South American Cichlids • Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Discussion regarding only South American Cichlid species. (Oscars, Geophagines, Discus, Apistogramma, Green Terrors, Angels, Severums, Pikes, etc.)

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Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Postby Manacapuru19 » Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:11 pm

Hi there, I’m upgrading from a 29 gallon to a 90 US gallon (76 UK gallons/350 litres) Juwel Rio 350. My current tank is Amazonian themed, with a pair of keyholes, diamond tetras, cardinals, a farlowella acus and a marbled whip tail. However, I’m determined to make this new setup a strict biotope for a specific river system within the Amazon. I’m still keeping the 29 gallon though so will be keeping current fish in there.

I initially was thinking of discus since I have had success keeping more delicate species like the farlowella who need perfect water parameters. However, I personally prefer the activity and behaviour of other cichlids species, despite the beauty of Discus. I have already kept angels, a pair of Manacapuru who I rehomed to my LFS’s display tank when they got a bit too large, therefore I don’t want to go down that route either.
I have decided on a geophagus due to their beauty, interesting behaviour and ability to be kept in a shoal with other community fish.
Being a newbie to Geos, I had some questions for the community and more experienced keepers!

1. What Geophagus should I get? The tank’s dimensions are 121cm/51cm/66cm so I assume I am not just restricted to dwarf cichlids. I am really interested in Sveni, Neambi, Surinamensis as I think their colours are stunning. I also like the looks and behaviour of the Red Head tapajos.

2. How many? My ideal stocking would be six; I know Sveni and surinamensis get quite large so would my tank be big enough to keep a shoal of six long term (not just a grow out).

3. Which biotope should I setup? Xingu, Tapajos, Negro etc.?

4. Tank mates; I really want a large shoal of tetras. Which species are found with each species of geophagus in the wild?
I’m also interested in perhaps keeping one other cichlid with them, perhaps a single Severum or a Festivum, however, I understand if they won’t fit the biotope or result in overstocking.

5. decor? What sand, rocks and wood should I use. I don’t want to use submerged plants but want to use Frogbit to diffuse the lights and crate more of a black water environment.

Thank you so much to whoever has read this whole thread! I know it is long but I want to make sure I get this right and don’t end up with stressed fish and disaster! I’m ready to learn from more experienced hobbyists and get advice on this matter.
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Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2021 2:38 pm
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Re: Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Postby Auballagh » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:57 pm

Hello! Kind of nice to see someone dedicated to building a true, biotope-themed aquarium.
Earth Eaters are a nice addition to the aquarium, if you are looking for a bit more movement. A well-kept group can definitely be a bit Hurly Burly in an aquarium! :roll:
So, to consider your 4 foot long X 18 inch wide tank. I personally believe it will be too small for keeping any of the larger-growing Geophagus species you mentioned. The 90G has a taller water column, yes. But, as per their name, 'Eartheaters' will spend the bulk of their time swimming and prowling about on the bottom. Aquariums with a larger bottom area 'foot print' are very desirable for this species. 6 foot long tanks are actually considered more common and recommended for keeping the numbers needed to spread Eartheater aggression, and to keep everyone unstressed and happy. A single individual of just about any of the hardier species can of course be kept in the aquarium, with very few aggression problems.
But, that doesn't rule out some of the smaller Geophagines you could consider.
- Red-Headed Tapajos (Tapajos II = not red headed) are smaller, good choices to consider from well, the Tapajos river! Males can be a little more hard on the females in this species, so I wouldn't keep any less than 3 females (Four is better) for one male to keep the females from getting individually harassed and stressed by the male too much.
- Geophagus taeniopareius is a really good one, if you can find it. From the upper range of the Orinoco river, these really are a pretty peaceful Eartheater and would do well with a 1M/3F harem.
- Geophagus sp. "Pindare" (Parnaiba), is from the Rio Pindare and is also not very easy to find for sale. A bit more aggressive than the G Taeniopaeius, it won't pursue things to the same extent as the Tapajos types will. A 1M-4F harem is still a good bet and recommended for successfully keeping a group of this species.
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General keeping notes.
- WATER: All three of those species are considered pretty easy to keep in the hobby, because they are pretty adaptable and aren't too fussy about the tank water parameters in PH and hardness level. And really, CLEAN is the primary consideration for successfully keeping just about any Eartheater species properly in the aquarium. By that, I mean you absolutely must keep your Nitrates down below 20-30 PPM and even then that level would definitely be pushing it. Geophagines are extremely prone to getting HLLE and Hole in Head disease. This is a problem they share with other sensitive New World cichlid species such as Discus, Altum Angels, etc.... and this terrible condition just about always starts with poor water quality in the aquarium. So, invest in a quality Nitrate test kit, lots of fast-growing plants and be ready to push a lot more water in water changes than you may have before, to dilute those Nitrates down to safe levels in the aquarium.
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- Sand: The larger particle size/coarser Pool Filtration Sand looks great, and will work great for your Earth Eaters to dig and sift through with no problems.
Hope this info helps, and good luck with it! You will probably wind up with something from the Geophagus sp. 'Tapajos' line, as they seem to quite popular in the hobby now and should be more readily available for purchase. 8)
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Re: Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Postby Manacapuru19 » Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:50 pm

