Ram Cichlids Not Coloring Up Help

  1. Jacob MacDonald

    Jacob MacDonald Valued Member Member

    I don't know what to do anymore. I have a moderately planted 26 gallon bow front tank. Currently in the tank there are 5 dwarf Pencilfish (will be getting a few more once my lfs gets more in stock which won't be for like 2 months) 2 Kuhli Loaches (had 6 but they passed away and will get more in a few months once my lfs gets more) and 3 German blue Rams. I have one male GBR and 2 females. But they don't get along at all the male is quite bigger than the 2 females and whenever he sees them he chases them. It has gotten to the point where both females show like no colour. I honestly don't care if he chases them I just want them to stop looking so stressed and show colour. I've made this post before as originally I only had the male and 1 female but then I was recommended to add another female to see if that would fix things that was 2 months ago and things seemed to get a little better but still no where near where I would like them to be.

    I don't have another tank to separate him in. But I do have a breeder box that floats in the tank that I could temporarily put him in, would that be a good idea?

    Also I do want to add dwarf gourami to the tank and maybe if I got one now would that distract the male and make the females more comfortable?

    I just don't get it. The females are always out exploring the tank and seem normal but they just won't show colour. The females also spar at each. But he comes around and chases them... What can I do?
    IMG_0838.JPG
    (That’s the male)

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    (That’s one female)

    IMG_0839.JPG
    (That’s the other female)

    IMG_0831.JPG
    (There’s both females they don’t look too terrible in that picture but it’s just the way the lighting is, they look far worse in reality)
     
  2. FishGirl38

    FishGirl38 Valued Member Member

    Well, the females are naturally less colorful than the males, So they're never going to look as pretty/colorful as your male. But usually good cover (which you seem to have) and ideal water parameters are all it usually takes. Rams prefer warmer water and softer PH. (about 82-84 degrees, and ph at -7.0.)

    Adding a grouami might distract the male, as grouami and ram are slightly territorial and may kind-of, distract one another. Putting the ram in the breeder box would help for the time being (I've done this to a relentless convict before). But keeping him in there for an extended period is no good. :/. Its really only good for time-outs...

    Imo, those are some pretty female ram...they look really healthy and aren't totally faded at least. :).
     
  3. mattgirl

    mattgirl Well Known Member Member

    Since I know nothing about GBR's I probably shouldn't even reply here but just some thoughts. Is it possible that they are too young to color up? Do the need to be fully mature and of breeding age to start showing their normal colors?

    Maybe they are stressed and stressed fish tend to lose their color. Is it possible for you to slightly rearrange the decorations in this tank? Is it possible that they just don't feel comfortable if they were the last fish added to the tank. Maybe all your other fish have already claimed their own place and these ladies can't figure out where they fit in.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Jacob MacDonald

    Jacob MacDonald Valued Member Member

    Well one the original female had laid eggs when I first got her, but then she got sick and was hiding until the medications cured her. But when she came out of hiding he would chase her relentlessly. Before that she was super colourful but the he’s chased her and she’s lost her colour. When I got a new one she had started to settle and was also super colourful but then he decided he’ll chase her too. My Ph is usually right at 7 and temperature is 80.5 F. Last water change I rearranged some plants, maybe I’ll move around this little tiki ornament that I have. Other than that I can’t rearrange anything else because I big piece of driftwood that is still water logging. So I guess I’ll move the ornament and put him in the breeder box. How long should I keep him in there? And depending on how that goes once maybe I’ll add the Dwarf Gourami if he still doesn’t settle down.

    Does that sound like a decent plan?
     
  5. mattgirl

    mattgirl Well Known Member Member

    It sounds to me like he is keeping them stressed out and stressed fish will lose their color. Put him in the breeder box for a few days and see if they color up. If yes then you have your answer. It isn't a forever solution to the problem though because he can't live in the box forever.

    Hopefully the solution is getting Gourami but it wouldn't surprise me if it just caused more bullying and your male may even lose his color from the stress. Often adding more fish to solve a problem just brings on more problems. Hopefully that won't be the case this time.

    If it were me and I didn't get them for breeding purposes I would find the male a new home. Either set up another tank or rehome him with someone else.
     
  6. DuaneV

    DuaneV Well Known Member Member

    GBR's like to pair up. Having the 3 in there might be the issue. If he's relentlessly chasing one in particular, she might be the one he wants gone.
     
  7. kayla.s

    kayla.s Well Known Member Member

    Your females look perfectly fine in colour to me. They do get more colourful around spawning and lose some of the colour a few days later. If the females still come out and eat etc I wouldn't stress. Something I used to do when I noticed my females looking too stressed was put the male in a breeding box for a few hours, just so the females can chill.

    If it's worrying you I'd just trade the current male for a new one.
     
  8. S

    Small Tanks Valued Member Member

    GBRs are super fussy about water chemistry and it looks like your male is older than your females so he's raring to go but they're not. You can try feeding them some live/frozen food to help prime the females to be more receptive.

    I would not add anything else to your tank besides filling in your existing shoals. It's pretty well stocked.
     
  9. snowballPLECO

    snowballPLECO Valued Member Member

    Diet also has a huge impact on coloration, and how pristine your water conditions are. What you feed them can determine how immense their colors are
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Jacob MacDonald

    Jacob MacDonald Valued Member Member

    I feed them flake foods and some freeze dried bloodworms but very rarely, maybe I’ll give them some more bloodworms. As for the stocking there is a lot of open swimming space and I get less than 5 nitrates every week so I thought a Dwarf Gourami wouldn’t hurt, but I was just waiting till things settled down before adding one. So I figure I’ll try the breeder box for a few days rearrange a few things add feed more bloodworms. Hopefully that works and I won’t have to result to risking it with the Gourami. And he doesn’t chase one in particular they both seem to get an equal share
     
  11. S

    Small Tanks Valued Member Member

    I've never had GBR take flakes. So it may be that all they're eating is the blood worms, and even that may not be getting low enough in the tank for them.

