Common Name: Winemilleri Eartheater Cichlid
Scientific Name: Geophagus winemilleri
Other Names: Winemiller's Cichlid
The Winemilleri Eartheater Cichlid is a beautifully colored South American cichlid. It boasts intricate patterns and colorations ranging from shades of blue, green, and gold, making it a visually appealing choice for aquarists. This species gets its "eartheater" moniker from its feeding habit of sifting the substrate to find food, in the process often taking in mouthfuls of sand and releasing it through the gills, effectively "eating" the earth.
Habitat and Distribution: Originating from the Rio Orinoco basin in Venezuela and Colombia, Geophagus winemilleri is found in soft, slightly acidic waters, often with sandy bottoms. They inhabit riverbanks and areas with moderate to fast flow.
Size and Lifespan: The Winemilleri Eartheater Cichlid typically grows to about 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) in captivity. With appropriate care, this fish can live up to 8-10 years.
Diet and Behavior: Geophagus winemilleri are omnivores with a preference for live and frozen foods. In the wild, they consume small invertebrates and detritus. In the aquarium, they can be fed high-quality cichlid pellets, supplemented with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. They are generally peaceful but can be territorial, especially during breeding.
Breeding and Reproduction: Like many cichlids, Winemilleri Eartheater Cichlids are substrate spawners. They will lay their eggs on flat rocks or in dug-out pits. Both parents engage in caring for the eggs and fry, with the male often taking on the role of territory defense.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements: These cichlids require at least a 55-gallon aquarium, but a larger one is recommended due to their size. A sandy substrate is essential given their eartheating habits. Additionally, rocks, driftwood, and caves will provide necessary hiding spots. Plants can be used but should be robust varieties as they may be uprooted during the cichlid's digging activities.
Ideal Tank Mates: Geophagus winemilleri can be housed with other medium to large peaceful cichlids, characins, and catfish. They can also be kept with their own kind, given ample space.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate. Their care requirements aren't overly complicated, but potential owners should be familiar with the needs and behaviors of larger cichlids.
- Temperature: 77-86°F (25-30°C)
- pH: 6.0-7.5
- General Hardness (GH): 2-12 dGH
- Carbonate Hardness (KH): 3-10 dKH
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm, ideally lower
- Their substrate-sifting behavior can be fascinating to observe. This unique feeding style, combined with their striking appearance, makes them a popular choice among cichlid enthusiasts.
- Proper filtration and regular water changes are essential as these fish can be sensitive to water quality changes.
- Given their habit of sifting through the substrate, it's essential to ensure that any decorations or plants are firmly anchored.
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