The Myth Of The German Blue Ram

  1. NavigatorBlack

    NavigatorBlack Fishlore VIP Member

    Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) are feisty, peaceful Cichlids from the softwater Llanos region of Venezuela and Colombia. They have been popular for decades, since they were first brought out of their savannah like region.
    Breeding them was a challenge due to their extreme needs. Their water was pristine, and warm, at 27-30 degrees. It had to be almost mineral free for success. But the fish was so beautiful, it was worth it.
    It didn't take long until two things happened: the fish was bred, and breeders began to select for traits. They aimed for a more docile and easier to breed fish, and they aimed to increase the colours. In their linebreeding, they slightly changed the body shape, making the sides of many fish flatter. It seemed an unplanned trade off for other traits. The little sparkplug wild fish became a calm and more intensely coloured fish. The modified version was far easier to breed, and adaptable in its water needs.
    Breeders in Germany produced a really lovely little version that became much sought after. It wasn't cheap, but it had spectacular rich blues. The German Blue Ram was born.
    It has largely vanished. As the fish became easier and easier to breed through human selection, it was overproduced without care. It was crossed with blue and yellow ram linebreds. The German Blue strain faded, but its reputation didn't. Soon, fish were being produced on farms all over the world, cashing in on the name. We really should go back to calling them blue rams.
    The real German Blue breed is not common.
    There is an 'electric blue ram' as well. It could be a mutation, but there are many who look at how electric blue acaras, rams, and gouramis hit the market at the same time, from the same fish farms, right when genetic modification in the lab became affordable.
    Yellow rams are also around, as are gold ones. Unscrupulous and cruel breeders have even produced a balloon version - a fish we should all avoid due its possibly painful but intentionally produced spinal deformity.
    Whatever, all these rams are one species. They are breeds within the species, the way all dogs are dogs, but some are dachshunds and other are wolfhounds. The GBR label is dishonest, but the many fish sold as such can be very beautiful.

    There is a second species in the Genus, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, the "Bolivian Ram" (from Brazil and Bolivia). It's a larger and hardier fish, but also very peaceful. As the Latin name implies, these fish are mini-eartheaters, part of a large grouping of South American Cichlids of all sizes that sift through sand for their food.
    Bolivians were originally discovered in two wild colour varieties: a shimmering blue gold and yellow one prettier than the ram (in my opinion), and a nice brown form with yellow up front and red fin tips, the one we see in stores today. The brown one was far easier to breed, and became the industry standard offering.
    It would be great if someone would import the blue Bolivians, because they were stunning fish. They were a little larger than the browns, but so much more colourful.

    So there you have it. Two species, several breeds and some really dishonest use of names. When you buy a pet shop "GBR" it's as if you ordered up a Newfoundland Dog, and took home a Chihuahua. It's still a good creature, but the breed names are not reliable...
  2. Bettanewb

    Bettanewb Well Known Member Member

    Thank you that was a vet informative and interesting read.
  3. Cherie G

    Cherie G Valued Member Member

    Very interesting, thanks so much for the information! A lot of it I did not know, I love rams and appreciate the history lesson!