Breeding Fish Tips: Make sure that you have the necessary equipment before you start breeding fish. If you don’t have the space to keep the fry and don’t have anyone you can give them to, please don’t keep males and females in the same tank. This is especially applicable to those keeping livebearer fish like Mollies, Platies, the Guppy and the Swordtail.
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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, Orinoco River and Essequibo River basins 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 Angelfish, or Orinoco Angelfish, occurs strictly in the Orinoco River Basin and the Upper Rio Negro watershed in Southern Venezuela, Southeastern Colombia and extreme Northern Brazil. 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. Its natural base color is silver but with three brownish/red vertical stripes and red striations into the fins. The species may show red spotting and a bluesih green dorsal overcast when mature and when aroused exhibits a black operculum spot. Characteristic of this species is an acute incision or notch above the nares (supraorbital indention). All true Orinoco Altum 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”, may not exhibit the trait or it may appear in a lesser degree. The true wildcaught Orinoco Altum is among the most challenging among tropical fish to breed in captivity. 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 the submerged leaves of plants and trees in the flooded rainforest, P. altum prefers to spawn on submerged roots and tree branches in a moderate water current. This species is recommended for intermediate to advanced aquarists due to the detailed maintenance it requires for proper health. Pterophyllum altum is the national fish of Venezuela and an image of the fish appears on some currency bills of that country.
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. P. leopoldi is the smallest of the angelfish species and the most aggresive.
Pterophyllum scalare, the species most commonly referred to as angelfish or freshwater angelfish, is the most common species of Pterophyllum held in captivity. Its natural habitat includes the Amazon River basin in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, particularly the Ucayali, Solimões and Amazon rivers, as well as the rivers of Amapá in Brazil, the Oyapock River in French Guiana and the Essequibo River in Guyana. It is found in swamps or flooded grounds where vegetation is dense and the water is either clear or silty. Its native water conditions range from a pH of 6.0 to 8.0, a water hardness range of 5 – 13 dH, and water temperature ranging from 24° to 30°C (75° to 86 °F). It was originally described as Zeus scalaris in 1823, and has also been described be several different names, including Platax scalaris, Plataxoides dumerilii, Pterophillum eimekei, Pterophyllum dumerilii, and Pterophyllum eimekei.