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

#3
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 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbScTzzEuSA" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
You will see beautiful young Altums with long fins.
Look at this video second - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EspIrV0Q3IY" onclick="window.open(this.href);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 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urdZXdA4JU4" onclick="window.open(this.href);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.
Question Everything

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

#6
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?


@Mark
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.

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

#7
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 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbScTzzEuSA" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
You will see beautiful young Altums with long fins.
Look at this video second - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EspIrV0Q3IY" onclick="window.open(this.href);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 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urdZXdA4JU4" onclick="window.open(this.href);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.
Hi Mark
Thanks for your observations. In essence you are saying that a lot of plant material in their diet is essential for the development of long finnage. As an absolute beginner with altums I am open to any suggestions and yours are certainly something to consider. The rocks are artificial ( Unipac Okiishi ) and are intended primarily for use in planted aquascapes. They seem to be made from fibreglass with an epoxy coating and are very smooth.

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

#8
Hi fellas and a Happy New Year to all!

Mark from Oz' reply is more than just elaborate and detailed and probably is beyond the simple question made by Tinpot.

From an aesthetic point of view (which is what I referred to) there is not much else to do.

But the details given by M.O.Z. would need to be taken into account if we seriously want to make a more complete biotope tank from an integral (or biological) point if view.

I'll also go one step further if we will be talking about the layer or accumulations of decaying plant matter and algae that may occur in the sections of larger blackwater biotope aquariums, and this has to do with the invertebrate life that can occur near the uppermost (or well lit) layer of the water column, that also thrives on the algae adhered to stones, wood and glass. This is especially important in breeding some plecos, i.e. This can also occur in the substrate, if the tank is shallow enough or has sufficiently strong lighting.

M.O.Z. mentions that altum also feed on this matter (the plant matter), and I think he infers that fin height has a relation with this ingredient in the diet.

Years ago I mentioned here in the forum (you will find it if you look for it!) that among a group of wild adult altums that Michelle (Ricketts) gave me, which in turn were previously owned by Dr. Dennis (Chang), there was ONE specimen that especially enjoyed eating algae and other plant matter, while the rest of the group tended to ignore any greens. Of the many altums I have had in so many years, I can say they are basically carnivores, but "what happens when protein runs short?")... when these fish may become isolated in the dry season and can be found, though not frequently) in shallower confined ponds (lagunas). We have leaves and branches that fall from the trees or that are washed into the water, they rot and decay, and all this becomes an available food source, along with insect larvae and eggs of other invertebrates and microscopic life.

The difference with this sure to be P.altum was so "minimally remarkable" that I remember talking to Michelle over the phone about it, don't remember of I later mentioned it to Mike, but the fish, though definitely an altum, had a darker overcast (still healthy and typical) but really went for the green stuff.

In short, they will go for plant matter, if they need to, some faster than others (a thing which I believe would be more location dependent).

Now, as to plant matter having an effect on fin length, I have never looked into this. I don't believe it can shorten them! And there could be some effect as to the amount of reds some altum populations display in the crown area of the head, who knows?

But one thing most of today's more productive altum keepers'/breeders seem to agree on is that tank depth does have an incidence on fin height. Tanks deeper that 21 inches are recommended for young altum and 27-28 inches plus, to raise sub-adults.
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!
E.R.

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

#9
My point is that plant matter should be present for altums in their early stage of development (from day one) to help build their long fins proportional to the body size. Introducing plant matter to 2"- 4" fish is probably too late to see benefits of this diet, their bodies already have been formed (it can keep them healthy thou).
In one of your posts you mention that young altums can be found in warm, well lit shallow ditches.
Places like this have different food to offer compared to deeper water occupied by adults.
To make this case more complicated young and adult altums feed on shrimp, small fish and plankton as a main meal which contain algae and other plant matter in their intestines up to 80% undigested.
They like or not they are omnivores. Diet presented to altums in aquarium is very poor in plant matter, only animal protein. In my opinion results of this diet can be seen in numerous YouTube clips especially in created black water biotope (no plants to nibble on). Introducing plant matter in very early stage of altums development should give us healthy and proportionally grown adults.
Question Everything

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

#10
Hi M.O.Z. Absolutely true.
Small and growing juvenile altums do have more plant matter available and it is part of their diet.
Adult altum eat mainly smaller fish, which in turn are direct or indirect herbivores and therefor, adult altum eat predigested plant matter. So they are always getting their good share of veggies.

