Altum Angelfish 101: Care, Diet, Tank Size, Tank Mates, & More

So, you’ve decided you want to get an Altum Angelfish. Perhaps you’re drawn to their large size or looking for a long-term pet. Whatever the reason, you’ll need to know how to care for your new fish properly.

For starters, these fish are notoriously difficult to keep, and they have much stricter requirements than other Angelfish species. In addition, Altum Angelfish can be quite aggressive, so they’ll need plenty of space to themselves in a large aquarium. Keep in mind that these fish aren’t well-suited for community aquariums.

Read on to learn more about the Altum Angelfish.

Species Summary

Altum Angelfish
Altum Angelfish

Altum Angelfish are found in the Amazon Basin in South America. More specifically, in the upper Negro River drainage and the Orinoco River basin, in tributaries of the upper Orinoco River (Inírida and Atabapo rivers) to Puerto Ayacucho.

They inhabit environments with medium to low water flow, large lakes, flooded forests, and rivers amid dense aquatic vegetation with many roots and trunks.

Angelfish are cichlids that belong to the Cichlidae family. These fish form large schools, reach large sizes and exhibit a well-established hierarchy within the shoal.

Altum Angelfish Care Guide

These beautiful creatures are members of the Cichlidae family, and are known for their large size, striking colors, and social nature. While they can be a bit challenging to care for, Altum Angelfish are definitely worth the effort – and your guests will be amazed by their appearance.

Tank Size

If you’re thinking about getting an Altum Angelfish, you’ll need a tank that’s at least 180 gallons. But bigger is better when it comes to these fish – they’re large and active, so they need plenty of space to swim around.

74″ x 31″ x 31″ is the minimum size for a small group of Altums, but if you have the room, go even bigger. 

Tank Mates

As we already mentioned, Altum Angelfish are not good for community aquariums. That’s why it’s important to choose their tankmates carefully.

Ideally, you want to choose fish that are similar in size and behavior to the Altum Angelfish. That way, they can coexist peacefully without any problems. There are many different fish species that would make good tankmates, including rummy nose tetra, ram cichlid, pygmy cory, panda cory, flame tetra, emperor tetra, corydoras julii, cockatoo cichlid, bloodfin tetra, green neon tetra, and black neon tetra.

Just be sure to avoid any fish that are overly aggressive or that will compete directly for food. Also, avoid any fish that are small enough to fit in the Altum Angelfish’s mouth – they will become food!

Same Species Tanks

The Altum Angelfish is often kept as a single species in large aquariums or in biotope-type aquariums where the species’ original location is mimicked.

It is a fish that presents an impressive beauty when kept alone. However, they have an intense dispute over the group’s hierarchy, which is why they should keep several specimens in good space. Once the group hierarchy is defined, they tend to be more peaceful with members of the same species. As they grow together, they will form couples, develop a strong family bond, and will defend their territories at all costs.

Water Parameters

These fish are very sensitive to sudden changes in parameters. This means that if you’re not careful, you could easily kill them by making a mistake with your water quality.

That’s why it’s important to have a safe, wide range of parameters that your fish can live in. This includes things like the water’s temperature, pH, and hardness.

Altum Angelfish’s perfect temperature is between 82 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal pH range is between 4.8 and 6.5. And it’s important to keep the hardness up to 5 degrees.

These fish are also susceptible to pollutants in the water, low availability of oxygen, and accumulation of organic matter in the aquarium. So it’s important to be extra vigilant about your water quality if you have an Altum Angelfish.

What to Put in Their Tank

You will need a good aquarium heater and a filtering system. The filtration system should be well-sized and create a low to moderate flow. Remember, these fish are extremely sensitive when it comes to water quality, so you’ll need to be extra careful.

They also prefer dimly lit aquariums, so you might want to consider getting a lower-wattage bulb for their tank.

Furthermore, a lot of people ask me what they should put in their tank if they want to get an Altum Angelfish. The truth is, it really depends on what kind of environment you want to create for your fish. Some people like to replicate the species’ natural habitat, while others simply go for a more aesthetically pleasing setup.

Either way, the most important thing is to make sure that there are plenty of hiding places and territories for your fish to explore. Driftwood and rocks are always a good choice, and you can also add a bed of dry leaves if you want to create a more naturalistic environment.

Planted aquariums can also be a good option for Altum Angelfish, as long as you leave plenty of open space for them to swim around. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference and what you think will work best for your fish.

Common Diseases

Did you know that the common Altum Angelfish is one of the most disease-resistant fish out there? That’s right – these fish are remarkably resistant to disease when kept in perfect condition and in a stress-free environment.

However, we often see fish in different tanks that are susceptible to hole-in-the-head disease and stress-related illnesses, such as Ich. This is usually due to external conditions, like the toxicity of nitrogenous nutrients in the water (such as ammonia and nitrate).

So, if you’re considering an Altum Angelfish for your next pet, remember to create a stress-free environment and to keep the water and pond clean and well-maintained. This will help your angelfish stay healthy and disease-free.

