Name: Geophagus surinamensis
Origin: Suriname, French Guiana
Geophagus surinamensis, or the Red-Striped Eartheater, is a fairly peaceful fish from the Cichlidae family. They are extremely beautiful fish with almost iridescent shades of yellow, blue, red and sometimes green. They also have a dark spot near the center of their bodies. Eartheaters are bottom dwellers that are unique in that they move and sift through sand in search for food. Their bodies are specificly designed for this ability.
This is a slower growing Cichlid species and it may take many years for them to reach adult size. Juveniles are often more bland in color and don't show the iridescent colors that arrive more-so in maturity, though, once they mature, their colors are magnificent. Males can reach 30 cm in length while females often reach only about 24-28 cm.
The Red-Striped Eartheater is a very hardy species. They can tolerate a pretty wide range of pH. Although most South American fish prefer softer water, it is not a necessity. A neutral pH is just fine.
From the rivers in which this fish originates there are not too many plants. Due to their constant digging, don't be surprised to find your Amazon Sword plant floating at the surface. Make sure they have a fine sand substrate and a cave or two to hide in, as they can be fairly shy and become spooked easily.
Although I am personally yet to witness this extraordinary act, and unlike most South American cichlids, Geophagus surinamensis are partial mouthbrooders, meaning that until hatching, either one of the parents will take the fertilised eggs in their mouthes and carry them until hatching.
You can tell the difference between males and females by their length and the extensions on their fins. More often than not, males are longer and have long extensions on their fins. Females are slightly smaller and don't tend to have any extensions on their fins at all.
I have had a female Red-Striped Eartheater in a 200 liter community tank for close to a year now. When I first bought her she was pretty colorless, but over this year she has started to mature and shows very pretty shades of red, blue and yellow along her body. She often spends entire days moving handfuls of sand from one side of the tank to the other. It is one of the most spectacular acts I've seen in the world of fish keeping. For anyone wanting a single specimen as a centerpiece fish I would completely recommend Geophagus surinamensis. They are such a personable fish. Mine will come up to the front of the glass to greet me everyday. She is the center of attraction for everyone that happens to see my tank and they all have the same remarks: "Wow, that fish is COOL, what is it?"
I have had a pair of these beauties for a couple of months in a cichlid community tank. They are still juveniles (about 5 cm each), so their colors aren't spectacular, but I have never had a fish that is capable of the same shine on the side of its body when it catches the light just right. They are always side by side as they explore the tank, and this makes them really fun to watch. No behavioral issues yet, as they pretty much just stick to themselves and get ignored by everybody else. I am excited to see these guys grow into adults.
Like you all I am an addicted fish admirer and been spending time setting up my dream cichlid community tank. After an incredible amount of reading and asking questions of those that work in the industry I made my selections: one being the red striped eartheaters. Wow, one of the best choices I have made and are living up to and surpassing my expectations. Their shape, colour and movements are spell binding, a must to us all in as my grandson says ISH world who at 2 and a half is to becoming a blinkered ISH lover. Three of these wonderful fish at a very small size settled into my aquarium immediately and started proving their individual identity and thought evoking characters. With all fingers crossed the mix of severum, T bar, bala sharks and barbs have created a show to sigh over with a full use of all levels in my aquarium. As you may have guessed I really enjoy and appreciate the red stripe eartheaters and would suggest the purchase of them to anyone with genuine intent of keeping and maintaining a healthy tank.
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