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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have finally upgraded to a 75 gallon not that my kids are growing, and this allows me to keep a type of fish I have always wanted; eartheaters. Though I ended up with a decent size tank, I didn't want the larger Geos' (this is where someone say "what about red heads...") and I am strangely intrigued by having to provide a cooldown period, and how this might play well with breeding for all tankmates.

I got 5 Geophagus Terrapurpura. They are about 2" and still quite pale. I bought them when they became available, as to not miss out, due to them being hard (for me) to find.

I have them in the 75 with a sandy bottom, half filled with water, and a cycled sponge/airstone that had been running for a few weeks. The goal: making sure they play nicely. They didn't. There was one a bit larger who has been a total bastard to the rest of the group. I got some Buenos Aires tetras for dither (as a placeholder until I get bloodfins) and that has helped slightly. Is it a right of passage to sort out your geo fighting? or just let it be?

The big guys is still quite aggressive. They're cichlids. Maybe I let him be, as im sure removing him will only give way to the next biggest trying to assume dominance. I plan to final scape the tank next week, and will have some more going on in the tank. All that aside, they are beautiful fish, and very fun to watch sift! Looking forward to growing them up.
 

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I have not kept the population known as terrapupura but I do have experience with the closely allied Gymnogeophagus rhabdotus and with the larger Gymno. balzanii. The rhabdotus were aggressive in that they were a quick reacting species. When they make contact, scales & finnage can be damaged. They were quick to pair up and spawn at about 2" or so. At one point, I simply sectioned off 12" areas of a 30 gallon tank w/ rock, slate & plants. Visual barriers reduced aggressive encounters substantially and most interactions were defenses of the edge of each territory. They were never hard of plants, only digging a bit when fry became freeswimming. Later, I cooled the tank to about 60-65 F. with a shortened photoperiod. Breeding stopped and everyone got on without any issue.

I later kept one of the rhabdotus pairs w/ a group of about 5 half-grown Gymno. balzanii. The balzanii were dominant in the tank but are not usually aggressive enough to follow through with an attack, simply rushing at or mildly bumping another target fish. The rhabdotus took over a sheltered corner and proceeded to rear a brood & protect them from all comers. The balzanii were not interested in the spawn or fry and the rhabdotus reared their brood to about 1/2" when they were removed. I found that the rhabdotus were less aggressive when they were fed heavily and were definitely uncomfortable when water changes were reduced. I typically changed about 50% weekly.

Is the half filled tank necessary? I'd suggest that with proper filtration, more water to dilute wastes and with sight barriers, their attitude may improve markedly. Power filtration will also improve visibility and water quality as these guys are definitely substrate sifters. You may want to reduce the temperature to cool their temperaments a bit. They'll still eat and grow at lower temps. I hope you have a great experience with your Gymno. terrapurpura.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have not kept the population known as terrapupura but I do have experience with the closely allied Gymnogeophagus rhabdotus and with the larger Gymno. balzanii. The rhabdotus were aggressive in that they were a quick reacting species. When they make contact, scales & finnage can be damaged. They were quick to pair up and spawn at about 2" or so. At one point, I simply sectioned off 12" areas of a 30 gallon tank w/ rock, slate & plants. Visual barriers reduced aggressive encounters substantially and most interactions were defenses of the edge of each territory. They were never hard of plants, only digging a bit when fry became freeswimming. Later, I cooled the tank to about 60-65 F. with a shortened photoperiod. Breeding stopped and everyone got on without any issue.

I later kept one of the rhabdotus pairs w/ a group of about 5 half-grown Gymno. balzanii. The balzanii were dominant in the tank but are not usually aggressive enough to follow through with an attack, simply rushing at or mildly bumping another target fish. The rhabdotus took over a sheltered corner and proceeded to rear a brood & protect them from all comers. The balzanii were not interested in the spawn or fry and the rhabdotus reared their brood to about 1/2" when they were removed. I found that the rhabdotus were less aggressive when they were fed heavily and were definitely uncomfortable when water changes were reduced. I typically changed about 50% weekly.

