Geophagus sveni (Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid) Species Profile: Care, Tank Size, Food & Tank Mates

Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid is a fascinating and relatively small earth-eating species that can be a unique addition to any aquarium. With its brightly-colored scales and mellow nature, this fish is truly a sight to behold. 

This little fish may seem delicate at first glance, with its bright colors and small size, but this species is actually quite hardy and easy to care for. 

Whether you’re an experienced aquarist or just starting with your first South American Cichlids aquarium, Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid is sure to win you over with its grace, beauty, and activity.

Though anyone can handle these, it’s vital to understand their ideal conditions if you want them to thrive in your home aquarium. This guide will walk you through Geophagus Sveni care and cover size, diet, water conditions, and more. 

Species Summary

The Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid, also commonly known as the Geophagus Sveni, is a unique and fascinating species of Cichlids. It is named after Swedish Cichlid expert Sven Kullander. 

Originating from Brazil, this species can be only found in the drainage of the Tocantins River system. This species was once a rare and difficult-to-obtain wild-caught fish, prized for its striking appearance and distinct coloring. But today, Sven’s eartheater cichlid has made a name for itself as a popular species in the hobbyist community, with breeder farms all across the world raising these distinctive fish to meet the growing demand. 

The word Geophagus literally means earth eater, and it refers to the Geophagus species’ specialized feeding habits. These fish are constantly sifting through substrates in search of food, and they are known to forage for invertebrates and small crustaceans. Sven’s Eartheater cichlid is no exception to this behavior, as it can be found burrowing through the substrate and rooting around the aquarium floor in search of food.

You might be interested in reading: Geophagus altifrons Care Sheet
Scientific Name:Geophagus sveni
Common Name:Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid
Origin:South American
Care Level:Easy
Size:6.5 inches (16.7 cm)
pH:6.2 – 7.6
Temperature:76° – 84° F (24° – 29° C)
KH: 2 – 15 dGH
Minimum tank size:75 gallons


Geophagus sveni (Sven's Eartheater Cichlid)

These cichlids are widely known for their beautiful appearance. They have bright red, blue, and green coloration with long, flowing ventral fin streamers, making them one of the most beautiful and sought-after eartheaters. 

It features five faint undivided vertical bars, black vertical bars on the caudal fin, and a mid-lateral blotch. Their sparkling colors develop with age, and they don’t feature head markings, which further distinguishes them from other Geophagus species. 

While male and female Geophagus Sveni look similar, you can differentiate them gender-wise by checking their fins. Males are slightly more colorful and have longer, pointy fins. 

Geophagus sveni (Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid) size

The average Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid size is about 6.5 inches (16.7 cm) when fully grown. While it’s quite common for Geophagus sveni to be larger in the wild than in captivity.

However, Geophagus sveni is a relatively small species compared to many other Geophagus species.

The average purchase size of Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid is about 1-1.5 inches for juveniles and 3-4 inches for subadults. In addition to its manageable size, Geophagus sveni is also known for its slow and steady growth rate; it typically takes 1-2 years to reach its full adult size.


Like most Geophagus species, the average Geophagus sveni lifespan is around 10 years when properly cared for. While they can live even longer in the right conditions, Geophagus sveni is known to be a fairly hardy and resilient fish that can easily outlive many other Geophagus species with proper care.

In order to ensure a long lifespan for your Geophagus sveni, it’s important to provide them with a high-quality diet, clean water conditions, and a spacious aquarium.

Care and Tank Setup

Though Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid are easy to care for, specific guidelines should be strictly followed to make them feel comfortable. Good living conditions and appropriate tank size are essential to keeping their well-being and tinge. 

While they may be easygoing, it doesn’t mean you can skip on care. The objective is to provide them with optimal care and add more years to their lifespan. Check the Geophagus Sveni care guidelines below and stick to them as much as possible. 

Tank Size

Since these species can grow to a decent size, a minimum tank of 75 gallons (48″ x 18″ x 21″) or more is ideal for a group of 5-8 adult individuals. They require ample space for swimming around and enough places to hide. 

While you can start with juveniles by keeping them in smaller tanks, you will need to upgrade them in the near future. When Geophagus sveni grows up, it needs more space to roam around and make a home for itself.

Water Parameters

Ideal water parameters play an integral role in keeping fish healthy and happy. These eartheaters are relatively forgiving when it comes to water quality, but there are a few parameters that need special attention.

Remember that poor and inappropriate water conditions may develop Hole in the head (HITH) in these species, shortening their lives. 

Follow the water parameters mentioned below to keep your fish healthy. 

  • pH: 6.2 – 7.6
  • Temperature: 76° – 84° F (24° – 29° C)
  • KH: 2 – 15 KH
  • Nitrate: <30ppm
  • Ammonia: 0ppm
  • Nitrite: 0ppm

Perform regular water changes of at least 15% bi-weekly or more often if your tank is heavily stocked. This will help to remove toxins and other harmful substances from the water, keeping it clean and fresh for your Geophagus sveni.


The substrate is the most important aspect of the Geophagus Sveni tank setup. Because of their digging behavior, so a soft, sandy substrate is ideal. Take care to remove any sharp objects or rocks that could injure the delicate filaments of their gills.

You can also add some rocks and driftwood to the tank for decoration and to provide hiding places for your Geophagus sveni. Be sure to choose non-toxic materials that won’t alter the water parameters.

Plants are not necessary, but you can add them if you’d like. Delicate plants with soft leaves should be avoided, owing to their digging behavior and occasional appetite. 

However, you can add more durable plants attached to driftwood and rocks to the tank. Larger substrates and gravels might damage their gills and other organs; hence, it is best to avoid them. 

Food & Diet

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Feeding is simple for the unfussy Geophagus SveniThey are omnivorous and readily accept high-quality sinking cichlid pellets as their staple.

However, you should also supplement their diet with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, earthworms, and other suitable options. A varied and well-balanced diet rich in proteins and high in color enhancers will ensure they develop the most vibrant coloration in the aquarium space. 

Since these species have unique feeding behavior, they also require food of smaller size compared to many other cichlids. Even when they reach adult size, they should be fed with small to medium-sized dry foods. 

Geophagus sveni (Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid) Tank Mates

Geophagus sveni are fairly peaceful and only show aggression when it comes to breeding. They can be kept with other peaceful cichlids and fish that won’t outcompete them for food.

Geophagus sveni are compatible with a number of different tank mates, including other peaceful cichlids, catfish, and tetras. Geophagus sveni is a perfect addition to any community tank!

Some of the best Geophagus Sveni tank mates include:

The best practice is to keep Geophagus sveni in groups of 5 or more. This ensures that they can form their own hierarchy and limits aggression between individuals.

Never introduce a new fish to an established Geophagus sveni aquarium, which can lead to aggression and territorial disputes.

Final Thoughts

With its vibrant colors and big personality, the Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid is one of the most beloved aquarium fish around. Whether you’re an experienced Cichlid keeper or just getting started with your first Cichlid aquarium, this charismatic little creature will make a welcome addition to any freshwater tank!

We hope that this in-depth research will help you make the appropriate decision. These are peaceful species that tend to show their beautiful coloration in a group of six or more. They are incredibly peaceful and can be kept with other non-territorial species if the aquarium has ample space. 

So why wait? Go out and get yourself a group of Sven’s Eartheater Cichlid today so that you can enjoy all the amazing traits that this awesome fish has to offer. You won’t regret it.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you! Good luck with your Geophagus sveni tank set up, and enjoy all the beauty that these fascinating fish have to offer.​

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