Easily one of the most loved Cichlids out there. These colorful Central American fish are known by many names like the German Blue Ram Cichlid, Electric Blue Ram, or the Butterfly Cichlid. Discovered in 1948, this fish was given the scientific name “Mikrogeophagus ramirezi”, named after the famous fish collector Manual Ramirez.
Unlike other cichlids, these are known for their peaceful and loving nature, making them ideal community tank members. If taken good care of, these tiny fish can live up to 4 years in your tank. The aquarist taking them on should have experience because Ram Cichlids cannot tolerate even the slightest changes in water parameters.
Read on to learn more about the different variations of Ram Cichlids and how to care for all of them in your very own aquarium.
|Ease of Care
Ram Cichlid Appearance
There are a great many variations among Ram Cichlids, mainly due to breeding and injections to amplify coloration. This has resulted in a plethora of features when it comes to appearance and coloration in Ram Cichlids.
Like how the term German Blue Ram Cichlid comes from Germany, where the fish was selectively bred to achieve the electric color. There are others with different body types like the Balloon Ram, Long Fin and Regular, with some being bred in Asia, some in Europe and all across the globe in different areas.
Some of the common colorations include the German Blue Ram, Electric Blue Ram and Gold Ram Cichlids. There is also a Black Ram Cichlid, but that variant is quite rare.
Ram Cichlid Color:
Looking at the German Blue Ram Cichlid, you will notice how it almost looks like a rainbow with all those beautiful shades of color. The head has a greenish-yellow shade with a black strip going from top to bottom across the eye and the rest of the body right from where the dorsal fin starts is in a shade of light blue with vertical dark blue stripes that get dull as they finish off at the caudal fin. They have a prominent black spot right in the middle of their side along with having prominent fins that are covered by spots of blue that appear to be glowing. Their fins feature sharp, pointy rays that help fend off attackers.
The eyes are different compared to other cichlids, they are completely red with a dark circle in the middle for an iris.
Wild Ram Cichlids are known to display better and brighter coloration compared to those kept in captivity.
Ram Cichlid Size:
They will grow to about a size of 2-4 inches if well taken care of. Their diet and water parameters have a major impact on size.
Difference between Ram Cichlids male and female:
Ram Cichlids display sexual dimorphism but in some cases due to selective breeding, it has become difficult to distinguish between male and female. Females are known to have pink-orange bellies with an oval body and pointed fins and tail. They are also considered to be smaller in size compared to males. However, males have a more pointed dorsal fin compared to females of the Ram Cichlid.
Ram Cichlids LifeSpan
They can live up to 4 years if they are well taken care of and water parameters are kept consistent. These fish are highly sensitive to any changes in water parameters.
Ram Cichlids Diet
These fish are omnivores and in the wild, they feed on insects and larvae. They will also eat pellets and flakes but it is not recommended to keep them entirely dependent on that due to obvious health reasons. They should be fed in small portions two to three times a day for 30 seconds to 1 minute, this will not only keep impurities in the tank to a minimum but will also keep your fish well-fed instead of overfeeding them. One large serving per day will create waste in the tank because these tiny fish can only eat so much.
When you add them to your tank for the first time and they hesitate to eat food, do not be alarmed because it will take them some time to acclimatize to the new ecosystem.
Ram Cichlids Behavior and Temperament
It would be safe to call Ram Cichlids the most peaceful cichlids to exist! They are ideal community tank fish because they do not pick fights. They do not have preferred swimming spaces but they absolutely adore rocks and crevices which they hide in if they feel threatened.
However, this peaceful environment is subject to the provision of ample space. If they do not have enough space to freely swim about, there will be aggression.
Ram Cichlids Aquarium and Water Parameters
Native to the extended waterways of the Amazon River, Ram Cichlids are used to living in shallow, slow flowing waters with very dense vegetation and a sandy base. It is of vital importance that the aquarist remembers to constantly monitor and maintain stable water parameters because Ram Cichlids are quite sensitive to changes.
Ram Cichlids Tank Size:
At least 10 gallons per fish because these are tiny fish and do not require much space to live in. However, make sure you do not overcrowd the aquarium or else maintaining stable water parameters will be close to a nightmare.
The tank should have a wide surface area at the bottom because these fish are bottom dwellers and free swimmers. They will need space to swim around and dig in the sand, while also maintaining a territory.
Their Central American habitat should be mimicked to the best abilities of the owner. Rocks, driftwood and crevices are recommended because these fish enjoy spending time in their hiding spots. Since their native habitat is full of vegetation, getting a few plants like Java Fern, Amazon Sword and Wisteria would help make them feel at home.
A soft substrate goes a long way in protecting your fish from hurting themselves while they dig. Sand is recommended instead of gravel or small rocks.
Keeping an efficient filtration system is of paramount importance because these fish cannot tolerate even the slightest change in water parameters. Along with that, a water testing kit should also be kept handy for constant monitoring, so the aquarist can stay vigilant or else the fish in their aquarium will suffer.
