Wild Caught Geophagus Tapajo 5 inch

$79.99 Regular Price
$59.99Sale Price
Etymology
Geophagus: from the Greek geo, meaning ‘earth’, and phagos, meaning ‘ to eat’.

Classification
Order: Perciformes Family: Cichlidae

Distribution
First collected in 1991 by German aquarists Christop Seidel and Rainer Harnoss (Steinhaus, 2010) from the rio Tapajós, eastern Brazil.

A second form which differs slightly in head colour and morphology later appeared in the trade as G. sp. ‘orange head Araguaia’, referring to the major tributary of the rio Tocantins.

The rio Xingú lies between the Tapajós and Tocantins so this led to speculation that there should exist an ‘orange head’ form in that drainage, too.

However it’s now known for certain is that there exists no ‘orange head’ Geophagus species in the Araguaia or Xingú – it is in fact highly endemic and confined to the lower Tapajós.

The ‘orange head Araguaia’ form mostly inhabits the main river channel while the more intensely-coloured variant occurs in the rio Arapiuns.

The latter tributary empties into the Tapajós close to its mouth, on the opposite bank to the city of Santarém and a little downstream of the Alter Do Chão lagoon which is the primary collection point for the aquarium trade.

Habitat
The Arapiuns ia an acidic blackwater river characterised by low mineral content, pH and clear, tannin-stained water.

The Tapajós main channel contains so-called ‘white’ water with a slightly acidic to neutral pH and low hardness but significant amounts of material in suspension at times giving it a cloudy appearance.

In both cases favoured habitats are gently sloping marginal zones around shores or islands with soft substrates of bare sand or mud.

Depending on locality other features can include scattered rocks, submerged tree roots, branches and leaf litter.

At the confluence of the Tapajós and Arapiuns G. sp. ‘orange head’ was observed in clear water (visibility close to 20 m) which was flowing moderately over a substrate consisting of submerged boulders with long stretches of white sand between.

There was little in the way of vegetation or wood, pH was around neutral and adult specimens could be observed swimming in pairs with sexually inactive individuals congregating in groups of up to 20 (J. Cardwell, pers. comm.).

Other species known from the Tapajós and available in the hobby include Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis, Nannostomus beckfordi, Metynnis argenteus, Pterophyllum scalare, Satanoperca jurupari, Heros efasciatus, Mesonauta festivus, Laetacara curviceps, Ancistrus dolichopterus, Hypancistrus sp. L260 and Peckoltia compta/L134 plus a number of occasionally traded ones such as Hyphessobrycon heliacus, H. vilmae, Dicrossus maculatus, Corydoras ornatus, Panaque sp. L027 (aka P. sp. cf. nigrolineatus `Tapajós’?), Leporacanthicus joselimai/L264, Peckoltia snethlageae/L141/L215 and Pseudacanthicus sp. L273.

There’?s also another undescribed Geophagus species from the lower Tapajós which has a smaller dark marking on each flank, lacks the orange head colouration and has appeared in the trade as G. sp. ‘Tapajós II’.

Maximum Standard Length
200 – 250 mm.

Aquarium SizeTOP ↑
An aquarium with a base measuring 180 ∗ 60 cm or more is required to house a group long-term.

Maintenance
The most essential item of décor is a soft, sandy substrate so that the fish can browse naturally (see ‘Diet’).

Coarser materials such as gravel or small pebbles can inhibit feeding, damage gill filaments and even be ingested with the potential of internal damage or blockages.

Additional furnishings are as much a case of personal taste as anything else but the most favoured set-ups tend to feature relatively dim lighting plus some chunks of driftwood and scattered roots or branches.

Leaf litter is a typical feature of the natural environment but not really recommended in aquaria because the feeding behaviour of Geophagus spp. tends to cause an excess of partially-decomposed material in suspension which not only looks unsightly but can block filter and pump mechanisms.

One or two flattish, water-worn rocks can also be included to provide potential spawning sites if you wish.

Water quality is of the utmost importance since these cichlids are extremely susceptible to deteriorating water quality and swings in chemical parameters so should never be introduced to a biologically immature aquarium.

The best way to achieve the desired stability is to over-filter the tank using a combination of external canister filters and/or a sump system and perform minimum weekly water changes of 50-70%.

If the maintenance regime is insufficient health issues such as head and lateral line erosion or stunted growth can occur.

Mechanical filtration should also be tailored to trap small particles stirred up by the fish as sand can cause blockages and wearing issues with filter mechanisms if allowed to continually run through the system.

High flow rates should be avoided so position filter returns accordingly.

Water Conditions
Temperature: 26 – 30 °C

pH: 4.5 – 7.5

Hardness: 18 – 179 ppm

Diet
Geophagus spp. are benthophagous by nature, employing a method of feeding whereby mouthfuls of substrate are taken and sifted for edible items with the remaining material expelled via the gill openings and mouth.

For this reason they’re commonly termed ‘eartheaters’ and the provision of a suitable substrate is essential to their long-term well-being.

Once settled they readily rise into the water column when food is introduced but continue to browse normally at other times.

The stomach contents of wild specimens mostly comprise small aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, plant material in the form of seeds, organic detritus and sediment.

Even as adults these cichlids seem unable to properly ingest larger food items meaning the diet should contain a variety of high quality, fine-grade prepared foods plus small live or frozen bloodworm, Tubifex, Artemia, mosquito larvae, etc.

At least some of the dried products should contain a high proportion of vegetable matter such as Spirulina or similar.

Home-made, gelatine-bound recipes containing a mixture of dried fish food, puréed shellfish, fresh fruit and vegetables, for example, are proven to work well and can be cut into bite-sized discs using the end of a sharp pipette or small knife.

Rather than a single large meal offer 3-4 smaller portions daily to allow natural browsing behaviour as this seems to result in the best growth rate and condition.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTOP ↑
Unless breeding this species is surprisingly peaceful and will not predate on fishes larger than a few millimetres in length.

Suitable tankmates are far too numerous to list but include most peaceful species enjoying similar environmental conditions.

Best avoided are aggressive or territorial substrate-dwelling species, or those requiring harder water.

Some aquarists keep Geophagus spp. alongside freshwater stingrays of the genus Potamotrygon which in many cases has proven successful but in some has resulted in them disappearing at night.

G. sp. ‘orange head’ is gregarious and tends to exist in loose aggregations unless spawning, with juveniles in particular displaying strong grouping instincts.

A group of 5-8 individuals should be the minimum purchase and these will form a noticeable dominance hierarchy.

When maintained in smaller numbers weaker specimens can become the target of excessive antagonism by dominant individuals or the group may fail to settle and behave nervously.

Sexual Dimorphism
Males are more intensely-coloured than females, tend to be a little larger and develop longer fin extensions. Some dominant individuals develop a nuchal hump as they mature.

Reproduction
Substrate-spawning, larvophilous, biparental mouthbrooder that has been bred in aquaria.

There doesn’t appear to be any particular trigger for the spawning process with the main requirements being good diet and stringent maintenance regime involving relatively large weekly water changes.

Since accurate sexing is

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