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Geophagus steindachneri

by Frank Panis


Scientific name: Geophagus steindachneri.
Trade name: Red hump Eartheater.
Natural habitat: Rio Magdalena in Colombia.
Natural food: All edible stuff that is sifted from the river bottom.
Food in the aquarium: A mix of quality pellets, flakes, krill, artemia, etc fed sparingly. No mammal meat!
Behaviour in my aquarium: These Geophagus are very peaceful cichlids. The smaller Hemigrammus and Emperor tetras are left alone by them and the only aggression that I observed were territorial fights between the males that never lead to injuries. Most probably this is because they live in a fairly large tank with a dense vegetation.  They're always searching for food and the sand bottom in their tank is turned up many times already. The roots of the plants are not touched though, so their growth is not obstructed. 
Tankmates: Every other non predatory south American fish under 15 cm will do perfectly well with these Geophagus.
Maximal size: Can vary quite a bit depending on water quality and food amount. Grows to about 14 cm in captivity.
Aquarium: A tank of  >500L with a sufficient amount of plants and bogwood is recommended. A sand bottom, pH between 6 - 7 (although my steindachneri spawned in pH 7.5), temperature about 25-30°C

 Geophagus steindachneri juvenile when I just got them from my friend Joeri in November 2003.


July 2004: this looks less like a juvenile cichlid but more like an adult fish.


January 2005: the hump on the head is getting bigger.


Personal notes:

When I got these F1 Geophagus steindachneri from my friend Joeri in November 2003 I never though that I could become so fond of them. Their colours are not very spectacular, but they were and still are very active cichlids and a joy to look at. I chose to put sand in their tank as they are shifters. They indeed appreciate this substrate as they're always moving it around to find food. They're no bulldozers like some Malawi cichlids are, but they stir the sand enough to prevent dirt accumulating everywhere. Soon after introduction they started spawning and the females carried fry several times since then. The males are really fun to watch when they spawn as they shake intensively with their mouth open. All in all it's not very difficult to spawn them. I didn't save the fry though as my friend Joeri already had raised hundreds of them. Their are peaceful fish as they don't bother about the much smaller Hemmigrammus bleheri and the Nematobrycon palmeri. Their aggression towards each other is rather mild too. I've read in different websites that keeping two males in one tank is impossible as one of them can be killed. I indeed noticed some fights, and some lip damage caused by jaw locking, but never one with a fatal outcome. All in all they are attractive and very hardy cichlids for a mid sized South American tank.


Two males displaying in my 750L tank


Shuddering and shaking to impress the other steindachneri...

Click for a larger image.

Click for a larger image.

Photo of the Month - Janurary 2005 

A very cute sight: the fry leaving their mother's mouth. Click for a larger image.


The last little Geophagus seeking shelter again in the safe mouth of mommy. Click for a larger image.

Click here to see more pictures of this species by Friedrich Hollander.

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