Geophagus brasiliensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

Other Names: Mother-of-pearl Cichlid, Pearl Cichlid, Pearl Eartheater, Pearlscale

Pearl Cichlid, Geophagus brasiliensis. Source: / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike

A popular aquarium fish that has unfortunately been released into water ways in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Geophagus brasiliensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Nov 2019,

Geophagus brasiliensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

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Native to coastal drainages of eastern and southern Brazil and Uruguay. Released by aquarist into the Tweed River system, New South Wales, and the Swan River system, Western Australia.

Inhabits fresh and brackish water, in rivers, pools, ponds and swamps; able to tolerate wide temperature and pH ranges.



To 28 cm TL


Overall greyish-green with bluish-white pearly flecks on the scales and fins; fins reddish or with a red margin; may or may not have an indistinct stripe along sides, and a dark blotch on the mid-sides; iris golden with a black vertical band.


Omnivore - feeds by sifting through the bottom sediment searching for food.


Females lay their eggs onto hard substrates.


A popular aquarium fish that has unfortunately been released into waterways in many parts of the world.



Similar Species


Species Citation

Type locality: Rio de Janeiro Bay, Brazil


Dianne J. Bray


Geophagus brasiliensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)


Beatty, S., D. Morgan, G. Sarre, A. Cottingham & A. Buckland. 2010. Assessment of the distribution and population viability of the Pearl Cichlid in the Swan River Catchment, Western Australia. Centre for Fish & Fisheries Research Murdoch University Report to the Swan River Trust, 37 pp.

De Graaf, M. & Coutts, T. 2010. Invasive potential of a South‐American fish species, Geophagus brasiliensis, in the Swan River, Western Australia: based tolerance to instantaneous and gradual changes in salinity. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 93: 147‐151.

Lazzaro, X. 1991. Feeding convergence in South American and African zooplanktivorous cichlids Geophagus brasiliensis and Tilapia rendalli. Environmental Biology of Fishes 31: 283‐294.

López-Fernández H, Winemiller KO, Montaña C, Honeycutt RL. 2012. Diet-Morphology Correlations in the Radiation of South American Geophagine Cichlids (Perciformes: Cichlidae: Cichlinae). PLoS ONE 7(4): e33997. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033997

Mazzoni, R. & Iglesias-Rios, R. (2002). Environmentally related life history variations in Geophagus brasiliensis. Journal of Fish Biology 61: 1606–1618.

Rantin, F.T. & Peterson, J.A. 1985. Thermal tolerance of South American cichlid, Geophagus brasiliensis. Rev. Hydrobiol. Trop. 18: 221‐226.

Quick Facts

Feeding:Omnivore - substrate sifter

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Max Size:28 cm TL

Native:Introduced, invasive

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