Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?

Yes, I have read that they are quite adept at this 'trick'. Although the cardinals in the pictures appear quite small and a tasty mouthful they are in fact quite large and are on the opposite side of the tank which makes them look much smaller. My hope is that the altums and cardinals will grow larger together and if I keep the altums well fed they may not regard their tank mates as food.

Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?

Tinpot wrote:
slobodan wrote:@Tinpot, You've got stamp from Ed so what more is there to say.. :)
Just question, what's that white stuff on the back wall of the glass?

Great looking angels you got there.. Are they Atabapo??
Slobodan, it is coralline algae from when the tank was setup as a reef aquarium. It is very tough to remove when dry so I filled the tank with fresh water to not only soften the algae for removal but also to remove any traces of salt and any dust and fine particles from the wood and sand. After soaking for a few days I removed the coralline and drained the tank then refilled with fresh.

I was wondering if that was salt deposit. Muriatic acid is great for that stuff, removes it by simply spraying mix of acid/water on it.. clean in few seconds.. and it doesn't leave any residue... glass is sparkling clean.. :)

Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?

Mark from Oz wrote:This is my first post so please be patient with me. My answer to your question is NO. I will try to explain my view
based on keeping tropical fishes for over 50 years. Replicating black water habitat for your Altums is almost impossible. To make this as close as possible you have to remember few things:
- water parameters
- aquaskape
- food
You have very young Altums and is not too late to raise them correctly (long fins and proportional body). I have
spend endless hours watching videos on YouTube related to Altums. I noticed that almost all Altums raised in
Black water tanks with no plants had short dorsal and anal fins and chubby looking bodies. In contrary, Altums raised in planted tanks were very proportional. Some may say that Orinoco river has only sand, driftwood and rocks and no plants. So far almost nobody noticed massive biomass, particles of decaying terrestrial plants floating in the water, rotting vegetation on the bottom of the river. All this staff is covered with Mother of all plants on our Planet - Algae.
Algae are filled with plankton, bacteria, small water life forms and this is the basic source of food for not only
Altums but all fish in river.
Look at this video first -" onclick=";return false;
You will see beautiful young Altums with long fins.
Look at this video second -" onclick=";return false;
You will see the same Altums as adults with massive bodies and short fins.
Heiko Bleher made comment in this video calling them Rio Negro scalare. In my
opinion he was wrong. So far nobody published video of Rio Negro Scalare looking like this (deformed).
Look at this third video -" onclick=";return false;
You will see my Altums raised in tank with driftwood, aquatic plants and sand.
Since i had them they were feeding daily on Water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) and Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides). When they got bigger they were also feeding on roots of Amazon Sword. That was and still is part of their diet including frozen bloodwarms, fresh water shrimps, frozen mysis and freshly caught house flies.
With water parameters you don't have to be pedantic as long TDS is between 50 and 100ppm, pH below 6.5 and temperature between 28 - 30C. Do not follow some people including professional breeders suggesting pH around
7.0 to 7.5. Such pH does not exist in Orinoco river or its tributaries and will harm your fish in longer term.
Your tank looks good but I would suggest to check for sharp edges on your rocks (make sure they are no sand stones) and driftwood and do not forget to put plants (paramount importance).
I hope that my input gave you some light how to you to raise your beautiful Altums.
Saying that I am also open for discussion with other Altum keepers and share their observations.

Not to derail this thread, but did you notice in the comments section that Heiko called fish in your second video(Adults with short finis) P. Scalare Rio Negro... What's with that?? Is it true??

Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?

Mark from Oz wrote:Hi Tinpot,

Your Altums look great, congratulations. Try to get some more, for your tank 6 to 8 would be perfect.
I am happy to hear that they got to your frogbits. Once you put more soft leafed plants you will see what
will happen to them. Treat your plants as food for them, when they eat them buy more. Keep us posted.

