|Distribution||Amazon River basin, Brazil.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||No obvious external differences.|
|Maximum Size||26.5cm (10.4")|
|Temperature||25-30 deg C (77-86 deg F)|
|Water Parameters||Soft and acidic. pH: 5.0-7.0, dH: up to 8 degrees.|
|Special Requirements||These social fish need to be kept in groups|
The largest and most commonly seen of its clan, Geophagus altifrons is frequently misidentified as the very rarely seen G. surinamensis. This is why we've used it as a common name, as well as the fact that altifrons doesn't have one.
Known from most tributaries of the lower-middle Amazon River, including the Rio Madeira, Rio Negro, Rio Paru, Rio Purus, Rio Tapajós, Rio Trombetas, and the Rio Xingu. Here, it is most often encountered in clear or black water environments with muddy or sandy substrates, strewn with submerged branches/roots and smooth rocks. The aquarium should be biologically mature and spacious, with a large expanse of soft sand substrate as these fish like to sift through the substrate in their ongoing search for food items. Provide plenty of hiding places amongst tangles of driftwood, rocky caves, and robust planting cultivated on the wood (such as Anubias sp. or Java Fern). Vegetation planted into the substrate is likely to be disturbed as these fishes forage, so is best avoided. Filtration should be efficient with areas of moderate water movement and some calmer resting spots out of the current. Frequent partial water changes will help keep nitrate to a minimum, particularly important as this species is sensitive to deteriorating water conditions. Unless breeding, G. altifrons is generally peaceful, and in the wild is found in loose aggregations. In the aquarium, this species is best maintained in groups of 6 or more so that a natural hierarchy can form. This will not only meet their social needs but it will help spread any minor aggression. Tankmates too large to swallow are generally ignored, especially if they occupy the upper levels of the water column. Despite their size, these are relatively unaggressive cichlids and can be seen sharing large aquaria with anything from Freshwater stingrays to deep-bodied tetras.
Omnivorous and will accept most aquarium foods offered. Like all eartheaters, they prefer fine-particle foods which sink. Try to keep it varied with good quality flakes, granules, sinking pellets, and a mixture of frozen foods such as Daphnia, white mosquito larvae, bloodworm, vitamin/Spirulina-enriched brineshrimp, Mysis, and chopped krill/prawns.
Ovophilous mouthbrooder. The male fish will display to the female by holding his fins erect and extending his mouth, whilst shaking in a showy manner. If the female is receptive, she will deposit small batches of eggs onto a hard surface, or sometimes on the substrate. This will be repeated many times, until up to 200 eggs have been fertilised and taken into the female's mouth for incubation. The male plays a more active role in defending the territory and sometimes shares mouthbrooding duties. Incubation lasts until the fry are free-swimming, and upon release after around 10 days, the young can be offered baby brineshrimp (Artemia nauplii) and crushed flake foods. Both parents demonstrate excellent broodcare and will offer the fry shelter in their mouths for a further few weeks, after which time the youngsters will have become too large to fit.