Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Juraparoids, the Eartheaters

Related Articles: Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Angels and Earth Eaters; sys. and  in/comp.      6/17/15
Just wondering if one Satanoperca Jurupari (Eartheater) would work with two large angels in a 75 gallon??? I think they may need a sandy bottom though, our tank is bare bottom so it may not work Thank you
<Juraparoids really do need a bottom they can "mouth"... And there is a chance for trouble mixing these two species.
Bob Fenner>

Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)      4/11/15
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
The past month was very hectic for me...traveling around the country to visit grad schools, working on research, lots of presentations to do...as a result, I STUPIDLY did not do a water change for four weeks...
<Uh-oh... To be fair, some fish handle high nitrates ("old water") rather well, and these were the popular ones through the 60s and 70s. Non-fancy Guppies, many of the hardy characins, Corydoras, etc. Provided the tank is
otherwise well-maintained with plenty of plant growth (even algae) to extract at least some nitrate, these fish don't seem too bothered even by 100 mg/l nitrate levels. However, as you correctly surmise, cichlids are not among this group! They are notoriously sensitive, jumbo cichlids, Tanganyikan cichlids and dwarf cichlids especially.>
I finally had a break in the schedule and decided to do a 50% water change (I did not do more than that because from experience suddenly doing a 90% water change after none for a while kills fish) and noticed that my Geophagus has lost skin in three small patches of his lateral line. It is not white, pus-filled...just skin missing. I know this species is sensitive to nitrate but he was perfectly healthy and growing larger until now, leaving the tank without a water change for so long. I did the 50% change and added 1.5x the usual SeaChem Prime amount.
Is it possible for the erosion to go away if I return to my weekly water change schedule and bring the nitrates back down?
<Probably not.>
I know there are antiparasite medications for HLLE but I want to avoid using them if I can, given that the disease is mostly environmental.
<Yes, the environment triggers the outbreak, and yes, there is some evidence of a link between HLLE and the Hexamita parasite that is very possibly latent in all farmed cichlids. But once "the cat's out of the bag", cichlids don't seem to (usually) recover under their own steam. You need to push back the Hexamita or whatever bacteria are infecting the pores, and that, in time, allows the skin tissue to heal again. In short: the Metronidazole and Nitrofuran antibiotic combination does seem optimal, though eSHa at least manufacturer an all-in-one product called eSHa
HEXAMITA that supposedly treats mild cases of HLLE and HITH reasonably well despite lacking both these ingredients.>
Thank you,
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)      4/11/15

Will these products destroy my bio filter? Because to be honest I am afraid I don't really have time to set up a hospital aquarium and monitor it a lot...I am running up the deadline to my senior thesis right now.
<Used as directed they should be safe. If in doubt, reduce/stop feeding, and use Zeolite in the filter (changed every few days) as a chemical adsorbent of ammonia. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)      4/11/15

My hospital tank is much smaller and uses Zeolite, so I need to monitor it very closely when using it to know how often I need to replace the Zeolite.
<You can't predict this. That's why you test, daily, with ammonia detector.
Assume replacement every couple days, but really, depends on the size of the fish, how frequently you do water changes, how often you feed the fish, etc...>
I can definitely treat the Geophagus in the main tank.
<Often sensible.>
Out of curiosity I found an "electric blue" blue Acara, but it was sick. If I find a healthy one, I am going to probably replace the Geophagus with it.
How sensitive are Acara to nitrate?
<Fairly sensitive. Skip water changes for a couple weeks, and you'll know about it.>
From my experience Severums can tolerate a month without water changes ( I kept them when the tank was solely cleaned by the monthly service) but I don't know about Acara.
<Indeed. A good rule of thumb is that "old school" fish were often fairly tolerant: Port Acara, Severums, Jewel Cichlids, even Angels to some degree.
But all cichlids are more sensitive to nitrate than tetras, barbs or catfish, and I wouldn't recommend any of them for "near-zero maintenance" systems.>
I am not saying I plan on only doing water changes once a month, but as I said before I am leaving to grad school this fall and I want something that won't die if my family end up not changing the water for a couple of weeks...I know cichlids aren't as hardy as cypriniform fish but there aren't many of those with bright blues and greens.
<Understood. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)     4/12/15

I bought the medications you recommended but their instructions conflict.
Metronidazole bottle says I need to change the water every 24 hours.
Nitrofurazone says every 48 hours. Which one should I follow? I did another 50% change today. Nitrate was 5-20ppm this morning before that so it shouldn't be too high now.
<I would go along with what the Metronidazole says. It's the most important, and in any event, medications get metabolised in the aquarium pretty quickly, so I doubt much is left behind beyond 24 hours. But I'll leave the last word to Bob Fenner; he's got more experience of this/these medications than I do. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!      4/19/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
So I have given the Geophagus four doses of the Metronidazole and two doses of the Nitrofurazone. I gave the latter in half doses as I didn't want to stress the bio filter too much. I ran out of the pure Metronidazole but I have API general cute, which has both Metronidazole and Praziquantel. Could I use it until I get more pure stuff, or is the unneeded Praziquantel too risky?
<Should be fine.>
I am curious: would it make the Metronidazole more effective if I gave it as medicated food? I have been using it as a bath.
<It's much, MUCH better as food... gets inside the fish more quickly.>
As for the Geophagus, the erosion is gone on his left side, but is still holding steady on his right side. To be honest I don't think it is Hexamita as the other usual symptoms (head erosion, stringy feces, pus etc) are not present. If it isn't then perhaps the antibiotic is more important and should be stepped up?...
<Metronidazole is an antibiotic, so should help in this direction too.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!       4/30/15

Dear Wet Web Media,
I am happy to report that the right side lateral line erosion in my Geophagus is healing over.
I've finished the recommended dosages of Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole. I was wondering how long you think I should keep medicating him.
<One round may be sufficient if the fish is improving, PROVIDED water quality and diet are excellent. I'd certainly wait a week or so before considering a second round of treatment, with a couple decent water changes thrown in to dilute any remaining medicine.>

Do you recommend any places online for buying medicine for fish?
<Can't help you here. In the UK these med.s. are strictly prescription only. Indeed, buying from a vet may be cheaper if the vet can prescribe a larger quantity at once go than you'd get from a pet shop. Otherwise online purchases may be helpful, but you never really know what you're getting from eBay and the like.>
Because buying it from my LFS has been very expensive. Just out of curiosity, in reading about lateral line erosion in cichlids, I've heard some people claim carbon in the filter can cause it, as well as poor diet.
I'm skeptical about the former, but the latter seems it could have some validity.
<Absolutely. The carbon thing has been around for years and seems to lack any science behind it. But diet is surely crucial. Many cichlids are strongly herbivorous in the wild, but we often don't give them much by way of fresh greens.>

