Red Striped Eartheater Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

The Red Striped Eartheater is a visually appealing species that will captivate you with its vibrant colors and unique feeding habits. This fascinating fish species make a captivating addition to your aquarium. We’ll cover everything you need to know, from tank setup and water requirements to diet and breeding.

red striped eartheater

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Red Striped Eartheater Species Profile and Identification

The Red Striped Eartheater (Geophagus Surinamensis) is a fascinating species of fish native to the rivers and tributaries of South America. Known for their diverse colors and patterns, these freshwater fish are popular among hobbyists for their unique behavior and appearance.

  • Size: Adult Red Striped Eartheaters can grow up to 8-12 inches in length.
  • Lifespan: With proper care, they can live up to 5-6 years.

To easily identify a Red Striped Eartheater, look for the following distinctive features:

  1. Horizontal red and blue stripes on their body
  2. A big dark spot in the center of their body
  3. Orange-red fins edged with black
  4. Slender body with an elongated head
  5. Red and blue markings around their eyes

Red Striped Eartheaters are bottom-dwellers and use their downturned mouths to sift through the substrate for food. They owe their name to this “eartheating” behavior, which is essential for their wellbeing. Watching them in action is one of the many joys of keeping this species in your home aquarium.

Additionally, Red Striped Eartheaters are moderately peaceful fish. They are predominantly non-aggressive but can become territorial with age. Understanding their temperament is crucial for successful tank mates and breeding plans.

Red Striped Eartheater Supplies

Before setting up a tank for your Red Striped Eartheater, it’s essential to gather the right supplies. These necessary items help ensure a comfortable and healthy environment for the fish.

  • Tank: A high-quality and spacious tank is crucial for your Eartheater. For juveniles, a 40-gallon tank suffices; however, an adult Red Striped Eartheater needs a minimum 75-gallon tank or larger to thrive.
  • Filter: Invest in a superior quality filtration system to maintain clean and well-oxygenated water. A canister filter or a sponge filter is ideal for this purpose.
  • Heater: Eartheaters require a stable water temperature for their well-being. A reliable, adjustable aquarium heater caters to this need.
  • Substrate: Your choice of substrate greatly affects the health of your fish. Opt for soft, fine-grained sand to prevent potential injuries caused by digging.
  • Decorations: Wood, rocks, and plants create a natural habitat for your Red Striped Eartheater. Choose safe and chemical-free decorations for their environment.
  • Lighting: Subdued lighting ensures their comfort, bright lighting could potentially stress them out. Opt for dimmer, adjustable LED lights specifically designed for aquariums.
  • Water test kit: To maintain proper water quality, it’s vital to monitor and test the water parameters. A dependable liquid test kit provides accurate results in this regard.
  • Food: A balanced diet contributes to your fish’s wellness. Supply them with high-quality, slow-sinking pellets along with live or frozen food.

This comprehensive list of supplies helps you create the perfect habitat for your Red Striped Eartheater. Ensure to adhere to high-quality products for a healthier and happier fish.

Red Striped Eartheater Tank Setup

To create the optimum environment for your Red Striped Eartheater, start with a spacious tank. A minimum of 40 gallons is required for one fish, but larger tanks are preferable, especially if you plan to add tank mates.

juvenile red striped eartheater

When setting up the tank, prioritize the substrate. Use a mix of fine sand and small gravel to encourage their natural digging behaviors. Add multiple hideouts in the form of caves, rocks, and driftwood to satisfy their need for privacy and security.

Make sure the following elements are included in your tank setup:

  • Filtration system: Invest in a high-quality canister filter to maintain excellent water quality and remove toxins. A proper filter will prevent health issues and stress for your fish.
  • Heater: Red Striped Eartheaters thrive in warmer temperatures. Install an adjustable heater to maintain a consistent temperature between 75-82°F (24-28°C).
  • Lighting: Low to moderate lighting is preferred. Too much light can cause stress for your fish, which could lead to health problems.
  • Aquatic plants: Choose hardy plants that can withstand the eartheater’s digging habits. Java fern and Anubias are great options; attach them to driftwood or rocks to prevent uprooting.
  • Aeration: Provide sufficient aeration to ensure proper oxygen levels in the tank. An air pump with an airstone or sponge filter can help achieve this.