Is the half filled tank necessary? I'd suggest that with proper filtration, more water to dilute wastes and with sight barriers, their attitude may improve markedly. Power filtration will also improve visibility and water quality as these guys are definitely substrate sifters. You may want to reduce the temperature to cool their temperaments a bit. They'll still eat and grow at lower temps. I hope you have a great experience with your Gymno. terrapurpura.
Thanks for the info. I only have the tank partially filled as I am transitioning to the 75 from 2 20 gallons. I didnt expect to get these as mature as they were (thought I have some time to transition) I intend to turnover 5x the talk volume each hour.

It is very interesting to hear you say the cool temp calmed everyone down. I live in New England, and the tank is in my office. I have it without a heater. Tank is about 65 degrees currently. In the evenings my office thermostat goes to 64, and I don't move it higher during the day (rest of the house warms up a bit more) My goal is to naturally follow the season, so they get their cool spell straight away. I can already see them settling in these past 2 weeks. Filling their bellies, and slowly coloring up. Very excited to watch them grow.

The 2 larger are really quite chippy toward everyone else, but its only ever chasing. Whenever there is contact, its a pretty gentle nudge, and no nipping that I have seen. Im OK with a bit of testing, but if it gets really bad, I may rehome the most aggressive. With the timing on getting them, I think once Spring comes they will be willing and able to breed. Will be interested to see if it can happen without utter dominance in the tank, or maybe I can have success moving a pair to a 40B or something. Im hoping that when I space it this weekend, the slightilines will help them forget. I wonder if giving them somewhere more worth defending might amplify their behavior, but lets see.

Just ordered 20 bloodfin tetras for dither. The Buenos Aires Tetras will go back. The bit a plant. Its over for them.
 

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The 2 larger are really quite chippy toward everyone else, but its only ever chasing. Whenever there is contact, its a pretty gentle nudge, and no nipping that I have seen. Im OK with a bit of testing, but if it gets really bad, I may rehome the most aggressive. With the timing on getting them, I think once Spring comes they will be willing and able to breed. Will be interested to see if it can happen without utter dominance in the tank, or maybe I can have success moving a pair to a 40B or something. Im hoping that when I space it this weekend, the slightilines will help them forget. I wonder if giving them somewhere more worth defending might amplify their behavior, but lets see.
Careful of just who might get rehomed. The most aggressive fish may be the sex you'll need for a pair later. 5 unsexed cichlids does not guarantee pairs Finding a "lonely hearts" fish of the sex needed would likely be difficult with this species. Best to establish space & territories & then let them sort things out without continued big changes in their environment. I'd personally remove any subdominant individuals which are in danger of being damaged. As with Apistogramma, a well-placed mirror near the territory of the dominant fish will often drain a good deal of aggression away from tankmates. It can also trigger spawning depending on the condition of the individual fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Careful of just who might get rehomed. The most aggressive fish may be the sex you'll need for a pair later. 5 unsexed cichlids does not guarantee pairs Finding a "lonely hearts" fish of the sex needed would likely be difficult with this species. Best to establish space & territories & then let them sort things out without continued big changes in their environment. I'd personally remove any subdominant individuals which are in danger of being damaged. As with Apistogramma, a well-placed mirror near the territory of the dominant fish will often drain a good deal of aggression away from tankmates. It can also trigger spawning depending on the condition of the individual fish.
Good info, and I agree with that strategy. Its just pecking order aggression. I am looking forward to moving the BA tetras out...those things are nasty fin nippers! I watch calm gymnos sifting gravel getting nipped today.

I will scape it and fill her up tomorrow, and bring in the bloodfins, higher up in the water column. I gather all will be right with the world afterward. They gymno's are just starting to get some of the red striping, and blue flash. Very gorgeous fish!
 
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