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 Post subject: Simon Forkel's Altums
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:00 am 
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Simon Forkel sent some photos of his tank bred Altum today
I have just used the Google translator for his accompanying note, it is better than the first effort from Yahoo translator

Hello Phil,

I am writing now in German, please translate is easier for me!

I wanted to send you new photos of my Altum, so you have a comparison to other photos in your forum, or in some books.

I will add in 2 weeks new photos on my homepage - I'll send them to you in advance.


Greetings - Simon Forkel


You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.


Last edited by Phill Austen on Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:36 am 
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Hi Phill,

I would like to offer my assistance in translating any German messages into English as I am fully capable of doing so if this will help.

Kind regards,

Dirk

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:05 pm 
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Hello Phill,

What a beautiful collection of fish Simon has, I do hope he continues to supply more photos and hopefully share his experiences with us.

Dan

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:13 pm 
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Hi all,lovely fish, its a shame we couldn't get these tank bred fish into the UK.
Al


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:56 pm 
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Very nice specimens Phill. Thanks to Simon Forkel for the pictures and to you for posting them here.

I have a question, in the 1st picture about the crossing of the wildcaught & captive bred altum, did you ask wich one of the 2 was the female (the wildcaught or the captive bred)

Again, thanks!

Eduar

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:14 pm 
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He has some amazing fish and Simon is a really nice guy. Thanks Phil.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:39 am 
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simon's site says that the female was a Siegrist line fish and the male wildcaught from Rio Atabapo


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:45 pm 
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Thanks Phill !! That's what I thought.

Eduar

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 10:21 pm 
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Simon's wildcaught fish are our typical Orinoco Altum, just like the ones I used to collect in Puerto Ayacucho. Just wanted to make this comment and dissipate any confusion.
I have read that some Rio Negro's look very similar, but these fish are Orinoco, no doubt.
Now, let me follow the trend and create a little confusion (which I enjoy clarifying as you know) and let me be clear that I am referring to what I see in the pictures, phenotype that is.
If we breed true Orinoco P. altum (ROa) to a Upper Rio Negro P. scalare (RNa) with a dominant ROa phenotype, in the generations to come we will have dominant ROa with RNa traits that could provide easier to breed and hardier offspring (occult genotype dependent traits).



Ed

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:55 am 
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Hi Ed,

Some thought provoking comments, just about enough to get me out of hibernation.

My personal opinion is that in a number of years we are going to have tank-bred Orinoco type altums available in ever larger numbers.

Why I think this is going to be the case, is because of what the experience has been with a number of the cichlids from the Amazon / Orinoco system over the past 50-60 years.

If you look at P. scalare then the first of these fishes were bred 50 years ago. Now we have many domestic angels and they basically breed like rabbits. I bought 20 wild-caught P scalare about two years ago and they were not so easy to get to breed. I manage twice, one pair spawned once and I once managed to get a female to spawn with a domesticated fish. Well the F1 wildtypes are still not so easy to induce to spawn, but they are definitely easier.

Then there is the whole discus story. Schmidt-Focke battled to get the first ones to spawn. In the older discus books there was a lot of emphasis on the induction of spawning and how to do this. Now? Well again, now they breed like rabbits, if you see what is produced in the East and elsewhere. Where you see folks are battling to get them to spawn is where they are trying to breed wildcaughts. I am battling with my 6 wild-caught Curipera discus, I have got them to lay eggs once in two years. In Germany, there is a lot of effort going into the breeding of wild-caught discus, but once they get to F1 things get easier.

Well then, altums? Linke started off breeding them in the 1990's, I understand, now we hear about Siegrist and the successes that he has had. In the Czech Republic we hear that Jan tells us that F3 Linke fish are around. Then Simon Förkel now seems to be having one success after the next. Altums will always demand that you keep them under optimal conditions, but once that is in place, I do not think that breeding them from aquarium bred fishes is not going to be such a problem. We have discussed before, and the consensus of opinion was, that Dr Menauer's fishes were Rio Negros that is why he has had the success that he has. However, I think it would be a sad day where we cross breed altums with Rio Negros and get the glorious mess that we have in discus breeding. I mean, I think I would have a fit if the first veiltail altum or zebra altum would appear.

