10 Geophagus Tank Mates – List of Compatible Species

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The Geophagus cichlid is among the most beloved cichlids in the aquarium world for several reasons. The main one is the fish’s temperament.

This cichlid is more peaceful and less territorial than other cichlid species, making it fit for community tanks.

It also displays bottom-dwelling and burrowing behavior, as the Geophagus cichlid feeds around the substrate exclusively.

It’s common to see the cichlid taking mouthfuls of sand and spitting them out, retaining any valuable nutrients it can find.

When looking to pair this species with some viable tank mates, there are 2 aspects to consider:

  • Avoid extra-small fish
  • Avoid extra-large, territorial species

That being said, we’ll dive into the 10 most common tank mates for your Geophagus:

1. Severum Cichlids

Severum cichlids are medium-sized, calm, and relatively friendly cichlids, making them ideal tank partners for your Geophagus. These cichlids can grow up to 8 inches and live between 5 and 10 years with optimal care.

The tank size is crucial here, since the Severum cichlid needs at least 45 gallons for itself. This cichlid doesn’t like to live in groups, so it can remain peaceful, healthy, and happy by itself, but it needs optimal space for that.

Although the Severum cichlid isn’t too territorial, it can stress out in small and claustrophobic spaces.

A peculiar characteristic of this species is that it’s extremely hardy. The Severum cichlid is capable of withstanding quite dirty waters in the wild since it has a robust immune system.

This doesn’t mean you can afford to be careless about its water conditions. While the cichlid doesn’t mind dirtier waters that much, it does mind ammonia.

Always keep the cichlid’s water in optimal condition to prevent health problems.

Compatibility Level – High

The Severum cichlid won’t bother the Geophagus since they’re both peaceful and docile and will stay out of each other’s way. That being said, the Severum cichlid will become more aggressive during the spawning phase. Keep that in mind if you’re aiming for a pair of Severum cichlids that will mate at some point.

2. Electric Blue Acara

This cichlid is the exclusive product of human-steered selective breeding. So, the Electric Blue Acara doesn’t exist in this form in the wild.

This makes the cichlid a hybrid and a very popular one at that, thanks to its easy-going attitude and calm temperament.

This cichlid is omnivorous, can grow up to 8 inches tops, and will live up to 2 decades with proper care. You can easily recognize the Blue Acara by its uniform blue with metallic hues and large dorsal fins covering most of its back.

This species is similar to the Geophagus in terms of overall behavior. The Blue Acara is peaceful and occasionally buries itself in the substrate.

Otherwise, it prefers to spend its time in the middle area of the tank, with occasional dives towards the bottom.

Compatibility Level – Moderate

From a temperament stance, the 2 species are perfectly compatible. The problem is that their territories overlap since both enjoy spending time around the substrate.

So, monitor their interactions to prevent aggression and territorial behaviors.

I advise decorating the cichlids’ tank with rocks, caves, plants, and other decorations to ensure a variety of hiding areas. Doing so will minimize the likelihood of territorial aggression.

3. Larger Tetras

Tetras are generally inquisitive and energetic fish that will display some territorial behavior at times. However, they won’t disturb your Geophagus cichlid since they have different dwelling areas.

Some relevant species to consider include the Colombian tetra, rosy tetra, and Buenos Aires tetra.

These will grow around 3 inches, generally slightly smaller, and won’t bother the Geophagus cichlid, provided you consider several key points along the way.

These include providing your tetras with ample swimming space. These fish tend to be more energetic and love to swim in open areas.

Ideally, you should also keep them in larger shoals, preferably around 8-10 individuals.

This will keep them happy and lower their stress and aggression levels.

Compatibility Level – Moderate

Tetras tend to exhibit fin nipping behavior. They shouldn’t interact with your Geophagus cichlid too much, especially since the fish is larger and sticks to substrate dwelling.

But you never know. Always monitor your fish interactions to make sure they remain in good relations.

4. Keyhole Cichlid

Keyhole cichlids are your best pick for a planted tank with other peaceful and shy fish species. Like the Geophagus, for instance.

These cichlids prefer to remain calm and friendly and will often rely on their camouflage to avoid confrontation with other, more aggressive fish.

They won’t go near the substrate too often, so they won’t interact with your Geophagus too much.

These cichlids are hardy and will cope with most water parameters, so long as no ammonia and nitrites are involved. The Keyhole cichlid is carnivorous, so it requires protein-dense foods to remain healthy and happy in the long run.

Since this cichlid will barely reach 5 inches, you can easily house 2 of them in a 20-gallon tank. Preferably larger since these fish do enjoy a larger swimming space.

Compatibility Level – High

Geophagus and Keyhole cichlid make for ideal tank partners. They are both peaceful and easy-going and will only become aggressive during spawning or when lacking sufficient space or food.

But these are easy fixes, even for a novice aquarist.

5. Festivum Cichlid

The Festivum cichlid, also known as Flag cichlid is better suited for community setups than other cichlids. It’s all thanks to their peaceful temperament, allowing Festivum cichlids to tolerate the presence of a variety of fish.

However, they can’t live alone, even if surrounded by other fish. Since Festivum cichlids only grow up to 4 inches, they rely on the company of their own to feel safe.

Make sure you form groups of at least 5-6 Festivum cichlids and always house them with equally friendly fish species. The Geophagus cichlid is the perfect fit in this sense.

