Ram cichlid, also known as Blue Ram or Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, makes for an excellent addition to your fish tank. Unlike other Cichlid species, the Blue Ram cichlid is peaceful and is well suited for schooling.
The only downside to this cichlid species is that they are not suitable for beginner and intermediate level aquarists due to their strict water requirements and care needs.
Although the Ram cichlid is not the easiest fish to care for, its captivating colors add a vibrant appeal to your tank and steal your heart in no time.
Keep reading to learn about these fish, their behavior, feeding, breeding, and care requirements.
Ram Cichlid Stats
|Other Names||Blue Ram, Dwarf Ram Cichlid, Electric Blue Ram|
|Preferred Tank Location||Middle or bottom layer|
|Average Size||2-3 inches|
|Minimum Tank Size||20 gallons|
|pH Range||6.0 – 7.5|
|Temperature Range||74-84 F|
Overview of Ram Cichlids
German Blue Ram, like several other cichlid species, is native to South Africa. You will find the bulk of this cichlid species in the Orinoco River Basin of Colombia and Venezuela. Ram cichlids are known by many other names like Electric Blue Ram and Blue Ram cichlid because of their vibrant color forms.
They were discovered in 1948 and named after Manuel Ramirez, the first collector and importer of these species. This vibrant cichlid has been raised successfully in captivity; thus, their numbers in the wild are worthy of note. With as little as $7, you can get a Ram Cichlid from any nearby pet store.
Ram Cichlid thrives in lakes and ponds with very little water flow or still waters. Their habitat in the wild usually has a sandy or muddy bottom and is filled with lots of plants. Unlike other cichlid species, Ram cichlids have a peaceful disposition and are very fanciful.
Types of Ram Cichlid
There are several types of Ram Cichlid available being bred in captivity these days. These different strains arise due to years of inbreeding in captivity. However, it is important to note that regardless of the strain of this cichlid species, they all belong to the Cichlidae family.
The Bolivian Ram is a type of Ram cichlid common to South American countries like Brazil and Bolivia. In the wild, they favor still waters with lots of plants and soft substrate.
Bolivian Ram has a somewhat plain appearance, with a golden-brown body and reddish highlights on its dorsal and caudal fins. Some of them also have turquoise highlights decorating their pelvic and anal fins.
Bolivian Ram cichlids have a black stripe that runs from their eyes down to their tail fins. They are the largest Ram cichlids in circulation; they measure about 3 inches.
Electric Blue Rams have an undeniable fierce appearance due to their striking red eyes.
Like all Ram Cichlids, they are active and have an undeniably vibrant appearance.
Appearance of the Ram Cichlid
Ram cichlids are very colorful, and they come in 3 major color forms: yellow, blue, and white. The different color forms arise from years of inbreeding. In most cases, Ram Cichlid with really bright colors have weakened immunity and are more prone to diseases.
Ram Cichlids have a body that is gold or silver with vivid blue markings. The head, cranial, and dorsal fins of the German Blue Ram are peppered with black markings and spots on the dorsal part of its body.
The entire body of this cichlid species is highlighted by vibrant patches of electric blue that shimmer and reflect as the fish moves through the water, hence its name. It is worthy of note that this species has more visible lines in the wild than those bred in captivity.
Ram cichlids have an oval shape, highlighted by pointed tails and fins. These fins are yellow or red and are almost transparent. Also worthy of note are their eyes. Ram Cichlids have red-shot eyes.
– Sexual Dimorphism
You can tell male and female Blue Ram cichlids apart by considering their colors, size, and shape of fins.
Male Ram Cichlids have more vibrant colors and spot more pointed dorsal fins than their female counterparts. Female Ram Cichlids, on the other hand, are slightly smaller than their male counterparts and have pink-orange, rounded abdomens.
– Average Size of Ram Cichlid
Ram Cichlids are also referred to as Dwarf Ram cichlids because of their small size. On average, your Ram Cichlid will only grow to around 2 inches.
– Ram Cichlid Lifespan
On average, Ram Cichlids live for 2-3 years. Of course, their actual lifespan depends a lot on the quality of care you provide these cichlids. With optimum care, your Ram cichlids can live for more than the average three years.
Ram Cichlid Behaviour
German Blue Ram is generally regarded as one of the best cichlid species for advanced aquarists to raise. The distinction stems from the fact that Ram cichlids are small, peaceful, and compatible with many other fish species. However, they have been known to display aggression, particularly during the breeding period owing to their need to keep their younglings safe.
Your Blue Ram can become very aggressive towards its tank mates when it does not have a well-set-up tank. To curtail the aggression, do well to include lots of hiding spots and plants for them.
Ram Cichlid Care
Ram cichlids are very sensitive to change in water parameters. Thus, you must give them optimum care and the best tank setup possible. First, do not introduce your Blue Ram to a tank that has not been well cycled; it could cause a great deal of stress.
A tip to help you get the best from this dwarf cichlid species is to replicate the conditions in their wild habitat as much as possible.
– Tank Requirements
Setting up your tank right is a crucial part of caring for Blue Rams; you don’t want a too restricting tank, and you also want one with balanced water parameters.
