, is a species of freshwater fish endemic to rivers and their basins in South America. In the wild, Altum Angelfish are usually found in river watersheds and flood plains, as long as they have a moderate water flow. The native habitat of the Altum Angelfish tends to be full of submerged roots and trees, as well as different types of underwater vegetation. The Altum Angelfish is also one of the largest species of Angelfish, and when measured from fin to fin, it can reach upwards of 15 inches.

Altum Angelfish Care

Caring for any pet isn’t the most straightforward task. Pets usually require proper care, attention, affection, and a balanced diet. Most people believe that fish are the easiest to care for pet that you could purchase. But, unfortunately, that simply isn’t true. Granted, some fish species are notoriously simple to manage, requiring little more than a bowl and some flakes. However, most species of fish require meticulous care. You must ensure that you keep their tanks clean and set up correctly. Any slight changes in lighting, temperature, or pH can quickly and permanently injure your fish. The Altum Angelfish is one of those species that needs to be carefully managed, but without enough research, you’ll be able to keep them happy and healthy.

Altum Angelfish
Altum Angelfish

Are Altum Angelfish easy to care for?

With the beauty of the Altum Angelfish, you’re probably interested in adding one to your tank. But, be warned, the Altum Angelfish is not easy to care for. There are many reasons for these difficulties in care. Unfortunately, Altum Angelfish are predisposed to hole in the head disease, meaning they are more likely to be affected by it. They also have trouble dealing with nitrates and other byproducts of waste. They are unfortunately more prone to stress-related illnesses than other species. But the most important thing that makes Altum Angelfish easy to care for is that they are highly susceptible to poor water conditions and any changes in their water. You must carefully monitor water conditions if you plan to add an Altum Angelfish. These pretty fish are also notoriously difficult to feed. Many things are working against you when preparing for an Altum Angelfish, but if you work past them, you will be rewarded with a gorgeous, happy, and healthy fish.


Altum Angelfish are very susceptible to changes in water conditions and parameters, so you must properly maintain your water and ensure it stays within acceptable ranges. When setting up an Altum Angelfish tank, you must ensure the temperature stays between 82 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll need a heater powerful enough to maintain those temperatures in whatever size tank you decide on. A tank thermometer is highly recommended, so you can routinely check the tank’s temperature to guarantee it is still within the acceptable range. Your Altum Angelfish will suffer significantly if the temperature fluctuates or goes outside the recommended range.

Water pH

pH balance is an incredibly important parameter of any tank, and an Altum Angelfish tank is certainly no exception to that. These freshwater fish are very susceptible to incorrect water parameters or too much change in their water levels. The pH level of an Altum Angelfish tank should be between 4.8 to 6.2. Frequent water checks can help ensure that any issues are caught before they create a domino effect that may cost your fish’s health. If you notice the changes early, you have the ability to remedy any issues and keep your fish healthy. Vigilance is essential when it comes to monitoring the pH level of your tank.

Altum Angelfish Size

The size of any pet is a crucial piece of information that one must take into account before adding them to their family. The Altum Angelfish is a surprisingly large fish; they can reach over 7 inches in length and 15 inches in height when measured from fin to fin. The long, flowing fins of the Altum Angelfish can sometimes make them seem larger than they actually are. However, there are some cases of them being extremely large – in the wild, they can reach upwards of 20 inches! Unfortunately, or maybe it’s fortunate that they don’t grow that large in captivity.

Pterophyllum altum
Altum Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum)

Food and Diet

The diet of any pet is extremely important. A varied and healthy diet will help ensure that your pet lives a long, happy, and healthy life. Altum Angelfish are an omnivorous fish species, meaning they prefer to eat both meat and plant matter. Altum Angelfish don’t usually eat pellets or flakes, which makes feeding them a bit more complicated. Another issue is that wild-caught Altum Angelfish usually won’t eat frozen food either. The picky nature of the Altum Angelfish means that you have to feed them live food often to ensure they get enough food to survive. Most Altum Angelfish are open to eating bloodworms, but it is often difficult to find living bloodworms to feed them. You can sometimes get an Altum Angelfish to feed on frozen food by providing them frozen and living food simultaneously.

Altum Angelfish Lifespan

The Altum Angelfish is notoriously difficult to care for. They are very picky eaters, they need specific water conditions, and are very susceptible to changes in their environment. These issues can easily factor into their expected lifespan, negatively impacting their lifespan. On average, an Altum Angelfish tend to live between 15 to 20 years; that is the case for them both in captivity and in the wild. Be warned that your Altum Angelfish likely won’t reach the higher end of that range if you give them subpar care. Do your research and treat them carefully; if you do, you’re sure to have a companion for decades.  

