Gymnogeophagus balzanii – Argentine Humphead

The Gymnogeophagus balzanii male gets a large forehead bump, especially if other males are present. Their common name is Argentine Humphead.

Gymnogeophagus balzanii – Argentine Humphead

Gymnogeophagus balzanii was first described in 1891 by Alberto Perugia. The genus name Gymnogeophagus can be broken down into three parts. Gymnos means bald or naked, a reference to the scaleless cheeks. After that comes Geophagus which means they look like them. Geophagus can be broken down into two words. Geo means ‘earth’ and phagus comes from phagein which means ‘food’. Loosely translated, this means ‘Earth Eater’.

The species name balzanii is a reference to the Italian nature lover Luigi Balzan (1865-1893). He caught the type specimen during his tour of South America in 1890. Their common name is Argentine Humphead.


Gymnogeophagus balzanii can reach a length of about 18 centimetres. The male develops a large forehead bump, especially in the company of other males, the female is smaller. They have beautiful iridescent coloured scales and the flanks colour from green to blue. Both the male and the female have vertical transverse bands.


Gymnogeophagus balzanii is a peaceful fish, but a territory former. You can keep them together with calm species such as armored catfish or other cichlids from the Geophagus group.

Gymnogeophagus balzanii - Argentine Humphead - Male
Gymnogeophagus balzanii – Argentine Humphead – Male


Rio Parana, Paraguay.

The aquarium

An aquarium of at least 1.80 meters is required for Gymnogeophagus balzanii. Decorate the tank with coarse-leaved plants, coarse driftwood roots and stones, so that sufficient hiding places are created. Anchor the plants firmly in the soil in flower pots, so that they cannot be loosened. The bottom should consist of fine sand.


Temperature: 24-28 degrees Celsius.
PH: 6.5-7.5
GH: 8-12


Live food or frozen food can be given as food, and dry food or food tablets can also be given.

Breeding Gymnogeophagus balzanii

The cultivation of Gymnogeophagus balzanii is quite easy, they deposit up to 500 eggs on stones. They are larvophilic mouthbrooders, after 24 to 36 hours the female takes the eggs in its mouth. The male no longer interferes and the female now takes care of the brood. Raising the fry with brine shrimp nauplii.



John de Lange

Copyright images

F. Ingemann Hansen –
Laurent van Obbergen

Last Updated on 26 November 2021 by John

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