German Blue Rams Care Guide – Housing, Breeding And More

German Blue Rams Care Guide – 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 the German Blue Rams?

Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is a South American dwarf cichlid that goes by many common names, including ram cichlid, blue ram, German blue ram, butterfly cichlid, and Ramirez’s dwarf cichlid.

Where are blue rams from? Ram cichlids actually come from the Orinoco River Basin in 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 are the different types of ram cichlids? In terms of body shape, there are regular, long fin, and balloon rams on the market. There are three most popular color choices: the electric blue, golden, and German blue rams. A black version of the ram cichlid has been developed recently but is still difficult to find.

This gold balloon ram has been selectively bred for its bright yellow color and shortened body shape.

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. If they receive high-quality foods, clean water, and the right temperature (see below), they can survive for as long as 4 years.

Where Can You Buy German Blue Rams?

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. While cichlids may appear brighter or have longer fins than they actually are, be aware that some overseas farms use hormones to artificially increase their lifespan and also make them look more attractive. 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 the rams will be kept in water parameters similar to yours, which gives them a greater chance of flourishing.

How do you select a healthy blueram? 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. Do not choose a skinny ram, especially if it has a hollow belly. If a ram is suffering from these symptoms, it will rarely recover. Therefore, you should choose the best rams. If you are looking for a pair to breed, Dean recommends choosing a colorful male with extended dorsal fins and nice pectoral fins. A higher chance of successful breeding is if the male can be found with his paired female. You can easily identify females by their tiny, brightly-colored dots in the black spot at the side of the body. Males don’t have any spangling.

The male is not able to see the spangling in his black spot.

How Do You Set Up a Ram Cichlid Aquarium?

Most beginners aren’t aware that the most critical component of their husbandry involves keeping blue rams at high temperatures, ideally between 84-86degF (29-30degC). If you want to add live aquarium plants to their tank, make sure they can tolerate the hot water. Rams love to dig so it is a good idea to select plants such as java fern or mosses that can be attached to rocks or driftwood.

Good water quality is also essential. They need partial water changes every other week. It can cause illness and even death if the water quality is allowed to drop. Water chemistry parameters: Rams can adapt to a wide variety of pH levels. However they are more comfortable with soft water or low-GH conditions. If you have hard tap water, consider diluting it with some RODI (reverse osmosis de-ionized) water or adding Indian almond leaves and driftwood to help soften the 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. If you wish to keep two pairs of rams, increase the aquarium size to 40 gallons so that each set has enough territory. If one of the rams decides to take over the tank, give him or her several hiding places.

Can blue rams live alone? Yes, if you have an overly aggressive individual that doesn’t play well with others, he may be happier by himself as the leader of a community aquarium without any fellow 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 Cichlids can be kept in community tanks provided they can tolerate higher temperatures without being eaten.

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?

We have found that these cichlids don’t seem to be fussy. You can give them any dry food you find at the pet shop, such as freeze-dried tubifex, freeze-dried sinking pellets, and freeze dried bloodworms. For larger adults, they love brine shrimps, cyclops and bloodworms. They also enjoy mysis shrimp. Give them a wide variety of foods to ensure they get all the essential nutrients and vitamins they need to stay healthy. Dean likes to feed his rams twice a day, especially while they are growing, but once they reach adulthood, once a day is fine.

What is the best way for German Blue Rams to breed?

Chances are, even in a community aquarium, a male and a female will eventually spawn somewhere. This is usually in a protected corner. However, if you want to set up a specialized breeding tank, get a 10-gallon aquarium with a lid and background to help them feel safer. Dean prefers to use bare-bottom aquariums with no substrate. But, you can add gravel if needed. Get a gentle sponge filter (or a small hang-on-back filter with a pre-filter sponge to prevent fry from begin sucked up), as well as an adjustable aquarium heater. In the corners of the tank, place various spawning sites, such as flat river stones or tiny terracotta pots and saucers. For cover and infusoria, add a large clump java moss/java fern to wood.

Ram cichlids breed very easily, but their eggs may get eaten by other fish and invertebrates if kept in a community tank.

You can get the adults ready to breed by giving them high-quality food and some live baby brine shrimp each day. Dean thinks that parents will notice a greater amount of fry in the water when it is time to spawn, and they will then be more likely take better care of their fry. The first few spawns that they lay may be eaten by new parents. To prevent this, you can place the eggs in a container with a few drops methylene blue. After they hatch, give them a half-hour water change each day to slowly remove the medication. Then, feed them infusoria multiple times per day. It is much easier to take care of fry if the parents are able to do so. You can feed the fry fry baby brine shrimps or powdered fry foods, such as Hikari first bites. The parents will then direct the babies to the correct place.

You might be interested in learning more about dwarf cichlids that are easy to breed. Check out our complete care guide on Apistogrammas.