Red/Orange Head Tapajos Eartheater (Geophagus sp.), Tank-Bred!
The peaceful Red/Orange Head Tapajos Eartheater Cichlid is one of the smallest and most incredibly colorful members of its genus. Adults develop vivid red to orange head coloration as they reach maturity!
The Red/Orange Head Tapajos Eartheater (Geophagus sp. 'Red Head Bahia') is one of the most sought-after New World cichlids due to its peaceful disposition, manageable size, and most of all, its incredible adult coloration. It is regarded as one of the smallest and most colorful "earth-eating" species. The entire Geophagus genus is known for its characteristic feeding behavior of scooping up mouthfuls of substrate, which it separates from any small invertebrate prey, and expelling the sifted substrate through its gills.
The Red/Orange Head Tapajos Eartheater requires an aquarium with a soft, sandy substrate and plenty of refuge such as clay pots, driftwood, and rock formations. Gravel and other larger substrates can damage the gills and organs of this fish as it feeds. Due to its digging behavior and occasional appetite for soft-leaved plants, it might not be compatible with some more delicate plants. However, it is fine with more durable plants that can be attached to rocks and driftwood. This cichlid is generally compatible with other peaceful fish as long as it has plenty of open terrain. Territoriality is typically at its peak during spawning, but this species tends to thrive and show its best coloration in groups of 5-6 specimens or more. Subdominant specimens are more prone to bullying in smaller groups. In larger groups, juveniles and subadults will often congregate with adults. Dwarf shrimp and other small, delicate invertebrates should not be kept with the Red/Orange Head Tapajos Eartheater, but more durable, larger shrimp and snails could possibly make good tankmates in a large enough aquarium Schooling fish such as tetras, pencilfish, and Corydoras catfish are good tankmates, as are suckermouth catfish and other relatively peaceful cichlids such as severums, angelfish, and even discus. If spawning is desired, tankmates of other similar-looking species should be kept to a minimum or avoided altogether unless the aquarium is extremely large.
While it is a generally hardy species, the Red/Orange Head Tapajos Eartheater is not tolerant of subpar water conditions and it will deteriorate rather quickly if routine maintenance is not performed. Powerful filtration is a must. Other than this requirement (which is really a standard of care for any aquarium) and the need for soft, sandy substrate, it is a very adaptable and undemanding species that is truly a reward to see in a healthy group of adult specimens.
Feeding is simple for the unfussy Red/Orange Head Tapajos Eartheater. High-quality dry, frozen, and live meaty foods will all be readily accepted. Quality and variety are the keys to a diet that will ensure that this fish maintains optimal health and coloration. Due to its unique feeding behavior, this fish requires food of smaller size than many other cichlids. Even as it reaches adult size, it should be fed foods comparable to the size of bloodworms and small grade dry foods.
What We Like About This Fish:
- Beautiful coloration across the entire body in both males and females
- Very active with fascinating feeding behavior
- Hardy with plenty of personality
- Possible to breed in the aquarium
- Compatible with many other species in a spacious tank
RECOMMENDED TANK PARAMETERS:
- Temperature: 78.8° - 86° F (26° - 30° C)
- pH: 4.0 - 7.0
- KH: 2 - 7 KH
- Minimum tank size: 90+ gallons for a group of 5-8 specimens, although a larger tank is more optimal for this active species.
- Diet: Omnivorous. A variety of high-quality dry, frozen, and live meaty and plant-based foods is necessary for optimal health and coloration.
- Social behavior: Gregarious. Males can be territorial when attempting to spawn and females are very protective of their eggs during spawning.
- Origin: Tank-bred, but indigenous to Lower Rio Tapajos, Brazil
- Average adult size: 6 - 8 inches (15 - 20 cm), though 6 inches is most common
- Average purchase size: 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) for Juveniles, 2 - 3 inches (5 - 7.6 cm) for Subadults