What’s in a name?
These colourful cichlids owe their generic name of Mikrogeophagus to their characteristic habit of digging in the substrate: mikros- (Greek) means small; -geo- (Greek) earth, and -phagos (Greek) eater, which adds up to “small eartheater”.
But fear not — these fish do not destroy plants like their bigger eartheater cousins, so the aquarium can be planted.
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi was discovered by Herman Blass from Florida and a Venezuelan, Manuel Vincente Ramirez. In 1947 Blass brought the fish they had caught to the USA and named them ‘ramirezi’ in honor of his travelling companion. The specific epithet of
Mikrogeophagus altispinosa, on the other hand, refers to the elongated first ray of the dorsal fin: altus (Latin) means high, and spinosus is spiny. These are the two scientifically described species that comprise the genus.