Blue Rams require particular water conditions to remain in good health; thus, we only recommend them for advanced hobbyists with the necessary knowledge.
Let’s learn how to set up a tank for these gorgeous cichlid species correctly, shall we?
You need enough tank space for the Ram cichlid to swim in. Thus, we recommend a tank size of at least 20 gallons for one Blue Ram cichlid.
However, if you intend on keeping more than one of this cichlid, then we suggest you get a larger tank, taking into account that each cichlid needs at least 20 gallons. Thus, if you want to keep three Ram cichlids, you will require a 60-gallon tank.
The bigger the tank, the better, especially as it makes it easy for you to maintain high water quality.
Maintaining the recommended range for the water parameters is crucial.
So let us go through them:
- Temperature: 74-84 F
- pH: 6.0-7.5
- Hardness: 6-14 dGH
- Lightning: Low to Moderate
- Water Current: Slow to Moderate
It is critical to maintain the right water quality for any fish to thrive, especially the German Blue Ram cichlid. Regular maintenance schedules and water quality tests are a great way to go about this. In addition, ensure that you regularly change the tank water to limit harmful microbes’ growth and keep the water pristine.
A mix of gravel and sand is the best substrate for Ram cichlids because it doesn’t cause injury to their delicate abdomen. Feel free to add a few large rocks to their tank to serve as decoration.
Tank size and water parameters aside, plants are a key component of your Ram cichlids tank setup. As much as you can, replicate their conditions in the wild. This would mean that you need lots of plants for your cichlid to swim around. However, it is important not to go overboard with the incorporation of plants, as too many of them can hinder your fish movement around the tank.
Ram cichlids also need lots of places to hide to reduce aggression. Therefore, we recommend that your tank has lots of caves for them to take shelter in to minimize competition with other cave-loving species. You should also place flat stones in the tank where the females can lay their eggs during the breeding season.
Ram Cichlid Tank Mates
When choosing tank mates for these freshwater Rams, it is crucial to consider their compatibility with other fish species first.
First, you should understand the temperament of both fish species. Ram cichlids are calm, peaceful cichlid species and, as such, should not be kept with overly aggressive species.
That rules out most of the other cichlid species, e.g., Kribensis cichlid and Blood Parrot cichlid, because they are very aggressive and have the tendency to stress your Ram cichlid out.
Keeping Blue Ram Cichlids on their own is a bad idea; it is best to pair them up with calm and docile fish species that are not so much bigger than them. We advise that you go for small, peaceful fish that do not dart across the pond so fast; fast-moving fish species stress out your Blue Ram.
Small delicate invertebrates are not suitable tank mates for the Electric Blue Ram cichlid, so avoid them. However, you can put them with more durable invertebrates like large snails and shrimps.
In summary, great tank mates for Ram Cichlid include:
- Silver Dollar fish
- Plecostomus catfish
- Neon tetra
- Large snails
- Large shrimps
- Rummy-nose tetra
- Clown loaches
– Tank Mates to Avoid
Avoid placing your Ram cichlid with other aggressive cichlid species, small invertebrates, and other fish that can fit into its mouth. Here’s a list to simplify things:
- Kribensis cichlid
- Green Terror
- Blood parrot cichlid
How to Breed Ram Cichlids
Electric Blue Rams are monogamous; thus, getting them to pair up is extremely difficult. Most aquarists prefer to get an established couple from the pet store; however, this can be quite costly.
You can avoid the extra cost of buying an established couple by purchasing a group of juvenile Ram cichlids and leave them to grow together. Ensure that you get at least one member of each sex. Once they reach maturity, they form pairs.
– Ram Cichlid Breeding
Breeding Ram cichlids is a tough call for experienced aquarists because they suffer from reduced fertility and poor brood care. To succeed in the task of breeding, you must follow the strict steps we have laid down below, starting with preparing the fish for breeding.
– How to Prepare Ram Cichlids for Breeding
The first step is to move the mature Blue Ram pairs to a breeding tank. Your breeding tank should have lots of flat stones or breeding slates where your fish can lay the eggs. We advise that your tank is covered in soft substrate like sand to allow the fish to dig in during breeding.
The ideal breeding tank set up for Ram cichlids should have enough hiding places for the fish to take shelter. Fill your tank up with plants and caves for them to take cover. The next step would be getting the water parameters right.
– Best Water Conditions for Inducing Ram Cichlid Breeding
The temperature, pH, and hardness of the tank water also influence breeding to a large extent. Slightly elevated temperatures favor breeding, so raise the water temperature to about 82 F. We advise that you keep the lighting in the tank fairly constant so as not to confuse the fish; you can use a timer to achieve this.
Ram cichlids tend to favor soft and acidic water, so we advise that you maintain that water condition. A pH of around 5.5 – 6.5 and hardness of 10dGH are ideal. You will also need to ensure your water is changed regularly and that your tank has a capable filter.
– Ram Cichlid Spawning
After a successful breeding prep, you should begin to notice the female Ram cichlid’s abdomen getting rounder. That shows that they are filling up with eggs. Usually, female Ram Cichlids get a red patch on their abdomen and display much brighter colors. Once you notice these signs, the actual spawning is not far off.