Hi Mark
Thank you ! The store where I bought my last two have another 22 coming on the 17th ( should have been here this week but there was a delay at the shipping end) and I have asked them to reserve another 5 for me. I've also ordered some more frogbit now I know the altums like them. So far the altums are doing well and have overcome their initial caution. When they see me approach they now rush to the top of the tank expecting food. I thought I'd try some Ocean Nutrition frozen Mysis as it's fairly small, approx 1cm. and they love it. I did think that initially it may take them some time to get used to it ie tasting, spitting out etc but they went absolutely nuts for it at the first attempt.

Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?

Well, I tried a bunch of what looks like wisteria - the shop didn't know for definite what it was - and so far the altums don't seem to have touched it. It may be a size thing so I'll keep it in the tank and see what happens as they grow. The amazon frogbit all now has roots approx 2cm long. When first placed in the tank the roots on various plants ranged from 10-15 cm (15 cm was one extreme case).

Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?

Hi Mark from Oz,

I am the scientific advisor to this forum, and although I have not been very active here of late, I want to add something to the comment that you have made here:
Mark from Oz wrote:Hi Slobodan,
As you know they are only Orinoco Altum no matter where they were collected because there is no such thing
like Atabapo Altum or Venturii Altum etc. Nothing else but not so smart marketing. If they look slightly
different it is because of conditions they live in and type of food available.
I purchased them as Orinoco Altums rightfully.
I need to correct you on this statement based on results of DNA analyses that have been performed in my laboratory. Firstly, the Orinoco drainages include the main river which is called the Rio Orinoco, and then includes the Rio Atabapo, the Rio Ventuari, the Rio Inirida and a few more tributaries which for the discussion here we do not need to name because no altums are imported from them. An area from which P altum have been collected is also in the main stream near the town of Puerto Ayacucho, in which our good friend and admin of this forum, Ed Ruiz, grew up before moving to the USA. So you are quite correct to say these are all technically Rio Orinoco, but I can inform you that there certainly are distinct differences between the fishes from these four localities. There are differences in their morphology and colour. Rio Atabapos have more red. Those from Puerto Ayacucho are more stocky, they grow to be very large, and they have marginally shorter fins. The Inirida altums have very long finage and no red, and the Rio Ventuari altums have a more sleek appearance. What is more important than what you can see, is that we can definitely see differences in the DNA of these fishes. I have also determined these sequences from altums from Simon Forkel and can add that the so-called Linke line which originates from Puerto Ayacucho is distinct. He refers to them as his Rio Orinoco strain, but they originate from fishes collected by Linke near Puerto Ayacucho, Ed Ruiz used to visit those localities as a schoolboy. The Siegrist line that Forkel refers to is identical to the altums from the Rio Inirida, that we have also confirmed by DNA analysis. Rio Atabapo and the Rio Ventuari are also distinct at DNA level. So technically these localities are all in the drainage of the Rio Orinoco, but the fishes have already differentiated and are distinct in every drainage. I would also like to see that this practice of calling them by their tributary of the Orinoco persist otherwise we will just end up with mongrels as in so many other fish groups.

Then the angels that are found in the upper Rio Negro, which is linked to the upper Rio Orinoco by means of the Casiquiare Canal, are also Pterophyllum altum and not Pterophyllum scalare as one might expect. So if you search on this forum for discussions about angels from the vicinity of San Filipe in Colombia on the upper Rio Negro and from the opposite shore of the Rio Negro in Brazil, from the town of San Carlos de Rio Negro, then these fishes are also very definitely also Pterophyllum altum. So these are not from the drainages of the Rio Orinoco, but from the Amazon, and so strictly speaking the statement that all Pterophyllum altum are from the Rio Orinoco, is in actual fact not correct. What we are trying to find out at the moment is where the Pterophyllum altum stop occurring downstream of San Filipe and where true Pterophyllum scalare start. What we also do not know is whether there is a zone where the two species mix. We need more samples from this area before we can make more precise statements.

However, the upper Rio Negro altums are distinct from those of the Rio Orinoco as a whole again, so one has to be very careful about making absolute statements about Pterophyllum altum types. The problem is that they are distributed over a vast area and this aids in their development of distinct types as we can see from the different areas in which they have been collected and this is supported by our DNA analyses.

