Red horseface, Red Surinamensis, Green Surinamensis
The name "surinamensis" was used alot in the pass to describe anything that resembled a "surinamensis type" fish and was a worldwide phenomenon (p.147, Weidner 2000). If you look at old literature many different looking geophagus with different breeding behaviours have been labelled as G. surinamensis. So it is very likely back then, that anything imported into Australia was labelled G. surinamensis. We know that we definately don't have the true G. surinamensis species in the country at present. Even from all overseas reports they are almost a thing of the past, with some suggestions they are around in the United States but are "rare as rocking horse shit". The general opinion is that the area in which true G. surinamensis are found was once a large early export location, however these days this area seems to have stopped exporting to a degree.
After speaking to some keepers in the Brisbane area that owned these "surinamensis types" when they first came into the country in 1985, it appears that two species were present. I have been told that both species were clearly different and were labelled "Red Surinamensis" and "Green Surinamesis" in the hobby at the time. Evidence that two species were present have also been confirmed on ACE forums (at a later time frame).
The "Red surinamensis" had a large lateral spot, reddish body colouration, a black throat and were primitive or delayed mouth brooders. A friend owned a group of six in 1987 when they retailed for $85 each at 2 inches; they were $300 each when they first arrived. It appears that the "Red Surinamensis" is what is now Geophagus brachybranchus. This species shows 4-5 lateral bars and the lateral spot often appears tear shaped. There has been discussions as to the purity of this species. Have they been interbred with others that came in at the time?
As for the "Green Surinamensis", I have been told that they had a green body colour and were not what was known as "Green horseface" / Satanoperca leucosticta. A friend remembers they had quite a different body shape compared to the "Red Surinamensis" and lacked a lateral spot (he never owned any just remembers from aquarium shop displays). I was put in touch with an aquarium shop owner who knew a little bit about these fish. He suggests that these fish were just a locality variant of a "surinamenis type" fish and did show a lateral spot. This fish sounds very much like a Geophagus altifrons variant, possibly G. altifrons "Manaus", which often shows no lateral spot. Looking at pictures and reading through old threads on ACE forums has shown an ovophilous species resembling G. altifrons "Manaus" was present at least around 2002 and very possibly longer.
Around 2006 a new species has made an appearance and is also being sold as "surinamensis". This new species has 7 lateral bars and bars 4 and 5 appear to form a Y on the several specimens observed. At 5-6cm it has a very similar body shape to G. dicrozoster and may be a closely related species.