Care Level: Moderate
Live Plant Safe: With Caution
General Description: The Red Head Tapajos Geophagus is native to the rio Tapajo in Brazil. Their name, Geophagus, translates to “earth-eating.” This unique behavior of sifting mouthfuls of sand in order to extract food adds a quirkiness to the home aquarium, and why a fine substrate is absolutely essential for their well-being (see Care requirements below). Unless a pair of Red Tapajos geophagus are breeding, they are a rather peaceful cichlid and will not predate on even very small fish. Red Tapajos geoghagus are social, preferring to be kept in groups of 5 to 8 individuals but even more are encouraged. This is important because geophagus form a heirarchal dominance structure. Too few of individuals can result in weaker specimens as the target of constant antagonism by dominant individuals, or the group may behave more nervously and fail to settle in. Male and female Red Tapajos geophagus differ slightly, in that males are more intensely colored and their fins develop longer streamers. Smaller, immature Red Tapajos geophagus may show less coloration and will have five parallel, vertical dark bars that become especially pronounced when stressed. An adult Red Tapajos geophagus can reach a size of approximately 8″; males average larger than females.
Diet Requirements: In the wild Red Tapajos geophagus are omnivores, but a greater proportion of their diet should be vegetable based. A diet made up of various high quality vegetable and protein based flake foods and sinking pellet foods are ideal, in addition to offering frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp that contains spirulina algae and other mixed freshwater preparations. Freeze-dried Tubifex worms are also a favorite, as are providing live blackworms occasionally as a treat. Variety is the spice of life in order to maintain color, immune function and longevity of your fish. Geophagus particularily benefit from multiple, small feedings throughout the day because this allows for their natural browsing behavior.
Care Requirements: An established minimum 55 gallon aquarium is ideal for a young group of Red Tapajos geophagus as outlined in the General Description section. A larger group (8+ individuals) will require more space, and the tank should be upgraded accordingly as the fish grow. Mechanical filtration is highly recommended to extract small particles that are continually stirred up by their sand-sifting behavior. This will also prevent wear and tear on your filter’s mechanisms. Red Tapajos geophagus are intolerable of nitrite or ammonia spikes. Weekly water changes are encouraged to keep water parameters up to standard for geophagus (Nitrates < 30 ppm). If maintenance is neglected, Red Tapajos geoghagus are susceptible to head and lateral line erosion and stunted growth. Given their natural habitat of living in the rio Tapajo, these geophagus do not like excessively turbulent water. A sandy or fine substrate is absolutely imperative for the long-term success and well-being of geophagus. Coarse substrates can inhibit feeding behavior, damage gill tissue and even cause internal damage or blockages if ingested. The aquarium should be aquascaped mostly with driftwood or similar furnishings to replicate tree roots, but some open swimming space should also be provided. A few, flat rocks would provide potential spawning sites. While Red Tapajos geophagus would unlikely consume live plants deliberately, their natural browsing behaviors could uproot them and that is why they are listed to be added in a live planted aquarium “with caution.” Red Tapajos geophagus are compatible with a variety of small to medium fish, so long as tank mates thrive in similar tank conditions and water parameters. Do not mix Red Tapajos geophagus with overly aggressive or pugnacious Central or South American species. Recommended water conditions, 76-82° F, KH 4-12, pH 4.5-7.0.
Purchase Size: Small: 1-1/2” to 2”, Medium: 2-1/4” to 3”, Large: 3-1/4” to 4”
Note: Your item may not look identical to the image provided due to variation within species. Purchase sizes are approximate.