Mother-of-Pearl Eartheater

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Geophagus brasiliensis - Kner, 1865
Mother-of-Pearl Eartheater

Geophagus brasiliensis.jpg

Characteristic mature male with iridescent scales. Destination Tanganyika


Defying the usual laws of nature, here is a species that grows more attractive as it ages. Juveniles are unimpressive, but mature into lovely, iridescent adults. They are called eartheaters because they dig in the substrate and sift small insects and worms out of the sand. They are best housed in a larger aquarium with other big cichlids or in a species tank of their own.

Family: Cichlidae

Other common name(s):

  • Brazil Eartheater
  • Pearl Cichlid
  • Brasiliensis

Native range:

Habitat: They need a fine-grade gravel substrate in the aquarium. Include hiding places among rocks and driftwood. Any plants to be included should be hardy and planted in pots buried in the substrate or anchored on driftwood.

Maximum length: 25 cm (10 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 209 L (55 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Bottom to midwater.


Omnivore. This Eartheater will readily accept a varied diet of cichlid foods, as well as live, frozen and freeze-dried foods, such as bloodworms, chopped earthworms and krill.

Aquarium Compatibility

Territorial. Provide dither fish like larger characins that are fast-swimming midwater residents.


They are typical substrate spawners that make wonderful parents. The male defends the territory, and the female guards the eggs. They can spawn when still small, 2-3 in. (5-7 cm). Male is noticeably larger and develops a pronounced nuchal hump.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: GNU
Text credit: KW