Most freshwater fishkeepers have come across German Blue Rams on their travels through different aquatics retailers as they are very popular fish with big personalities. What some people don't know though is that Rams can come in a few different varieties including Electric Blue, Golden, and the standard German Blue ones we see most often.
Rams are a relatively peaceful species of Dwarf Cichlid which originates from the waters of South America. The rivers in which these fish are typically found in nature have been noted to be highly diverse, providing a habitat for a range of other fish like Tetra and Catfish. Their beautiful colours can be seen to gradually get brighter as they mature with males showing longer, more pointed dorsal fins, and females showing a prominent pink/red colouration on their bellies. Although they may only grow to around 6cm, these fish are actually related to a larger species of South American Cichlid called Geophagus. The Latin name for these Rams is Mikrogeophagus ramirezi which loosely translates back to 'little Geophagus' in English.
As these Dwarf Cichlids don't grow very big, they can be housed comfortably in most suitable community aquariums provided there is adequate space. We recommend providing a variety of hiding spaces for your fish within your aquarium as Rams will tend to settle on one of these as their home. If you have other species such as Corydoras living within the tank as well, other hiding spots will need to be provided to ensure the Rams don't hog the only hide-out in the tank. To create a more natural set-up for these fish we would recommend using some sand as a substrate and some aquatic rocks or wood for décor, along with lots of aquatic plants to provide shelter for both them and your other fish. Suitable tank mates include peaceful species of Tetra such as Rummynose and Red Phantoms, as well as Corydoras species like Pandas Corys and Bronze Corys. Other species of Cichlid and/or more aggressive species of fish should be avoided as tank mates. Ideally, Rams should not be the first fish added to an aquarium for cycling as they can be more sensitive to unstable water parameters. Instead they should be added to a mature tank which has been cycled with fish in for at least a few weeks prior.
Ideally we would recommend keeping these fish at around 25 to 27 degrees within the home aquarium, but some studies have shown that they can be tolerant of higher temperatures too of up to 30 degrees. This is a result of their body's ability to adapt to their surrounding environment, as their natural waters would often be subject to high temperatures and seasonal floods. This also means their pH range can vary quite a bit too as they have been shown to tolerate a pH of between 4.0 and 7.0 in their natural environment. In an aquarium setting however, Rams generally tend to be best kept between pH 5.0 and pH 7.0.
Rams are best kept in pairs within a community aquarium. Generally, given a large enough aquarium, they don't tend to get widely aggressive towards their tankmates. If they decide to breed however, you may see some protective aggression from the male as he will look to fend off any potential competition. The provision of plants and natural hiding places within the tank will allow your other fish to retreat easily to safety and find another area to swim in until the aggression has calmed down. If you wish to accommodate your pair breeding within your home aquarium, you can add in some flat pieces of slate to your décor which will allow the female to lay her eggs easily, and the male to get access to fertilise them. You can also add some natural leaf litter (in the form of Almond leaves) to the bottom of your aquarium to mimic the fish's natural environment and make them feel more comfortable breeding. If fry survive in the tank, these leaves also provide a good source of micro-foods for them as the leaves allow the growth of natural bacteria which the fry can eat during their developmental stages.
Most Rams available in the aquatic trade nowadays are captive bred, meaning they are accustomed to accepting a wide range of foods. We recommend varying their diet to encourage the development of their fins and colours, so a good quality flake food should be offered as well as small pellet foods and frozen/freeze dried foods (like Brineshrimp and Mysis).
As previously mentioned, Rams can come in different variations, the most well known of these being the Electric Blue Rams and Golden Rams. These two strains are a tank-bred colour strains of the standard German Blue Rams which had been bred for their desirable colours. We are happy to have all three of these strains available at most of our stores across Scotland as we think they are just amazing to look at.
Did you know we have some fin-tastic Fishkeeper Rewards offers available on both our German Blue Rams and our Electric Blue Rams in store throughout the month of May? We can see this offer being very popular this month so make sure you take advantage of it whilst stocks last!