Geophagus Tapajos (Red Head Tapajos): Ultimate Care Guide

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Geophagus Tapajos Care

The Geophagus Tapajos, known commonly as the Red Head Tapajos, is a vibrantly colored fish found in the Rio Tapajos within the Amazon River basin of South America. The Geophagus Tapajos’ name comes from the Greek word geo, meaning ‘earth’, and phagus, meaning ‘to eat’. This species is a rare beauty among aquarium hobbyists, as it is only found in a limited region of the world.

The Geophagus Tapajos is named for its red and orange colored head, with a neutral-colored base, subtle vertical stripes, and gold to green iridescent scales. This species is easily identified by the colors on its body and the markings on its translucent fins.


Because of their warm water origins, the Geophagus Tapajos prefers water temperatures that range from 76 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. They thrive the most in clean waters with low light that allows them to sift in the sand for food. A filtration system with a moderate current that allows for calmer areas in the tank should be included. Water changes should frequently occur to keep nitrate to a minimum because the Geophagus Tapajos is sensitive to deteriorating water conditions.

Water pH

The Geophagus Tapajos enjoy their tank water with a pH that falls between 5.5 and 6.5, with slight acidity. This species also relies on soft water to support their natural habitat.

Red Head Tapajos (Geophagus Tapajos)
Geophagus Tapajos (Red Head Tapajos)

Geophagus Tapajos Size

The Geophagus Tapajos will reach a maximum size of 6 inches, with some members of the species rarely growing up to 8 inches.

Geophagus Tapajos Tank Size

The size of the tank for the Geophagus Tapajos should be 55 gallons at a minimum. Because this species prefers to live in groups, a tank of at least 90 gallons is optimal for a group of five to eight Geophagus Tapajos. The more room, the better for this active species, as they will enjoy more space for swimming and socializing.

Food & Diet

The Geophagus Tapajos mainly feeds from the bottom of the aquarium as an omnivore but will surface aquarium tanks for frozen bloodworms. The Tapajos species should be fed with variety in mind, and most enjoy brine shrimp, blackworms, krill, flake food, and soft Cichlid pellets.

Geophagus Tapajos Lifespan

The Geophagus Tapajos can live up to eight years in captivity when cared for properly. This includes a variety of foods in their diet, appropriate tank setup and maintenance, and social interaction.

Geophagus Tapajos Tank Setup

The Geophagus Tapajos tank should be set up to closely match its natural habitat, including a fine sand substrate and multiple places to hide for shelter. Shelter in the tank can include driftwood, rock structures, and dense vegetation. The Geophagus Tapajos also likes to snack on plants, so adding some that can attach to driftwood or live in pots is recommended to keep the species entertained. Any vegetation buried in the substrate will likely be dug up as the Geophagus Tapajos searches for food. A spacious and mature habitat is important for ensuring health and happiness for this active species.

Geophagus Tapajos Breeding

Breeding of the Geophagus Tapajos is not very difficult and can be accomplished by feeding them enough protein-rich food, increasing the water temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and lowering the pH level with peat. The female Geophagus Tapajos can lay up to 300 eggs at a time in a flat location, and 24 hours after laying the eggs, she will move them to her mouth until they hatch. The parents will dig holes in the sand to shelter their fry during the day and hide them in their mouths at night for two to three weeks, where the fry is then allowed the swim free. The Geophagus Tapajos fry will eat baby brine shrimp and crushed flakes until they mature.

How to Breed Geophagus Tapajos

The Geophagus Tapajos species can be bred inside a home aquarium. The male and female Geophagus Tapajos will court each other through a display of fin-flashing and circling. When the female is ready, she will lay her eggs in a pre-cleaned site, where the male will fertilize the eggs and repeat this pattern until the female is done. After 48-72 hours, the eggs will hatch and get taken into their parents’ mouths for shelter and incubation.

Are Geophagus Tapajos Mouth Brooders?

The Geophagus Tapajos are a mouth-brooding aquarium species, meaning they incubate and care for the fry in their mouths for an extended period of time.

Geophagus Tapajos Male or Female

Male Geophagus Tapajos display more intense colors than females, are a little larger and have longer fin extensions. The males also develop nuchal humps as they mature if they are more dominant.

Geophagus Tapajos Growth Rate

The Geophagus Tapajos fry shelter in their parents’ mouths and incubate for around 10 days before they are able to swim on their own and feed outside of hiding. The Geophagus Tapajos fry can be slow growing, and the species can take up to three years to mature to their full size. A high protein diet is important for supporting and sustaining the growth of a Geophagus Tapajos.

Geophagus Tapajos Disease

The Geophagus Tapajos are sensitive to changes in water quality and rely heavily on the maintenance of their habitat. If the water quality is insufficient, the Geophagus Tapajos may develop health issues like head and lateral line erosion or stunted growth.

Geophagus Tapajos Tank Mates

As a relatively peaceful species, the Geophagus Tapajos prefers to live in groups and interact in a community tank environment. The Geophagus Tapajos is commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums, meaning that the tank is set up in a way that closely matches the natural habitat of a certain species and limits the number of different species that can cohabitate. The Geophagus Tapajos is usually housed with other Cichlids in groups of eight or more, while other tankmates should be chosen carefully.

Are Geophagus Tapajos Aggressive?

The Geophagus Tapajos is a generally peaceful species unless they are breeding, in which case they may become semi-aggressive. Grouping at least eight Geophagus Tapajos together in one tank is important for maintaining their social hierarchy and limiting minor aggressions that may be faced by one fish.

Compatible Tank Mates for Geophagus Tapajos

Compatible tankmates of the Geophagus Tapajos should be of a similar size and temperament while inhabiting the upper-level waters of the tank. The Geophagus Tapajos gets along well with tetras and most other South American cichlids, including the Red Spotted Severum and Keyhole Cichlid.

Geophagus Tapajos and Angelfish

The Geophagus Tapajos and Angelfish are peaceful species that would make strong tank mates as they have similar lifestyles and water quality needs. Both the Geophagus Tapajos and Angelfish prefer warmer waters that are soft and slightly acidic.

Geophagus Tapajos and African Cichlids

The Geophagus Tapajos and African Cichlids are different in demeanor and would not make well-suited tank mates. The Geophagus Tapajos often displays peaceful behaviors, while the African Cichlid is highly aggressive. The African Cichlid prefers hard water and higher pH levels than the Geophagus Tapajos.

Incompatible Tank Mates for Geophagus Tapajos

Incompatible tankmates of the Geophagus Tapajos are those who are aggressive or territorial. It is also important that tankmates of the Geophagus Tapajos do not have different needs in terms of habitat and water quality. Tankmates that might not be the best for the Geophagus Tapajos include the Tiger Barb, Red Tail Shark, and Afer Knife.

Where Can I Find Geophagus Tapajos for Sale?

The Geophagus Tapajos can be sold at both in-store and online aquarium shops. They are typically captive-bred and are readily available for aquarists to purchase.

Geophagus Tapajos Price

The price of the Geophagus Tapajos will fall in the range of 15 to 30 dollars, but because they prefer to live in communities, more than one will likely be bought at a time. The Geophagus Tapajos relies on groups of its own to form social hierarchies and express its social demeanor.

The Geophagus Tapajos is a peaceful, social, and beautiful species to add to an aquarium. They are diverse in their food interests and habitat needs, but all rely on a quality environment for health and survival. Adding a few of these fish to an aquarium will provide more color and hierarchical dynamics in the tank. Aquarists admire the Geophagus Tapajos for its social behaviors and vibrant patterns.

Geophagus Tapajos | Care Guide & Species Profile

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