Provide the Festivum cichlids with a planted set up, and they will remain healthier and happier over years to come. This species can live 10 years or more in captivity, provided you ensure optimal living conditions.

Compatibility Level – High

Festivum cichlids make for ideal partners for your Geophagus. They won’t interact much, especially due to the former’s shy temperament.

6. Uaru Cichlids

Uaru cichlids are peaceful, larger in size, capable of reaching 10 inches in some cases and will get along with a variety of aquarium mates.

They prefer more peaceful tank companions since they exhibit a similar vibe.

Uaru cichlids are omnivorous and will eat tank plants if available. So, you might want to either avoid plants or use artificial ones that are impervious to their attacks.

Uaru cichlids are easy to keep but difficult to breed and will live around 10-12 years with good care. This cichlid will spend its time in the middle area of the tank, so it won’t interact with your Geophagus too much.

Compatibility Level – High

They make for great tank partners. Make sure both cichlids have sufficient space and matching water conditions.

For instance, the Uaru cichlid requires at least 50 gallons of swimming space as an adult.

7. Plecos

Plecos seem like an odd choice here, given that these fish are also bottom-dwellers. They will inevitably share the same living space as the Geophagus cichlid, but this isn’t necessarily a problem.

The pleco is extremely territorial against other plecos, but it doesn’t mind the presence of other fish around its preferred living space.

Keep in mind that plecos vary drastically in terms of size, behavior, and space requirements. Some species will only grow up to 1.5 inches, while others can go over 12 inches.

The former requires a 20-gallon setting, while the latter needs a swimming space in excess of 75 gallons.

Choose your pleco species carefully to match the Geophagus’s temperament, size, and tank setup.

Compatibility Level – Moderate

Plecos don’t make quite ideal tank mates because they share the same living space with the cichlid. This can lead to conflict of interest in terms of dwelling space and food.

Monitor your fish’s interactions and make sure they don’t grow any animosity towards one another.

8. Denison Barbs

The Denison Barb is another great option on this list. This is an energetic, shark-looking fish with a long body and a black stripe traversing it head to tail.

Most Denison barbs also display red patches around the eyes, gills, and dorsal fin.

This fish can grow to 6 inches and prefers large swimming areas, as it is quite energetic. You should consider at least 55 gallons of space for one Denison barb, plus the space necessary for the Geophagus.

The good news is that the Denison barb is peaceful, easy to care for, and has accommodated to life in captivity exceptionally well.

As an omnivorous fish, this one is easy to keep, and it will thrive with proper care.

Compatibility Level – Moderate

There are, I think, 2 primary issues here. One is that the Denison barb prefers fast-flowing, well-oxygenated waters, which might not sit well with your Geophagus cichlid.

Another would be that Denison barbs prefer water temperatures around 60 to 77 F. So, they barely qualify as tank mates for your Geophagus.

You can make it work, it’s just that you have some balancing to do in terms of water parameter compatibility.

9. Silver Dollar

If you’re not familiar with the silver dollar, the fish looks exactly like its name sounds. It’s an oval-shaped creature with transparent fins and a round head with immense eyes.

The silver dollar displays a metallic silver color (rhyme not intended), can grow up to 6 inches, and it’s generally peaceful.

This one is fit for community setups since it won’t bother other fish. It has no visible territorial tendencies and is herbivorous, so it won’t compete with other fish over food as much.

They are even good fit as tank mates for smaller fish species that rank as food for other larger species.

Compatibility Level – Moderate

The main issue here is that the Silver Dollar does best in groups. So, you need a group of 6 individuals, preferably, to keep the fish healthy and happy in the long run.

With the numbers comes the need for more space. The optimal tank size for such a group revolves around 75 gallons.

If you can meet these conditions, the 2 species can coexist in peace and harmony for years to come.

10. Angelfish

The angelfish needs no introduction. This beautiful cichlid will only grow up to 4 inches and can live up to 12 years in the ideal habitat.

They are easy to care for thanks to their hardiness and adaptability and are generally peaceful. They will occasionally exhibit some violence if they’re stressed, water conditions are lacking, or the food is insufficient.

Otherwise, the angelfish won’t go out of its way to bully or attack other tank mates. Especially larger ones like the Geophagus. They also prefer staying in the middle area of the tank. So, they won’t run into the bottom-lurking cichlid too often.

Compatibility Level – Moderate

The angelfish is a sweetheart, but it can be territorial and aggressive at times. However, it’s unlikely that the cichlid will bully or disturb the Geophagus over territorial dominance.

The latter will most likely intimidate the angelfish by its size alone. Plus, Geophagus cichlids like to keep a low profile at the bottom of the tank and avoid interactions with other fish.

Conclusion

Geophagus cichlids are easy-going fish that will adapt to most community setups.

To craft a stable and thriving community tank around the Geophagus, remember to:

  • Provide all fish with sufficient swimming space to reduce territorial behavior and overcrowding
  • Add plants and various decorative elements to provide necessary hiding areas
  • Keep water quality impeccable as much as possible
  • Keep all fish well-fed and offer a varied and nutritious diet
  • Monitor the fish’s interactions to detect early signs of aggression

All these strategies will allow you to craft a stable and thriving fish community for years to come.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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