Then again, I think most of the dietary claims were addressed towards people who feed their cichlids things they shouldn't like beef hearts and goldfish?
<Indeed. What we're talking about is giving cichlids a safe (i.e., parasite-free) diet that's varied (i.e., includes plant as well as animal foods).>
Just for future reference what are the tolerable nitrate levels for cichlids like Geophagus and blue Acara? I know in general <20ppm is a good idea but is that still too high?
<It's fine.>
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!       5/30/15
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
It's been about a month and I can't really tell if the Geophagus' lateral line is getting better anymore or not. Do you have any idea how long it generally takes to go away?
<A long time.
You should quickly see any loose material fall away and the holes obviously not getting any bigger (or any new holes appearing). But the pits themselves, once formed, take a long while to heal. Quite possibly months, and the fish may well never completely heal, with obvious scars remaining.>
It's restricted to a patch on his right side, and it's sort of just...there. I've gone back to my weekly 50% water changes.
<Do bear in mind that HITH/HLLE are strongly affected by diet and environment. Optimise both.>
I will say that I had to fast the fish for three days after one of my giant Danios ate way too much...they've learned to eat from the bottom now, and they're so much faster than the other fish. I've been able to get enough food to the other fish, but it's been difficult to prevent the Danios from eating too much for their stomach-less bodies. Could the fast have made the Geophagus' condition worse?
I know you said many cichlids are mostly herbivorous, but I think Geophagus mostly eat invertebrates.
<More specifically, they sift the sediment for insect larvae and organic detritus. They will be consuming a lot of algae in the process. Apart from the dedicated piscivores, pretty much all cichlids consume some combination of insects, algae and detritus.>
How often should they be given fresh greens?
<As often as they'll take them; certainly weekly.>
He'll eat carrots, and peas, but tougher things like leafy vegetables and cucumbers don't interest him at all.
<Indeed. He's not a specialist herbivore like a Severum, but anything soft and mushy is fair game.>
Thank you,
<You're welcome.>
P.S. I recently saw a really horrifying video of someone feeding their girlfriend's Finrot-infected Betta to their Oscar to put it out of its misery (or more likely, transfer its misery to the Oscar). Worst of all, someone I respected defended it with the standard "it happens in nature" response...kudos to you guys for standing up to this nonsense. (I once kept a pair of venustus whose favorite food was seaweed; this idea that predatory cichlids only eat live fish is complete nonsense.)
<Quite so. Back in the early 80s when I started keeping fish, I came across a pet shop with half a Goldfish (the front half) swill alive, gills and mouth moving as it breathed, but obviously unable to swim because it had lost its back half. They'd been feeding Goldfish to Oscars. This memory has stayed with me, not just for its inhumanity, but also because it's unnecessary. Thankfully, the "feeder fish" thing is virtually non-existent in the UK hobby, but it carries on in the US for some reason, despite the wealth of aquarium talent there. That's why I keep stressing the "no feeders" message on WWM, in the hope that I'll help to change that. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!      6/2/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I found some frozen algae, is it possible I could use this as part of the Geophagus' vegetable matter?
<Yes; worth trying... as is "Mud" filtration media... biological catalysts... see WWM re. Most celebrated for marine use, but does have discernible beneficial effects in freshwater systems>
The issue is that, like I've mentioned before, I've been hoping to replace the Geophagus with less delicate fish species before I go off to grad school. However, I am worried that, if it will take months for him to heal,
<Likely so>
then his wounds will just get reinfected from the stress of moving him.
I'm not quite sure what to do in this situation...I'm worried my parents won't always adhere to the maintenance he requires...I suppose I could add the other species now and then get my parents to remove him soon after I leave...
<Perhaps gifting to some one, place where the fish will get good care>
As far as what fish species would be best, I'm looking for something brightly colored, blue, red, green, yellow, etc. that isn't particularly aggressive, but not delicate either.
I know rainbowfish could possibly work, but how delicate are they exactly?
<Most very hardy... JUST read on WWM Re>
From my experience when I only had monthly service, and what I've read about them, they seem particularly prone to columnaris threading up their mouths and gills when the water quality isn't good enough.
Gouramis are nice, and I've tried keeping them with the silver dollars before, but they seem vulnerable in their pectoral fin threads. I'm concerned they'll get nipped.
I've seen you recommend platies as a good colorful but hardy fish, and my water is moderately hard so I think they'll like it, but what concerns me is that they're too small. From my experience, even though the silver dollars don't try to eat them, very small fish are stressed out by their presence.
Thank you,
(For the record, it was mentioned many months ago, but my water parameters are pH 7.9, GH of 11 degrees, and KH of 5 degrees. Could this be stressing out the Geophagus?
<Would be better if the pH and hardness were a bit lower...>
I doubt it is a large contributor given I've seen other people keeping very large, healthy Geos in Houston's alkaline tap water)
<Yes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!       5/3/15
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I think I have found why the Geo has been slow in recovering. Apparently my nitrate spiked up to 40-80 ppm all of a sudden, despite the water changes, and I think I know why.
<Yeeikes! Have you read on WWM re controlling NO3 yet?>
After I spilled juice from frozen fish food
and angered some of my family members, I've not been melting the food before putting it in the tank.
<You haven't been reading... all such foods should be rinsed ahead of placing>
I think the juice has been overwhelming me with nitrates.
<Ah yes; a good source>
When I let the frozen food thaw first, and did not let the juice get in the tank, my nitrates were under 20 ppm if I did weekly water changes. I knew the juice would raise nitrates, but I did not realize it would produce that much. I did a 60% water change after getting these readings...I'm sort of freaking out right now.
The reason is, I think that the Geo has become bloated, and I'm not sure if it's dropsy or what. I attached a couple of pictures. Should I go back to the antibiotics again?
<I would not>

His lateral line issues haven't gotten worse and seem to be healing still, but now I'm worried he's got a new problem...
I'm sorry if I seem like a complete wreck. Some of my family members do not appreciate my hobby, and so there are some things I just can't get help with.
<Fix the environment.
.. BobF>

Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!      6/21/15
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
After a combination of lots of water changes, cleaning the gravel/under gravel filter, and reducing the amount of high-protein food I have gotten the nitrates to 0-5ppm.
I also have been feeding the Geophagus cooked peas, carrots, and whole corn seeds, and well as New Life Spectrum cichlids pellets and Hikari Algae Wafers.
With the improvements in diet & environment the bloating is gone.

Perhaps I should have been clear when I said I spilled the juice...I didn't spill it in the tank, but on the floor, and it was bloodworm blood...
I started feeding whole frozen food after that incident for fear of messing up my parents' house. Before that I was able to keep nitrates under 20 ppm for a few months with weekly water changes, but skipping them for a month and then feeding frozen incorrectly messed up my streak.
After reading I know now I will go back to thawing the food off first and draining the juice off. If that isn't enough I will buy a brine shrimp net as advised and rinse them out outside.
Thank you,
<Thank you for this update. Bob Fenner>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!! /Neale      6/21/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I am sorry for this whole debacle. I had read that Geophagus "surinamensis" was nitrate sensitive before buying him, but I had also read that about most other cichlids, some of whom I had kept in the past and didn't find more delicate than other freshwater fish, so I thought this wouldn't be really that much of a problem.
<Indeed. Cichlids as a group are more sensitive to nitrate than, say, characins. But within the cichlids there is variation, and many of the farmed cichlids, particularly Angelfish, are tougher than their ancestors.
On the other hand, there are some cichlids that seem to retain a high degree of sensitivity to old water, and that's what we're talking about rather than nitrate per se. Infrequent water changes, overfeeding/inappropriate feeding, insufficient oxygenation, and excessively high temperatures seem to be the combination of factors that wear down the immune systems of many cichlid species. Nitrate is a good shorthand indicator of when these factors are at play, but I've seen perfectly healthy cichlids in high nitrate tanks were environmental conditions and diet were otherwise excellent, for example, through the cultivation of fast-growing floating plants in an understocked, over-filtered aquarium or tropical pond.>
However he has proven to be far more touchy than literally anything I've kept so far---this is the first time where just a month without water changes made a fish sick almost immediately. I guess I had taken on more than I expected.
<This is a common experience with Geophagines (and dwarf cichlids too). Success with Angels and Kribs doesn't predict success with the touchier cichlids.>
I will keep the nitrates low and feed him what I've been feeding him until his lateral line heals...then I will try to find somebody else better equipped for him.
I was also going to follow through on my rainbowfish idea as a "replacement" for the Geo (at least in terms of blue & red colors). I have a 12g quarantine tank and zeolite, so I think I could get them clear of diseases before I put them in the main tank.
What worries me is that both the Geo and my clown loach chase after the silver dollars during feeding. The dollars are faster than they are and aren't hurt by it, but I am concerned rainbowfish might not be able to take it. What is the risk?
<Agreed with you, this sounds inappropriate. A school of (large species) Rainbowfish adults might be okay in a rough-and-tumble community, but they're far less of a certainty than Silver Dollars and Spanner Barbs, the two "go-to" species for such set-ups. Spanner Barbs in particular are extremely hardy fish, and back in the 60s and 70s they were practically ubiquitous choices for such tanks.>
I know clown loaches are more docile in groups, but I don't think I'd be able to keep a whole group in this tank for long. I could possibly get a couple more at some point, but only depending on how fast they grow.
<Indeed. Clowns have a tendency to go nuts when kept singly. Most become reclusive, but some try to school with other fish, perhaps harassing them in the process. Again, recalling the 70s, it was common for people to report their single Clown school with Tiger Barbs!>
I looked into the mud and algae filtration systems, but I'm not really sure if I can set up something like that at this point.
<A simpler choice might be a sump, which you can illuminate with fluorescent tubes and stock with floating plants and fully expect an improvement in water quality. Or for that matter, throw some floating Indian Fern into your tank. These plants are AMAZING at keeping water quality good. They grow rapidly, turning fish waste into plant material you can physically remove (and share with other aquarists!). Of course this wonderful plant is also a source of green food for herbivorous fish, which love to eat it, so it's a win/win. Keeps the water clean, provides essential vitamins, useful shade, and a holiday food when you're gone a couple weeks! Do read:
Bob's as much a fan as I am, and truly, this cheap plant is one of the best investments for any freshwater aquarist.>
To be honest I'm not sure it's worth it, given that I could just keep nitrates down with water changes/less proteinaceous foods (most of my fish are big vegetable eaters anyway). My aquarium light rests on a piece of glass above the tank, and algae grows very much on the underside of the glass...
<Do remove the glass if you add floating plants.>
Is it possible leaving the light on longer could help?
<Theoretically, yes; but in practise extending the lights-on time tends to cause problems with undesirable algae (blue-green for example) and annoys those fish that dislike bright light (catfish, loaches, etc.).>
Even diatoms remove nitrate, right?
<Marginally, yes. But nothing like as effectively as higher plants such as floating Indian Fern. If you aren't removing handfuls per week, then it's not doing anything useful. Algae scrubbers rely on massive growth rates under intense lighting. They're not simply letting algae grow somewhere!>
Thank you for everything,
<Welcome. Neale.>

