The blue ram cichlid or otherwise commonly known as the butterfly cichlid is another of the beautiful dwarf cichlids often desired by the aquarist. The Blue Ram Cichlid is a stocky fish with bright grey/blue flanks. Yellow, gold and black with blue are the coloration of the head and chest with a red patch on the belly. A black vertical line runs across the eye and red patch around it. It has a large yellow dorsal fin with black at the front edge and red marking the upper and lower lobes of the tail and dorsal fin. The pelvic fins are mostly red with blue.
These Blue Ram Cichlids come from the rivers of Venezuela, and Columbia. They require a temperature of 78-85°F (26-30°C) with 80-81°F (27-28°C) being the most acceptable and a pH 5.5 - 7.0. Soft water is best for them but it is known for some of them to adapt well to moderately hard water. Aquarists generally find it is not 'easy' to keep this fish, as they often die soon after purchase. This is because they need well established water to feel comfortable enough in and they can be picky eaters at first. Introduction to an established tank is essential as they are likely to die if the water is not 'old' enough.
As with other cichlids, hiding places should be provided for your Blue Ram Cichlid with decorations, plants etc. for shelter when there is aggression especially during the breeding period. They grow between 2 to 3 inches (5 - 7.5 cm), the female being the bigger of the two with a life span of approximately 3 years. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons (75.5 liters) is needed for each pair that is kept.
Most fish can be kept as tank mates with the Blue Ram Cichlid as long they are not extremely aggressive fish or fish that are big enough to eat them. Other male dwarf cichlids shouldn't be kept with them unless the tank exceeds 40 gallons. If the tank is less than 30 gallons it won't be a good idea to have more than one male ram as there may be territorial disputes.
German blue rams are omnivores. They will accept most food, however frozen or live foods are preferred more. Rams that are newly introduced to the aquarium sometimes tend to picky eaters, refusing food or just nibbling. Frozen bloodworms/brine shrimp and live foods are best fed at this time. As it is observed that they are starting to eat more freely, slowly, pellets, flakes and other foods can be fed.
Identifying the gender in rams is not as difficult as might be expected. An adult female is stockier built, her tail has a more round edging and the red patch on her belly is bigger and bolder than the male. With males, the back of their dorsal and anal fins have more of a pointed edge, their tails have a V shape, are more sharp edged and they have a elongated 2nd ray in their dorsal fins. For more info on sexing your rams - Sexing Ram Cichlds
Pairing off rams does not often result in just having a pair together in a tank. Best results come by having a few rams together from a young age and letting them grow up together, pairing of their own accord. A pH of 5.5 - 6.5 is best for the pair, eggs and fry. German Blue rams can reach maturity at an early age, sometimes between 4 - 6 months. Once they have paired it is generally easy to get them breeding. However, the first few times may not come out right and it may end up with the pair fighting, especially if they are a young pair. Having different lighting times every day can distort their breeding. When ready to breed the red patch on the female's belly will be distinctly brighter and bigger in comparison with the male. A space on a rock will be cleaned or a pit created in the gravel by either of the pair, in which the eggs are layed. They will begin to show more interest in one another, by nudging or twirling. Every so often the male may suddenly dart away or slide his body against the female. The female can lay between 20 - 200 eggs. Both parents will tend to the eggs. Or, they may eat them, especially unfertile ones. They may spawn many times before they get right.
Ram Cichlid Photos:
Picture Credit: Tom
Scientific Name: Microgeophagus ramirezi, Papiliochromis ramerzii, Apistogramma Ramerzii
Common Name(s): German Blue, German Blue Ram (GBR), Ram, Butterfly cichlid, Dwarf cichlid. Ramirez's cichlid
Care Level: medium-difficult, mostly because it needs a well established tank
Size: 2 - 3 inches (5 - 7.5cm)
pH: 5.5 - 7.0
Temperature: 78-85°F (26-30°C) with 80-81°F (27-28°C) being the most acceptable. At these temperatures they will settle in better, be less susceptible to diseases and upon breeding will result in less fry being lost.
Water Hardness: Soft-medium hard
Origin / Habitat: The rivers of Columbia and Venezuela
Lifespan: 3 years or longer
Temperament / Behavior: Peaceful, but when breeding, the male guards the eggs and can and will be very aggressive. If there are 2 males in a tank smaller then 30 gallons and without plenty of hiding places, they will show territorial disputes between them.
Blue Ram Cichlid Tank Mates: Many except for large fish big enough to eat them or other male dwarf cichlids
Breeding / Mating / Reproduction: The eggs are laid on a pre-cleaned area or a depression they made in the substratum. The female can lay up to 200 eggs and the eggs hatch about 4 days later. After the first spawn, you can almost guarantee a spawn every month.
Diet: Omnivorous, will accept a wide range of foods, but frozen/live foods preferred.
Tank Size: A minimum of 20 gallons for each pair
Gender: Sexing Ram Cichlids
Forum Photos : Ram Cichlid Photos
Similar Species : Cichlids
Fish Lore Forum : Ram Cichlid Forum
References / More Info:
- The International Encyclopedia of Tropical Freshwater Fish By David Alderton
- 500 Freshwater Aquarium Fish by Greg Jennings
- Aquariums The Complete Guide to Freshwater and Saltwater Aquariums by Thierry Maitre-Allain and Christian Piednoir
- Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium by John Dawes
- The Aquarium Fish Hand book By: David Goodwin
- The International Encyclopedia of Tropical Freshwater Fish By: David Alderton
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