Thank you so much Auballagh for your response and helping me decide which geo to get! I really love the look of Pindare and Tapajos, especially how similar they look to some of the larger Geophagus such as Surinamensis. What Tetras and catfish should I go for that are Rio Pindare or Tapajos native?
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Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2021 2:38 pm
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Re: Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Postby Auballagh » Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:18 pm

Whew.... I can source out Cichlids pretty accurately. But, when it comes to the supporting cast?
That's much tougher work! :-?
So, if you are REALLY gonna get into this abslutely pure, riverine biotope thing (why not?!!). Here is as good a place as any to start:

https://www.fishbase.de/search.php

That will work pretty good, esp. for your getting more specific, locality info on your Tetras.
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This next one may provide a bit more in-depth info regarding those catfish you are looking for,

https://www.planetcatfish.com/

That site is pretty much the definitive source for aquarium catfish, as far as I know.
-
Oh, and you mentioned Severum as a potential stocking candidate for the aquarium? As far as personality and social temperment goes? Sure! Severums are a New World cichlid species that seemingly have the knack of getting along with all kinds of other Cichlids. But, when it comes to Live Plants?
Nope.
Severums DO love their veggies! And unfortunately, will wind up destroying just about any live plant you place in the aquarium with them (I've personally found that none of mine seemed to like Java Moss very much, at least....).
And another thing to consider, the greater number of fish you stock with? Will definitely equal a greater bio-load on the aquarium. This will make it harder to keep the Nitrates down to lower levels, and ensure your Geophagus are unstressed, healthy and happy. That's another reason why larger aquariums (larger water volumes) are better for keeping Eartheater cichlid groups together. :oops:
Find What You Love And Let It kill You!
What matters most is how well you walk through the fire...
- Charles Bukowski -
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Re: Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Postby jwm2k3 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 10:15 pm

20210129_195227.jpg
I've just upgraded from a 29 gallon to a 90 gallon like yourself!

I have 6 Tapajos in there, they are about an inch or so long. Active and awesome! Cant wait to see them fully color up!
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Re: Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Postby Manacapuru19 » Wed Feb 03, 2021 4:50 am

Beautiful geos you have there! I can’t wait to get mine eventually, what tankmates do you have with them?
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Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2021 2:38 pm
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Re: Which Geophagus for 90 gallon?

Postby jwm2k3 » Sun Feb 07, 2021 8:48 am

Manacapuru19 wrote:Beautiful geos you have there! I can’t wait to get mine eventually, what tankmates do you have with them?


6 Geos, 5 Cichlasoma (Acara), 7 Australoheros sp local (red ciebal), 2 Apistogramma (should not really go with these fish, but it's working for now) and 3 bristlecone plecos.

They are all juveniles, all very active and all eat voraciously. Lots of spawning and spawning behavior in the tank. It's been up and running a few months and I much prefer this tank over my African cichlid tank :)
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