Geophagus surinamensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri       2/1/15
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
You might remember me as the person with the sick angelfish and the 105 gallon aquarium with silver dollars. I was unable to save the angelfish, but I am happy to say that after following your advice on weekly water changes, I haven't had any problems with disease since. It is amazing how much a difference low nitrate levels make.
However there is a new problem I am having. There are two Geophagus cichlids in the 105, one G. winemilleri and one G. surinamensis (the latter was mistakenly labeled as the same species). Initially they were evenly matched, but since I first got them the G. surinamensis grew larger and is now bullying the G. winemilleri a lot. There hasn't been any major damage
inflicted but the constant aggression is clearly stressing the latter very much (he is always showing dark vertical bars). I am worried if this keeps up he will eventually die from it.
<You should be able to see this escalating... physical damage, a lack of feeding; in time to separate them>
I have read that keeping Geophagus in groups of four or more helps to diffuse the aggression but given how large they get I think two is as many as I can fit in my tank. If I were to remove the G. winemilleri from the tank I am concerned the G. surinamensis will start harassing the silver dollars instead.
<Not likely; the Dollars are fast, and smart>
I know that New World cichlids are typically recommended as silver dollar companions, but these Geophagus are the first I've tried that don't bite them a lot. What do you recommend I do?
<I'd add another couple Geophagines myself or other more peaceful New World/Neotropical Cichlids, like Acaras, Festivums, Uarus...>

Thank you,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Geophagus surinamensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri /RMF   2/2/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Perhaps I should inform you what is inside the tank so I can indicate why I am concerned about adding more Geophagines. There are, in addition to the Geophagus, six silver dollars, five giant danios, one clown loach, and two weather loaches (I know the latter shouldn't be there, but I didn't know that when I got them, and they're long and thick so I think they're doing
fine). I have been hoping to add one more clown loach, and perhaps some rainbowfish, but if I have four Geophagus, I don't think there would be enough room.
I should also probably clarify what I meant by major damage. There is some damage to the G. winemilleri's fins, but they're not completely torn apart and ragged, and there are no wounds to the body. One thing I've discovered is that now that my water quality is better, my fish recover from fin injuries without getting infections, but then none of my fish are getting
constantly picked on except for that one.
There is also the fact I have an undergravel filter in my tank.
<Old school... I'd remove, add more, at least two outside power filters>

I wanted a more docile neotropical cichlid, and Geophagines popped up in all my searches, but I know they aren't ideal for undergravel filters. The undergravel filter is cleaned out monthly, and I filled my canister filter with biomedia as backup, and haven't had any ammonia problems, but I'm not sure what having four of them in there will do.
Do you recommend I replace them with another kind of cichlid that doesn't dig as much? I once tried keeping my silver dollars with red Severums (and of course angelfish) but they constantly kept harassing the dollars.
Firemouths were too aggressive in general. I think I need a cichlid that isn't disk-shaped and doesn't just hover in midwater so it doesn't see the dollars as competitors.
Thank you,
<I would do the same as prev. stated. BobF>
Re: Geophagus surinamensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri /Neale   2/2/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Perhaps I should inform you what is inside the tank so I can indicate why I am concerned about adding more Geophagines.
<As would I be. This genus is notoriously sensitive to environmental conditions, and needs to be handled with kid-gloves.>
There are, in addition to the Geophagus, six silver dollars, five giant danios, one clown loach, and two weather loaches (I know the latter shouldn't be there, but I didn't know that when I got them, and they're long and thick so I think they're doing fine).
<And probably are. While subtropical fish, they probably do better in a well-maintained tropical aquarium than a grubby unheated tank stocked with Goldfish, which is their most common fate.>
I have been hoping to add one more clown loach, and perhaps some rainbowfish, but if I have four Geophagus, I don't think there would be enough room.
<Two Geophagus altifrons and two Geophagus winemilleri, right? At this point let me state that Geophagus surinamensis is virtually never traded, despite the name being widely used in the hobby. On the other hand, both Geophagus altifrons and Geophagus winemilleri belong to the "Geophagus surinamensis group", a set of closely related species that will likely view
each other as "the same thing" when kept in one tank. In other words, best not to think that you've kept two specimens from two species, but four specimens from a single species. When it comes to Geophagus, then this isn't a wise approach, with groups of at least 5 specimens being required for stable coexistence, and the more you keep, the fewer tantrums they'll
throw. They are social animals for sure, but like Angels and Discus, within a group there are definitely dominant individuals or pairs, so you need a reasonably large number to dilute that aggression, encouraging the dominant fish to tolerate the subdominant specimens.>
I should also probably clarify what I meant by major damage. There is some damage to the G. winemilleri's fins, but they're not completely torn apart and ragged, and there are no wounds to the body. One thing I've discovered is that now that my water quality is better, my fish recover from fin injuries without getting infections, but then none of my fish are getting
constantly picked on except for that one.
<Which is precisely and absolutely what you see when hierarchies go wrong.
The dominant individual or pair will pick on the weakest fish in the group.
Remove that fish, and the next weakest fish will be picked on. In short, what the dominant individual or pair is doing is directing all its aggression (which you can't do anything about) towards a small number of weaker fish (in this case, one fish). The more subdominant fish in the group, the less likely it is for one fish to be picked on all the time, because the dominant fish or pair will have to divert their innate aggression in more different directions. A group of just three or four fish isn't enough to dilute the aggression because there's only one or two subdominant fish, but keep five or six fish, and then there's now three or four subdominants, and life becomes a lot easier for the subdominant fish.
Plus, once the hierarchy is established without any victims, the fish will then mostly school together as they should, the dominant fish or pair feeling less threatened and the subdominant fish feeling more secure.>
There is also the fact I have an undergravel filter in my tank. I wanted a more docile neotropical cichlid, and Geophagines popped up in all my searches, but I know they aren't ideal for undergravel filters.
<To say the least! Water flows through the line of least resistance, and if the bed of gravel is not uniform, then water will tend to flow through the shallowest parts, essentially reducing the size of the biological filter. I wouldn't rely on an undergravel in this situation, and would encourage you to pick up a canister of some sort to supplement it.>