This said, we have two options when we bring these fish into our tiny little aquariums (no matter how large a home aquarium may be, it is always small if we want to simulate nature):

A) We can choose to recreate the "image" (or aquascape) of the natural biotope (which can differ according to actual location or even life stage of the fish). This would be more of a "photograph" of the typical underwater locality. Case in which, if we would choose the "Rio Atabapo" biotope, we are talking of something relatively "lunar". But in nature, fish swim around and they can find what they need to eat. And they eat larvae of different insects (which are digesting plant matter, such as algae and other plant tissue), smaller tetras (which in turn are also eating invertebrates, which in turn are eating plant matter). It if the food chain that keeps all living things alive.

If we choose this rock, stone, wood and sand biotope and add the tannins and adjust the pH and water hardness to typical blackwater parameters, it is a must that the diet contain some form of plant matter.

B) We can chose to incorporate elements that though we cannot get into the typical "photograph", these elements are still there, just not so evident. Planting in an aquarium of acid water is not the easiest thing to do, but there are plants, and they are typical to some areas of the Orinoco, which can perfectly be placed in the picture (i.e. jungle vals, among others) and that will bring the very important benefit of natural water purification, and under the right light conditions, provide edible plant matter. OK, now here our "aquascape" departs from the typical Rio Atabapo, but is just a matter of choice.

I guess we can all be a little more open minded here and understand that "at the home" it may be more beneficial to depart from a strict biotope and think more of what the fish may need, that only we can provide, by adding it to the glass or acrylic container they live in within our home.

If the aquarium is large enough to support a nice amount of jungle vals, here you have a plant that provided the right conditions (and they are not so demanding) will grow incredibly fast and eat all the bads out of the water column very well. Now these plants can grow leaves that are 6 feet long,

So, definitely you are right as to the better option for the fish's health, is incorporating plants into the scene, even if it is a variation of the picture.

And that the altum (and even pirahnas) needing vegetable matter in their diet, nothing ti discuss here, it's fact. A basic part of what I feed baby and adult altum is spirulina enhanced brine shrimp or live blackworms that are fed on algae tabs.
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!
E.R.

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

#11
I guess I'll need to log out of this thread but just for the record, I agree with Mark that altums need plant matter in their diet from day one. I think that is his main point, it is an important fact, and we have discussed this in our "Diet and Nutrition" threads.

Tinpot, in regards to your aquascape question, I guess now you have more to go by. It's only fair to say that there is more than just the Atabapo, and your fish would be happier and healthier if we green up their lives a bit.
Dead leaf matter and branches are also an important element in some areas of the scenery.

Ed
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!
E.R.

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

#12
Well, I've collected some fish. I had originally reserved 4 altums at my local LFS but late December the heater in their tank failed and the temperature in the tank dropped. The LFS staff only noticed when the altums began to die one by one. By the time they had noticed and had managed to stabilise the temperature, only one altum survived which was incredibly sad (and frustrating). I took the survivor and placed him/her in my tank where, happily, it has quickly settled in. The next day it was eating Hikari Tropical micro pellets. By pure luck a day later I stumbled across a website for a store which had two young altums for sale. I made the call and collected the fish this weekend ( Saturday the 7th Jan). It was a 96 mile round trip but it was worth it as the store specialise in South American dwarf cichlids and provided appropriate care conditions for the altums, which were the remaining two from their last direct import from Columbia. These two have also quickly settled and are taking Hikari Tropical micro pellets and frozen black mosquito larvae. It must be my lucky week as they have another import of altums due next Tuesday and they are happy to reserve some for me until they have finished their rest and quarantine period. In between I suppose I'd better get looking for some suitable plants and Spirulina enriched brine shrimp !

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

#14
A couple of quick photos. They are still slightly skittish so the photos are a bit blurry. The fish on the right has a damaged dorsal fin but it appears to be growing back. They are all feeding well on Hikari Tropical micro pellets, frozen glassworm, frozen black mosquito larvae, frozen Ocean Nutrition bloodworm, cyclops and even baby brine shrimp that I put in for the cardinal tetras.

Image


Image

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

#15
Forgot to mention - I managed to obtain some Amazon frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) which arrived nice and green with long trailing roots. The altums were very interested :-) and within a couple of days the 'long trailing roots' had been trimmed back considerably. I ordered a small portion of approx 10 plants to see how well it did. If it remains green and healthy I'll order quite a few more as the 10 I received only cover approximately 6 square inches. Hopefully with a few more the root nibbling won't be too detrimental to the individual plants.
cron