Ram Cichlid: Facts, Lifespan, Care, Feeding, & Breeding

The Ram cichlids, also known as Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi is a peaceful small-sized fish. Its brightly colored physique is of high ornamental value which is why the demand for them is great in the market.

Due to intragenic inbreeding, there are several morphs of the ram cichlids. They include the blue ram, German ram, Gold ram cichlid, balloon ram cichlids, electric blue ram cichlids, dwarf butterfly cichlids and so on.

German Blue Ram Cichlid Source

Don’t get confused by the excess amount of morphs, it is still the same ram cichlids but with different body shape and color.

Habitat

The fish can be found in the rivers of South America and the Amazon. To be more specific, the Orinoco river basin located around Venezuela and Colombia is the hotspot for the ram cichlids. They do not only stay in rivers. Both ponds and lakes are part of the list. As long as there is still water with little or no flow and the ground is sandy or muddy with little or no plants available.

With the ground/substrate sandy, it is perfect for them because they are natural bottom dwellers. So it is safe for the ram cichlids to dig up and scavenge for food without being hurt.

Physical description

On looking at the ram cichlids, it is a small, oval-shaped fish with high butterfly-like fins. The colorations on the ram cichlids are very bright and attractive.  Parts of this fish have a specific bright color.

For one, the eyes are red, its head is yellow, and the body is iridescent with both blue and violet colors. Still, one the body there are black spots, and then on the sides, the fins are brightly colored. The ram cichlids are quite hard to miss in an aquarium.

Note: there are other morphs of the ram cichlids which have their own colours. They include gold, blue, albino and so on.

Lifespan and size

In captivity, the ram cichlids can live for up to 3 years. In greater conditions, they could live up to 4 years. The same cannot be said if they were in the wild. Most cichlids fall prey to larger predators in their waters. If not predators, sicknesses from water pollutants and wrong water conditions are other factors that would cause them to have a shorter lifespan.

What size is the ram cichlid?

An adult ram cichlids are 2 – 3inches long.

Temperament

The ram cichlids are sociable, peaceful and territorial fishes. They are compatible with most other fishes, as long as they are less aggressive and smaller than or equal in size to them. Sometimes they show a little bit of aggression, but it’s usually in the form of a “bark” rather than a bite.

Facts about the ram cichlids

They are sensitive

Unlike the flowerhorns cichlids, the ram cichlids are sensitive to water pollutants and changes in water conditions.  So to avoid these problems, make sure to keep renew a small percentage of the water weekly. It could be 10 or 20% of the tank’s water.

The brighter ones are weak

After several intra-genetic breeding, the latest morphs became brighter. It was then discovered that the brightest morphs had weaker immune systems. Sometimes, dishonest pet shop owners would inject chemicals into the ram cichlids to make the bright and attractive for sale.

Such practices are bad, and it’s usually lead to the death of ram cichlids. First time owners are likely to fall victims to such practices.  You can prevent buying defective ram cichlids by putting a deposit down at the local store and check back after a wee if it is still healthy.

They are protective

Both male and female parents guard their eggs jealously. Sometimes they even split up the number eggs and guard them individually.

Feeding

The ram cichlids are omnivores, which means they feed on both protein and plant matter. This makes their menu a lot bigger. The dishes on the menu includes both live and frozen meals, such as bloodworms, brine shrimps, tubifex, flakes, granule and so on. The cichlids are known to have great appetites, so it’s best to feed them at least two times a day.

If the ram cichlids leave a mess, don’t clean it up immediately. The fish is a bottom dweller and upper stratus scavenger.

How to feed them

The ram cichlids have great appetites, so feeding them at least two times a day is excellent. Some of them have a greater appetite, and they could require feeding of 3 times a day. There are times when you acquire the ram cichlids, and they tend not to show signs of appetite.

Don’t panic…

That is them getting used to their new environment and you as an owner. If you wish to ensure they are fed well during the first days, try to spice up their dishes by mixing its feeds. This will spark interest and appetite in the fish, and it will then begin feed properly. The fish will also be open to accepting wide ranges of foods.

If you have no clue on how to “spice it up,” try to feed them with rich and tasty meals, such as larvae or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimps and so on.

Note: make sure the ram cichlids see their meals coming. Sometimes they can be so slow to notice being fed. If they are in a community, ensure they are fed or else, the hungry tank mates will eat its food. Also, ensure they are fed highly nourishing meals, so they can grow and live healthily.

