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January 11, 2012

The Geophagus group of South America is as complex as the Amazon River basin. For many years, it was thought that Geophagus altifrons lived from the Rio Orinoco all the way to the Rio Tocantins and were imported under these different locales as the same fish. Today, these species are now recognized as their own species and are labeled in the trade as members of their own family. Despite science placing these elegant creatures into their collective “boxes”, many exporters fail to identify each species, thus, causing these animals to be exported from their region with an incorrect name. This causes much confusion among hobbyists who are trying to keep the genetic strains of the fish pure.

Over the years as a hobbyist, I have fought these battles myself until I finally came to the realization that the exporters often have problems with their collectors providing this information. I believe this is not because the collectors forget to give out this information, but rather would like to keep their “secret” collection spots a secret. After all, if they hand out these hot spots to everybody they lose their niche.

This week at The Spot, we were able to get a collection point for some very impressive 3.5-4” Geophagus that have now been identified as Geophagus naembi “Rio Tocantins/Aereoes”. Altifrons like to spend their time grazing through soft substrates like sand to filter out the microscopic foods hidden under the surface. They have even been found in Várzea forests, the Portuguese word for “flooded forest”, but are most often found right before rapids in black and clear waters where the pH can very between 4.8-6.6. In an aquarium, they are rather adaptable to a neutral pH but would do better if they can be kept in acidic waters. Geophagus will accept a diet of prepared foods like frozen bloodworms, daphnia, pellets, and even some fruits and vegetables. I always recommend feeding small meals multiple times a day rather than one large meal and in my experience they do need sand to get the beneficial nutrients buried within. This is a much healthier lifestyle for the fish and will promote the growth to their maximum size of nearly 9”.

Despite the robust size of Geophagus altifrons, they can be observed living among even the small characins like Hyphessobrycon sweglesi “Red Phantom Tetra”. The Red Phantom Tetra is known for its spellbinding red body that, under the right conditions, emerges from the aquarium with such intensity it will draw the eye of anyone who happens to pass by. Unlike, its lookalike cousin, Hphessobrycon eques “Serpae Tetra”, it is a very peaceful fish that is much better suited for community tanks. Not only is it peaceful, but at its full grown size of 1.6” a group of these won’t break the tank.

Hyphessobrycon sweglesi

In 1969, Foersch and Handrieder were in Peru and came across a mountain brook along the Rio Lullapichis where they were able to collect Corydoras Panda “Panda Cory” for the first time. The Panda Cory is now one of the most popular Cory’s in the trade. Asian and East European fish farms have now made the fish easily accessible to most and it is rare to see wild forms of this fish come in. Not surprisingly, we were able to receive a batch directly from Peru and they came in looking exceptional. They’re almost full grown at 1.75”, have been treated for any potential parasites, and are now ready to find their home alongside our other showcase fish this week.

Corydoras panda

Now you may find yourself asking what size tank would all of these extravagant fishes go into? Well, just imagine a giant school of brilliant Red Phantom Tetras streaming in front of a group of the rainbow colored Geophagus altifrons. Meanwhile, the little Corydoras Pandas are digging in the substrate looking for any worms that the cichlids may have missed. They all go perfect in a newly purchased 125-gallon aquarium from Aqeuon Products. And what better way to filter this biotope than with Ehiem’s canister filters. Given the large size of the aquarium and the bio-load, I would probably go with one or two of the Pro II series. Be sure to include root-woods and smooth rocks to replicate the feel of the Amazon. It would also be a good idea to plant Nymphea and some Cabamba species, not only to provide some cover for these creatures but to help bring out their colors as well.

That’s it for this week’s notes. You may want to make sure you click on the products link below for our current price list where you’ll find a new wild batch of Heros notatus “Spotted Severum”. We have much that came in earlier this week and all have been quarantined, medicated, and are ready for your home or office tanks. I’ll see you all back here next week!

Heros notatus

Anthony Perry
Sales ManagerThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.