Keep this setup in mind when creating your Red Striped Eartheater tank and your fish will be happy and healthy in their new home.

Red Striped Eartheater Water Requirements

Caring for your Red Striped Eartheater starts with understanding their water requirements. These fish thrive in warm, soft, and slightly acidic water that closely resembles their natural habitat in South America.

To ensure a healthy environment, maintain the water temperature between 75-82°F (24-28°C). Use an aquarium heater and a thermometer to monitor and maintain this temperature range. Red Striped Eartheater prefer a water pH level between 6.0-7.2. Remember to test the water pH regularly and adjust it if necessary. You can use commercial pH buffers, peat moss, or driftwood to do so.

Water hardness is another factor to consider. Keep it within the soft to medium range of 2-12 dGH. Keep in mind that Red Striped Eartheater produce a fair amount of waste, so proper filtration is crucial for water quality.

Consider these important water parameter parameters:

  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
  • pH level: 6.0-7.2
  • Hardness: 2-12 dGH

Regular water changes are essential to maintain water quality. Perform a 20-30% water change weekly to remove waste and replace essential minerals. Red Striped Eartheater are sensitive to sudden changes in water parameters, so ensure that new water matches the temperature, pH, and hardness of the existing water.

In summary, remember to maintain warm, slightly acidic, and soft water conditions for your Red Striped Eartheater, while also paying special attention to filtration and regular water changes.

Red Striped Eartheater Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Red Striped Eartheater properly is crucial for its health and well-being. These fish are omnivores, which means they eat both plant-based and animal-based foods.

Primary diet

  • Live and frozen foods: In the wild, they primarily feed on small invertebrates and plant matter. So, offering live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia is essential for their diet.
  • High-quality pellets or flakes: Including high-quality pellets or flakes is also important to provide essential nutrients and vitamins. Look for sinking pellets or flakes designed for omnivorous cichlids.

Feeding frequency and quantity

  • Feed two to three times a day: It’s best to feed your Red Striped Eartheater multiple smaller meals throughout the day. Stick to a regular schedule, offering food two to three times a day.
  • Offer enough food for 1-2 minutes of feeding: Be mindful of the portion sizes. Only give as much food as they can consume within 1-2 minutes to prevent overfeeding and maintain water quality.

Supplementary food

In addition to their primary diet, it’s a good idea to offer some supplementary food items occasionally. These can include:

  • Blanched vegetables: Offering blanched vegetables like spinach, zucchini, or peas can provide additional variety and nutrients.
  • Live plants: Adding live plants to the aquarium can serve as both a food source and shelter for your Red Striped Eartheater.

Remember that a balanced and varied diet is vital for your Red Striped Eartheater’s overall health and well-being. By providing the right mix of live and frozen foods, pellets, and occasional treats, you will ensure your fish thrives and displays its best colors and behavior.

Red Striped Eartheater Care Schedule

To ensure your Red Striped Eartheater’s health and happiness, it’s essential to establish a regular care schedule. By following the guide below, you’ll be able to provide an optimal environment for your fish.

Daily tasks:

  • Feeding: Feed your Red Striped Eartheater twice a day, with suitable high-quality sinking pellets or dried foods, and be sure to provide live or frozen food options a few times a week.
  • Observation: Take the time to observe your fish closely for any signs of illness or distress, such as changes in swimming patterns or unusual behavior.

Weekly tasks:

  • Water testing: Check your aquarium’s water parameters regularly (at least once a week) to ensure the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and hardness levels remain stable and within the ideal ranges for your Red Striped Eartheater.
  • Water change: Perform a 25% to 30% water change weekly to maintain a clean environment and prevent the buildup of waste.

Monthly tasks:

  • Filter maintenance: Clean and inspect your aquarium’s filter media monthly to ensure proper filtration and prevent harmful bacteria from thriving.
  • Tank cleaning: Scrub algae off the aquarium glass, ornaments, and rocks using a designated aquarium brush or sponge, and siphon debris from the substrate.

Long-term tasks:

  • Potential health problems: Stay informed about possible health issues affecting Red Striped Eartheaters and learn how to prevent and treat these conditions to ensure your fish’s longevity.

By incorporating these tasks into your care routine, you’ll keep your Red Striped Eartheater healthy and ensure its wellbeing for years to come. Remember that consistent, attentive care is crucial for your fish’s overall health and happiness.