Before Ram cichlids start to spawn, you may notice that they begin to dig into the substrate. The digging alongside twirling and nudging by the cichlids are tell-tale signs that spawning is near. Another common breeding behavior you may observe is that the male Blue Ram is sliding against the females’ body. During spawning proper, the female Ram cichlid will lay her eggs on the flat stone or dug pit.
– Caring for Ram Cichlids Eggs
Once the eggs have been laid, we advise that you leave the parent pairs with the eggs because the parent cichlids protect their young from predators. They also eat the unfertilized eggs, an act that keeps pathogens at bay.
As long as you keep the water temperature in the upper range, the eggs will hatch in 40 hours. After that, the parent Ram cichlids will continue to care for the fry. After about five days, the fry becomes free swimming but cannot find food for themselves just yet.
Parental care is crucial for the survival of the fry; you may find that amateur couples will lose their first eggs. Don’t get scared when this happens. With time, most of the mature Ram Cichlids will get the hang of caring for their young.
However, if, after the first couple of batches, the inexperienced pairs still have not gotten the hang of caring for their young, you will need to investigate. The issue may be that something is stressing your fish out. Perhaps they don’t have enough hiding places, or the tank parameters are off. They may also be not getting the right nutrients, or a stronger fish is attacking their offspring.
Ram Cichlid Diet
Ram Cichlids are omnivores and so are not picky eaters. They also do not have specific feeding requirements, so you can feed them with freeze-dried food, live foods, frozen foods, store-bought pellets, and so much more.
We advise that you give them a wide variety of foods to ensure that they get all of the nutrients they need.
Here’s a list of things you can provide your Ram cichlid:
- Tubifex Worms
- Sinking pellets
- Brine shrimp
- Mysis shrimps
– How Can I Prevent Common Ram Cichlid Diseases?
The first step to prevent your Ram cichlid from getting any common freshwater diseases is to choose one with great genetic makeup. From there, it becomes easier. Next, isolate and monitor new fish before adding them to your tank. The same goes for new equipment.
Ensure that the tank conditions are optimum and that the water parameters are within the recommended range. Don’t forget to change the tank water regularly.
– How to Select Healthy Blue Ram Cichlids
To a large extent, the genetic makeup of your Blue Ram determines how long your fish will live. So to get the best out of your Blue Ram, you need to select great healthy Blue Rams. Don’t choose a skinny-looking ram; go for robust, healthy-looking specimens.
One easy way to identify healthy Ram Cichlids is by their colors. Choose pairs that have vibrantly bright colors. Healthy males have extended dorsal and pectoral fins.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I Raise Only One Ram Cichlid?
Yes, you can. However, most times, it is best to keep them in pairs or little communities. An exception to this recommendation would be when you have an overly aggressive Ram cichlid that doesn’t do well with others. In that case, you can keep such Ram cichlid in a tank as the only Ram Cichlid.
2. How Many Ram Cichlids Can I Keep Together?
We recommend you keep at least one pair of Ram Cichlid. Of course, you will need a bigger tank to cater to that number of fish. The bigger the fish tank, the more room your Ram cichlids have to play in and, consequently, the less stress they are exposed to.
3. Can I Keep Ram Cichlids With Other Fish Species?
Yes, you can keep your Ram cichlids with other fish species, provided they are not overly large and aggressive. Select tank mates like Plecos, Angelfish, and Discus because they can tolerate similar water parameters as Ram cichlids.
4. How Do I Induce Breeding in Ram Cichlids?
You can kickstart the breeding process by simply keeping male and female Ram cichlids together to form pairs over time. Raise the ram cichlids temperature slightly to around 82℉, keep the water pristine and soft, and it should be a win-win situation for you. The major challenge in breeding Rams is getting the water parameters right.
You will require a gentle sponge to maintain the water condition. Select one that does not suck in the Ram cichlid fry.
5. How Many Eggs Do Ram Cichlids Lay?
On average, a single Ram Cichlid can lay about 150 to 300 eggs. In some cases, aquarists have reported that their female Rams have laid up to 500 eggs. However, you should know that Ram cichlids raised in the wild lay more eggs than the color morphs bred in captivity.
Ram cichlids lay an average of 150 eggs every month or so.
6. How Often Should Ram Cichlids Be Fed?
You can feed your Blue Rams twice a day when they are still growing, i.e., before reaching maturity. Take care to keep their portions light, restrict the food quantity to what they can finish in under 3 minutes. As your Ram cichlids grow and attain maturity, you can reduce the feeding frequency to once a day.
- Ram Cichlids are dwarf, vibrant, and peaceful cichlid species
- They can live for up to three years with proper care and maintenance
- The adult pairs are monogamous egg breeders that are fiercely protective of their young
Ram Cichlids spice up your tank with their beautiful colors. However, we recommend that only expert aquarists raise these peaceful cichlid species. With the right care, you will get the most of your Ram Cichlids.
Use this article as a guide to care for your Blue Ram and leave us comments and feedback.
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