Blue Ram Cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)
Electric German Blue Ram Cichlids got to be one of the most beautiful captive bred ornamental freshwater fish available for home aquarium. These fish are the morphed form of Ram cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi). Blue Ram Cichids are man made, they don't occur in nature, they are the result of selective captive breeding in Ornamental fish farms. I find them very interesting as they are intelligent dwarf fish. Before learning to care for them in an aquarium, little information about the naturally occurring Ram Cichlds in the wild & their natural habitat will help. Ram cichlid are native to Orinoco River basin in Venezuela and Colombia in South America.
Natural habitat of this fish includes submerged vegetation with warm temperature year round; pH levels in this water are between 5 & 6. This is what makes this fish really difficult to keep in an aquarium & getting a stable acidic water condition is quite a task for a beginner. The Electric German Blue Ram Cichlid which is captive bred seem to adapt to a pH around 7 in an aquarium as these fish are captive bred.
Ram cichlids aggression is easier to control if you have the right take size, tank mates & tank decoration. The problem you would face keeping these fish is usually when breeding as these fish get really aggressive once they pair up. Juvenile & Baby Ram Cichlids can be kept in a group like you can see in the video. Once a male is fully grown he would start claiming a territory & will chase of any other Ram Cichlid entering his territory. However, this fish are well behaved with other compatible tank mates. If I'm asked is German Blue Ram cichlid a good option for beginners? I would reply, Yes! The reason being they are easy to care; they can be kept in an aquarium of 20 to 30 gallon with other fish, they grow only under 3 inches in size; all you need is little knowledge about their requirements in an home aquarium. Below information will exactly help you with that.
Visual differences between Male & Female Blue Ram Cichlids
Male Blue Ram Cichlids usually have larger or extended dorsal fins compared to females, this may not be a accurate way of telling the male from female in some captive bred specimen. Males are slightly colorful than females & are the first to start claiming a territory by chasing off competition.
Female Blue Ram Cichlid fish are usually with smaller dorsal fins compared to the Males, you would realize this at juvenile stage of this fish as females appear to grow slower than males. Female Blue Ram Cichlids also appear to have less vibrant colors compared to fully grown males.
Electric Blue Ram Cichlids Aquarium Care
Electric German Blue Ram Cichlids are a good option for someone who is new to Keeping Cichlids or want to Breed Cichlids. I say this as these captive bred Blue Ram Cichlids are much easier to keep, than the wild caught Ram Cichlids. They tolerate pH level much higher than the wild caught Ram Cichlids. I've kept my tank at a pH of 7 & I've never faced any issues with this strain of Ram Cichlid. They do require the right water chemistry, a planted tank, the right tank mates. This is easily achievable today with the equipment & information available to everyone. Electric German Blue Ram Cichlids do not grow as big as other South American cichlids, Males & Females grow to a average size of 3 inches at the maximum; this means they can be housed in a medium sized aquarium. In an large aquarium they can be kept with few other compatible Tank Mates, they are usually well behaved unless breeding. Tank decoration & tank size plays an important role is handling their aggression, if you understanding their simple requirements you would succeed keeping them & yourself happy.
What your Ram Cichlid needs?
Aquarium size for Convict Cichlids: If you are keeping a pair of fully grown Blue Ram Cichlids 20 to 30 gallon would suffice, in case its a community of Blue Ram Cichlids 40 gallon or bigger aquarium is needed, one breeding pair can be housed in a 20 gallon. Other Ram cichlids must be removed once a pair starts breeding as they get really aggressive once they have spawned.
Aquarium decoration: Rooted Aquatic Plants will work in a Blue Ram Cichlid Aquarium. Floating plants or plants that can be grown on Driftwood like Anubias & Java fern are also recommended. Driftwood in the aquarium offers a more natural look & also the tannin's released from them helps maintain lower pH. River Rocks & Clay pots are a good idea in a Convict Cichlid Aquarium, use rocks to create caves & hiding places, ensure the rocks are firming placed at the bottom of the aquarium. Since, these fish thrive in lower pH, using Indian Almond leaf would help. You can also consider activated carbon in the filter as filter media.
Temperature range: 78.0 to 86.0° F ( 26 to 30°C) in their natural habitat. Ram Cichlids are tropical fish ,they like warm water. If the temperature in aquarium is not steady or drops below the ideal temperature it might affect their health.
pH range: 4 to 7 in their natural habitat, whats important in captive bred Blue Ram Cichlid tank is pH level should never change drastically. I have kept my pH level at stable 7, alkaline water may effect the Osmoregulation of this fish.
Water Hardness: Soft to moderately hard i.e. under 120 ppm.
Lights : If you are planning on live plants in your tank, make sure you get suitable light for your plants. If you choose low maintenance plants for your aquarium, you don't have to spend a lot on full spectrum lights. Remember to turn the light on & off everyday at the same time or as required by the plants you have in the aquarium.
Filter/Air pump : Filter will help you keep the tank clean; an Air pump will keep the tank nicely oxygenated if you have fry or planning to breed Ram cichlids. They tolerate moderate water movement in the tank. HOB filter is recommended for planted aquarium.
Water conditioner : Tap water in most places are treated with chlorine. This is not good for fish. So get a water conditioner & make the water safe for fish.
