The beautiful eartheaters of the Geophagus-surinamensis relationship are among the most colorful cichlids, shining in all colours of the rainbow. There are numerous species and some of them even have colour varieties in different river systems. As these are currently not recognized by scientists, we help ourselves in adding the river´s name behind the scientific name in these cases.
Six species of that group (in the widest sense) occur in Venzuela. Two of them, Geophagus dicrozoster and G. abalios, are regularly imported by us. Their natural range is the Orinoco river, the Casquiare river (this is the river that connects the Orinoco and the Rio Negro) and – at least G. dicrozoster – also the upper reaches of the Rio Negro. Both species are really lookalikes, at least as juveniles, and often occur together in the wild.
The only feature observable in live fish that enables one to distinguish young specimens of these two species is the prsence or absence of a black stripe on the pre-operculum. In G. abalios this stripe is always missing, in G. dicrozoster always present. Sadly fish under some stress (for example when they are caught with a net) often do not show the stripe at all. So it is often impossible to sort young fish in the wholesale trade.
We are therefore not able to give a 100% guarantee that all our fish belong to G. dicrostoster. The one or the other G. abalios may hide among them. So we decided to give them the name G. cf. dicrozoster on our stocklist.
G. dicrozoster can become around 20cm long, as well as G. abalios. In rare occasions they even might grow a bit larger. The species should be kept in clean, soft and acidic water. In the wild they are stricly limited to blackwater streams. Only when kept under those water conditions they develope the full colours. G. dicrozoster like it warm, temperatures of around 28°C are perfect. It is essential to enable the fish to „eat“ fine sand. This is an important part of the natural behaviour of the fish. Moreover it keeps the fish healthy for this „sandeating“ cleans their gills in a way that is comparable with our teethbrushing.
Text: Frank Schäfer
Photos: Thomas Weidner
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