Bio Facts: Demonfish
Demon Fish or Earth Eater
South America: Amazon River basin, from Peru, Ecuador and Colombia to the mouth of Amazon River in Brazil, in Amapá (Brazil), and eastern French Guiana, also in the Bolivian Amazon drainage except the Guaporé River
Freshwater rivers, freshwaters of estuaries and coastal swamps
Adults reach lengths of about 9.4” (24 cm); a pale colored Cichlid with a large sloping head and a mouth located at the bottom of the head while the eyes are near the top. It is mostly yellow-grey in color with hints of green and blue in certain lights. Fins are mostly translucent with traces of iridescence.
In captivity about 5 – 8 years
Information not available
In the wild, they eat fruit seeds, crustaceans and insects; in the Zoo they are fed a variety of proprietary fish foods and earthworms.
Despite its large size, the Demon Fish is actually peaceful and will usually ignore its tankmates, but as with all cichlids, it is territorial while breeding. Therefore, the Demon Fish can be housed in a community tank as long as its tankmates are too large to be eaten.
Demon fish are mouthbrooding cichlids that yield between 150-400 eggs in each brood. Females hold their clutches in their mouths for 2-3 weeks or until they feel their offspring (fry) are ready to fend for themselves.
An ideal freshwater environment has a pH 6.3 – 7, a temperature of 75°F - 79°F (24°C - 26°C), and a hardness of 5 – 10 dH. Provide this fish with a spacious, unplanted mature tank. It will dig and uproot plants, so the substrate should be sand or small gravel. Any large pieces of decor must be secured to the base of the tank so they are not dislodged if the fish digs nearby.
Other common names include: Demon Eartheater, Earth Eater, Earth-Eating Cichlid, Eartheater, Eartheating Devilfish, and Jurupari. Its common name ‘Earth Eater’ was earned because of its habit of picking up sand and rocks in search of food.
The family Cichlidae, a major family of Perciformes fish, is both large and diverse. There are at least 1300 scientifically described species, making it one of the largest vertebrate families. Numerous new species are discovered annually, and many species remain undescribed. The actual number of species is therefore unclear, with estimates varying between 1300 and 3000 species, and one source suggesting 1900 species.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
Demonfish have been part of the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens collection since 2004 and have successfully bred here.