So, I think that aquarium bred altum are going to appear more and more and perhaps this would be a good thing instead of catching them in nature. Your thoughts?

Kind regards,

Dirk

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:55 pm 
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Hi Dirk and so happy to see you around.

Definitely this is the direction things must go. There are challenges of all nature in life. A young boy recently summitted Everest...a thing I mention because it could represent an epitome of the meaning of the word challenge.
P. altum has been "the challenge" of the aquarium hobby for so long.
But out there we are having numerous accounts of breeders not only having bred P.altum but establishing their bloodlines. Aquarists in Sweden, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, Czech Republic and of course Germany have reported their success. Some better documented than others. In the early 80's a college friend and I had a limited success, but we were not breeding P.altum...it was just a result of a school project in where different Orinoco species that had not been bred, some not classified/described to date, spawned, and many continued to do so, during the lifespan of the project. Our goal back then was Biotope Simulation and it would be measured by the adaption response of the species, or better said "our adaption to them". If our simulation was correct, then, the fish would breed. The aquariums were a true spectacle for the eyes of the beholders...true little pieces of rivers adorning spaces within a small warehouse in Maracaibo.

Now, down to your post.

I have no reason to doubt that many, hopefully most of the people who have reported breeding P. altum in recent years (90's to date), since Fornback, then Azuma, then Linke, all have done so with fish that were presumably caught in Venezuela or the immediately adjacent Colombian tributaries of the Orinoco. I understand Linke's altum come from the La Parhueña area, a microbasin immediately adjacent to the North of the Caño Pozo Azul, where I collected my first P. altum. Though I have not been at Laguna La Parhueña, I can firmly assure that Caño Pozo Azul, which is within just a few hours hiking distance of the former, is a well known P. altum collection site, since I can remember. These collection sites have (or better said, had) the great advantage that if the logistics were ell coordinated, the fish could be collected, bagged/boxed, shipped and be on their way from Puerto Ayacucho, then on to Caracas and their final destiny within 24 to 48 hours. Puerto Ayacucho Airport is 30 minutes from the La Parhueña/Pozo Azul/Pozo Cristal/Agualinda area.
Of course, we have the Rio Cataniapo, which nowaday counts with a direct road access through which you can be at the airport in maybe 5 minutes. I am saying you can catch P. altum and have them on a plane in less than an hour (if OTP export was allowed and then organized in Venezuela).
Then comes the subjective information diffused by some authors affirming that the Orinoco Angelfish from this area are not P. altum, distinctions between "different types of P. altum at species or subspecie level" and so on...stating that the only true P. altum is that of the Rio Atabapo...and so on.
Be they from the Atabapo or La Parhueña, it is the same fish, the same species...they could look different for a while due to dietary or other environmental factors that may affect color, fin length and even general health, all this maybe affecting the physical appearance of individual fosh or a group of fish. But once given proper and equal conditions, Atabapo and Ayacucho fish will be hard, if at all possible, to tell apart (and this I say from hands on experience).
I don't see any reason to doubt that those breedings of F"0" announced by Fornback, Azuma, Linke and others are legitimate. These are people who focused on a goal and acheived it.
You mention a simple fact and how could I disagree with it?, that the F1 from these wildcaught Orinoco Altum should be still challenging (they're still "wild wired" from a genetic POV, but easier than their parents to deal with (maintain/breed). At F2, the wiring begins to fracture, and by this I mean that these 2nd generation citizens of captive born fish in Germany, Sweden or elsewhere, should give us evidence of a much faster and easier response to our good care. The F2/F3 and F4 (and I assume F5/F6 are coming along by now) down from Linke, Siegrest, and those of Petr' Hak and one of our members here at Finarama "Styv" (and I am sorry Styv if I am not aware of your whole name), only show that things are going the way you say and as should be expected.
And the Korean breeder who shows a growing infrastructure dedicated to P. altum... more and more success is what we see.

