The Silver Zebra Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) like all Pterophyllum species, originate from the Amazon River Basin, Orinoco Basin, and various other smaller rivers in the Guiana Shield in South America. They are a member of the family Cichlidae (Cichlids) and are all collectively known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Angelfish.
In their natural environment, Silver Zebra Angelfish live in swamps and flooded areas around dense vegetation in either clear or silty colored water. They are usually found among bulrushes and around underwater brush where they can quickly dart to shelter. They are a relatively peaceful, social species that are often found swimming in large shoals.
There are three species of Pterophyllum, and are all unusually shaped for Cichlids. They have round, laterally compressed bodies, elongated triangular dorsal and anal fins, and almost all wild specimens are striped longitudinally which provides them a modicum of camouflage. Pterophyllum scalare is the most commonly kept species and no doubt the one most often bred in captivity. Pterophyllum altum is the second most common (usually captive bred) and Pterophyllum leopoldi is the smallest and least often found in the tropical fish keeping hobby.