The undergravel filter is cleaned out monthly, and I filled my canister filter with biomedia as backup, and haven't had any ammonia problems, but I'm not sure what having four of them in there will do.
<Double the number of fish of similar size/habits, double the amount of ammonia.>
Do you recommend I replace them with another kind of cichlid that doesn't dig as much?
<Your aquarium, 105 gallons in size, is pretty big, though smaller than recommended for groups of six Geophagus, at least as adults. You could certainly keep youngsters in there though, up to, say, 15 cm/6 inches in size. Your challenge would be nitrate rather than ammonia or nitrite, since nitrate is the silent killer of Geophagines generally. Frequent water
changes, and to be honest, generous use of floating aquarium plants (such as Indian Fern) to remove nitrate directly would be on my list of things to do. Apart from the Clown Loach and the Silver Dollars, the other fish probably aren't adding much in terms of filter load so moving them won't make much difference either way. On the other hand, a school or adult Silver Dollars is a substantial load in itself, and of course Clown Loaches get enormous. Difficult to suggest what to do here. Adding a sump would be one way to increase water volume, while upgrading the tank to, say, 150 gallons would be the easiest approach, space permitting. Keeping a singleton Geophagus could work, though they are sociable, and can become
shy kept that way.>
I once tried keeping my silver dollars with red Severums (and of course angelfish) but they constantly kept harassing the dollars.
<Odd. Severums are usually well behaved. Were they getting enough greens to eat? Like a lot of herbivores, they can become restlessly hungry if not properly "filled up" with green foods.>
Firemouths were too aggressive in general.
<How many did you keep? This Central American "earth-eater" is normally pretty well behaved outside of spawning, and has evolved to bluff rather than fight, which is why it's a poor choice to Central American cichlid communities generally. On the other hand, it should work really well alongside Giant Danios, Silver Dollars, Swordtails, and other medium-sized surface swimmers.>
I think I need a cichlid that isn't disk-shaped and doesn't just hover in midwater so it doesn't see the dollars as competitors.
<Cichlids don't normally see Silver Dollars as a threat except when
spawning. Indeed, Silver Dollars are classic dither fish, assuming you keep enough Silver Dollars that they are schooling together normally, and not darting about nervously.>
Thank you,
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus surinamensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri      2/3/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
So I got two very different responses from two of you (specifically Bob Fenner and Neale Monks). To clarify I have only TWO Geophagus in my tank now-not four. But given Mr. Monks' thoughts that even four would likely be inadequate at preventing aggression, I don't think I can really solve this problem with more Geophagus. Given the quoted nitrate sensitivity, I am unsure whether I will be able to keep it low enough with six or more in there. To be honest, I've had this tank for over a decade and I'm reluctant to completely remove the under gravel filter with all its bacteria and have to regrow them with a new filter. I think with my canister filter for backup it's working okay.
So, here's what I'm thinking as far as options:
--Remove the "winemilleri" and keep the "surinamensis" (Those may not be their true identities but their markings are very different so they are probably two different species nonetheless)
<Ah, if only systematics worked that way! But I get your point, and agree with you completely. As for keeping these fish, yes, choose one species, and keep a singleton or compatible pair. Not the best way to keep this genus, but certainly has been done with success.>
--Replace the Geophagus with smaller, less delicate Neotropical cichlids (blue Acaras? Firemouths? Severums*?...how many of these would be ideal?...could they even be kept with an under gravel filter?)
<Blue Acaras are omnivores and while they might root about the bottom a bit, they don't dig much outside spawning. Severums are herbivores, and generally don't dig at all except when spawning, but being quite big fish, they can shift small gravel easily (bigger gravel particles will defeat them as they have quite small and dainty mouths). Firemouths are classic
sand-sifters. Their modified jaws are why they have to use bluffing (puffing up their throat and showing off their fake eyes) instead of fighting when being aggressive. I'd strongly recommend keeping Firemouths in tanks with sand, not gravel, so they wouldn't be my first choice for this system. Blue Acaras, if you can find them, are an excellent "default" cichlid for rough-and-tumble communities. Also look out for the Festivum, and favourite old-timey community tank cichlid, rather peaceful, a bit like a jumbo Angel in behaviour but with more of a traditional cichlid shape.>
--Don't have cichlids at all and just wait until I find some good-sized healthy clown loaches and rainbow fish (the latter in particular seem to frequently be sick in stores and I have no idea why!) Let me know what you think. Your advice has been very helpful. I was considering giving up fishkeeping altogether but thanks to you I have been able to keep my fish healthy... given that fish are my favorite animals this is really big for me.
<Glad to hear it. Set up right, a fish tank is very, VERY easy to maintain.
When otherwise busy, my tanks can go months without any sort of maintenance beyond the odd water change and cropping back floating Indian Fern (which I swear is the secret to success!). If your tank is causing you to get frustrated, then something is wrong. Review, change things up, and see what happens.>
Thank you for everything,
*I feed my silver dollars various greens from my own food (spinach, romaine lettuce, peas, carrots, green beans) and also frozen marine algae, but most days I just give them algae wafers and dried seaweed for their vegetables.
So would I need to feed Severums fresh vegetables every day in order to keep them from being aggressive?
<I could be wrong, but sometimes what seems like aggression is hunger. With herbivores, there's also the fact they'd normally spend long periods eating low-calorie food rather than a few minutes eating high-calorie food, which means they fill that spare time with bad behaviour! Letting a Severum forage on greens rather than floating pellets is hard in a mixed community, but you could at least throw in some floating plants (Indian Fern for example, but even Duckweed is consumed by them) so they can graze in between main meals. This would give them something to do, and floating plants also help to break up lines of sight and create more complex habitats, so fish are less bored. Make sense? One other perk of floating
plants is they rapidly absorb nitrate, which is really helpful with cichlids. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus surinamensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri      2/3/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Well, I will have to try keeping the "surinamensis" on its own for a while and see how things go, and if it ends up being too shy, I will get some blue Acaras instead.
<Sounds like a plan.>
(How many Acaras are an ideal group?)
<One or a matched pair. Do be sure not to pick up Green Terrors instead.
Similar, but as their name suggests, much more aggressive. Quality of Blue Acaras in the trade isn't great, with a lot of washed-out fish sold, but good specimens are very pretty. Do use Google or similar to find pictures of decent specimens.>
Do you think it will be safe to keep a single Geophagus with an under gravel filter and canister filter combination in the long run?
<Yes, or even a group of Geophagus; just be prepared to rake the gravel or sand flat again if it gets dug up too much.>
I have heard of other people doing this successfully with the canister backup but I'm still concerned. I will have to look up the Indian fern, but unfortunately my aquarium light timer broke recently and I haven't found another one that fits my outlet yet...so I can't put in plants right now, but once I get one I could try.
<Gosh, Indian Fern is a no-brainer for you! Seriously, I grow this in tanks where the lights sometimes get left on for days when I'm away on vacations, and even the rest of the time they're under lights from around 6 AM to 10 PM. It's a truly idiot-proof plant.>
The problem is I have heard of silver dollars eating all the aquarium plants-even tough or floating ones. Is it really possible to keep them with Indian fern?
<Depends how much of the plant you get. Many fish will eat up a small clump of floating plants. My approach with herbivorous fish is to grow the plants in another community tank, and dump surplus in the tank with the herbivores. Duckweed for example could be grown outdoors for much of the year, so might be an easy option in this regard. Alternatively, you could use a breeding net to isolate some floating Indian Fern from the herbivores, and just decant surplus clumps now and again.>
Would duckweed or Indian fern require any specific lighting, or are ordinary fluorescent bulbs okay since these plants float?
<Yes and yes. Most floating plants are fiddly because they get burned underneath aquarium hoods. But the Indian Fern and Duckweed grow flat, and can do well in pretty much any aquarium. Let me direct you to Bob's article on the species; he's also a fan: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plantedtkssubwebindex/ceratopteris.htm
Floating plants are to freshwater tanks what live rock is to marine tanks -- they optimise water quality, they offer shade and shelter, and they provide food.>
Thank you for all your advice,
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Geophagus surinamensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri      2/15/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
So I removed the Geophagus winemilleri. Unfortunately, the Geophagus surinamensis DID then turn his attention to the silver dollars, and is biting them and taking their food.
<Is he actually attacking them? That's pretty unusual for this genus. So, given that this is likely "aberrant" behaviour at some level, you may want to review the possible causes. First, tank size: is there enough space to go around. Second, diet: is he getting enough to eat. Thirdly, same-species companions: like most other Geophagus these fish are social, and the bigger
the group, the better they behave. In particular, twos and threes are risky, and females should outnumber the males. Indeed, if you only have 4-5 specimens, it's probably best to create a harem with one male and the rest females. Finally, there's breeding: all Geophagus become substantially more aggressive when spawning. But if none of this makes sense in this context, you may simply have an aggressive male. Taking the fish out, reorganising the rocks and plastic plants, and then reintroducing the fish, with the aggressive male last of all, may reset things for the better.>
He also, now that he's unoccupied with the other Geophagus, has begun digging a lot more, to the point he's undermining the rocks and driftwood and creating a situation I think is dangerous.
<Indeed. A good tip is to place an old fashioned undergravel filter plate at the bottom of the tank, even if you don't use an undergravel filter.
This will prevent falling rocks from cracking the bottom pane of glass.
Alternatively, if you can get a gravel tidy, put this above a one-inch layer of gravel, then add the rest of the gravel, plus any rocks or roots, on top of the gravel tidy. Again, this stops deep burrowing and keeps things more secure. If you can't find a gravel tidy, then sturdy plastic mesh sold in garden centres works almost as well, provided it's "pond safe" (meaning safe around fish and in water).>
I will admit I will be going off to grad school this fall, and while I can teach my family how to take care of the fish while I am gone, I don't think I can trust them to keep the nitrates low enough and fill in the burrows all the time for the Geophagus. Do you recommend, in this case, I replace him with a blue Acara? Will it be somewhat less delicate, dig less and be less aggressive to the silver dollars?
<Yes, yes and yes. All else being equal, the Blue Acara is one of the best and most reliable medium-sized cichlids. There are occasional oddball specimens out there, and do avoid the lookalike Green Terror, but usually the Blue Acara is very well behaved.>
I will be trying to get some Indian Fern or duckweed tomorrow; I will let you know how it goes.
Thank you,
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: Geophagus surinamensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri      2/16/15

