Matt Clarke on the relatively recently described Geophagus abalios - yet another of the proximus group to hit the shops.
Scientific name: Geophagus abalios Lopez-Fernandez and Taphorn, 2004
Origin: Found in the llanos of the Rio Orinoco drainage. The range covers the Rio Caura in the Guyana Shield region and the upper Rio Orinoco and Rio Casiquiare drainges in Brazil's Amazonas State.
Size: According to Lopez-Fernandez and Taphorn G. abalios reach a length of at least 16cm/5".
Diet: Bloodworm, frozen brineshrimp and dried foods are accepted.
Water: Typically soft and acidic, but most related Geophagus are relatively adaptable and easy to cater for.
Aquarium: Keep a group of 4-6 juveniles in a group in a large (120cm/4' plus) aquarium furnished with open sand and bogwood. Most Geophagus are relatively placid, for cichlids, and can be safely mixed with other species, including small and medium sized catfishes. You may need to remove spare fish if a pair forms.
Notes: I covered the description of this species in the news in April 2004. The Geophagus genus includes more than a dozen species, many of which, including abalios, are in the proximus group. These are very tricky to identify and are frequently mislabeled as G. surinamensis in the shops. There are also several Geophagus in this group awaiting description.
Identification: Unlike some other proximus-group geophagines, abalios has six vertical bars on the flanks. Only the rare G. brokopondo from Suriname shares this feature. In abalios the sixth bar is restricted to the top half of the body, while in brokopondo covers the entire caudal peduncle.
Availability: This species was imported into the UK by Tom Halvorsen Ltd. These fish were on sale at Wharf Aquatics in Nottinghamshire.
Price: Expect to pay around 10-20 for one of these.