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Geophagus Balzanii
(Gymnogeophagus balzanii) Moderate Peaceful 8" 30 gallons 62-82° F, KH 5-19, pH 6.0-7.8 Omnivore South America: Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay Balitoridae Loaches Community The Geophagus Balzanii or as it is also known as the Argentine Humphead, originates from the Paraná River basin area of the Paraguay drainage area of Brazil and Paraguay; the Paraná drainage in Argentina, and the lower Uruguay drainage in Uruguay and Brazil. They are generally found in groups of individuals with a higher concentration of females to males. They move about the vegetation and tree roots near the banks of the larger tributaries and throughout the flooded forest areas feeding on organic material, small crustaceans and other similar items that they sift from the sandy substrate. Gymnogeophagus are specialized eartheaters who constantly take in mouthfuls of the substrate and sifting it in search of food. They have one of the most southern distributions among cichlids in the Neotropics, which means they are comfortable in temperatures all the way down to the mid 60's° F. Gymnogeophagus eartheaters belong to a subfamily of neotropical Cichlids named Geophaginae. Many aquarium favorites such as pike cichlids and Geophagus and Apistogramma species are frequently taken while collecting Gymnogeophagus species. The temperate habitat in which the Geophagus Balzanii originates is characterized by cool winters and sweltering summers. All of the fish from this region will do best in temperate aquariums with temperatures in the high 60°s to low 70°s F. When kept in heated tropical tanks in the upper 70°s to low 80° F for too long, these cichlids will be listless, lack color and will live significantly shorter lives. However, of all the Gymnogeophagus species collected from the Paraná River basin area, Geophagus Balzanii is by far the most heat-hardy. Geophagus Balzanii do well in aquariums of at least 30 gallons in size, with 75 gallons or more being more suitable for full sized adults. They will appreciate aquarium conditions that at least somewhat replicate their natural habitat. In order to make them feel at home in the aquarium environment hobbyists should provide: good water flow, sand or fine gravel substrate, submerged wood, rocky formations, some plants, areas of filtered or subdued lighting and peaceful to semi-aggressive tank mates. Like many fish who spend much of their time on the aquarium substrate either feeding or resting, they are susceptible to bacteria infections if too much organic waste is allowed to build up on the aquarium substrate. Insufficient water flow, which leads to a lack of mechanical filtration can allow waste to build up on the substrate and between rocks and then decay lowering water quality. This is an all too common occurrence at the aquarium substrate level of many tanks, as many freshwater aquariums lack sufficient water flow to keep solid waste suspended in the water column and removed by aquarium filtration equipment. Despite only reaching around 8" in length for males and 6" for females, Geophagus Balzanii are tall, thick fish when it reaches maturity. Their adult size, need for swimming room and the fact that they will most likely be kept with other fish, means that while they can start life in a smaller aquarium like a 30 gallon, they should ultimately be kept in a 75 gallon or larger aquarium as an adult. As is the case with most fish species, keeping them in too small of an aquarium or in poor water conditions will increase their aggression towards their tank mates, make them more susceptible to disease and decrease their lifespan. They will do well with a variety of tank mates; however, they are best suited to be kept with hardy community fish species or Cichlids with peaceful to moderately aggressive temperaments. When kept in community aquariums they make for an interesting contrast to smaller schooling Barbs and Tetras, adding size diversity to the tank. When kept in Cichlid aquariums a group of Geophagus Balzanii can act somewhat like a dither fish in keeping more aggressive Cichlids from trying to create vast territories within the tank, while also providing useful clean up duties sifting through the aquarium substrate for leftover food items. Geophagus Balzanii are less aggressive that most other Geophagus species, thus don't do well when kept with other larger more aggressive Geophagus species in average sized aquariums. Advanced hobbyists who have a large aquarium with the right mixture of fish and decor can often make it workout to keep Geophagus Balzanii with other Geophagus species; however, this is on a case by case basis and will often require the hobbyist to make adjustments in fish stocking and aquarium aquascaping to make things work out. In nature Geophagus Balzanii feed primarily as a sand sifter grazing along the bottom and sifting out meaty foods and plant matter from the sandy bottom streams and tributaries in which they inhabit. However, they will certainly eat food floating in the water column if the opportunity presents itself. In the aquarium environment, they will feed on flake foods and pellets as the sink through the water column, and then sift through the aquarium substrate looking for any leftover food items. They should be fed a varied diet of high quality flake, pellet, freeze-dried or frozen foods designed for freshwater omnivores. They will also relish blood worms, chopped earth worms or other similar items. Ideally they should be kept in aquariums with a medium to fine substrate to allow them plenty of sand sifting grazing opportunities. Gymnogeophagus Balzanii form monogamous mating pairs and like many South American cichlid species are initially substrate spawner's; however, after spawning the female will pick up the eggs in her mouth in a form of delayed mouth brooding. After identifying a suitable location, the pair will clear out a small pit in the substrate in which to deposit and fertilize their eggs. Both parents will diligently guard the fry after they hatch, at which point the female will closely guard the them while the male stands guard in the general vicinity which he considers his territory. Delayed mouth brooding give the Gymnogeophagus Balzanii a leg up over simple substrate spawning Cichlids, as it greatly enhances the survival rate of the fry. Here the female takes the eggs into her mouth as soon as they are fertilized, or sometimes just before the eggs hatch. This breeding mode allows the male to mate with several females and leave the female to provide parental care alone. The male is thus free to breed with other females and guard his territory. The young fry will take shelter in their parents’ mouths when threatened. The “threatened” signal for the fry to take refuge in the parent’s mouth seems to be a dark visual circle, visible in the parents’ open mouth. Hobbyists who wish to breed this species should separate a mated pair into their own 30 to 40 gallon aquarium where they can both mate and raise their fry.