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I think that you're right about the aggression being hunger-based, because I only see the Geophagus attacking the silver dollars when I feed them, and this morning I fed the fish some algae wafers and he ate so much he got bloated. He hasn't done this before, but I will admit that I was feeding the fish mostly vegetables and frozen food the past few days, and the
Geophagus doesn't really like vegetables and the frozen food sinks so slowly the giant danios get most of it, so I guess he got too hungry.
<Try using sinking algae wafers, of the sorts used for Plecs. Hikari for example make a good version that most fish find very palatable. These take a long time to fall apart and are very concentrated, so a single wafer should provide a good meal for even a medium-sized cichlid. There are sinking predatory catfish pellets too, and these could be worth trying as well.>
Getting enough food for all the fish is difficult, because even if the food sinks, the danios get a lot of it. I am not sure exactly how to get around this problem.
<See above.>
I was unable to find any duckweed or Indian fern at the shops where I live.
I know of several places where there is a lot of natural duckweed (a lake in a public park, a pond in an arboretum, and this swamp that's an hour or so away) but I'm not sure how I could ensure no diseases or pollutants would be brought in from outside. Are there any websites you'd recommend for ordering aquatic plants online?
<I'm in the UK, so my recommendations might not be relevant. But generally most online plant retailers are much of a muchness since they obtain their plants from a handful of exporters and wholesalers (such as Tropica). For something like Ceratopteris, which is pretty idiot-proof, I'd be happy to risk purchasing via eBay.>
With regards to growing floating plants outside, I live in Houston, where the weather is in the seventies for even most of the winter, and I know the bayous are full of tropical fish released from ignorant aquarists (Pacus, tilapia, Plecos--you name it) so I think I might even be able to keep Indian fern outside in a bucket or something.
<Would seem likely. Certainly Elodea-type things, Duckweed and Hornwort can all be easily kept that way, in a water feature of some sort (half barrels work great).>
I was wondering how you would do this without allowing bugs to lay eggs in the water...the plants still need some air, don't they?
<They do. But the good thing is that any midge larvae and similar that come with the plants when you transfer them to the aquarium become fish food! A bucket or barrel is unlikely to attract the attention of anything likely to threaten fish (such as Dragonfly larvae or Great Diving Beetles).>
Thank you,
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Re: Tank livestock questions (mostly Geophagines)       10/30/13
Sorry Neal I haven't emailed you sooner I had an email shutdown as well as slow computer woes.
If I get permission I plan on saving money up for another tank.
Either a second 55 gallon or a 90 gallon in my room and getting rid of the computer desk/moving things around to accommodate it space wise. I'll get a cheap laptop for email/internet and save up to buy the tank/ect. (By the way what are the domentions of a 90 and a 55 gallon tank?)
<Such information is widely available online; try for example About.com, here:
Your online or local vendor of choice will have specifics for the tanks they sell, too.>
The 20 gallon the angel and Bolivain rams are in I will give away, and put the Acrlic 50 gallon I have in its place. This weekend I plan on setting it up. It got delayed but I have been changing water and angel although getting too big is doing well. the rams even tried to spawn but the angel ate the eggs.
if i get a 90 gallon I'd like to know what kinds of Earth eaters would do well in my ph 7 water in that size tank?
<You may not have a huge amount of choice. But before getting carried away to review the needs of Geophagine cichlids generally. They usually need excellent water quality (including low nitrate, preferably below 20 mg/l), frequent water changes, lots of space, groups of 5+ specimens (otherwise bullying is common), and in some cases relatively low water temperatures too. Obviously a soft, not gravel, substrate is essential. They are considered semi-difficult cichlids. TFH has a nice article on them, here:
Here in the UK, Geophagus "Tapajos" and Geophagus altifrons seem particularly widely traded at the moment, but other species, such as Satanoperca jurupari and Satanoperca daemon are regularly traded. Since Satanoperca are across the board very demanding fish, you'd probably fine one of the smaller Geophagus a better starting point. Geophagus brasiliensis is a good default Geophagine for those who haven't kept them before. They're not too big (around 15-20 cm is typical) and not too fussy about water chemistry. They do well across a broad temperature range, though not too warm, 24-25 C/75-77 F is ideal. Finally, they're less overtly aggressive than many of the other Geophagines. They combine well with peaceful midwater characins and possibly things like Corydoras too, but there will of course be competition for food. With all this said, like all Geophagines they are acutely sensitive to poor water quality, including nitrate, and will succumb to Hexamita and Lateral Line Erosion very quickly in poor conditions.>
I was thinking either that or maybe wild Red back Manacapuru Angels ( or Leopoldi angels as my store, Tropaquatic's can get these) I would maybe try a singleton Blue eye Pleco if not too big or a single royal Pleco , or a trio of striped Raphael cats.
<Good luck getting a Blue-Eyed Plec, and I hope you have deep pockets!
These sell for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. On the other hand, a Royal Plec could work well in a 90-gallon tank. I would not add any sort of Plec to an aquarium with Eartheaters though -- Plecs are far too messy, and you want to keep such an aquarium as clean as possible. Tetras and Corydoras, fine; Plec, no, they eat too much and pollute the tank too much, making low nitrate levels hard to achieve. Ditto any other large catfish, whether Pimelodidae, Doradidae, or whatever.>
If i get a 55 instead I may go with Dwarf rainbows and zebra Plecos- do these do well together?
<Yes, Hypancistrus combine well with any small, midwater schooling fish with similar requirements. That said, most people who buy them try to breed them, so build the tank around that aspect, and choose tankmates, if any, accordingly.>
Or maybe I will get A shoal of Congos and some pajama cats to grace the bottom.
<Synodontis flavitaeniatus is a cracking catfish, and can work well in an
Re: Tank livestock questions (mostly Geophagines)     11/7/13

Hi Neale I set up my new Aquarium this Sunday its been up and running for over 48 hours now. The Angel went on a brief hunger strike but has sense resumed eating.
I added their sponge filter plus a new sponge filter plus all the old substrate and sand on top for the cores.
Temp is around 81 and I tested the water on Monday. it was within the safe zones for Ammonia and nitrate.
<Do remember only "safe" ammonia (and nitrite, with an "i") is zero; for cichlids, "safe" nitrate (with an "a") must be quite low, lower than for average community fish. I'd suggest aiming for less than 20 mg/l for sensitive cichlids, and certainly no more than 40 mg/l even for hardy farmed Angels.>
The Angel and rams are much more peaceful towards each other although I have noticed the angels fins have started to deterate, so I added salt and stress coat. which helped to a degree.
<Possibly, but the salt isn't doing anything useful. Would medicate as per Finrot.>
The Angel was holding a clear side fin- not sure what they are called to the side yesterday now he's moving both fins.
<Good. Healthy Angels use their fins to "paddle" along. Unhealthy Angels (and indeed unhealthy cichlids) "clamp" their fins to their bodies.>
I figured I would ask you if salt is bad for Corys?
<At very low doses, 2 g/l, then no, it can be used safely for many weeks.
But long term, or higher concentrations, yes, salt is bad for them.>
I do plan on doing a water change sometime this Friday.  Do I have to worry about a cycle even though I put in the mature filter/ect.
<No, a mature filter should survive being moved to a new/bigger aquarium and work completely normally. Be sensible though, and don't overfeed, and monitor nitrite or ammonia. If either goes above zero, act accordingly (e.g., by stopping feeding and doing a 25% water change).>
How much water  25% maybe- should I change in the beginning if it does start to cycle. As far as the bigger tank is concerned I still have not gotten word if its a doable thing or not. I do plan on giving the 20 gallon away regardless The person who decides if I can get a bigger tank is very busy. I was wondering Neale if I could send you a Query for you to review for Amazonas Magazine - I would like to write to them about my fishkeeping journey- south American fish keeping. I have found the editors name- James- and will contact him vie email if I/you feel its a good Query  Assuming you do Queries for fish Magazines I could send it to you next email.
<I don't normally answer questions for Amazonas Magazine; so do contact James Lawrence and he'll pass the letter on to whoever. Mostly I answer questions for WetWebMedia and for Practical Fishkeeping Magazine in England (and you certainly can e-mail them, and you'll get e-mails back as well as seeing your letter in print there). Cheers, Neale.>

Eartheater Cichlid Aquarium size
Adding A. hecklii  to Existing Tank  7/26/11

Thank you for answering a pervious question about adding Pictus Catfish to my South American themed aquarium. I was on my way to purchase the Pictus when I saw an incredible eartheater I had not seen before. It was an Acarichthys hecklii or Threadfin eartheater. I would love to add this fish to my South American tank. Researching I found an eartheater article in the new Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine that said these fish can be kept with other Eartheaters and Severums, so far so good. My main concern is if I have a large enough aquarium to add these to my current setup. The setup is a 120 gallon tank with a Fluval FX5 rated at 950 or so gallons per hour and a Fluval U4 rated at 260 gallons per hour. The livestock includes 5 Severums, 6 Silver Dollars, 1 Rhino Pleco and 4 Eartheater cichlids I believe are Geophagus Altifrons. I would like to add 4 Threadfin Eartheaters. Would a 120 gallon tank work for this stocklist or is an upgrade needed. Locally the largest tank I can get is a 210 gallon. Would this be a better tank for want I would like to keep? Once again thank you for a great website and sharing your time.
< Go for it. This is a great fish that will go well with your current set up. This fish gets big so when all these fish get to an adult size it might be ready for some expansion plans, especially if any of these fish pair off.-Chuck>

Substrate Recommendations for An Eartheater Cichlid 6/29/2011
I currently have a 120 gallon tank that I would like to add some Eartheater cichlids to. My current substrate is gravel of a size 3mm to 5mm. I am considering changing the substrate to a CaribSea product call Tahitian Moon Gravel. According to the manufacturer's information the grain size of this substrate is 0.1mm to 0.3mm. Would this substrate better for the Eartheaters and allow them to better show their natural behavior?
< In the wild most South American eartheater cichlids are found over a fine natural sand. Sand is mostly quartz which is Silicon Dioxide. So they are found over a naturally light colored substrate that the individual particles are smooth and well rounded for many years of being moved through the water. Since the Eartheaters will be spending much of their time picking up sand and spitting it out, the sand needs to be smooth so that it doesn't cause any abrasions in the oral cavity of the cichlid. This could lead to infections in and around the mouth. The substrate you are looking at is fine but it may be difficult seeing the fish over a black substrate since very little aquarium light will be reflected back up.>
If so my plan was to change out the substrate 1/3 of the tank at a time during my weekly water change. Would this plan minimize the stress to the fish and the biological filter? Thank you for your time and a great website.
< Doing both of these things would be a very good idea for the reasons you have already stated.-Chuck>