The filtration system will maintain a moderate water flow, just as their requirement. Filters like Seachem Tidal and AquaCleaner Power filter are some examples that will help filter out biological waste and keep ammonia levels at a minimum.
Ram Cichlids Tank Mates
Being small, peaceful fish, it is very uncommon for them to show aggression, which is generally not considered to be a cichlid trait. Ram Cichlids are community fish and will thrive in a peaceful community as long as their tank mates are not large and aggressive like the Jaguar Cichlid, Green Terror or Convict Cichlid. Some of the most ideal tank mates for Rams can be:
· Silver Dollars
· Dwarf Gouaramis
· Plecostomus Catfish
· Cardinal and Neon Tetras
· Rummynose Tetras
· Kuhli Loaches
· Clown Loaches
Make sure you do not add any tank mates, be they fish or non-fish, small enough to fit in their mouth because Ram Cichlids will definitely feed on them given their cichlid nature. If they display any aggression, that is a sign that the tank is too small, they cannot find hiding spots, water parameters are off the charts or it can also indicate breeding season.
It is important to provide them enough space to live peacefully because males can get highly territorial during breeding season.
Ram Cichlids Breeding
Ram Cichlids are not difficult to breed in captivity, it all depends on water parameters and general tank conditions because these Ram Cichlids are highly sensitive to changes. They should easily form pairs if you buy a batch of them and put them in the tank together.
- Before you prepare them for breeding, make sure you put them in a breeding tank because their fry will be at the risk of being eaten by tank mates in the community tank.
- Afterwards, feed them a protein rich diet consisting of frozen or live food because this process will take its toll on their tiny bodies.
- Make sure to keep a flat rock in the breeding tank because Ram Cichlid females like laying eggs on clean, flat surfaces.
- When you think it is time, lower the pH to 5.8-6.0 and gradually raise the temperature daily by 3 F up till 85 F to catalyze the mating process.
- Ram Cichlids prefer a slight acidic and warm environment for breeding. When everything is perfectly placed into motion, the male and female will chase each other around the tank as part of the courting process until the female lays eggs on a clean, flat surface for the male to fertilize.
- The eggs will hatch after 60 hours. The parents will jealously guard the fry and carry them in their mouths across the tank to different spots. They will even camouflage them in an attempt to hide them from predators.
- Feed the fry baby brine shrimp until they are 7 days old. That is when they will be able to swim freely and the parents will lead them in groups to feeding grounds.
- Start feeding them normal food after 2 months.
Common Problems for Ram Cichlids
Being highly sensitive to water conditions, it is not advised to add them to a new aquarium because Ram Cichlids are highly sensitive to nitrates. This is why experts recommend adding them to an already conditioned tank. Even then it is vital to do 10-20% weekly water changes (more if the population is large). If the aquarist ignores these precautions then be prepared to deal with an onset of illness and disease.
Fish TB and Ram Cichlids
Apart from the common community health issues like ich, Ram Cichlids are prone to TB, which can also be transmitted to humans. This is the same TB that infects humans (Mycobacterium marinum) and commonly swims in infected water bodies.
If you see your fish displaying symptoms like a thin body, ulcers around the head or body, grey-white nodules, dropsy or pop eyes, you can be sure that your tank has a TB infestation. If this is the case then under no circumstances does water come into contact with your skin, therefore, the use of protective gloves is advised. Speak to a vet regarding what antibiotic to use and get rid of all the decorations, plant life, and substrate from your tank because of contamination and thoroughly clean the entire tank.
It should be noted that TB does not survive in temperatures above 98 F, so warming the tank after removing the fish can also eliminate the menace.
Where to buy Ram Cichlids?
Overseas fish farms, domestic fish farms, or your local breeders, these three sources are where Ram Cichlids come from. Even your local fish store imports them from breeders abroad or from domestic farms. One should be careful because many farms tend to inject them with hormones for better and brighter coloration and longer fins, but you can always trust your local breeder because they raise and breed these fish in water parameters similar to yours.
So for this reason you can rest assured that your fish will have natural features, not ones that were injected in them,and because of this season they will hopefully have a long and healthy life in your aquarium.
They can be found in online stores for around $17.59 for 6-11 fish or $16.99 for 12 or more.
Q: Are Blue Ram Cichlids freshwater fish?
Yes, they are some of the most vividly colored and confident freshwater fish.
Q: Can a Gold Ram Cichlid be kept in a 10-gallon tank?
No, at least a 30-40 gallon tank is required to house a single Ram Cichlid. They are agile and free-moving fish so despite being small, they need large living space.
So as you can see, Ram Cichlids require an experienced aquarist mainly due to their highly sensitive water parameter demand. It will take a new aquarist time to learn the tips and tricks of the trade and he/she will end up killing (unintentionally) several Ram Cichlids before they can learn to efficiently monitor and maintain water parameters.
Apart from that, these fish are quite peaceful and ideal for community tanks because they love to coexist with the community.
We hope this article answered all your curious queries, but if you have any further questions or are curious to learn more about other cichlids, please explore our website because we have everything you will ever need regarding cichlids.