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Threadfin Geophagus
(Acarichthys heckelii) Moderate Semi-Aggressive 10" 55 gallons 78-86° F, pH 5.5-7.5, KH 2-7 Omnivore South America Cichlidae Geophagus Cichlid-New-World Acarichthys heckelii, also known as the Threadfin Acara and more recently, the Threadfin Geophagus, is a peaceful species that is commonly found adding action and color to South American Biotope aquariums as well as some of the less aggressive Cichlid tanks. The Threadfin is native to shallow, sandy-bottom rivers, ponds, and lakes within the Amazon River basin of South America. Like other Geophagus species, the Threadfins will continuously sift through sand and other substrate in search of food. They have a base color of tan to gray, with slight, vertical banding and gold to green, iridescent scales on their flanks. They also have iridescent gold to green patterns on their operculum as well as a variety of blue-green, gold and red markings on their translucent fins. The Threadfin requires an aquarium of at least 55 gallons and should be provided with a fine, sand substrate and multiple places where they can find shelter (driftwood, rock structures, or dense vegetation). Threadfins will sift and burrow through sand and have been known to snack on some live plant species, so live plants that attach to driftwood and rocks, or potted plants are recommended. Threadfins prefer warm, soft, acidic, and clean water as well as an area of low or subdued lighting where they can sift around for snacks. Threadfins prefer to live in groups and are relatively peaceful Cichlids that have been successful in a community environment, but are more commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums (or housed with other Cichlids). Tank mates should be considered carefully and should be comparable in size. The Threadfin is an omnivore that generally feeds from the bottom of the aquarium (but will surface for frozen bloodworms) and should be fed a variety of foods, such as live, prepared, frozen or freeze-dried: brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, krill, flake food, and soft, sinking, Cichlid pellets. Threadfins are brood caring, cave-breeders and getting them to breed may be difficult. To stimulate breeding, feed a high protein diet (live or frozen foods) and raise the water temperature to 88° F for a few days and let it drop to around 77° F for the next few days (to simulate the wet season for spawning). The female Threadfin will lay around 500 eggs in a carefully cleaned, cave-like structure (driftwood, rock, substrate, or artificial). Threadfin parents have been known to eat the eggs when spawning in captivity and it may become necessary to move them to a separate tank (with the same water) once they are fertilized. The eggs will hatch in a few days and the fry should be free-swimming within 1-2 weeks. The fry can be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp or crushed flake food and then be moved to other foods as they mature. The fry should be removed from the aquarium after 2-4 weeks.