Geophagus jurupari Question, comp. w/ Pacus, hlth, HLLE  3/4/10
Hi Guys,
I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank with 3 Red Belly Pacus and 1 Geophagus jurupari. Upon returning home from a trip I found my Geophagus, 'J.J.' looked as if he had been severely attacked by the Pacus. The fish-sitter had no idea what had happened so I am not entirely sure if J.J. developed some ailment or was simply attacked.
<Could very well have been attacked by these Pacu. Pacu generally should only be trusted with larger companions in very large aquaria. Despite being famed as herbivores, eating all sorts of fruits and seeds, they are opportunistic carnivores too, and will take a bite at anything they think they can catch. They have incredibly strong teeth and jaws. This is a real problem in cramped tanks where the other fish can't stay out of the way. Your tank is FAR TOO SMALL for these fish. The Red Belly Pacu, Piaractus brachypomus, gets to 88 cm/35 inches and weighs up to 25 kilos/55 pounds. These are food fish, and unless you have a 600 gallon tank lined up, there's no way you can properly house three specimens. Do make sure you look at his photo, on Wikipedia:
This is what your fish is going to grow into. To be fair, a typical size in captivity is 60 cm/24 inches, but that's still a mammoth fish almost as deep as it is long, and weighing as much as a dog.>
I had noticed little white spots on J.J. on previous occasions but assumed it was just little Pacu nips but I am extremely concerned now, since one spot, near his nostril, has a large white spot, fuzzy in appearance. The other spots are not as prominent, but the spot covering the nostril is quite alarming.
<These spots, if on the head, are more likely Hole-in-the-Head. This is extremely common when geophagine cichlids (Eartheaters, like your Satanoperca jurupari) are kept in small tanks. Geophagine cichlids tolerate almost no nitrate, and certainly levels 20 mg/l or higher cause them immense stress. Treatment is with Metronidazole, plus fixing the environment.
Untreated, the fish will eventually die.>
Incidentally, J.J. is eating well and is behaving normally.
<Good, you still have time. Get moving!>
I am not sure if J.J. has developed HITH or has some type of systemic bacterial infection and I am unsure how to treat him.
<See above.>
I am afraid to use anything toxic and was advised to use a 'melaluca' based medication that added daily to the water
<This is tea-tree oil, and will be of no use against Hole-in-the-Head. The infection can only be treated with Metronidazole. This should also prevent and Finrot following the attack by the Pacu.>
but have seen no results.
<No surprise.>
Please let me know if you have any advice or suggestions.
<Much advice!>
Thank you,
<My pleasure.>
Carol Lyn
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus Jurupari Question 3/4/10

Wow! Thank you very much for the advice and insight.
<Happy to help.>
I had a Pacu in the past, and he was quite entertaining to say the least, but he passed away when he was not entirely huge.
<Oh. Well, there are several species. The Red-Belly Pacu is one of the *really* big ones.>
I was not aware of quite how large these guys will get- I will DEFINITELY re-think my aquarium. Thank you for that advice.
<No problems.>
Thank you also for advice on J.J. I will head to the pet supply store for the Metronidazole and will definitely test the nitrates.
<Very good.>
Thank you very much; I appreciate your help.
Carol Lyn
<Cheers, Neale.>

Geophagus brasiliensis
Cichlid With Infection  11/11/09

Hi guys, hoping you can help! About 3 months ago I purchased a pair of large Geophagus brasiliensis. They took a bit of a knock in the shop the careless guy allowed the bag to drop to the floor but I still had them as they were such beautiful fish. Within a couple of days of having them, one started to develop a lump on the side of its head. I put this down to the bump they received and thought I would wait and see if this 'bruise' went down. The lump never disappeared or got any better or worse and as the fish seemed perfectly happy otherwise, eating, healthy and constantly flirting with its mate. It didn't really concern me too much. In the last week or so the lump has developed a sort of red pimple in the middle, a bit like a white head on a normal spot. I've enclosed the best picture I could take. I'm hoping you can cast some clarity on this as I cant seem to find anything online and im really hoping this isn't HITH. My fish are in a 850 litre tank with a few other new world cichlids, there is no aggression between any of the fish and all my water parameters are normal Many thanks
< Thanks for the photo. The bacterial infection is coming to a head. When it pops like a pimple, There will be some redness. At that time I would do a 50% water change and watch the site closely. It doesn't heal right away or look like it is getting better then treat with an antibiotic like Furanace. I don't think it is HITH.-Chuck>

Tankmates for Red Threadfin Acara 09/14/09
Could you tell me which tankmates would be suitable for a threadfin Acara in a 75 gallon (48") long tank ?
<Acarichthys heckelii, an interesting eartheater cichlid from South America.>
The Acara would be 1 and a half to 2 inches long.
<For a while at least! These fish will grow rapidly, and should get to around 15 cm/6 inches within a year.>
Also, are these fish too aggressive to be kept in a species tank, and what could be done to lessen aggression ?
<They are really much like other Eartheaters, and best kept in large groups, but your tank would be a bit of a push in that regard. As juveniles they are somewhat tolerant of one another, but as they mature, they'd pair
off, and bonded pairs will become increasingly aggressive. Conversely, non-brooding singletons aren't particularly aggressive at all, and by cichlids standards, are almost peaceful. So the whole question of tankmates depends on whether you're keeping one, a breeding pair, or a group of 6+.
Since they're virtually impossible to sex, unless you have access to a mature breeding pair, if you want to spawn this species -- a challenge -- then you keeping a group is the only way to go. A lot will depend on the tank. Since these fish need open space rather than plants or caves, the more open the tank, the more the fish will spread out and tolerate one another. Decorate with just some bogwood and big Anubias/Java ferns at the edges, and otherwise mostly smooth silica sand (not gravel!). No point using plants with roots, since they'd be ripped up! Floating plants good for shade as well as nitrate control. The best tankmates would be
medium-sized schooling fish that stayed towards the top of the tank, Giant Danios for example, perhaps even (wild-type) Swordtails if water chemistry allowed. Nothing too slow or dainty! For the bottom, best to avoid anything easily bullied. An L-number catfish that gets to around 20 cm/8 inches would be the obvious choice, but a school of Brochis or a trio of Megalechis might be interesting alternatives. Outside of South America, virtually any of the medium-sized Synodontis would work well. Avoid smaller Corydoras or anything that would pecked, harassed, or otherwise damaged.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

55 gallon FW Stocking
Sand , Jurupari and Rainbow Questions   4/9/09

Hello Crew and Thank You for a great job.
I'm going to set up 55 US gallon FW tank and have some questions about this.
I want to put sand on the bottom. Home Depot sells sand for "playground".
They do not specify, what kind of sand is that. Do you have any idea if this sand is safe for a fish tank?
<In different areas of the country the sand may be different. Get a small sample and place in it some distilled water. If the TDS or pH changes then the material is leaching minerals into the water and is generally not good for use in an aquarium.>
I'd like to keep in the tank 2 Geophagus jurupari.. I do not see a lot of information about this fish. Some of the internet sites say they are very touchy and require very soft water. I assume my water is very hard (pH=8).
Are they really need soft water like discus or rams?
< Wild Satanoperca jurupari do come from areas of soft acidic water. Most of the fish today are tank bred and do much better in harder water. They may be maintained in harder water but will probably not breed.>
If that the case, I better choose different species. Please let me know, if they will adapt to a hard water.
Also would it be aggression problem between 2 Geophagus jurupari?
< They are not an aggressive species. Keep in mind that any eartheater type of cichlid will constantly be sift food from the sand. If the sand is too coarse or has angular edges then it will be abrasive and cause disease
I also want to keep 6 boesemanni rainbowfish. If I buy 6 juveniles, would it be a problem, if I will get more males than females?
<Rainbows will be fine in a group. Males will show their best colors with some females around.>
I want to plant the tank with different kinds of Anubias, and I want to add gold nugget Pleco. Is it safe to keep this Pleco with Anubias?
< There are many types of gold nugget Plecos with different requirements.
Go to Planetcatfish.com and research the species of Pleco you are looking to get.>
What do you think about this stocking overall? Will this system work?
< The Pleco will probably be wild and may need soft acidic water. The rainbows on the other hand like hard alkaline water. Maybe look at something like Congo tetras if you are going to soften the water or get a
common Pleco that will tolerate the harder tap water.-Chuck>
Thank you, Mark

