Seidel and Harnoss, 1991
Distribution: Endemic to Brazil’s Rio Arapiuns and the connecting Rio Tapajós, the latter being a large tributary of the Amazon River.
Size: 5-6″ (12.7-15.2cm)
Geophagus are among my all-time favorite cichlids. Large-eyed and gregarious, these entertaining Amazonians are the so-called “earth-eaters”, as they continually sift through the substrate for anything edible, taking in mouthfuls of sand and gravel and spitting out or filtering through their gills that which is inedible.
Geophagus sp. Tapajós ‘Red Head’, a fairly recent discovery, is arguably the most colorful of the genus. There are two slightly different variants. Those from the blackwaters of the Rio Arapiuns have an orange bar across the top of the dorsal fin, and the red/orange on their heads extends beyond their eyes. Those found at the clearwater confluence of the the Arapiuns and Tapajós rivers and in the whitewaters of the Rio Tapajós proper do not have the orange dorsal bar, and the red/orange on their heads does not extend beyond their eyes. In both cases, the colors develop and intensify with age and social ranking, with dominant males being the most vibrant.
Generally one of the more peaceful cichlids, Geophagus sp. Tapajós ‘ (and Geophagus in general) do best in groups. Tank mates should be mild-mannered with size enough to not be considered as food. Large, well-aquascaped aquaria with plenty of sight barriers are a good idea, as Geophagus sp. will tussel a bit and become territorial when establishing rank and during breeding.
Here’s a video of their community aquarium:
These are delayed oviparous mouth-brooders, which is to say that unlike many mouth-brooding cichlids that take the eggs into their mouths as soon as they are laid, this species will only do so after several days (72 hours or so). The parents, typically the female, but often the male as well, will continue to mouth-brood the eggs until they hatch, and the fry as well until they are too large to fit in their mouths.
Below is a video of 5 juvenile Geophagus sp. Rio Tapajós ‘Red Head’ Arapiuns. They were about 4 months old when I acquired them, and it can be seen that they were not in very good shape. Clamped fins, wobbling and labored breathing were indicative of a number of ailments that I felt that I could treat. Since these were a rare find at the time I decided to purchase them. First, I had the owner of the LFS demonstrate to me that they were eating well. This is VERY important, and should be a deal-breaker for anyone considering taking such chances. Needless to say, quarantining is a must!
After a week of treatment this is how they looked:
All of the fish pictured at the top of this page and throughout are also the very same fish. Well-grown, healthy, active with beautiful, intense color. Not a bad call!