Other issues are:
1. Crossings of True Orinoco Altum with Upper Rio Negro Altum-Scalares which have already acquired some of the advantages of the Amazon Basic P. scalare, such as hardiness/relative ease of breeding. To do this and breed back to pure Orinoco and establish those traits in typical Orinoco fish (of typical phenotype).
2. Breeding by hormone induction of True Orinoco Altum.

These would be "ethical issues", a much more subjective issue than the discussion of whether the Rio Atabapo are different than the rio Cataniapo or Inirida (or whatever) altums are different.

So it could be a complicated discussion dependeng on where you want to see things from.

But definitely, once the wild caughts budge, what comes will be easier and easier.

At this point, we are all just laying the bricks of what will become of Orinoco Altum in the trade within a decade or two.

Ed

BTW, as to discus, I downsized my modest discus keeping to one pair of heckel from a group which belonged to Larry. They have been very close, but still not "there".

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:17 pm 
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A UK aquarist magazine recently published a photo of Simon's offspring of the Venezuelan Altum paired to a Siegrist line fish, describing them as "Hybrids". I believe that they took the information directly from Heiko's site. There seems to be a great willingness to declare any tankbred Altum as Scalare or of hybrid origen, apparently on the basis of an opinion. I have personally, yet to see a Rio Negro Scalare that could be seriously confused with the fish from the Orinoco drainage. I agree that it would be sad if the Altum genetics were diluted to provide a commercial product, but I am far from certain that this has happened yet in Europe. If this does happen I would imagine that the work would be done in Asia. Thus far in the UK, the tank bred fish are considered too expensive to be viable by the retail trade (I would think that they are probably cheaper if you factor in the ridiculous mortality that the widcaught fish suffer) I also have my doubts about the popularity of Altum if they ever become freely available. They are a big piscivorous fish that takes up a lot of room and can be mean to each other, and as Dirk suggests, they are unlikely to tollerate poor water. Some years ago there was a suggestion of some "pearlscale Altum" in the UK reputedly from Russia, I never saw any proof of their existence.
Regards,
Phill.


Last edited by Phill Austen on Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:39 am 
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Hi Phill,

You make a number of very important points here. If Simon was using a Venezuelan altum and mating it with a Siegrist line altum, and if both of these parents conform to the definition of P altum, then it is not permissable to talk about a hybrid according to the rules of taxonomy (the sience of describing species of biological organisms according to the binomial system developed by Linneaus). Hybrids are by definition crosses between species, and if we pair two altums from different sources with each other, then we are not dealing with hybrids, this is just simply wrong.

In my professional opinion, and I have described a number of species of plants and also described classification systems, it is very dangerous if an amateur aquarium magazine that does not have an authority on taxonomy as an advisor to make the statement that these are "hybrids". This is just simply misleading, and it confuses the public. What it also does is that it gives the public the impression that domestically bred altums cannot be true altums and therefore if the public wants to obtain true altum they MUST obtain wild-caughts. In view of the losses that we know that occur this is actually not what we as responsible altum keepers would like to support. Should this not be brought to the attention of the journal editor? Perhaps an article on what species really are should be placed in the journal at some point.

I share your opinion about the fact that altums cannot actually become the most popular of aquarium fishes as they place such demands on water conditions. I also cannot see with dwindling resources on our planet how it is going to be justifiable to keep such large heated aquaria in countries which have such cold temperatures in winter. However, the rage for discus which require very similar conditions, just goes to show what sort of emotion any fish species can cause. In my opinion, altums are at the moment the ultimate challenge and domestic bred specimens will be very important in covering the demand for these fishes in future. I am very concerned about the collection pressure that this demand may place on the natural P altum fish resources, again Ed can perhaps comment on this.