Cichlid recommendations. For a 20 gal.   5/29/08 I am recently returning into the love of fish, they're more interesting than snakes, and have been wondering about stocking a tank with Cichlids. I am really interested in the Jurupari, and possibly some of the dwarf cichlids. I plan to buy a 20 gallon tank (not much else would fit in my room) and want to know what would be a good tank mix for it? <A twenty is too small for Juraparoids/Eartheaters...> I understand that with Jurupari it is recommend to keep the water extremely clean, to prevent hole-in-the-head, and that while they are young the gravel should be thin (Sandy or such...). I would just love to know if a 20 gal is large enough for one of these beautiful fish, or possibly two. If not, which Cichlids would you recommend? <Really, S. American Dwarfs...> I understand that angel-fish are very sweet (though territorial) fish, one of my friends owns a pair. Though, I am really interested in a fish like the earth eaters... It just sounds so fun. I also want something that I can watch and not stress out, my current fancy guppies (doing well mind you) stress me from time to time... They like to freak out all over the tank, interacting with their reflections. Thanks for the wonderful resource! Heather. <Welcome... do avail yourself of the many resources on the Net, library books re Apistogramma, Nannacara... Bob Fenner>

Geophagus Sucking on Fire Eel?  11/15/07 I am sitting here watching my 150 gallon tank and I am seeing one of my Geophagus sucking on the fins of my 3.5 foot Fire Eel - <Neat!> What's up with that? The eel is prowling the surface hoping it is dinner time - an does not even flinch while the Geophagus is sucking on his tail fins... <Mmm... how to state this... fish mucus has many properties... of use to its producer, and is a food source to some other organisms. In this case, your eartheater> I assume it is sucking cause there are no bite marks or scuffing. Any thoughts? Tim <If causing no damage, I would not be concerned... the Mastacembelid can take care of itself, assuredly. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

HELP!!!!! I am scared my 6" Jurupari will not make it over night!!  5/31/07 Jurupari With Hole-In-The-Head Disease Okay this is the deal, for about 2 years we have had a 55 gallon freshwater tank and within the first year we had acquired - 2- 1.5" black tetras, 1 - 1.5" Tiger barb, 1 - 2" Figure Eight puffer, and 1 - 3" algae eater. Every thing was fine for several months, and then about 6 months ago the Puffer died, we weren't sure why, probably because I was too busy with an new baby to tend to the tank like I should have. < Actually as puffers get older they move to salt water from fresh water. this is not true for all FW puffers but it is true for most sold at stores.> We observed the fish and took care of the tank, making sure there was nothing going to harm the other fish. Since the other fish seemed fine we decided two weeks ago we would like to get another puffer (they are so much fun.) Well I went to my LFS in search for a puffer and I came upon a Beautiful 6" Geophagus Jurupari at the price of $50 - I didn't buy it, but placed an order for the puffer instead. A week later I came back to pick up the puffer and the "smart" fish guy was there so I asked about the Geophagus - he said it was a great hardy fish and that it would be fine with a puffer and the fish I had at home. < Most puffers are actually brackish fish unless you got a specific species that is found in true FW. The Satanoperca jurupari actually comes from soft, warm, acidic waters of South America.> I said I will take it, and they loaded him up with the puffer and I brought them home to there new tank. Since this was my first time to purchase a fish that cost more than $10 - I had never even heard of putting new fish in a QT before entering them into my display tank. I have always just acclimated them then added a little of my water at a time over about an 45 min. time period - and this is what I did with the Jurupari and the Puffer. After being in our tank for 2 days I noticed tiny white specs on the puffer and immediately went to the computer to learn it was ich. I decided to go with the heat, salt and daily water changes instead of the chemical route. Since I didn't have an extra tank and heater etc. I used a large clear acrylic salad bowl and placed it into the large tank to share the 87 degree temp and air with an air stone and a little gravel. Concerned about the ich and curious to know more about the Jurupari, I again turned to the web. I began to realize my water conditions were totally wrong for the Jurupari. Now I was really concerned my water conditions were going to stress this beautiful fish. I immediately began to attempt to lower the hardness, pH, & alkalinity of my tank water with water changes, aquarium salt, and a pH buffer - I just could not get it down!! After loads of research - I realized the that the Texas Holey Rock and landscaping gravel I had in my tank were causing the high alkalinity and water hardness! I immediately removed the rocks and the next day I removed the gravel replacing it with black Tahitian Moon Sand for the Eartheater - but now my bacteria is gone and I have began to notice little tiny holes on the head of my Jurupari! I immediately searched WWM and found this was HITH! I did as suggested and ordered Metronidazole (Hole-In-The-Head Guard) from DrsFosterSmith.com, along with Marc Weiss Instant Amazon, and Vita-Chem. I did a water change, then administered the HITH meds, now he wont eat and he has began to get blood streaks in his tail, he hangs out at the top and is kind of out of balance. Believe It Or Not! I am already in love with this fish!!! I am willing to do whatever it takes to save these fish!!! Other than not researching the South American Cichlid before I bought it - Please tell me what I did wrong, and what I can do to fix it!! Helpless in Houston, Beth < The genus Satanoperca overall is a very touchy group of fish. They require very clean soft acidic water to thrive. Anything less that this and they break down with a long list of maladies that you have now encountered. All of the changes have created stress in your fish and he has begun to shut down. For the short term I would isolate him in a 10 gallon tank with and airstone and a heater. The water would be 50% treated tap and 50% R/O. Set the heater at 82 F. Treat the tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The Metro with treat the bloat and the Nitro will treat the bacterial infections in the fins. Treat on day 1, 3 and 5. On days 2 and 4 just do a 50% water change while vacuuming out any waste. When the fish acts hungry then you can start to try and bet him to eat some medicated fish food with Metro in it. In the long term the big tank really needs softened water. I would recommend using an R/O unit to remove the dissolved minerals and adding a buffer to acidify the water to a mildly acidic pH. these fish are bottom feeders so make sure some food gets to the bottom. They do not like any waste in the water. The nitrates should be under 10 ppm. This is very clean water and will require lots of water changes. the other fish will like the new water with the exception of the puffer.-Chuck>

Re: HELP!!!!! I am scared my 6" Jurupari will not make it over night!! Finding Nitrofurazone - 6/1/07 > Also, where can I find Nitrofuranace? I didn't see it on DrsFosterSmith.com. < They sell it as simply Furanace or Furan-2.> Can I use API's Triple Sulfa? < You can try it but I don't think it will be as effective as the medications I have recommended.> Am I treating hemorrhagic septicemia, is that what the blood streaks are, or is it some sort of bloat? < These medications are good for bacterial and fungal infections. Your are treating both external and internal bacterial infections.> I am going to get an extra tank right away - I guess because I will be doing a 50% water change every day I wont need a filter on the QT tank. <When you medicate a quarantine tank , the medications are affecting the biological filtration. You remove the fish waste in the tank with the water changes.-Chuck> Thank you so much with helping me on the specifics - I am extremely grateful!!!!! > Beth

Re: HELP!!!!! I am scared my 6" Jurupari will not make it over night!! R/O Water - 6/1/07 > Since I don't have access to RO water right away can I use bottled distilled for the water changes? It is 0 everything? < Distilled removes more minerals than an R/O unit so either would be fine.-Chuck.>

