Balzanii Argentine Humphead Eartheater Cichlid
The Balzanii Argentine Humphead, originates from the Paraná River basin area of the Paraguay drainage area of Brazil and Paraguay; the Paraná drainage in Argentina, and the lower Uruguay drainage in Uruguay and Brazil. They are generally found in groups of individuals with a higher concentration of females to males. They move about the vegetation and tree roots near the banks of the larger tributaries and throughout the flooded forest areas feeding on organic material, small crustaceans and other similar items that they sift from the sandy substrate.
Gymnogeophagus are specialized eartheaters who constantly take in mouthfuls of the substrate and sifting it in search of food. They have one of the most southern distributions among cichlids in the Neotropics. Gymnogeophagus eartheaters belong to a subfamily of neotropical Cichlids named Geophaginae.
The temperate habitat in which the Balzanii Argentine Humphead originates is characterized by cool winters and sweltering summers. All of the fish from this region will do best in temperate aquariums with temperatures in the low 20°s to high 20°s C.
They will do well with a variety of tank mates; however, they are best suited to be kept with hardy community fish species or Cichlids with peaceful to moderately aggressive temperaments. When kept in community aquariums they make for an interesting contrast to smaller schooling Barbs and Tetras, adding size diversity to the tank. When kept in Cichlid aquariums a group of Balzanii Argentine Humpheads can act somewhat like a dither fish in keeping more aggressive Cichlids from trying to create vast territories within the tank, while also providing useful cleanup duties sifting through the aquarium substrate for leftover food items.
Balzanii Argentine Humphead are less aggressive than most other Geophagus species, thus don’t do well when kept with other larger more aggressive Geophagus species in average sized aquariums. Advanced hobbyists who have a large aquarium with the right mixture of fish and decor can often make it workout to keep Balzanii Argentine Humphead with other Geophagus species; however, this is on a case by case basis and will often require the hobbyist to make adjustments in fish stocking and aquarium aquascaping to make things work out.
In nature, Balzanii Argentine Humpheads feed primarily as a sand sifter grazing along the bottom and sifting out meaty foods and plant matter from the sandy bottom streams and tributaries in which they inhabit. However, they will certainly eat food floating in the water column if the opportunity presents itself. In the aquarium environment, they will feed on flake foods and pellets as they sink through the water column, and then sift through the aquarium substrate looking for any leftover food items.
They should be fed a varied diet of high quality flake, pellet, freeze-dried or frozen foods designed for freshwater omnivores. They will also relish blood worms, chopped earth worms or other similar items. Ideally, they should be kept in aquariums with a medium to fine substrate to allow them plenty of sand sifting grazing opportunities.
Balzanii Argentine Humphead form monogamous mating pairs and like many South American cichlid species are initially substrate spawner’s; however, after spawning the female will pick up the eggs in her mouth in a form of delayed mouthbrooding. After identifying a suitable location, the pair will clear out a small pit in the substrate in which to deposit and fertilize their eggs. Both parents will diligently guard the fry after they hatch, at which point the female will closely guard them while the male stands guard in the general vicinity which he considers his territory.
Delayed mouth brooding gives the Balzanii Argentine Humphead a leg up over simple substrate spawning Cichlids, as it greatly enhances the survival rate of the fry. Here the female takes the eggs into her mouth as soon as they are fertilised, or sometimes just before the eggs hatch. This breeding mode allows the male to mate with several females and leave the female to provide parental care alone. The male is thus free to breed with other females and guard his territory.
The young fry will take shelter in their parents’ mouths when threatened. The “threatened” signal for the fry to take refuge in the parent’s mouth seems to be a dark visual circle, visible in the parents’ open mouth. Hobbyists who wish to breed this species should separate a mated pair into their own 120 to 200 litre aquarium where they can both mate and raise their fry.
- Species – Gymnogeophagus Balzanii
- Common Name – Argentine humphead
- Origin – Central and South America.
- Diet – Omnivorous
- PH Range – 6.5 – 7.5
- Temperature – Tropical 26°c – 28°c
- Breed Type – Mouth Brooder
- Max Size – approximately 17cm
- Sex – Un-sexed