Kind regards,

Somerset West, South Africa

Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?

Hi Dirk, nice to see you took a recess from the labwork.

Mark, Dirk Bellstedt is our Science Research Administartor for TASG, a Biochemistry Professor at Stellenbosch University in South Africa and head of the Bellstedt Group Laboratory, which does DNA research on plants and animal tissue. You can read more of him on the internet if you'd like to know more of his professional and academic profile.

In reference to his observations of P. altum and differing morphological types and locations, I provided a good number of the samples he worked with, which I obtained through people I have known and worked with in Venezuela and Colombia for some 40 years. Many of them old college friends (today, accomplished Biologists) and fishermen.

I myself visited many of the locations mentioned and we made observations of young fish collected in different localities and how they would develop through several months time, under equal conditions. In the end, when grown under the same conditions (same water parameters, food, T, etc) we had i.e., Atabapo/Ventuari and Inirida/Ayacucho fish, that were virtually impossible to distinguish, while adults from these same locations, were easily distinguishable.

The ones we got from San Felipe de Rio Negro, Colombia (note the writing: FELIPE not FILIPE, in case you want to google for more info) LOOK exactly like the redder, longer finned Atabapo/Ventuari type, but it seems that their DNA shows variation, as per the study. This location is in the Uppermost Rio Negro (still within Venezuela and Colombia - dividing both nations), a couple of hundred miles downriver from the Orinoco/Casiquiare Junction.


On another note, and sorry to throw off-thread:
Dirk, Yep I was born in Venezuela, but I was raised from 6 weeks of age (1959) here in the U.S. I went back to Venezuela in 1975, where I completed my Junior and Senior Year of High School and studied Aquatic Biology at La Universidad del Zulia (L.U.Z.), Maracaibo, Venezuela (1978-1983). By the time I went back to my country of birth, I was already waist deep into tropical fishes thanks to my grandmother, who as a child and adult, collected her own fish (including altums and cardinals, her two favorites) and with the help of my father, did some of the first exports from Venezuela to the U.S., circa 1964-66). On my part, I did not finish my career as a Biologist (because I started a well paid career in Translation/Interpretation for the Venezuelan Oil Industry) but I continued cooperating with the Museum of Science and its Ichthyology Collection, participating in collections expeditions and research field trips until 2002. I returned to the U.S. in 2003. I lived in Puerto Ayacucho, where my son was born, from 1993-1998. From 1998 through 2003, I worked for the L.U.Z. Editorial Department, translating Science Journals and Textbooks. Then, in 2003, thanks to some political issues (and my big mouth), I had to leave Venezuela.

God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!

Re: Does this aquascape look ok for an altum biotope ?


Finally I've got response to my post regarding difference in Altums from different locations.
Dirk I respect your knowledge of DNA science and I will never question this (I have no
knowledge on this subject) however ... My motto is to question everything and I stick to this.
You found differences in DNA depending on locations where Altums have been collected and this
is very logical due to vast distances and local conditions separating them.
I have also noticed small differences in color and shape of the fish. It is very difficult to
say if this is the result of evolution or adaptation where I think the second play more important
role (Darwin finches for example). Once the fish is raised in aquarium ( even wild stock) visual
comparison has no scientific meaning. I have raised my Orinoco Altums on very complex diet, in 70cm
high aquarium and I still think that my approach to rise them properly was far from perfect.
I noticed thou that my Orinoco Altums have longer fins then any Orinoco Altums raised in aquariums
on YouTube.
Depending on the mood they are in, they can display or not any colors of different
"variants" of Altums just to make more confusion about their origin. Practice of calling them by
their tributary of the Orinoco is wishful thinking but it will never work, unfortunately.
People will call them Patagonian Altums if they can make more money out of them (Peruvian Altum
for example). My only hope is that true Altum breeders will never hybridize them with P. Scalare.
Dirk, thank you for your input to this matter.

Kind regards,

Question Everything