Ram Cichlids – Species Profile & Facts

The Ram Cichlid is a small fish with a peaceful temperament, yet a very colorful one. Such a wide range of colors on a single fish, including shades of blue, yellow, orange, black and purple. Not to mention that their eyes are either bright orange or plain red.

Who wouldn’t want to see such a vividly colored fish in their own aquarium? Now there are a lot of names for these species depending on their colors or slight body change differences. You might have heard about Balloon Rams, Electric Blue Rams, Gold Rams, or German Blue Rams.

In the end, we are all talking about the same fish with the same needs. In this article, we are going to focus on explaining how to set up an aquarium for these beauties at home. We are also going to share some tips on what foods to feed them, how to breed them and their preferred water conditions.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Ram Cichlids Natural Habitat

One of the most colorful species in the Cichlid family is the Ram Cichlid. This one was discovered back in 1948 and got the scientific name Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi. It is the courtesy of Manuel Ramirez that we know about Ram Cichlids. He discovered them in Colombia and Venezuela where these cichlids live in the rivers.

The hotspot where most of them can be found is the Orinoco River. All the waters in that area are rather warm, soft and acidic. This cichlid basically originates from the Amazon river. Based on this, you might already have an idea about the aquarium conditions this fish prefers.

In the wild, Ram Cichlids got used to weak water currents. Pretty much every plant is good for them and you will need to plant plenty of them in order to make them feel at home. It is only natural for them to live around plants. They typically dig the sandy or muddy bottom for food in the wild.

Ram Cichlids Fish Tank Requirements

Ram Cichlids are so small that a 10-gallon tank is enough for a few of them. If you are about to set up a community aquarium, however, then you will need at least a 29-gallon tank. Dim light is the best for them but this should be achieved using floating plants.

These plants will block the light that comes from above. In this case, installing a normal lighting kit is totally fine, there is no need to go for the dimmer ones.  They absolutely enjoy digging in the substrate, which is why you need to get some sand or any other soft substance so that they don’t get hurt in the process.

By using a wide range of plants in your aquarium, you will provide numerous hiding places for your Ram Cichlids at the same time. If you want to maximally imitate their natural environment, you can drop some leaves in the fish tank from outside. There are lots of trees around the Amazon river.

Ram Cichlids Water Conditions

Keep in mind that you can’t just put them in the tank right after you have poured fresh water in it. You need to set the water conditions and cycle it first. In their natural environment, they live in water that is dark, which looks almost like black tea.

Ram Cichlids are very sensitive to nitrates and ammonia. We recommend you to change the water regularly and to remove leftover food. Installing a good filter is also essential, just make sure it doesn’t generate a strong water flow. Water movement should be minimized as much as possible.

Now when it comes to the temperature, you should keep it somewhere between 82 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a rather small window. This can be accomplished by a reliable aquarium heater. By keeping the temperature consistent, you can easily keep the diseases away.

It is best to measure the pH of the water, which has to be between 6.0-7.6. You might need a pH reader for that because as we mentioned, Ram Cichlids are sensitive to water changes. The ideal water hardness is somewhere around 3 dGH.

Ram Cichlids Diet and Feeding

The Ram Cichlid is willing to eat a wide range of different food. It is basically an omnivore, so both meat and plant-based foods are going to be needed. Their diet has to be full of proteins and vitamins as well. The only way to achieve this is to feed them a diverse diet with high-quality foods.

In the Orinoco River, Ram Cichlids constantly look for invertebrates and insects while collecting plant debris. These are the main sources of food for them. Even if you set up the tank pretty well, they will need a bit of time until they get used to it and meanwhile, they will refuse to eat.

During this period, you can feed them mosquito larvae. Since they absolutely love the taste of it, it will be hard for them to resist. They are small, so they won’t require big portions of food. Just give them a few pinches of food 3 to 5 times a day.

Their main meals should be artemia, bloodworms, earthworms and brine shrimp. Of course, you should feed them vegetables as well. There are plenty of nutrients in flakes and pellets, but those should be only about 40 percent of their diet.

You will need to experiment a bit because the point is to only feed them the amount they can consume. This way, you can prevent leftover foods from contaminating the water in your aquarium.

Ram Cichlids Tank Mates

You are going to have little to no problems introducing tank mates for your Ram Cichlid. They are among the most peaceful fish you can find. Another good news is that you don’t necessarily need to keep them with other cichlids. As long as you keep them away from aggressive fish, they are going to be fine.

Our tank mate recommendations are Discus, Neon Tetras, Plecostomus, Dwarf Gouramis and Silver Dollars. There are a lot of more potential tank mates, of course, as you basically just need to look for peaceful fish. For example, Green Terrors should be avoided at all costs because they are big and aggressive.

If you want to add anything other than fish, then those should be small enough not to fit into your Ram Cichlid’s mouth. It is not that Rams can’t be aggressive at all. They can turn aggressive if they don’t get enough food or if they are struggling to find hiding places.

Obviously, they can get aggressive when it comes to defending their fry as well.

Don’t house ram cichlids with aggressive and bigger cichlids such as Oscars or African cichlids, because your rams will get beaten up and eventually get eaten.

Ram Cichlids Breeding

You need to keep a close eye on your Ram Cichlids until you notice a breeding pair. Once this happens, they need to be moved to a separate tank because you need to treat them a bit differently. There, you should increase the temperature by 3-4 degrees and prepare some big leaves or smooth stones.

In an ideal temperature and environment, the female is going to lay down the eggs on a leaf or a stone surface. It is very important to keep the water conditions stable. If the breeding pair feels stressed, they are going to eat the eggs and nothing will happen.

Putting a couple of other fish into this separate tank is a great idea. They are going to distract your Ram Cichlids a bit, making them less aggressive throughout this period. Once you notice the fry, it is best to remove the parents. You are definitely not wanting to see them eating their own fry.

Ideally, the Ram male defends its fry in its territory but still, there is always a chance that he is going to eat them. You can leave the parents there but only if you are sure that the water conditions are ideal. Sometimes the female also finds a different spot where she defends half of the fry.

You can help them grow by feeding them some infusoria and micro worms. With frequent water changes and feeding, they are going to be fine.


If you are looking for a beautiful fish that is peaceful and not such a big challenge to take care of, then the Ram Cichlid is an ideal choice. You can buy a bunch of these or keep them together with some other exciting species. There is a huge list of peaceful and colorful fish to choose from.

The only thing that makes them a bit harder to keep is that they are sensitive to temperature, acidity changes and pollution. Buying a decent filter and changing the water every now and then is mandatory. We recommend them to beginner fish keepers, as you only need to do a bit of research and your fish is going to be fine.

All in all, quite a decorative fish to have. Now you only need to set up an aquarium full of greenery and nice accessories and it is going to look amazing.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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