Food and Diet

These fish are omnivorous, with a high tendency toward being carnivores. Their diet is mostly based on animal foods like fish and crustaceans in the wild.

However, when kept in an aquarium, they may have difficulty transitioning to a diet of just commercial or live foods. Patience and persistence are key when trying to get them to eat something new.

Luckily, captive-bred Altum Angelfish are much more willing to accept any type of food. They’re also always hungry, so you’ll need to make sure they’re getting enough to eat.

Dry, live, and fresh foods like earthworms, bloodworms, small fish, shrimp, and others are all necessary for these fish. Offer them a variety of these foods regularly to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need.


In captivity, Altum Angelfish have been known to live for over 6 years, with the most common lifespan being around 5 years. This is significantly longer than their wild counterparts, which often only live for a year or two.

One of the main reasons why Altum Angelfish live so much longer in captivity is because they are less prone to diseases and attacks from other animals. In the wild, these fish are often exposed to all sorts of diseases and parasites that can shorten their lifespan. In captivity, however, they are much more protected from these threats.


They are a sight to behold with their large dorsal and anal fins and laterally flattened bodies. And their natural coloration only adds to their beauty.

Grayish tones with about four black stripes is what you’ll typically see. But you may also see bluish and reddish tones in different populations and lineages. The first black stripe crosses the eye, the second is just behind the gill, the third follows some fin rays, and the fourth is found on the caudal peduncle.

There may also be a black spot between the first and second stripes or an irregular pattern of dots. But regardless of what pattern you see, one thing is for sure – the Altum Angelfish is one of the most beautiful creatures in the sea.


They can be as tall as 10 inches, but most only grow to about 7. 

Behavior and Temperament

These fish are known for their hierarchical disputes and fights, often leading to death or serious injury. While they may be fragile, they are also very robust and can quickly kill other fish.

When keeping Altum Angelfish in a community aquarium, it is important to keep them with fish with similar habits. This will help to prevent any aggression and ensure that everyone in the aquarium is happy and healthy.

Moreover, they are highly susceptible to stress, and if they don’t get enough to eat, they can hide for days, which can be a challenge for their owner and compromise the fish’s immune system. Likewise, they can become highly stressed when left alone, in a state that some call “depression.”

On the bright side, this fish is not only beautiful but also has a great sense of curiosity and intelligence.


As many of you may know, Altum Angelfish are a bit more difficult to breed than other fish. This is because their reproductive period is triggered by changes in water chemistry, which can be difficult to replicate in captivity.

However, despite the challenges, there have been many reports of success when it comes to breeding Altum Angelfish in captivity. In fact, commercially speaking, these fish are still under-produced, and in some cases (mainly in the Asian market), hormones are used to induce breeding.

One of the most interesting things about Angelfish is their breeding habits. These fish are monogamous, meaning they will form a bond with one partner and stay with that partner for their entire lives. Once a pair has bonded, they will choose a place to spawn, which is usually a flat surface like a leaf, stone, or rock.

The female Angelfish will then lay sticky eggs, which the male will fertilize. Both parents will then oxygenate the eggs and defend them from any intruders. One of the parents will also remove any eggs that appear to be sniffled to prevent the disease’s spread.

After two days, the eggs will hatch, and the fry will remain in the yolk sac for another four to five days. The parents will then take care of the fry for a few weeks before they are able to fend for themselves.

Gender Differences: Male vs Female

There are some gender differences in Angelfish, but they are usually pretty subtle and not always easy to spot. In most cases, the easiest way to tell the difference between a male and a female Angelfish is by looking at their breeding organs.

During the breeding season, female Angelfish will have a large, backwards-facing ovipositor, while males will have a thin, forward-facing sperm. 

Altum Angelfish Fun Facts

● Angelfish is one of the most popular freshwater fish globally, and records date its creation in captivity in the 1930s. Despite this, Altums are relatively new fish in the hobby and their maintenance in captivity, like other species, is only possible thanks to technology.

● In recent years, we have seen several commercial creations of this species, and their status going from rare to found in many stores easily. Even so, many found-for-sale individuals come from the wild collection.

● Like their cousins Scalare, when entering the aquarium hobby, they are challenging to fish to keep due to the water conditions they need and the difficulty in feeding. As more and more generations are in captivity, it will undoubtedly be a species that is easier to maintain.


Keith, P., P.-Y. Le Bail and P. Planquette, 2000. Atlas des poissons d’eau douce de Guyane. Tome 2, Fascicule I: Batrachoidiformes, Mugiliformes, Beloniformes, Cyprinodontiformes, Synbranchiformes, Perciformes, Pleuronectiformes, Tetraodontiformes. Collection Patrimoines Naturels 43(I): 286p. Paris: Publications scientifiques du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle.

Kullander, S.O., 2003. Cichlidae (Cichlids). p. 605-654. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil.

Schultz, L. P. (1967). Review of South American freshwater angelfishes genus Pterophyllum. Proceedings of the United States National Museum.