Ram Cichlid Fish food : The wild Ram cichlids are Ominvores, these fish takes mouthfuls of substrate which are sifted for edible items with the remaining material expelled through the gills and mouth. In an aquarium Ram Cichlid needs to be fed live food like Blood worms, Micro worms, Artemia, Daphnia etc. You can feed them quality flakes, Pellets, Freeze dried worms, Live & frozen food, spirulina based fish food & some veggies. Protein based cichlid food should be their staple diet. Sinking pellets also works for this fish as they spend time at the bottom of the aquarium looking for food in the substrate.
Tank Mates for Blue Ram Cichlids
Keeping Blue Ram Cichlids in a community tank can be tricky. If you have Juvenile Blue Ram Cichlid group of 6 to 8, they can be kept in a 20 to 30 gallon aquarium. Once they mature, they don't tolerate each other & will start chasing each other. A 50 gallon well decorated aquarium should hold a non-breeding 6 to 8 Ram Cichlids(this could be risky & aggression needs to be monitored). If your Blue Ram Cichlids pair-up you may have to move the breeding pair to their own separate tank.
For the same species Blue Ram Cichlid Tank the aquarium should have lot of hiding places. Driftwood & plants that grow on driftwood like Java fern or Anubias can be used to decorate. Clay pots or Ceramic Cichlid pots are another great idea in Ram Cichlid Aquarium. This kind of set-up is risky & requires good understanding of fish behavior & each fish's territory in the aquarium. Chances of succeeding in this set-up is more if all fish are introduced as Juveniles in the aquarium. Things may go out of control sometimes, removing problem fish or re-arranging decoration would help. I've kept Blue Ram Cichlids with Botia Loach or Zebra Loach, other compatible tank mates I've included them with are Harlequin Rasbora, Lamb Chop Rasboras, Black Neon Tetra, Neon Tetra, Cherry Barbs, Thread-fin Rainbow fish, Angel Fish, Western Rainbow Fish, Salmon Red Rainbow Fish, Garra Rufa or Doctor Fish, Balloon Red Eye Tetra, Giant Danios, Zebra Danios, Platy fish, Molly Fish, Sword Tail Fish, Rummy Nose Tetra etc. If there are bigger fish in the aquarium these fish prefer to stay less active in the aquarium. If you have tank mates which feed quickly on floating pellets, feed sinking pellets to Ram Cichlids as they are slow to consume food.
Breeding Blue Ram Cichlids
Convict Cichlids are Prolific Breeders as it ensures the survival of their species in the wild. Captive breeding of Convict Cichlids has changed their natural colors, the size & shape of fins, there are lot of color morphs like Pink Convict Cichlid, Albino Convict Cichlid, Red & Yellow blotch Convict Cichlids & Marbled Convict Cichlids, Convict & Parrot Cichlid hybrids etc. However, even the Fancy Convict Cichlids are Prolific Breeders; all you need to do is provide them with the right conditions to get them to breed. Convict Cichlids are referred to as rabbits in the hobby because of their Prolific Breeding habit.
In case you have one male & one female Convict Cichlid in the aquarium, they would pair-up as young as 5 to 6 months of age. Convict Cichlids are monogamous, this means they pair up & stay as as pair until they are in the same aquarium, both male & female take care of the fry. First thing you notice in your aquarium when they are about to pair-up is the male or the female lets either into their territory, in an aquarium its usually a favorite spot. What triggers spawning is a water change followed by increase in the temperature by 2 degrees. Zebra Convicts are substrate spawners, you would see both Male & Female digging a nest in the substrate & guarding it, any fish getting close to this nest is attacked. In case you have a cave or a clay pot in an aquarium that would be picked as a spawning area.
Once the female lays the eggs, the male would fertilize it; both male & female fan the eggs to circulate water flow around the eggs, they do this for 3 to 4 days. Convict Cichlid fry are born in approximately in 72 hours. The Brood size is on an average of 200 or more. They feed off their yolk sac for a day or 2, after which you need to feed them fry food like micro pellets, crushed flakes, baby brine shrimp, micro worms, mosquito larvae. Both male & female guard & protect their fry.
Convict Cichlid Fry Care
Since, the demand for Convict Cichlids are less in the hobby, you need to decide if you want to raise them or not. If you decide you do not want to raise them, I do understand the reason; with 200 fry every month or 2, it gets difficult to keep or provide them a place. If you do wanna raise the Convict Cichlid fry this information would help you further. Convict Cichlid Fry are free swimming in a day or two. Initially they observe nutrition's from the yolk sac after which they are ready to consume food. You should feed them Micro Pellets or Fry food, baby brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, micro worms etc or simply crush Fish Food you feed adult fish small enough for them to eat. The good thing about raising these fry is both Male & Female can be kept along with them, Convict Cichlids are great parents, they move the fry to a new place every few days, both male & female dig a nest & place the fry in them during evening. During the day they are always by their side & guarding them.
Few things that needs to be followed for at least 4 to 6 weeks caring for the Convict Cichlid Fry is keep them in a appropriate sized Tank, with sponge filter, follow 25% water change every 3 days, feed 3 times a day. Temperature range between 78 to 82 degree Fahrenheit helps with growth rate. Convict Cichlid Fry prefer pH range of 7 to 8 without drastic changes. This plays an important role in keeping the fry healthy & gaining a optimal growth rate. Lights should be off for at least 8 hours for the Convict Cichlid fry to sleep, good sleep also helps with the growth rate.