Geophagus Surinamensis (Red Striped Eartheater): Care, Maintenance, and Breeding

caring for red striped eartheater

Geophagus Surinamensis, commonly known as the Red Striped Eartheater, is a captivating species of cichlid that demands our attention. From their vibrant appearance to their intriguing behavior, these fish have become a favorite among aquarists.

In this article, we will explore the essential aspects of caring for, maintaining, and breeding Geophagus Surinamensis. From the intricacies of their tank requirements to the challenges of successful breeding, we will uncover the secrets to keeping these remarkable creatures thriving in your aquarium.

So, let's dive into the world of Geophagus Surinamensis and unravel the mysteries that lie within.

Key Takeaways

  • Geophagus Surinamensis, also known as Red Striped Eartheater, is a species of cichlid native to South America.
  • They can grow up to 12 inches (30cm) in size and have a lifespan of up to 7 years.
  • These fish have vibrant colors and distinct red stripes on their sides.
  • Proper care includes providing a large aquarium, clean water, and a good filtration system, as well as suitable tank mates and breeding conditions.

Geophagus Surinamensis Overview

south american cichlid species

Geophagus Surinamensis, also known as the Surinam Geophagus, is a species of cichlid that belongs to the family Cichlidae and is native to the South American rivers of Suriname and French Guiana. This species has a wide distribution, primarily found in the Saramacca and Suriname rivers in Suriname, as well as the Marowijne River in Suriname and French Guiana.

When it comes to coloration, juvenile Geophagus Surinamensis and those found in fish stores tend to have muted colors. However, non-stressed individuals display vibrant neon-like linear patterns of red, blue, and green. Additionally, their fins and tails showcase light blue spotted patterns, which are long and flowing. The red stripes on their sides give them their name, the Redstripe Eartheater.

Understanding the distribution and coloration of Geophagus Surinamensis is crucial for maintaining and breeding this species in captivity. By providing suitable conditions and a well-maintained environment, aquarists can appreciate the full beauty and unique characteristics of these fascinating cichlids.

Tank Requirements and Setup

To successfully care for Geophagus surinamensis, it is important to provide a suitable tank environment and setup. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Choosing the right substrate:
  • Geophagus surinamensis are bottom-dwelling fish that sift through the substrate for food. It is recommended to use a fine sand or small gravel substrate to mimic their natural habitat.
  • Avoid using sharp or rough substrates that can potentially harm their delicate mouths and fins.
  • Decorations and hiding spots:
  • These fish appreciate a tank with plenty of hiding spots and territories. Use large rocks, driftwood, and caves to create a natural-looking environment.
  • Adding live plants like Amazon sword or Vallisneria can provide additional hiding places and help maintain water quality.

Water Quality and Maintenance

monitoring and preserving water quality

Continuing our exploration of Geophagus surinamensis tank requirements and setup, the focus now turns to the crucial aspect of water quality and maintenance.

It is essential to regularly monitor and maintain proper water parameters to ensure the health and well-being of these beautiful fish. Water testing should be conducted regularly to determine ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, as well as pH and temperature.

Ammonia and nitrite should always be kept at zero, as they are highly toxic to fish. Nitrate levels should be kept below 20 ppm to prevent stress and disease. The ideal pH range for Geophagus surinamensis is between 6.5 and 7.5, and the water temperature should be maintained within the range of 76°F to 88°F (24-27°C).

Regular water changes, preferably with an automated system, are necessary to remove accumulated waste and maintain water quality.

Feeding and Diet

The feeding and diet of Geophagus surinamensis play a crucial role in maintaining their health and promoting optimal growth and development. These fish have specific feeding habits and nutritional requirements that must be met to ensure their well-being.

  • Feeding habits:
  • Geophagus surinamensis are bottom-dwelling fish that sift through the substrate in search of food.
  • They are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter.
  • Nutritional requirements:
  • A balanced diet should include high-quality pellets or flakes specifically formulated for cichlids.
  • Supplementing their diet with live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia is beneficial.
  • Providing vegetable matter such as blanched spinach or peas is important for their digestive health.
  • It is recommended to feed them small portions multiple times a day to mimic their natural feeding behavior.

Meeting the feeding habits and nutritional requirements of Geophagus surinamensis will ensure their optimal health and growth.

Compatible Tank Mates

choosing compatible fish tank mates

When considering tank mates for Geophagus surinamensis, it is important to choose species that are peaceful and compatible with their bottom-dwelling behavior. Redstripe Eartheaters are peaceful themselves and do not exhibit aggression towards tank mates.

Some suitable tank mates include guppies, plecos, corydoras, cardinal tetras, and neon tetras. However, it is crucial to ensure that the guppies are peaceful and not fin nippers. Plecos and corydoras are bottom-dwelling catfish that not only add to the diversity of the tank but also help keep the tank clean.

It is important to avoid aggressive species, both small and large, as they may cause stress and aggression in tank mates. By choosing compatible tank mates, you can create a harmonious and peaceful environment for your Geophagus surinamensis.

Behavior and Temperament

To understand the behavior and temperament of Geophagus surinamensis, it is important to observe their interactions with tank mates and their natural instincts as bottom-dwelling cichlids. These fish are generally peaceful and won't bother their tank mates. However, it is crucial to avoid aggressive species, both small and large, to maintain a harmonious tank environment.

Here are some key points regarding the behavior and temperament of Geophagus surinamensis:

  • Aggression Levels:
  • Geophagus surinamensis typically display low aggression levels towards other fish in the tank.
  • They are not known to be territorial, making them a suitable choice for community tanks.
  • Social Interactions:
  • These cichlids are social creatures and enjoy the company of their own kind.
  • They often form small schools or groups, especially during feeding and breeding activities.