Kind regards,

Dirk

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:19 am 
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Phill, Dirk,
I will be very open about what I know and be humble on what I do not know.
I have no true idea of what Linke or Siegrest did to get P.altum to not only reproduce, but to do it continuously and even commercially. The continued breeding response they have obtained is "interesting" (remembering Mr. Spock!)
I think in part, some of the misinformation we have on the bloodlines of the leading domesticized P. altum comes from the sheer trade competition that exists mainly among German aquarists (and I will include both the professional and dedicated, fish biology scholars such as Linke, Bleher, to name two of the most relevant when it comes to P. altum, as well as advanced hobbyists). I am impressed with the volume of the "green" publications trade, anything to do with fish, flowers, nature in general and how the large publishing companies spit out books like bullets from a machine gun. It's a who shoots more thing.
Reading Heiko, I come to realize he suggests that the breeding programs of both Linke and Siegrest were based on an infusion of P. altum (ROa) with Upper Rio Negro Altum-Scalare (RNa).
If so, both have done a great job of selecting fish to produce a dominant ROa phenotype, despite the hybrid background.
Is Heiko's assumption correct, incorrect, true, false, intentional, from first hand information, may be even knowledge through direct collaboration?
I think he once told me that he directly collaborated with Linke and knew where his fish came from and maybe even supplied him with the fish). And Heiko, pls correct me if I am wrong if you like.
I won't judge anyone on their reasons to either promote or support, or lesion and degrade, a fact.
For me it is curious that this species can be so hard to breed for some (combined efforts of Schmidt-Focke and Bleher many years back) and for others, much less..to the point that they are being commercialized in Europe and Asia.
This could easily take me to think that today's tank bred altum bloodlines were initially influenced by either gene pool infusions (RNa) or hormones to get a kickstart... but in my case...it would be a poorly informed guess.
And since I am poorly informed on what is going around in German fish labs, I am much more concerned about establishing the fact that the P. altum throughout the Orinoco basin proper (including Cassiquiare and immediately influenced waters, such as the Venezuelan/Colombian leg of the Rio Negro), are, according to our Ichthyologists, P. altum.
We make no distinction between the Atabapo Altum, Ventuari, Manapiare or Cataniapo Altum (I mention these rivers as they represent extreme geographic points within P.altum's distribution) and have found San Carlos de Rio Negro Altums to be the same. If any differences, never enough to consider them different species. Mostly color differences found to be diet dependent. Colombia's Inirida, Tomo, Bita P. altum are the same fish only that they occur in tributaries on the opposite bank of the river.

Colombia also has P. scalare, but in its tributaries of the Upper Solimoes/Amazon. These rivers have nothing to do and have no connection with the Orinoco Basin and the Rio Negro watershed (Cassiquaire and Guainia).

So all this comes down to something which is like discovering Coca Cola's secret formula...we will never know the truth until someone wants to submit sample specimens to DNA analysis.

If Linke and/or Siegrest based their bloodlines solely on P. altum, be they from Atabapo or be they from Puerto Ayacucho, they are not hybrids.

If a heavily ROa influenced RNa scalare was used to infuse the dominant ROa bloodlines, then these are hybrid lines.

I don't know...that's why I buy wild from people I know in Colombia and who for years I have dealt with.

***San Carlos de Rio Negro is a town located just off the mouth of the Casiquiare at the very beginning of the Rio Negro, in Venezuela. The altums found there are typical Orinoco Altums. These must not be confused with the Rio Negro Altum-Scalare (P. scalare) as for example, the one shown in the post made by Phil linked to the German Segelflosser website. ***

---------------

I agree with you that P. altum may never become a truly popular aquarium fish as are P. scalare domesticized variants for the reasons exposed by Dirk.

To keep them well he need a very large aquarium and to heat such an aquarium is to throw money down the drain...tell me, trying to raise my group here in SLC. Come winter and it can cost me 10/15 bucks to heat that particular aquarium alone (I have it in a insulated but non T-controlled room, so it counts on inner heat and additional insulation around the tank).

Ed

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:44 am 
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Hi Ed,

I cannot agree with you more on every point that you raise here.

What this emphasizes is that unless we have some good DNA analyses to unravel this whole anomaly, we cannot make any firm statements about RNa vs ROa. There are so many rumours about who bred what and who hybridized what with what, that we cannot really make any progress without having more exact answers about which genotypes (DNA) respond to which types from the different river catchments from which altums, be they ROa or RNa, come from.

However, if we look at the interest and the emphasis on the breeding of these beautiful fishes then there appears to be enough interest that we will be able to access tank bred altums in future at hopefully affordable prices.

Kind regards,

Dirk

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