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OT: Erik and Other Sand Lovers

Posted By: LeadFoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Friday, 30 January 2004, at 8:20 p.m.

I found a fish you all might like if you have sand tanks for your loaches. This fish is known as an "eartheater". Although it doesn't really EAT the substrate, it likes to sift through sand, which cleans the top inch or more of sand REALLY clean. It's a very gentle fish, and get this - IT'S A CICHLID!

Unbelievably, the Geophagus family of cichlids is the gentlest of all cichlids. There are several species; I actually bought 2 about a month ago, and I couldn't be more happy with their disposition in my community loach tanks, and with their great work at cleaning the sand itself. Now, when I mean cleaning, I don't mean they eat the waste, or just pick through the sand, they actually pick up mouthfuls of the sand and clean off each grain in search for food. It's really cool to watch, because they take the sand in their mouths, and as the sift through it, they expel it through their gills. Another nice thing is that although they pick up the sand, they don't uproot plants.

The really cool-looking ones are the Jurupari. I still haven't been able to find a pic on the net that does them justice, but here's a link to a pic:


Although you can't tell, the rays of their dorsal fin are red, white and blue! I actually bought two 2.5 inch (SL) different Geophagus species, the Jurupari and the Brasiliensis. They get along great with everyone else in the tank, too. No chasing, nipping or any agression, typified by the cichild reputation. I like them so much, I got another 1 inch Jurupari for another tank, and two Surinamensis, for my 29 gallon. They all behave the same. I actually had another species of the genus, but burned him with an old med, and killed him. :-(

Anyway, you only need one of these fish, which is good, because they supposedly can reach 8-10 inches, which scared me at first, but I found out it takes many years, and they really don't hit that size in an aquarium. They are not schoolers, although my two surinamensis hang out together. These fish all seem to be of the same temperament as clown loaches, which is why I think they are a fabulous addition to a sandy loach tank. They are also from South America, and prefer softer water in thne neutral pH zone, unlike the mean African cichlids that want 8.6 pH.

The three different species are all unique in their colors ranging from gold and greens on them to pearl irridescents. If you don't have sand, you can get a Red Hump Geophagus, which prefers to sift through small gravel.

Just thought you'd like to know.


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