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Earth Eater 'leucosticta'
(Satanoperca leucosticta) Easy Semi-Aggressive 10" 55 gallons 77-85° F, pH 5.0-6.5, KH 2-7 Omnivore South America Cichlidae Geophagus Cichlid-New-World Satanoperca leucosticta, a very colorful variant of the Satanoperca jurupari species, is also known as the Demon Fish (Satanoperca), but more commonly, the Earth Eater: An active, beautiful, and generally peaceful Cichlid that is native to soft, acidic waters of the Amazon River basin in South America. They have excellent markings, a great disposition, and they grow large enough to be kept with a lot of larger, more aggressive, cichlids. Earth Eaters are named for constantly sifting through sand and other substrate while in search of food. They have a base color of tan to gray, with slight, vertical banding and blue-green to red, iridescent scales on their flanks. They also have iridescent blue-green to red patterns on their operculum as well as a variety of markings of the same colors on their translucent fins. Earth Eaters require an aquarium of at least 55 gallons and should be provided with a fine, sand substrate and multiple places where they can find shelter (driftwood, rock structures, or dense vegetation). Earth Eaters will sift and burrow through sand and have been known to snack on some live plant species, so live plants that attach to driftwood and rocks, or potted plants are recommended. Earth Eaters prefer warm, soft, acidic, and clean water as well as areas of low or subdued lighting where they can sift around for snacks. Earth Eaters prefer to live in groups and are relatively peaceful Cichlids that have been successful in a community environment, but are more commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums (or housed with other Cichlids). Tank mates should be considered carefully and should be comparable in size. The Earth Eater is an omnivore that generally feeds from the bottom of the aquarium (but will surface for frozen bloodworms or flake food) and should be fed a variety of foods, such as live, prepared, frozen or freeze-dried: brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, krill, flake food, and soft, sinking, Cichlid pellets. Earth Eaters are mouth brooders and getting them to breed can be difficult, but may be helped by raising the water temperature to 86-87° F and feeding plenty of live and frozen foods that are high in protein. The female Earth Eater will lay around 300 eggs in a carefully cleaned, flat location (driftwood, flat rock, slate, or large plant leaves) and 1-24 hours later, the female Earth Eater will transfer the eggs to her mouth and care for them until they hatch. For protection, the fry are cared for in the same manner as the fertilized eggs and the parents are known to share the duties. After 2-3 weeks, and the fry are free-swimming, the parents will release them from mouth brooding. The fry can be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp or crushed flake food and then be moved to other foods as they mature. The fry should be removed from the aquarium after 2-4 weeks.
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Earth Eater Jurupari
(Satanoperca jurupari) Easy Semi-Aggressive 10" 55 gallons 77-85° F, pH 5.0-6.5, KH 2-7 Omnivore South America Cichlidae Geophagus Cichlid-New-World Satanoperca jurupari, is an active, beautiful, and generally peaceful species that is also known as the Demon Fish (Satanoperca), but more commonly, the Earth Eater. The Earth Eater is an impressive Cichlid which is is commonly found within the hobby; they have excellent markings, a great disposition, and they grow large enough to be kept with a lot of larger, more aggressive, cichlids. They are native to soft, acidic waters of the Amazon River basin in South America. Earth Eaters are named for constantly sifting through sand and other substrate while in search of food. Earth Eaters have a base color of tan to gray, with slight, vertical banding and gold to green, iridescent scales on their flanks. They also have iridescent gold to green patterns on their operculum as well as a variety of markings on their translucent fins. Earth Eaters require an aquarium of at least 55 gallons and should be provided with a fine, sand substrate and multiple places where they can find shelter (driftwood, rock structures, or dense vegetation). Earth Eaters will sift and burrow through sand and have been known to snack on some live plant species, so live plants that attach to driftwood and rocks, or potted plants are recommended. Earth Eaters prefer warm, soft, acidic, and clean water as well as areas of low or subdued lighting where they can sift around for snacks. Earth Eaters prefer to live in groups and are relatively peaceful Cichlids that have been successful in a community environment, but are more commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums (or housed with other Cichlids). Tank mates should be considered carefully and should be comparable in size. The Earth Eater is an omnivore that generally feeds from the bottom of the aquarium (but will surface for frozen bloodworms or flake food) and should be fed a variety of foods, such as live, prepared, frozen or freeze-dried: brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, krill, flake food, and soft, sinking, Cichlid pellets. Earth Eaters are mouth brooders and getting them to breed can be difficult, but may be helped by raising the water temperature to 86-87° F and feeding plenty of live and frozen foods that are high in protein. The female Earth Eater will lay around 300 eggs in a carefully cleaned, flat location (driftwood, flat rock, slate, or large plant leaves) and 1-24 hours later, the female Earth Eater will transfer the eggs to her mouth and care for them until they hatch. For protection, the fry are cared for in the same manner as the fertilized eggs and the parents are known to share the duties. After 2-3 weeks, and the fry are free-swimming, the parents will release them from mouth brooding. The fry can be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp or crushed flake food and then be moved to other foods as they mature. The fry should be removed from the aquarium after 2-4 weeks.
