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Red striped earth eater - Geophagus surinamensis

Red striped earth eater - Geophagus surinamensis

Scientific name: Geophagus surinamensis

Common name: Red striped earth eater

Family: Cichlidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 25 - 30 cm (9.84 - 11.81 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6 - 8

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 4 - 18°N (71.43 - 321.43ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 22 - 27 °C (71.6 - 80.6°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: South America

Temperament to its own species: aggressive/territorial

Temperament toward other fish species: aggressive/territorial

Usual place in the tank: Middle levels


Geophagus surinamensis comes from Suriname of South America.


Up to 10 years.


Juvenile Red Striped Earth Eaters are not very attractive at all, but once they develop into sexually mature adults they will be spectacular specimens to see. These cichlids take 1-1.5 years to reach maturity and become interesting.

This fish loves to burrow into the substrate looking for food remnants so use a smooth sand for the substrate, rougher sand particles can cause physical damage to the fish, particularly around the gill areas. Rocks or wood can be added but not essential, dimmed lighting should also be used as they do not like bright lighting.

Never add these to an uncycled aquarium, swings in water parameters can bring on the outset of health problems, regular water changes must also be performed as with all large cichlids, these are high waste producers, detritus build up will lower the water quality drastically if left unchecked. The filtration system must also be rated for the water volume contained in the aquarium.


The Red Striped Earth Eater is a well known digger that prefers to eat its food out of the substrate. They earned the nickname of earth eaters due to their ability to sift through the substrate, digest the food and then emit the substrate in their mouths from their gills, an impressive sight to observe.They are omnivorous and should be fed a diet that includes veggies as well as live, frozen, flake and dried foods. Spirulina can be fed to these cichlids to enhance their dramatic colouring. Do not offer large pieces of food the Red-striped Earth-eater will struggle to digest these, it is far better to feed small meals several times through the day offering them fine flake pieces or very small pellet food alongside the smaller live foods or frozen foods.


Males have longer rays extending from the ends of their fins. Females might also have rays on their fins but far shorter than the male.


These fish are slow to mature, some specimens can take up to 12 months before they are ready to spawn. The female will either lay her eggs on a smooth, flat rock or in a pit dug out of the substrate by the male. The female will take the fertilized eggs into her mouth and hold them there for 3 days or until the fry hatch. Once they are hatched the female will release them only to let the re-enter her mouth at the first sign of danger. It is quite common for the male to hold the fry when they are free swimming, this is also a great sight although the first time it is observed some keepers have worried that the male is actually eating the young.


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Red striped earth eater

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