Breeding Challenges and Considerations

navigating animal breeding challenges

Breeding Geophagus surinamensis can present certain challenges and considerations due to their mouthbrooding behavior and specific requirements for successful reproduction. These challenges can be overcome with the right breeding techniques and by understanding the breeding success factors.

To increase the chances of breeding success, it is important to provide breeding pairs with suitable spawning sites and hiding places. This can be achieved by adding rocks, caves, or PVC pipes to the aquarium. The water parameters and temperature should also be suitable for breeding, with a pH level of around 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature range of 76°F to 82°F (24-28°C).

Table: Breeding Challenges and Considerations

Challenge Consideration
Mouthbrooding behavior Understanding the process and providing appropriate conditions for successful mouthbrooding.
Spawning sites Providing suitable spawning sites such as rocks, caves, or PVC pipes.
Water parameters Maintaining the right water parameters, including pH and temperature.
Separating fry Separating the fry from the adults to ensure their survival.

Creating a Suitable Breeding Environment

Creating an optimal breeding environment for Geophagus surinamensis requires careful consideration of various factors. These include the setup of suitable spawning sites, maintenance of appropriate water parameters, and the separation of fry from adult fish. To maximize breeding success, the following techniques and factors should be taken into account:

Spawning Sites:

  • Provide flat surfaces such as large rocks or flat pieces of slate where the breeding pair can lay their eggs.
  • Ensure the substrate is sandy or fine-grained to mimic their natural habitat and facilitate egg deposition.

Water Parameters:

  • Maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, replicating the slightly acidic to neutral conditions of their native rivers.
  • Keep the water temperature between 78°F and 82°F (25-28°C) to stimulate breeding behavior.

Breeding Process and Care for Fry

fry breeding and care

Once the Geophagus surinamensis eggs have hatched, the breeding process and care for the fry become crucial for their survival and development.

To ensure fry survival, it is important to provide them with a suitable environment and proper nutrition. When selecting breeding pairs, it is recommended to choose healthy and mature individuals that have displayed good parenting skills in the past.

The breeding tank should be equipped with fine substrate or a spawning cone where the female can lay her eggs. After hatching, the fry should be separated from the adults to prevent predation and aggression.

It is essential to provide them with small, frequent feedings of live or frozen baby brine shrimp, micro worms, or finely crushed flake food to ensure their growth and development. Additionally, maintaining stable water conditions and regular water changes are vital for fry health and survival.

Longevity and Health Issues

After ensuring the successful breeding and care of Geophagus surinamensis fry, it is important to discuss the longevity and potential health issues associated with these South American cichlids. Geophagus surinamensis has a lifespan of up to 7 years, with an average of 5 to 6 years. However, their lifespan can be influenced by several factors, including their care and the presence of any common health issues.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Common health issues:
  • Bacterial infections: Geophagus surinamensis are susceptible to bacterial infections, which can be caused by poor water quality or stress. It is important to maintain clean water conditions and reduce stressors in the aquarium.
  • Parasitic infections: These cichlids can be affected by parasites such as ich and flukes. Regular observation and treatment can help prevent and manage these infections.
  • Lifespan and care:
  • Proper diet: Providing a balanced diet consisting of high-quality pellets, live or frozen foods, and occasional vegetable matter can contribute to the overall health and longevity of Geophagus surinamensis.
  • Water quality: Maintaining clean water with proper filtration and regular water changes is essential for their well-being.
  • Stress reduction: Creating a suitable environment with hiding places and appropriate tank mates can help reduce stress and promote longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take for Geophagus Surinamensis Fry to Reach Maturity?

The growth rate of Geophagus surinamensis fry can vary depending on factors such as water quality, temperature, and diet. On average, it takes several months for the fry to reach maturity and develop into adult fish.

Can Geophagus Surinamensis Be Kept in a Community Tank With Other Aggressive Cichlids?

Keeping multiple species of aggressive cichlids in a community tank is not advisable. Geophagus Surinamensis, although peaceful, may be at risk of aggression from other cichlids. It is best to choose tank mates that are compatible in terms of temperament and aggression levels.

What Is the Average Clutch Size for Geophagus Surinamensis During Breeding?

The average clutch size for Geophagus surinamensis during breeding can vary, but typically ranges from 100 to 300 eggs. However, breeding success can be challenging due to the specific requirements and behaviors of this species.

Are There Any Specific Water Parameters That Are Crucial for Successful Breeding of Geophagus Surinamensis?

Specific water parameters are crucial for successful breeding of Geophagus Surinamensis. These include pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5, water hardness around 5-10 dGH, and a temperature range of 76°F to 80°F (24-27°C). Maintaining optimal conditions promotes breeding behaviors and increases the chances of successful reproduction.

Do Geophagus Surinamensis Exhibit Any Unique Behaviors or Characteristics During the Breeding Process?

Unique breeding behaviors exhibited by Geophagus Surinamensis include mouthbrooding, where the female carries and protects the eggs in her mouth, and the male's role in guarding the breeding territory. A proper breeding tank setup with suitable spawning sites and hiding places is essential for successful breeding.


In conclusion, Geophagus Surinamensis, also known as the Red Striped Eartheater, is a captivating species of cichlid that requires specific care and maintenance in an aquarium setting.

Providing a spacious tank, clean water, and suitable tank mates are essential for their well-being.

Breeding these mouthbrooders can be challenging but achievable with the right conditions.

By understanding their needs and providing a suitable environment, aquarists can enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of Geophagus Surinamensis in their homes.