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Geophagus altifrons
(Geophagus altifrons) Easy Semi-Aggressive 12" 55 gallons 77-86° F, pH 5.0-7.0, KH 1-5 Omnivore South America Cichlidae Geophagus Cichlid-New-World Geophagus altifrons is a fairly peaceful species, commonly sought out for their intense coloration as well as their larger size (they are one of the largest geophagus species). They are native to various rivers and streams within the Amazon River basin of South America. Like other Geophagus species, the Altifrons will continuously sift through sand in search of food. They have a base color of tan to gray, with very mild, vertical banding and gold-orange to blue-green, iridescent scales on their flanks. They have iridescent gold-orange to blue-green patterns on their operculum as well as a variety of blue-green to orange-red markings on their translucent fins. Altifrons also have (to varying intensity) a black ocellus spot on and below their upper lateral line. Although a difficult species to sex, the males are generally larger than females. Altifrons require an aquarium of at least 55 gallons and should be provided with a fine, sand substrate and multiple places where they can find shelter (driftwood, rock structures, or dense vegetation). Altifrons will sift and burrow through substrate and have been known to snack on some live plant species, so live plants that attach to driftwood and rocks, or potted plants are recommended. Altifrons prefer warm, soft, acidic, and clean water as well as areas of low or subdued lighting where they can sift around for snacks. Altifrons prefer to live in groups and are relatively peaceful Cichlids that have been successful in a community environment, but are more commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums (or housed with other Cichlids). Tank mates should be considered carefully and should be comparable in size. The Altifrons is an omnivore that generally feeds from the bottom of the aquarium (but will surface for frozen bloodworms) and should be fed a variety of foods, such as live, prepared, frozen or freeze-dried: brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, krill, flake food, and soft, sinking, Cichlid pellets. Altifrons are brood caring, mouth brooders and breeding them isn't very difficult. Breeding can be induced by feeding them plenty of live and frozen foods that are high in protein, raising the water temperature to 88° F and lowering the pH levels with peat (can be added as filter media). The female Altifrons will lay a total of around 300 eggs in a carefully cleaned, flat location (driftwood, flat rock/stone, slate, or large plant leaves) and within 1-24 hours, will transfer the eggs to her mouth and care for them until they hatch. After 1-2 weeks the fry should be free-swimming, but the parents will continue with mouth, brood-care until the fry have matured for a few weeks. The fry can be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp or crushed flake food and then be moved to other foods as they mature.
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Geophagus sp. Tapajos 'Red head'
(Geophagus parnaibae) Easy Semi-Aggressive 6" 55 gallons 76-84° F, pH 5.5-6.5, KH 2-7 Omnivore South America Cichlidae Geophagus Cichlid-New-World The Tapajos Red head, is a beautiful and relatively peaceful species that is considered a rare gem in the hobby; they will add intense, red coloration and touch of class to any aquarium. Tapajos can only be found in the Rio Tapajos within the Amazon River basin of South America. Like other Geophagus species, the Tapajos will continuously sift through sand in search of food. In addition to their bright, orange-red heads, they have a base color of tan to gray, with slight, vertical banding (8-10 bars) and gold to green, iridescent scales on their flanks. Tapajos have iridescent gold to green patterns on their operculum as well as a variety of gold-green to orange-red markings on their translucent fins. They also have a black ocellus spot on and below their upper lateral line. Tapajos require an aquarium of at least 55 gallons and should be provided with a fine, sand substrate and multiple places where they can find shelter (driftwood, rock structures, or dense vegetation). Tapajos will sift and burrow through substrate and have been known to snack on some live plant species, so live plants that attach to driftwood and rocks, or potted plants are recommended. They prefer warm, soft, acidic, and clean water as well as areas of low or subdued lighting where they can sift around for snacks. Tapajos prefer to live in groups and are relatively peaceful Cichlids that have been successful in a community environment, but are more commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums (or housed with other Cichlids). Tank mates should be considered carefully and should be comparable in size. The Tapajos is an omnivore that generally feeds from the bottom of the aquarium (but will surface for frozen bloodworms) and should be fed a variety of foods, such as live, prepared, frozen or freeze-dried: brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, krill, flake food, and soft, sinking, Cichlid pellets. Tapajos are brood caring, mouth brooders and breeding them is not too difficult. Breeding can be induced by feeding them plenty of live and frozen foods that are high in protein, raising the water temperature to 86° F and lowering the pH levels with peat (can be added as filter media). The female Tapajos will lay around 300 eggs in a carefully cleaned, flat location (driftwood, flat rock/stone, slate, or large plant leaves) and within 1-24 hours, will transfer the eggs to her mouth and care for them until they hatch. The parents will dig pits in the sand to shelter the fry in during the day and will transfer them to their mouths at night. After 2-3 weeks the fry are free-swimming, but the parents will still allow themselves to be used for shelter until the fry are too large to fit in their mouths. The fry can be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp or crushed flake food and then be moved to other foods as they mature.
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