Tank Size for Altum Angelfish

Tank size is crucial but sometimes overlooked by inexperienced aquarists. If you go with a tank that is too small, your fish will struggle to move around. Not only that, they may overgrow the tank, which would cause much undue stress. With Altum Angelfish, you want to do everything in your power to avoid any unnecessary stress because the Altum Angelfish are incredibly susceptible to illnesses caused by stress. For a single Altum Angelfish, you’ll want to start with a tank size of at least 55 gallons. If you plan to add any more Altum Angelfish or other species, you’ll need to go bigger than 55 gallons. It is also vital that your tank be tall, as these grow quite tall.

Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for any species, you must be sure to emulate their native habitat. The Altum Angelfish is no exception to that, as you must replicate the river basins they call home, but in a tank setting. It’s a good rule of thumb to follow for any tank setup. You’ll want to include any necessary vegetation and any required decorations such as rocks, driftwood, or caves.

What kind of habitat do Altum Angelfish live in in the wild?

Altum Angelfish are typically found in river basins and flood plains in South America. These locales are known for their warm weather and moderate flow, meaning you must ensure you have both of those features in your tank. Another common factor in the Altum Angelfish’s endemic location is plenty of submerged trees, rocks, and roots. There is also a plethora of different underwater vegetation. The home locale of the Altum Angelfish doesn’t get much light, thanks to the plants that block it out, which means that lighting isn’t as crucial in an Altum Angelfish tank setup.

How to set up an ideal tank for Altum Angelfish?

The tank size is the most critical part of the Altum Angelfish tank setup. Not only does the tank need to be large enough, volume-wise, for the Altum Angelfish, but it also needs to be tall enough. This height requirement is necessary because the Altum Angelfish grows very tall. Once you have the right tank selected, you need to ensure you set the tank up properly. Substrate for an Altum Angelfish isn’t very important, and this is because they tend to stay towards the middle of the tank. You can pick any substrate you’d like. Altum Angelfish like to hide among plant roots, vegetations, or rock formations. Their preference means that you need to include those factors in your tank. A strong filtration system is an absolute necessity for an Altum Angelfish tank. The reason you need a strong filtration system is not only to help keep the water clean but to provide the moderate water flow that Altum Angelfish are used to. Lighting is also a factor you’ll want to consider; however, low lighting should work fine for these unique fish. Temperature and pH level both need to be kept within their acceptable ranges. The pH level of Altum Angelfish should stay between 4.8 to 6.2. Temperature, on the other hand, needs to remain between 82 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

These may seem like a ridiculous amount of tank requirements for a single fish. But unfortunately, it comes with the territory of owning an Altum Angelfish. These gorgeous fish require much precise care and setup, but their beauty and grace will reward you.

Altum Angelfish Breeding

Breeding Altum Angelfish can sometimes be too difficult of a task, but there are some guidelines you need to follow, as is the case with every species you plan to breed. Altum Angelfish will only breed during their breeding season, which takes place between April and June. Around that time, Altum Angelfish tend to pair off and form couples. The couples then separate from the rest, claiming a bit of territory that they will defend from intruders. If you notice this behavior in a tank setting, that would be the perfect time to move the couple into a dedicated breeding tank. However, there is a chance that this couple of Altum Angelfish may be of the same sex. This only happens if there is no opposite-sex fish in their tank. The separated couple will prefer to use the tank wall or large plant leaves as the location where they’ll lay their eggs. Once the female lays her eggs, she can lay up to 500 in a single breeding session.

Altum Angelfish Disease

Altum Angelfish are very susceptible to their environment and water conditions, which makes them very likely to get infected with illnesses or infections. One of the most common diseases that can affect Altum Angelfish is Hole in head disease. Hole in head disease is precisely what it sounds like. Holes form in the head and face of infected fish. These holes are primarily cosmetic but can lead to other complications such as bacterial or parasitic infections. Altum Angelfish are also very susceptible to any illness that is caused by stress. Altum Angelfish’s predisposition to diseases and disorders makes them a challenging fish for anyone to care for.

Where can I find Altum Angelfish for sale?

Since they are an angelfish, Altum Angelfish tend to be coveted by most aquarists. As such, Altum Angelfish are likely to be carried by your local aquarium hobby store. But they can also be found in countless locations online. If you purchase them online, be sure that you research the dealer and make sure they are respectable. Altum Angelfish retail for a starting price of around $30, but that price depends on the age and size of the fish you purchase.