Tank conditions

For a fish, the size of a ram cichlids which is about 3 inches, the appropriate size for a single one is 10 gallons. If a community is in mind, then a tank size with 20-30 gallons will suffice. To make the feel homey for the ram cichlids, a sandy substrate will be a good start. This way, the cichlids will not hurt themselves while they scavenge for food by digging.

Electric Blue German Ram Group Source

Along with the sandy substrate, other accessories can be added such as rocks, pebbles, driftwood and flower pots for hiding. The lighting should be moderate. You can add floating plants to the tanks SL it can diffuse the light.

Compatible tankmates for the ram cichlids

The ram cichlids are peaceful pet fishes. They are an excellent match for most other peaceful fishes. They may show some aggression, but it’s for protecting their territory. And they are the kind of fishes that prefer to bark rather than bite.

A fish of its kind can’t survive in hard communities where the tank mates are more aggressive and bigger.

The best tankmate candidates include:

  • Silver dollar
  • Neon tetra
  • Glowlight Tetra
  • Black Phantom Tetra
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Discus
  • Dwarf rainbowfish
  • Synodontis
  • Plecostomus

When choosing a mate, make sure it is not a bottom dweller like the ram cichlids. It could to clash in which the ram cichlids cannot win and may end up injured.

Water parameters

  • The appropriate temperature for the water should be within 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit. The best is 86. The temperature within the range is good enough to help the ram cichlids feel homey and become more resilient to diseases.
  • There must be an effective water filter so that the waste will be cleaned up before causing any change In the water conditions.
  • The appropriate pH range for the ram cichlids is 6.0 – 7.5. Be Careful with decorations such as limestones and driftwood. They are known to increase and reduce pH respectively.
  • The appropriate range for water hardness should be within 2-6 dGH. The best is 3 dGH.
  • In the habitat of the ram cichlids, their waters are still with little or no movement. It should be the same for water tanks.
  • In the case of the breeding tank, the flow of water should be even slower.

Breeding tank water parameters

As said earlier, the flow of water in the tank must be very slow. This will help prevent the fry from being dragged due to strong currents.

Breeding

Before proceeding to breed the ram cichlids, the first step to take is to tell if it’s a male or a female. Like most other fishes, the best time to identify their genders is in their adult stage.

In its adult stage, the male has a  Brighter abdomen than the female. The colors of the abdomen could be either orange or red. Another way to distinguish them is the size, and the male is bigger than the female.

Breeding ram cichlids have its own difficulties like most other cichlids. The first problem is the negative effect of a tank on the ram cichlids. Due to being kept in captivity within a water tank, the ram cichlids loses its parental functions. After a couple has spawned their juveniles, they tend to feast on their eggs after several hours.

The second difficulty experienced by aquarists caring for the ram cichlids is the eggs are likely to get harmed due to their extreme sensitivity to bacteria and fungi damage. This happens when the eggs do not get proper parental treatment from its parent. The eggs begin to get covered in byssus, and they die off. Once these two issues are solved, success becomes possible for the aquarist.

How to create the right conditions for breeding

  • Provide a special tank for breeding purposes. The reasons are because the ram cichlids will not spawn if the right conditions are not in place.
  • The tank should be one with more surface area so that oxygen will be available all over. A tank with 300 square cm and with a height of 15cm will do just fine.
  • Before using the tank make sure it is clean, once done put a thin layer of fine sand and a bit of gravel in the tank. Do it’s in such a way that its 1 or 2 cm away from the bottom. Pour water into the tank and then let the water defecate.
  • Let osmosis take place for 3-4 days before putting the breeding couple into the water tank.
  • Conditions for a proper breeding tank
  • The temperature of the tank’s water should be warm, with a range of 82 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH level of the water should be neutral.
  • The water should be clean so that the couples will not experience stress. If they feel stressed, then the couple will begin to feast on their eggs.
  • The ram cichlids find it comfortable to spawn when other fishes are present in the tank. It tends to make them less aggressive to each other.
  • Wide leaves and smooth pebbles should be available in the breeding so that females will be able to lay their eggs safely.
  • Once the fry has hatched, make sure to move the parents to another tank because they tend to eat them.

Closing

So there you have it… all the basics you need to know about the ram cichlids. This ornamental beauty is extremely sensitive to changes, but the care is worth it. They are omnivores, which makes it easy to feed them.

Their peaceful nature makes them compatible with most other fishes. Also, it makes their breeding a lot easier.

When including a community, they are great members. That is only if they are kept with the ones that are roughly the same size and temperament as they are.