Re: HELP!!!!! I am scared my 6" Jurupari will not make it over night!! > Jurupari Needs Treatment - 6/1/07 > WWM Team - THANK YOU for your quick response!!! < We know how important information is when your fish are sick.> OK, I bought a 10 gallon tank, wiped it out with distilled water, and filled it with distilled water. < Pure distilled water is not needed. Next time mix 75% distilled with 25% tap water.> I heated the water to 84 so there wouldn't be a drastic temp change for the Jurupari - I am slowly lowering it to 82. Right now the tank only has the heater and an airstone in it. I also put 1 tsp of Instant Amazon and 20 drops of Vita-Chem, since I did a Metro treatment in the big tank yesterday, I won't treat him with it again today. My main concern is the other medicine you mentioned - I was unable to locate it online or at the LFS's I have near my house. I did find API's Triple Sulfate Anti-Bacterial Fish Med that is for Hemorrhagic Septicemia - should I use this to treat the water? < I looked in the Drsfostersmith.com catalog and found both medications I mentioned available. The tri-Sulpha is not as effective as the medications I had mentioned. If cannot find them then go ahead and try the triple Sulpha.> The If so, should I do it today and alternate the treatments every day, or should I wait until tomorrow and do both medications at the same time? < Treat with both medications at the same time.> If not, please tell me were I can get the Nitrofuranace and I will have it next day aired to my house. By the way the Jurupari's fins aren't clenched anymore now that he is in the Distilled Water - but it looks like he is also suffering from fin rot - is this also because of the water conditions, or is this something new? < The fin rot is a bacterial infection from high nitrates in the water. This disease will respond to the antibiotics.> Also, is there an RO unit you would suggest for my tank? <If you have a 55 gallon tank and you probably need to change up to 30% of the water every week. This means you need to generate about 20 gallons per week for water changes. So you need to get one that generates at least 20-30 gallons per week. They are usually sold in Gallons per day. So get a unit that generates at least 5 gallons per day and you can always lower the pressure and reduce the amount needed.> Now. about the big tank, my tiger barb wont eat and he is gasping for air - it looks like he has dark green patches on his sides and the top of his head - and maybe one single spot of ich on his back fin (if this is possible.) Also, yesterday the puffer looked like most of his ich spots were gone and this morning he was covered with twice as many. <The ich medication has probably affected the biological filtration. Check the water for ammonia and nitrite levels. Both should be zero. Reduce levels with water changes.> UGH! I feel like this is all my fault! Not researching before the purchase of new fish. Now I feel like I am in way over my head. Helplessly trying to reproduce the Amazon in Houston! Beth <This is all part of the learning process. We are here to help.-Chuck> Re: HELP!!!!! I am scared my 6" Jurupari will not make it over night!! - 6/1/07 > Treating A Jurupari > Well after I put the Jurupari in the 10 gallon QT tank he immediately perked up his fins and biting at the glass as if he was hungry...so I tried mixing some vita-chem and Metro in with some flakes and letting them dry, but he seemed to just make a mess with them through his gills. So I thawed some bloodworms and added vita-chem and Metro to them in a little bowl, let them soak and got him to eat two servings yesterday. This morning when I woke up he as floating at the top again with his fins clenched - I tested the ammonia and it was .5 ppm (How is that possible?) < All fish waste and uneaten food turn into ammonia. You have no biological filtration. If he is eating then feed once a day. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Remove all uneaten food while doing the water change.> Immediately, I did a 50% water change, tested again and it seemed like it was between 0 and .25. So administered the Metro and Triple sulfa. After being in the meds for an hour or se he began shedding some serious slime and his tail was kind of floating up - I waited a while and there was no change so I did another 50% water change diluting some of the meds. His fins are clenched and he seems unbalanced - and he keeps floating up - and he wont eat again. Do you think he can make it or does it seem unlikely? I am heart broken and completely consumed by the issues at hand. Thanks for your help! Beth <When a fish is stressed it develops a heavy slime so the parasites cannot get to its skin. Now the medications are diluted and you fed him three times yesterday. Your fish has gone through a lot. Currently he is not being treated and just sitting in z 10 gallon tank. If he is strong he may come back.-Chuck>

Re: HELP!!!!! I am scared my 6" Jurupari will not make it over night!!  6/3/07 Jurupari Worn Out This morning my Jurupari was upside down in the QT tank - I looked closer and he was still breathing - I stirred the water up and he swam up top, but quickly floated back down to the bottom. He is still at the bottom, although he is upright now - What should I do? Do you think he is suffering? < You fish has gone through alot. I would recommend that you keep up with the daily 50% water changes until he dies or gets better. He is probably too weak for any medications. Let him rest and build up his strength and see if he has anything left to fight back.-Chuck>

Earth Eater Eating It   1/11/07 I have an adult jupari that I acquired in an adopted 150 tank. The pH is 7 with 0 Nitrites and very slightly elevated Ammonia . < Should be zero.> The tank has just recently stabilized after many weeks of spiking ammonia and nitrites. The tank has a sand substrate and temp is 78.9. There are 4 adult Severums and 2 adult jupari and a 3 foot fire eel. One of the adult jupari started showing eroding spots on the right side of head. I moved the fish to a 10 gallon tank, added salt and Metrozol per LFS advice. < One of the treatments for hole-in-the-head.> In two days the fish developed a very cloudy lens on his left eye and other areas appear to be eroding on his head and right side. Very small  but noticeable. Per LFS I have added Tetracycline. All other fish in the tank appear fine so far. Any thoughts? < These fish come from the soft acidic waters of South America. They do not tolerate much waste in their water at all. The store's treatment is sound advice. Add some high quality food with lots of vitamins and minerals to build up the immune system. If you fish is still eating I would try the following. Take an ounce of live blackworms and place them in a plastic cup with some water. Add the Metronidazole to the blackworms. This will kill the blackworms. Feed immediately to the fish. This will get the medication into the fish where it can do the most good.> NOTE: I have found and been corrected MANY times on the name of my fish - some like Jupari, Some like JuRAPi, Some Geophagus preceded by some Satana....name.  It is an earth eater and was sold to me by LFS as a Jupari. What should it be called? I would be glad to send pic if your interested. Tim Self < This fish has historically been sold as Geophagus jurupari. A few years ago the genus was changed to Satanaperca (Devil Fish). There are actually a hand full of cichlids in this genus. Two fish that look very similar are the jurupari and the leucosticta. Care is the same for both.-Chuck>

Geophagus proximus? 1/1/06 Hey crew, if you would be so kind, I really need an ID on this please. http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/27058238/< http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/27058238/> http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/27057790/< http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/27057790/> Two are 3.5 inches, and the one shown in both pics is 3 inches. Very healthy and quite aggressive, I'm thinking they need to go...This came with that rescue tank. >> From your photos it is hard to tell, but certainly not G. proximus. I would say they are young Gymnogeophagus balzani but it is hard to tell. In any event all Geophagines get larger than 5-6". So if you do not want to have the trouble you may have to get rid of them. Good Luck, Oliver

Oliver... where's the email, pix?

No, that is definitely not it. It has the body shape just like a proximus, has the spot, but has a mark under its eye and those tiger like stripes. Can you think of anything else like this? >> I can tell you, but I can not from your photo. There are lots of Geophagus, and they look similar to each other at that size. It is not proximus for sure, because the location and size of the spot are wrong. There are dozens of species similar to proximus, Thank you, Oliver

Re: Geophagus proximus?  01/01/2006 I'll do some more research myself, thanks for your help! Send me a photo of the fish lying flat on your hand, and i should be able to tell you what species it is. O. Satanoperca jurupari with Parasites Hi, A week ago, I bought a 6 in Geophagus jurupari from a local fish store.  I noticed that he had black speckles on his fins and body that were raised as though something were attached to him. On the advice of a marine biologist from another LFS, I treated the geo for black spot disease using Fluke tabs.  The first day in the hospital tank, the geo was fine. The second day, his colors turned very dark and he acted skittish. I checked ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, all of which tested fine. I did a 50% water change with conditioned water and continued treatment.  This morning, I found him belly-up on the bottom of the tank. The store where I bought him now tells me that they only have a 5-day guarantee and that I killed the fish by using Fluke tabs. They say that I shouldn't use this med on a "silver-colored" fish because "silver-colored" fish are more sensitive. The marine biologist at another store says that this is nonsense. Are Fluke tabs safe for Geophagus? What killed my geo?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Sincerely, Heidi Holz < Here is what happened. Your Jurupari must be wild did indeed come in with parasites. It is a parasite with a very complicated life cycle. In the fish, the parasite is pretty much inactive. It is difficult to treat because the parasites are under the skin where many medications can't effectively penetrate. The parasite stays there until the fish gets eaten by a bird or something else.  In the gut of the animal it releases its eggs which are then excreted into the water. It the water the eggs hatch and then the larvae go looking for a fish to infect and everything starts all over again. If you had left the fish alone then it probably would have been fine. Treating him with Fluke-tabs probably did kill the organism but then all this dead parasites were in the fish with nowhere to go. Depending on the infection this dead material could potentially poison the cichlid and kill it. In the future I think I would observe the fish more carefully before it was purchased. Secondly there is nothing documented about Fluke-Tabs being harmful to "Silver Fish". I think this was a fabrication by the store to cover themselves.-Chuck> 

Eartheater cichlid My Eartheater cichlid has developed a cloudy patch over only one eye. I can't tell if the eye is injured or if it is some type of disease. I've used Aquari-Sol the last couple of days to see if that would help, but it just has gotten worse. I was going to try some aquarium salt, but I didn't want to add the salt if it was not going to help. Thanks for your help. < Eartheaters sometimes damage their eyes while digging through the sand. Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Treat the tank with erythromycin and It should be better in a day or two.-Chuck>

Red-humped pellegrini I was wondering if you could point me to some information on these fish. I purchased 2 of these from the LFS. I have a 75gal. operating with an emperor 800 filter and a reverse flow under gravel. The only other thing I have in there is an 8 inch Plecostomus (please excuse the misspelling). I have had quite a bit of experience with cichlids and have done a lot of reading. However, I could not find any information on this fish. Such as; Max Size, tank mates, eating habits. Is this fish an Earth eater? <Let's see... I better take a look on fishbase.org... under Geophagus... Yep, still in that genus: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=12369&genusname=Geophagus&speciesname=pellegrini Size given there... eating habits... a juraparoid/Eartheater... typical eat most anything small (dried, frozen/defrosted, fresh), have habit of  mouth/sifting the substrate for food items... Bob Fenner> 

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: