Care Guide for German Blue Rams – Housing, Breeding, and More
Between their iridescent colors and confident personality, German blue ram cichlids are one of the most striking freshwater fish in the aquarium hobby. A healthy ram can display almost every color of the rainbow when it is in good breeding condition. This article features Dean, a master breeder who shares his years of experience keeping, breeding, raising, and caring for this remarkable dwarf cichlid.
What is a German Blue Ram?
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi a South American dwarf cichlid is also known as ram cichlid or blue ram, German ram, butterfly cichlid and Ramirez’s dwarf cichlid.
Where did blue rams get their name? Ram Cichlids are from the Orinoco River basin, Colombia and Venezuela. The name “German blue” refers to a color variation of the ram cichlid that was selectively bred in Germany and became popularized worldwide in the aquarium trade.
What is the difference between ram cichlids of different shapes? There are a few body types on the market: regular, long-fin, and balloon. The most common color varieties include German blue rams, gold rams, and electric blue rams. Although a black version of the Ram Cichlid was developed recently, it is still hard to find.
This gold balloon ram is bred selectively for its bright yellow color, and shorter body.
How big does a German blue ram fish get? Regular-sized blue rams tend to stay between 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm) long, which is a little smaller than their cousins, the Bolivian ram cichlid (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus).
How long do German blue ram fish live? Because of poor breeding practices or improper care requirements, ram cichlids have the reputation for being less hardy compared to other species. They can live up 4 years if given high-quality foods, clean water at the correct temperature (see below),
Where can I buy German Blue Rams in Germany?
Ram cichlids usually come from three sources: overseas fish farms, domestic fish farms (from your own country), or local breeders. If you purchase from a fish store, most likely the fish were imported from overseas. You may notice cichlids with brighter colors and longer fins. However, it is possible that they are artificially augmented in appearance by using hormones from overseas farms. This can negatively impact their longevity. If you purchase from a domestic farm in the United States, they are often raised in Florida and may come in better condition than imported fish. Local breeders are the best choice as they keep the rams in water that is more like yours, which gives them a greater chance of flourishing.
How can you choose a healthy blue Ram? When shopping at a fish store, make sure to select a robust, active ram that eats well and perhaps spars with other rams over the best spawning spots. A ram with a small belly or hollow stomach should not be chosen. If a ram is suffering from these symptoms, it will rarely recover. Therefore, you should choose the best rams. Dean recommends selecting a colorful male with good pectoral fins and extended dorsal tail fins if you’re looking to breed. The chances of successful breeding are higher if you find the female that he is already paired up with. It is easy to identify females from the small, brightly coloured dots they have inside the black spot at the side of the body. However, males are not as visible.
The female on the right has spangling inside of her black spot, whereas the male on the left does not.
How do you set up a Ram Cichlid aquarium?
Many beginners don’t realize that blue rams need to be kept at high temperatures. Ideally, between 84-86degF (29-30 degC). It is important that you ensure your blue rams are able to tolerate hot water. Rams are fond of digging so you might want to consider plants like java Fern or mosses, which don’t require substrate and can be attached using rocks and driftwood.
A good water quality is also important. Give them partial water changes at least once a week because they need plenty of fresh, clean water and are quite intolerant of ammonia and other toxins. Letting the water quality drop can lead to illness or even death. The water chemistry parameters are quite adaptable for rams to a wide range pH levels. However, they perform better in soft water and low GH conditions. To soften hard tap water, you can dilute it with RODI (reverse-osmosis deionized) water.
How many blue rams should be kept together? A pair of rams can live in a 20-gallon community tank or in a 10-gallon breeding tank with no other fish. You can keep two pairs of blue rams together by increasing the aquarium’s size to 40 gallons. This will give each pair enough space. For one of them to decide he wants to become tank boss, make sure there are plenty of hiding spots.
Can blue Rams live alone? If you have an aggressive individual who doesn’t get along with other people, he might be happier leading a community aquarium, without any dwarf cichlids.
Are rams peaceful fish? Like many cichlids, blue rams can be a bit feisty if the fish tank is too small or they are tending their eggs. However, they are relatively peaceful and are often kept in a community aquarium with other similar-sized fish that enjoy the same water parameters.
Ram is a species of cichlid that can live in community tank as long as they are not eaten by their tankmates and can tolerate higher temperatures.
Can blue rams live with tank mates? Yes, they can live with almost any community fish that can tolerate the same high temperatures, such as tetras, Sterbai cory catfish, plecos, discus, angelfish, and other dwarf cichlids. Just don’t put them with super-fast eaters that will outcompete them for food or larger fish (like oscars) that may consider them as food.
What do Blue Ram Cichlids Eat?
In our experience, these cichlids are not very picky, so you can feed them just about any dry food from the pet store, like sinking pellets, freeze-dried bloodworms, and freeze-dried tubifex worms. Cichlids also love frozen foods such as brine shrimps and cyclops. To ensure that they are getting all the nutrients and vitamins they need, you should offer them a variety of food. Dean enjoys feeding his rams twice per day, especially when they are young. However, once they reach adulthood, he will only feed them once daily.
What are the requirements for breeding German Blue Rams?
Odds are that if you keep a male and female together, even in a community tank, they will end up spawning somewhere (usually in a secluded corner where they can protect the eggs). If you are looking to create a breeding tank for your fish, a 10-gallon aquarium will do. It will come with a background and a lid. Dean prefers to use bare-bottom aquariums with no substrate. But, you can add gravel if needed. To prevent fry from becoming sucked in, you can use a soft sponge filter or a small hanging-on-back sponge filter. You can place small terracotta saucers or river stones around the tank’s corners. To provide cover for the rams, place a large clump or java vine on the wood. This will allow the infusoria to grow on the wood.
Ram cichlids breed very easily, but their eggs may get eaten by other fish and invertebrates if kept in a community tank.
Feed the adults high-quality food, along with some baby brine shrimp daily to prepare them for breeding. Dean thinks that the parents will notice if there are too many fry foods in the water, and they will then be more likely take care of their fry. New parents may eat the first two or three spawns they lay, so if you want to save the eggs, place them in a specimen container with a few drops of methylene blue to prevent fungus growth. You can give them infusoria as their first food after they hatch in three to five days. The job of caring for fry is easier if they can be taken care of by their parents. The parents can start feeding fry live baby brine shrimps and powdered fry foods such as Hikari First Bite to their children. This will help them guide their babies where the food is.
You might be interested in learning more about dwarf cichlids that are easy to breed. Our complete care guide for Apistogrammas is available.