Pterophyllum is a small genus of freshwater fish from the family Cichlidae known to most aquarists as "Angelfish". All Pterophyllum species originate from the Amazon River basin in tropical South America. The three species of Pterophyllum are unusually shaped for cichlids being greatly laterally compressed, with round bodies and elongated triangular dorsal and anal fins. This body shape allows them to hide among roots and plants, often on a vertical surface. Naturally occurring angelfish are frequently striped longitudinally, colouration which provides additional camouflage. Angelfish are ambush predators and prey on small fish and macroinvertebrates. All Pterophyllum species form monogamous pairs. Eggs are generally laid on a submerged log or a flattened leaf. As is the case for other cichlids, brood care is highly developed.
Pterophyllum altum, also referred to as the altum angelfish, deep angel, or Orinoco angel, occurs strictly in the Orinoco River Basin and the Upper Rio Negro watershed in Southern Venezuela, Southeastern Colombia and extreme Northern Brazil. Its natural color is also silver but with three brownish/red vertical stripes and red striping patterns into the fins. The species may show red spotting when mature and when aroused exhibits a black operculum spot. Characteristic of this species is an acute incision or notch above the nares. All true (pure) specimens show this trait, whereas commercial hybrids product of crosses to Pterophyllum scalare, that are occasionally performed by breeders to sell them as "Orinoco Altum", will most likely not show this trait or show it to a much lesser degree. The true wildcaught Orinoco Altum is among the most challenging among tropical fish to breed in captivity. The species is the largest of the genus and specimens exceeding 50 cm in height (from tip of dorsal to tip of anal fin) have been reported in the wild; in aquariums, specimens are known to have grown to +40 cm. Altum Angels are more frequently found in the well oxygenated, extremely soft waters of Upper and Middle Orinoco tributaries shed from the Guyana Shield Highlands, preferring a pH range between 4.5 to 5.8. These are very transparent blackwaters with almost nil conductivity. Temperature range in these waters is between 78°F (26°C) and 84°F (29°C). They are also found in the Atabapo River and Inirida River floodplain, down the Casiquiare and Guainía floodplain where the Rio Negro is born, before entering Brazilian territory. Unlike P. scalare(mentioned above) which prefer to spawn on plants, P. altum prefers to spawn on submerged roots and tree branches. This species is recommended for intermediate to advanced aquarists due to the detailed maintenance it requires for proper health.
Pterophyllum leopoldi, also referred to as the teardrop angelfish, long-nosed angelfish, dwarf angelfish, or Roman-nosed angelfish, is a river dwelling angelfish species that originates from rivers in the Amazon River basin along the Solimões River, Amazon River, and Rupununi River. It is distinguished from other members of the Pterophyllum genus by the absence of a pre-dorsal notch and by the presence of a black blotch at the dorsal insertion on the 4th vertical bar. The species was originally described as Plataxoides leopoldi in 1963 by J.P. Gosse, and is frequently misidentified as P. dumerilii when the species is imported in the aquarium trade.
Angelfish are one of the most commonly kept freshwater aquarium fish, as well as the most commonly kept cichlid. They are prized for their unique shape, color and behavior. Many hobbyists consider angelfish to be a relatively intelligent fish, able to recognize their owners.
Angelfish pairs form long-term relationships where each individual will protect the other from threats and potential suitors. Upon the death or removal of one of the mated pair, some breeders have experienced a total refusal of the other mate to pair up with any other angelfish; others have had more success with subsequent mates. Both parents care for the young.
Depending upon aquarium conditions, P. scalare reaches sexual maturity at the age of six to twelve months or more. In situations where the eggs are removed from the aquarium immediately after spawning, the pair is capable of spawning every seven to ten days. Around the age of approximately three years, spawning frequency will decrease and eventually cease.
When the pair is ready to spawn, they will choose an appropriate medium upon which to lay the eggs and spend one to two days picking off detritus and algae from the surface. This medium may be a broad-leaf plant in the aquarium, a flat surface such as a piece of slate placed vertically in the aquarium, a length of pipe, or even the glass sides of the aquarium. The female will deposit a line of eggs on the spawning substrate, followed by the male who will fertilize the eggs. This process will repeat itself until there are a total of 100 to up to 1200+ eggs, depending on the size and health of the female fish. The pair will take turns maintaining a high rate of water circulation around the eggs by swimming very close to the eggs and fanning the eggs with their pectoral fins. In a few days, the eggs hatch and the fry remain attached to the spawning substrate. During this period, the fry will not eat and will survive by consuming the remains of their yolk sacs. At one week, the fry will detach and become free-swimming. Successful parents will keep close watch on the eggs until they become free-swimming. At the free-swimming stage, the fry can be fed newly-hatched frozen och fresh (i.e. alive) brine shrimp (Artemia spp.).
P. altum is notably difficult to breed in an aquarium environment.
Domestic angelfish have been bred and crossbred for several decades. There are hundreds of mutations of little importance by themselves. Much of the research into the known genetics of P. scalare is the result of the research of Dr. Joanne Norton, who published a series of 18 articles in Freshwater and Marine Aquarium (FAMA) Magazine. Those articles are reprinted at http://theangelfishsociety.org/genetics.htm .
Zebra (Z/+ or Z/Z)
Black Lace (D/+) / Zebra Lace (D/+ - Z/+)
Koi (Gm/Gm S/S) or (Gm/g S/S)
Leopard (Sm/Sm Z/Z) or (Sm/Sm Z/+)
Blue Blushing (S/S)
Silver Gold Marble (Gm/+)
Gold Marble (Gm/g or Gm/Gm)
Marble (M/+ or M/M or M/g or M/Gm)
Black Hybrid (D/g or D/Gm)
Black Ghost (D/+ - S/+)
Watching Angels: These Piscatorial Prizes of Many a Living-Room Were Graced with Good Looks by Intricate Evolutionary Processes in Their Homeland
Sep 22, 2011; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Even for those who have never owned an aquarium, freshwater angelfish such as this Pterophyllum altum are...