Red Striped Eartheater Health Problems

Just like any other fish, Red Striped Eartheaters may face health problems if not properly cared for. Some of the most common health issues you may encounter include:

  1. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich): This is a highly contagious parasitic infection that manifests as tiny white spots on the fish’s body, fins, and gills. To treat Ich, increase the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) for at least three days, while administering an Ich medication specifically formulated for freshwater fish.
  2. Fin rot: Fin rot is a bacterial infection causing fraying or rotting fins. It can be treated with a commercially available antibiotic or antifungal aquarium medication.
  3. Hole-in-the-head disease: This illness, characterized by pits on the fish’s head, can be caused by poor water quality, lack of vitamins, or parasitic infections. Improve water conditions, add supplements to their diet, and use an appropriate medication if necessary.
  4. Bloat or dropsy: Swollen abdomen due to fluid retention is often a symptom of kidney issues or bacterial infections. To treat the underlying cause, use aquarium salt or an antibiotic with your vet’s guidance.
  5. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate poisoning: High levels of these substances are toxic to fish and can lead to respiratory distress, loss of appetite, and erratic swimming. Regular water testing and changing will prevent this issue.

To ensure the well-being of your Red Striped Eartheater, always keep an eye on their appearance and behavior.

Early detection and treatment of health problems are crucial to maintain a happy and thriving fish. Additionally, maintaining optimal tank conditions and a balanced diet will help prevent many issues in the first place.

Red Striped Eartheater Tank Mates

Selecting suitable tank mates for your Red Striped Eartheater is a crucial aspect of ensuring a harmonious tank environment. You need to consider both temperament and size compatibility to prevent conflicts.

Compatibility based on temperament: Red Striped Eartheaters are firstly peaceful in nature, so pairing them with aggressive fish is not a good idea. Instead, opt for tank mates that share their calm temperament to maintain a peaceful aquarium.

Compatibility based on size: Red Striped Eartheaters can grow up to 12 inches in size, with smaller fish potentially becoming targets of predation. So, choose tank mates that are larger or at least of a similar size to prevent any issues.

Suitable Tank Mates:

  • Plecos
  • Severums
  • Large Tetras
  • Gouramis
  • Cichlids (non-aggressive species)

Tank Mates to Avoid:

  • Aggressive species (such as Oscars or Jack Dempseys)
  • Very small fish (like Neon Tetras)
  • Shrimp and Crayfish (as they may become prey)

Always remember that space plays a vital role in reducing conflicts among tank mates. A spacious tank can comfortably house multiple species, providing enough room for each to establish its own territory. Therefore, ensure that your aquarium is sufficiently large to accommodate all fish comfortably.

Red Striped Eartheater Breeding

Breeding Red Striped Eartheaters can be rewarding for any aquarist. Though they might seem difficult to breed, with some care and patience, you can successfully breed these beautiful fish in your aquarium.

To begin, make sure you have a pair of healthy, sexually mature Eartheaters. It is essential to provide them with an ideal breeding environment. Consider these factors:

  • Increase the tank temperature to around 82°F (28°C).
  • Maintain soft, slightly acidic water (pH of 6.0-6.5).
  • Include flat rocks or slate in the tank, which they use as spawning sites.

Once the conditions are met, the couple will select and clean a spawning site. Males will perform courtship displays to attract the females before they spawn. After that, females will lay the eggs, and the male will fertilize them. You’ll see 100-200 eggs in a single spawn.

Important: Keep a watchful eye after the eggs are laid, as adult Red Striped Eartheaters may eat their eggs. To prevent this, you can carefully move the eggs to a separate tank for hatching.

The eggs will hatch within 3-4 days, and the fry will be free-swimming within a week. To ensure the proper growth of the fry, pay attention to these elements:

  • Feed the fry high-quality, protein-rich foods like baby brine shrimp.
  • Maintain pristine water conditions by doing regular water changes.
  • Provide hiding spots such as small caves, dense plants, and driftwood for them to take cover.

As you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to successfully breed Red Striped Eartheaters in your aquarium.


Red Striped Eartheater care can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for beginners who are willing to invest time and effort into their habitat, diet, and overall maintenance. With proper care, these fascinating fish can provide you with years of aquatic enjoyment and discovery.

We hope this guide has been helpful to you – please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or experiences to share.

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