    I like Spectrum's pellet food (they have some that sink well), and some combination of frozen or live bloodworms/daphnia/brine shrimp (pick at least 2).

    You won't get them to color up pretty on flakes and freeze dried.

    As for stocking there may seem like a lot of open space but once you add more pencil fish and more kuhli loaches that will add a lot of bioload. And you're ALWAYS better off stocking lighter rather than heavier.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Jacob MacDonald

    Jacob MacDonald Valued Member Member

    Well all three of them eat the flakes and bloodworms from the surface and I also have sinking pellets meant for the Kuhli Loaches that the Rams also enjoy. They are definitely eating food. I’ll have to look into a place to get some frozen/ live foods though. But even when I had a full stock of Kuhlis and Pencilfish I was still getting less than 5 nitrates per week (I do weekly water changes to keep the water pristine for the GBRs) so I don’t think a dwarf gourami will hurt things. But I’ll definitely try the other methods first.
     
  13. coralbandit

    coralbandit Valued Member Member

    ^^ I agree with @Small Tanks ^^
    Frozen blood worms 2-3 times a week with a small slow sinking pellet 1mm or smaller. I found when feeding my rams flake the water quality suffered also .
    Might try a little mirror on one end of tank for male to pester ? Some fish are so tight they re act to even mirrors.
    I don't like odd numbers with rams .Eventually a pair is formed and the odd man out is then on borrowed time IMO.
    As for water parameters many cases ph is useless without knowing hardness..I test for TDS with a digital pen and keep my breeding rams in aprox. 100TDS.
    My tap which is 7.6 ph /2-3 kh /9 gh has a TDS of 350+ which is kind of high for soft water fish.
    All the fish look good in pics . I often see females at same age 4-8 months that are half the size of many of the males...IMO they could be same age. She laid eggs so she is ready to go also.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Jacob MacDonald

    Jacob MacDonald Valued Member Member

    Well my gh is 30 and kh is 20. That’s what my lfs told me to go for with their rams. So maybe that’s a problem? But I really trust my lfs so I don’t think that was a problem.
     
  15. W

    Why me Valued Member Member

    Try the breeder box for a few days and if it persists to the point the females display health promblems. Try to trade him in for another male as a last resort.only as a last resort
     
  16. AquaticJ

    AquaticJ Well Known Member Member

    Definitely not the problem. Try removing him, rearranging the tank, then putting him back in.
     
  17. bitseriously

    bitseriously Well Known Member Member

    @Jacob MacDonald theres so much about this situation that exactly mirrors mine right now.
    I’ve had a gbr pair for 3.5 months. When purchased, both fish were small, just barely sexually mature (more details later). They came from the same tank, but there were too many fish in the tank to identify mated pairs - at least to my novice size.
    Back then, the male was slightly larger than the female, but not much, and rarely showed colour. Female was smaller, but definitely showed better color, almost like fully mature, lots of contrast. She was also the more aggressive of the two, chasing after tank mates and the male. I had two batches of eggs within the first month I had them, but none since.
    Since that time, the male has grown much more rapidly than the female, while she hasn’t grown much at all. Now their roles and colorations are completely the opposite: the male is well coloured and the aggressor, the female is basically just silver with a lateral line and a bunch of spangles, and quite shy.
    On the one hand, I’m glad to know someone else has the same problem under the same circumstances, because it helps support my thoughts as to what’s going on.
    For myself, I’m on the fence as to whether to intervene, or just keep my fingers crossed that the female will pack on some size and the situation wil resolve. I don’t really have another tank that would be suitable to hold either one of them for any length of time. I have been thinking about trading the female for one that is larger, closer in size to the male.
    One other thing we have in common is that with the exception of the early egg laying, there’s no indication my two fish have accepted each other as a mated pair. Replacing the female with a different girl might fix that.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    Jacob MacDonald

    Jacob MacDonald Valued Member Member

    Well I don’t have another tank but I do think I’ll try the breeder box method. I was just about to do it but I watched them for a while and for once the male actually seemed kinda relaxed and wasn’t going ballistic. It was the two females who were going after each other. I’m going watch them very closely before intervening just to be sure that I’m doing the best option.

    Wow... that’s crazy how similar our cases are! But I guess it is a bit of relief. Let me know how things end up and I’ll let you know what happens with mine.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Jacob MacDonald

    Jacob MacDonald Valued Member Member

    Well I put him in there. And I feel terrible. He looks absolutely traumatized. He is just sitting there in a tiny box and it almost looks like he’s shivering he’s like vibrating his fins and breathing super fast like it little shiver almost.

    Image1529409369.278311.jpg
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    The females are already more colourful though. But they are fighting with each other. They flare up their fins at like bit each other’s mouth it’s really weird
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    View attachment 448408

    I had another photo to attach but it’s not working in the previous comment Image1529410828.693926.jpg

    They are both looking more colourful but as soon as they swim up to where he is their colour fades away and they get the big black stripes.
     
  20. S

    Small Tanks Valued Member Member

    They do look pretty.

    Looks like they're just not a good match for him. Maybe you can rehome him (or them).

    Or it's an excuse for a second tank....