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August 16, 2013

Today, we know Pterophyllum scalare, more commonly referred to as the freshwater Angelfish, as having an assortment of colors and patterns. These “domesticated” forms have been accomplished through well over 60 years of selective breeding. These fish have most likely originated from different populations of wild caught specimens, from all over the northern parts of South America. Many people believe that all of the domestically raised fish originated from P. scalare. This may not be the case. As scientists and fish collectors, study the wild populations coming out of South America, it is being discovered that some of these populations may belong to groups that could, potentially become their own species.

Pterophyllum scalare WILD Peru

The first Angelfish was described by Schultze in 1824, and was given the name Pterophyllum. The word comes from the Greek words pteron, meaning fin/sail, and phyllon, or leaf. There are currently three known members within the family Pterophyllum; this includes Pterophyllum scalare,P. leopoldii, and P. altum; and a fourth member known as P. dumerilii that is very similar to P. leopoldi, but has an extra bar near the face of the fish. All of these magnificent animals exhibit a wonderful silver color, etched with black vertical bars, which the Angelfish uses in nature as camouflage. These stripes help to replicate the surrounding branches and roots that they live among. The environment in nature can be quite acidic (some populations live in a pH of 3.5!) and usually very warm (80-86°). Here at The Wet Spot, we believe that there isn’t anything quite like the original, so we brought in some wild caught specimens from Peru. While we have acclimated these wild fish to a more alkaline pH, they would most likely be happier in soft water with warmer temperatures. These individuals are quite impressive not only with their large size, but with their sheer beauty.

If you’re planning on setting up a tank for the exquisite Peru Angels than we have a perfect bottom feeder that would be an excellent choice to house with them, Corydoras narcissus “Long Nosed Skunk Cory”. The Long Nosed Skunk Cory can grow up to 3”, making it one of the larger growing species of Corydoradinae. The fish is known to be collected from Brazil in the Rió Purus, but its natural range is wider than originally thought. It is also known from parts of Peru – where ours were imported from. The localities each have different head and body shapes, and the overall size differs as well. This could suggest that at each locale the fish is a different fish but only DNA testing would be able to confirm this.

Corydoras narcissus

In the same region, you can find Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma “Bleeding Heart Tetra” swimming above our moderately sized Long Nosed Skunk Cory and even alongside our enormous Angelfish, which is why I would recommend keeping them together. Though Angelfish are often recommended for community tanks, they are still a cichlid, and can be rather aggressive towards smaller fish. The “tall” body profile of the Bleeding Heart keeps it from becoming a meal for the larger Angel, and they can “hold their own” in an aquarium - making them a more suitable choice than small fish like Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi). Additionally, Bleeding Hearts are incredibly adaptable to pH, water temperatures, and can thrive in just about any environment. In nature, their diet consists of fruit, insect larvae, and some non-aquatic plants. In the aquarium the fish will eat just about anything from frozen bloodworms to flake foods.

Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma1

As I mentioned, Angels are not suitable community tank members. They often grow very large, and will need plenty of swimming room because of this. You can certainly breed a pair in a 30 gallon aquarium, but for the long term, I would recommend a tank of at least 75 gallons. This size of a tank will house their tall body, while providing plenty of room for the fish to move around in. The tank should be set up much like their original biotope, with long pieces of driftwood standing straight up. Plants like Vallsinera would be suitable with the Angels, and the Bleeding Hearts are sure to love maneuvering through the grass-like maze.

That’s all for this week! If you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet be sure to hit that “like” button on our homepage We also have a quickly growing selection of pictures on Pinterest, so to see a large variety of our fish, we would suggest following us on there too Like always, be sure to contact me via email or phone if you’d like to place an order, have any questions, or just want to say hi!

I’ll be back next week with some more fish for you to learn about!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager