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FAQs on Dwarf Ram Cichlid Behavior

Related Articles: Rams, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Discus, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General,

Related FAQs: Rams, Ram Identification, Ram Compatibility, Ram Selection, Ram Systems, Ram Feeding, Ram Disease, Ram Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Dwarf South American CichlidsCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Male GBR lost buoyancy, lethargic, but has his balance, accepts food, good color     6/4/17
Hello WWM crew,
I'm stumped with my male German Blue Ram, who has been showing signs of illness for almost 10 days now.
For background, I purchased the fish at approximately 3 months old directly from a breeder (so no hormones, etc.) in October 2015, making him roughly 2 years old now. He has been paired with a female bought from a chain store, who is roughly the same age, though I'm less certain about her since she was clearly one of the Asian, mass-produced kinds. She had been in the tank about 2 weeks when he was added. They spawned less than 24 hours after introduction and have generally got on well, though there was a time when he was nipping her pretty good after some failed spawns due to eggs eaten by tankmates. At one point, before I added oil catfish (Centromochlus perugiae) to the tank, they had gotten to the point of free swimming fry. The oil cats now munch up any eggs the first night they are laid. With that said, my goal was never necessarily to breed them, I just give this info to give a sense of the extent to which the two fish used to get along and were apparently healthy enough to raise fry if they'd been in a species-specific tank.
The entire time I've had them, they've been in the same 29 gallon tank. It has always been heavily planted with quite a bit of driftwood as well. It originally had a black, inert plant substrate (Eco-Complete), but I covered it with light-colored sand after reading a collection report in Tropical Fish Hobbyist that described the collection site for some GBRs as having light colored sand (and it also discussed the importance of sifting sand for the GBRs which I had not heard of previously). Tankmates include a now-adult female common Bristlenose Pleco of about 4", 7 Rummynose tetras, and 9 Corydoras habrosus. All of them were in the tank prior to the rams. As far as interactions with those fish, the Rummynose tetras are occasionally the target of their ire—particularly when there is a commotion around an algae wafer or back when they were breeding. The tetras are much too fast to ever get nipped when one of the rams decides to charge into the middle of them. They ignore the small cories other than chasing them away from eggs, which never much seemed to interest the cories. About a year after getting the rams, I added the aforementioned oil catfish, both of which are female; as you may expect, they spend most of their time hiding except when I feed the tank.
I keep the tank about 78-79 degrees, reconciling the small differences in my two thermometers and fluctuations throughout the day. I'm aware that some sources suggest keeping rams in hotter water than this, but given the success some keepers have had at this temperature I've kept it this way since it is as high as the catfish can safely go in the longer term. pH has consistently been 6.5, which is where it seemingly "wants" to be since it takes no fiddling to get there. Water has 2 degrees kH and 5-6 degrees GH out of the tap. Their diet is quite varied. I feed some frozen foods, about half of which is Mysis shrimp. Occasionally, I feed frozen bloodworms and Spirulina-infused brine shrimp. I've fed some Spirulina and seaweed-infused frozen mixes that include Mysis shrimp, krill, and brine shrimp. They get New Life Spectrum Thera+A as their primary dry food. They also eagerly take the occasional Omega One algae wafer that is put in there mainly for the benefit of the Pleco. They peck a little bit at the zucchini I give the Pleco and ignore the broccoli.
One last thing. About a month ago, I had a Cory suddenly die after not showing any obvious symptoms previously. He had lost his equilibrium entirely when I saw him and was rather opaque and white compared to normal. I got him out of the tank and into a specimen container before he died, at which point I noticed that his underside was badly ulcerated. It was as if someone drilled a shallow hole into his stomach. I noticed another Cory, just before the ram began presenting symptoms, with two small areas of missing skin/armor on its dorsal side, one above its right eye and the other on the other lateral side closer to the dorsal fin. It had some white translucent fluffy growth on there at one point, though it eventually went away. At last check, the Cory's behavior still hasn't changed and the areas look less concerning. I don't know if any of these three cases (the two cories and the ram) are related, but this tank has always been quite healthy so I thought I would share this info. The last meaningful health issue in that tank was about 18 months ago, when the female ram had signs of mild hole in the head after I returned from a 10-day trip in which they were not fed. Frequent feeding and a water change seemed to clear that right up for her at the time.
So there you have the background in excruciating detail. The day after I left for a trip, my roommate told me that the entire day I had been gone, the ram had been hiding inside of what amounts to a cave formed by the shape of one of the pieces of driftwood. This didn't seem so unusual at first since he often retreats there when the lights are out or when he wants to get away from the current. But the next two days I was gone, my roommate reported he still would not come out. He did accept food, though he wouldn't go far from his cave to get it. This pattern continued when I returned home, at which point it became more apparent to me that he was also "sitting" on the ground while in his cave. That is, he would be perfectly balanced but his stomach was in contact with the substrate. He'd often be relatively motionless, just gently using his pectoral fins to keep his balance. Breathing has never looked labored, at times his gill flaps don't move much at all...but then again, he probably doesn't need much oxygen to maintain a motionless position! He does not look bloated, does not clamp his fins, and his colors look good if a bit dark, maybe because he's in a shaded place. Because I didn't know what was wrong and had suspected the other ram may have a low-level parasite issue, I treated the tank more or less prophylactically with a mixture of Praziquantel and Metronidazole in the form of the product API General Cure at its recommended dosage. That treatment has now run its course with no change in behavior for the ram.
He is now in a 10 gallon quarantine tank. I saw him swim out of his cave since he was spooked by the curious Pleco, at which point I could see that he wasn't merely "tired" but that he seemed to not really have buoyancy. It reminded me of how a swim bladder-less fish like my Kuhli loaches in another tank swim, where they can get off the ground but only for as long as they are actively fighting to stay up. Seeing this head up, tail down swimming concerned me enough to move him—that he hadn't worsened in the almost week since he first presented symptoms also made me confident that the stress of moving wouldn't itself be a death sentence. The tank is set up only for this purpose and had previously been bleach-cleaned and sitting dry waiting for the next sick fish. It has no substrate and a small HOB filter designed for 10 gallon tanks. I put a foam pre-filter over the intake after a bad experience in a sick fish getting sucked against the intake (you guess how that turned out). There are some plastic decorations that resemble houses and caves so that he can hide in them if he wants. The lights are off, though it's not pitch dark due to a window in the room. I've had the lights on a couple of hours each day just so I can get a better look at him. Temperature is 80 degrees and I'm careful to get new water to the right temperature before adding.
I noticed when moving him that he had a little "something" sticking out of his cloaca. The only time I've ever seen anything like it is when mating, when the female had the ovipositor out and he had some similar-looking protrusion that I assume related to his role in fertilizing the eggs. This made me suspect constipation, so after some time adjusting to the quarantine tank I added 1 tbsp of Epsom salt to the quarantine tank. He didn't seem to react to it much either way, so I began to slowly remove it via water changes after about 6 hours, having done enough partial changes to return to normal 24 hours later. I haven't noticed the protrusion today, but it's hard to see when that part of his body is basically in contact with the ground all the time.
After giving him a day off from the Epsom, I have dosed the antibiotic Kanamycin (Seachem Kanaplex) since it seems one of the remaining possibilities for his symptoms that he hasn't been treated for is an internal bacterial infection. I've also read that this medication is generally quite well-tolerated by fish and can be effective without being consumed, which I like since the proper dosage when making medicated food is so tricky to figure out. Still, he's now on his second day of this and hasn't changed at all, but I would expect this to take longer to work if it is working at all.
So at this point I feel lucky in that he's stable. My general expectation whenever I see a fish that is visibly sick is that it will probably die and die soon regardless of what I want to do to help; it doesn't always turn out that way, of course, but as I'm sure you know it's often the case that the presentation of symptoms comes long after the pathogen began wreaking havoc. In this case, he hasn't gotten better or worse over more than a week, so I feel that I have time to do something else for him if there is such a thing. I'd love some feedback on what the best course of action is here or what the likely problem is. I'm fortunate to have had him this long already and I'm open to the idea that this is something like a "natural" progression towards death brought on by old age, but his change was so abrupt I'm more apt to think I might be able to help him with the right strategy.
Thanks for reading such a long email and I appreciate what you folks do!
– Jacob
<Hi Jacob. Cutting to the chase, three things come to my mind. The first is that farmed Rams are *not* hardy or long-lived fish, and if yours is two years old now, it's lived several times longer than most store-bought Rams ever do! For sure the use of antibiotics and hormones on fish farms is part of the issue, but even with locally bred Rams (likely descended from a single shipment of fish, even siblings) the gene pool is so limited that you don't really get particularly good quality specimens. Next up, temperature. Rams have evolved to live in llanos habitat where shallow streams run through open grassland, and water temperatures there are very high. Keeping Rams cooler than recommended may work out for a while, but as with Discus, there's no reason to expect them to live their full lifespan in cooler water. On the contrary; we haven't bred them to live in cooler conditions (the fish farms keep them warm, and local breeders just haven't had the time or inclination to actively select for genuinely hardier fish that will live their full lifespan at "normal" temperatures). Finally, Hexamita and its close relative, Hole-in-the-Head disease, always need mentioning when cichlids fail to thrive. It's hard to say whether we're dealing with the Hexamita parasite, high nitrates, or a nutritional deficiency caused by the lack of fresh greens in their diet (almost all cichlids eat far more veggie foods in the wild than we tend to offer them). But whatever the cause, those dreaded symptoms of failing vigour, loss of colour, loss of weight, pits around the head and along the flanks, and finally death do really seem to be the bugbear of cichlid keeping. I see that you have used Metronidazole, which when used alongside a Nitrofuran type antibiotic offers the best treatment for Hexamita-type diseases, though only alongside optimised living conditions (lower nitrate, more oxygen, more fresh greens or their equivalent). That would, for what it's worth, be my response to what you're dealing with here. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

ram aggression, beh., repro.     11/11/12
hi WWM
i bought a female ram 2 weeks ago and have just added a male but he is getting picked on by her?
<Happens. These fish are territorial; males have territories that encompass the territories of all the females in his harem, but the females have "patches" they defend from unwanted males.>
i am wanting a breeding pair!
<No guarantees. But move rocks, plants around to break up territories, and with luck, they'll settle.>
tank mates include 6 juvenile angel fish and once they pair off they will be separated this tank is 125L. should i try rearranging the decor or what?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ram aggression    11/12/12
Hi Neale
I tried what you said and she is still being mean but I have seen more of him I will let him settle for a week maybe the if he is still being mean I will rearrange again
<About the best you can do is to try things out. Moving ornaments and plants, adding new caves, that sort of thing. Adding a second female might be useful, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Electric Blue Ram Cichlid-Fighting or Forming a Pair?     9/18/12
Hello WWM,
<Hey Alex>
Thank you for your great site and all the helpful information.
I have recently obtained a pair of electric blue ram cichlids. I have no idea what sex they are and they are still quite small at around just under 1 inch long.
<Should be able to (w/ relative surety) sex them soon...>
When I first introduced them in the same tank, they seems to stick together a lot but also seems to fight each other. What they would do is to flare out their fins as if to appear larger to threaten the other and kind of push each other around by bumping each other on the side. They also occasionally lock mouths and I think I have seen them chase each other's tail in a small circle (Kind of looks like a dog chasing its own tail). I don't think they have nipped each other much at all. However, they never really down right chase one another away from a specific spot or across the tank like how I have seen other cichlids push out competitors in their territory. And even though they fight occasionally they always seems to be staying close to each other around the tank.
In short, to me it looks like they like to be close to each other but occasionally decides they don't like one another so they fight a little.
<Should be fine as long as there's enough room... a good two by one foot bottom space>
To be safe I moved one of them to a different tank after around 2 to 3 days of showing the same behaviors as mentioned above. They have been apart from each other for about 1 week now and they are both doing great in their own tank, always swimming around exploring and picking at the plants and substrate for food.
However, I can't stop pondering if they were indeed not getting along or are they doing some kind of ritual before pairing up.
<Oh yes, doubt-less>
Should I try to put them back together and see if they can get along better now? Or do you think it would be pointless because they were clearly showing signs of aggression and will never get along or pair up?
<Worth trying. If these were mine, I'd be having them together>
Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much for reading!
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Electric Blue Ram Cichlid-Fighting or Forming a Pair?     9/20/12

Hello Bob,
Thank you so much for your reply! Your comment is heartening.
I am still debating if I should make them go through the stress of me catching one of them and putting them together again, especially when they seem to be so comfortable at where they are right now. But if I do and they do pair up, it would be lovely and I would have you to thank!
<As long as there's no apparent damage, I'd leave them be as well>
Will let you know if they do pair up in the future!
Thanks again!
<And you, BobF>

German Blues   8/21/11
Hello Crew!
As always I owe you many thanks for all your help in the past. Anyways, I bought a female and male blue German ram and they paired off. Now they appear healthy, showing bright colors, eating well, etc. The water is in good condition and the temperature is at about 83 degrees. When they are not eating or sleeping it seems that all they do is go up and down again and again on the left side of my aquarium. Any ideas why they might be doing this? they do it together and never really leave each others sides.
Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
<Hello Jesse. How big is this tank? What are their tankmates? How bright is the lighting? Are there suitable hiding places for them? This sort of repetitive "pacing" behaviour typically means the fish doesn't feel settled or secure. One of the commonest reasons is that the tank is too small. For a pair of Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, you want a tank at least 20 gallons in size. If there are other dwarf cichlids in with them, then those other fish could be dominating the bottom of the tank, and again, the Mikrogeophagus will need space of their own. Review, and act accordingly. Normally dwarf cichlids settle down within a week of being introduced to a new aquarium.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: German Blues   8/23/11

Hey Neale, thanks for the advice. I think it was a mixture of both tank mates and missing structure. I moved my Senegal bichir out of the tank, and put a lot more structure in there. They are no longer window surfing, however it seems with the new structure the male ram became extremely aggressive towards the female. They used to never leave each others side before the change, but now the male wont even let the female get close to him. Any suggestions on getting them to pair back up? Or am I just out of luck?
<It's likely that moving things about, and removing the (perceived) predator, triggered the male into becoming territorial. That's good in one way, because the male has to claim a territory before he'll breed. So you task now is to keep the female safe until the male has found a place to nest. With all cichlids there's no guarantee that a given male and female will pair off, any more than any two humans will pair off! But given time, and if you ensure the female is well fed so she "ripens" with eggs quickly, you have a good chance of things ending well. If needs be, use a tank divider to keep the female safe. You can buy these, or else cut one from plastic egg crate or similar. But if the tank is big enough, the female will just stay away from the male until she feels ready to approach him, and if the male is happy with that, they'll pair off. Remember that Mikrogeophagus are open spawners rather than cave spawners, and they prefer flat rocks over sand or plants. So if you put a nice flat rock in one corner of the tank, with luck, the male will take it as his home, and you stage manage the tank more effectively. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: German Blues     8/23/11

Thanks Neale,
But that's the thing, before I took the bichir out and added structure, they were paired off, like they even found a flat rock and started rubbing their tummies on it and cleaning it. It's like they "broke up" is this
normal and it just happens or will they get back together
<What you describe is not uncommon. If they want to pair up again, they will. The fact they were "paired" off beforehand, when they were less settled and the male didn't have a territory, doesn't really mean much.
What matters is having a pair *and* a territory for them to spawn in, as well as the right tankmates (or none at all) so they can breed successfully. Be patient. Cheers, Neale.>

Blue Ram Pair, beh.    8/18/11
Hello I currently purchased a male and female ram and placed them in my large community tank. For the first day the female showed vivid colors and the male was very dull, and the female would chase the male constantly. I then switched them both to a smaller 12g tank with 79-80 degree water.
They both would swim right next to each other "checking each other out." Then I believe they became a pair because the female would always follow the male around. Now, a day later the male is showing bright colors, while the female has dulled out a bit. The male is always following the female around and is even nipping at her, he doesn't nip her in a way that is extremely aggressive, just minorly aggressive. I was wondering, is this normal for Ram pairs to do this?
or is it just a cichlid thing?
<A subset of cichlid behavior>
Or are they not a pair and the male is just being territorial?
<Likely will pair. Bob Fenner>

Ram aggression     8/5/11
Hi guys,
Thanks for the help in advance, you have a great site!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I recently introduced a new (probably) male ram into my 120 litre aquarium, which is currently stocked with 2 Bristlenose plecs, 8 Neons, 3 swordtails(product of an instinctive buy over a year ago, not really thought through!), and now 2 blue rams. Tank temp is running a little warm for some at about 27 C due to summer temps. Normally its at about 26C which my female ram has survived at happily for over a year! Also very hard water (18gh) due to my location and a higher than I would like ph. But as fish are all doing well, don't really want to meddle.
<Understandable, though definitely not "text book" as you perhaps realise!
Rams, at least the Common Ram, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, typically needs very warm and very soft water to stay healthy; 28-30 C, 1-5 degrees dH, pH 6-7. Of course they probably seem more flimsy than they really are because the quality of much of the livestock sold is terrible. So you may be lucky here, and if yours has acclimated to your aquarium, then yes, going along with things isn't a bad approach.>
The female ram was showing a pink belly and generally strong colours for a long time so I wanted to introduce a male, which I did over a week ago.
Happy to say he's doing well. Only problem is that my female is very aggressive towards him, especially during feeding times and as a result a nip has been taken out of his tail, although this is healing quickly.
<Are you sure it's a female? The two sexes are quite similar. But in any event, aggression between male and female cichlids is far from uncommon, and while it's usually the male that causes trouble, it isn't always the case.>
I have tried to reduce this aggression by rearranging the tank, which is quite heavily planted, to reduce sightlines. However chasing is still occurring a lot of the time. I was wondering if I should remove the female from the tank/put her in a breeding net in the tank for a while and let the male claim some territory?
<Yes, sometimes a "time out" can work wonders. No need to remove the female for long -- pop her in a bucket, rearrange the rocks and plants, and once you're done, return the female. With luck, territorial boundaries will be lost, and the two cichlids will react as if unfamiliar with one another.>
At the moment he doesn't fight back and seems happy to run, fins are all extended and colours are showing more each day. Or perhaps I should leave it?
<If the tank is big enough and he isn't being harmed or put off his dinner, sure, you can take that approach.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ram aggression   8/8/11

<Out for the week on holiday>
Thanks for the quick reply! I took your advice, removed the female (sexed using this guide
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=26740&start=10) and put her in a bucket of tank water and rearranged the tank. Once reintroduced she was still the dominant fish, but there was noticeably less chasing, so I left it at that. However this morning, 2 days later, the male ram was barely swimming and seemed to be continuously gulping with his mouth and resting on the bottom of the tank. His wound from the earlier altercation may not be healing as well as I thought (possible fungus/fin rot?) so have ordered some Melafix.
<Of no use whatsoever. Please see/search WWM re this scam>
Also tried feeding the male a pea in case it was a case of overeating but he didn't take. Is this a good plan of action?
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rams.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ram aggression    8/8/11

Shame about the Melafix, looks like it may be too late.
<Too late for what?>
Have read WWM and others on rams many times before, but had one healthy ram for over a year now so wanted to give it another go despite my areas hard water. The sick male has gone downhill rapidly now, unable to keep himself upright. I've had this happen several times this year, with two platies and two angels going from looking healthy to death in 24 hours or less.
What would you think it could be?
<Something very wrong... likely environmental... like ammonia from a too-close kitty litter box or such>
The other fish I have, Neons, Bristlenoses, swordtails, ram, are all perfectly healthy.
<?! Unusual then; as the tolerance for the species involved, lost overlap... and protozoan complaints would not discriminate>
Difficult to find an answer online so I would very much appreciate your help! Hadn't lost a fish in over a year before June. Incidentally this was also when I started using Seachem
flourish excel, coincidence?
<Don't think so... but might cut back the dosage by half just to be safe>
Thanks, you guys are a great help
<Wish I could speculate with more confidence, direction. BobF>

Blue Ram is acting strange 10/10/10
Rams Need Help
Hi Crew, I was hoping someone could help me. I bought three rams about 3 weeks ago from my LFS to go in my community aquarium (2 angel fish, red tail shark, shoal of penguin fish, Bristlenose, 3 rainbows - 190 litre corner tank) and one died last week and now another is acting strange. It is swimming and staying just in the corner of one tank and seems to be moving its mouth quickly. It is still eating but I really want to help out and make sure this one does not die too. My tank water is regularly tested by my lfs and it is fine
and all other fish are acting as normal. Its a shame as I would like to have my rams breed at some point and don't want to lose this one.
Of the two left this one is slightly bigger than the other (I'm guessing its a male and the other is female due to the markings on them)
Any help would be much appreciated...Thanks Mark
< Rams come from the open water savannah areas of the Orinoco River basin.
There is no cover and the water gets very hot, well into the 90's F. I would check the temp to see if the water is at least 82 F. This is a good place to start.-Chuck>

Ram barbs... Cichlids, beh.  - 7/23/07 hi , just a quick one , just introduced two ram barbs into my 280l tank but they keep squaring up to each other and fighting a bit, seems like they have adopted there own territory in the tank. is this normal or is it because I was given two males (or at least i think its two males) rather than a male and female? any help would be much appreciated. many thanks Micky <I have no idea what "ram barbs" are. Barbs are Cyprinidae, basically minnows, and most are schooling species, though some, like the cherry barb, are territorial. In the hobby, "rams" are Cichlidae, dwarf cichlids from South America referred to by scientists as Microgeophagus ramirezi. They are territorial, particularly if you have two males in your tank. You should really keep a male and a female in a tank your size. Other than the length of the dorsal fin, the two sexes are very similar in terms of colours. They're lovely fish, but delicate and the quality of the stock on sale is very low. You need exceptionally warm water for them to do well, so remove anything that doesn't like very warm conditions. A temperature of around 28-30C is about right for Microgeophagus ramirezi, which will stress borderline tropicals like Peppered Corydoras, Danios, and Rosy Barbs. If you keep Microgeophagus ramirezi too cold, they are sensitive to ambient pathogens and bacteria and invariable die within a few months of purchase. They also need soft/acid water, though this is perhaps less critical with tank-bred stock than wild fish. Even so, they're really fish for advanced fishkeepers rather than casual hobbyists, so be sure and read everything you can about them so you're prepared for their needs. Lovely fish, and quite easy to breed, once settled. Prone to hole-in-the-head though, so keep water quality perfect. Cheers, Neale>

Re: ram barbs - 7/23/07 Hi Neale thanks again for your expertise and rapid reply. You are right they are beautiful fish just a shame they don't seem to be getting on together, I have a day off work tomorrow so I am going to contact the store I purchased them from and ask if I can take them back. I do as a rule rigorously research each fish I purchase but I wash kind'a talked into these by the guy in the store! Anyway many thanks again Neale, Micky <You're welcome. Good luck tomorrow, and enjoy your fish. Dwarf cichlids are addictive -- the more you get to know them, the more species you'll want to try out! Cheers, Neale>

Gold Rams, comp., beh.  4/8/07 Hi People, <Ruth> Firstly I would just like to thank you for your great site. I've got a 60l tank (about 2 months old) with 3 Peppered Corys, 2 Schwartz Corys, 4 Longfin Leopard Danios and a pair of Gold Rams. The tank is well planted with live plants, plenty of bogwood and a rock cave. <Sounds very nice> Everything was great until about a week ago when the female ram started bullying the Corys at feeding times only. <Mmm, unusual... unless... they're reproducing...> The Rams aren't timid in any way and she only chases them if they run away, typical bully! I thought maybe they were trying to spawn so added a flat piece of slate at the bottom for them but nothing happened. Then I added the 4 Danios as ditherfish, <Good idea> funny thing is she seems to like them and doesn't bother them at all and even swims around with them. Is she just hungry? Or territorial because she and the Corys both eat at the bottom? <Perhaps a bit of both> She only fights over catfish pellets not frozen or flake food. I always sit and watch them eat and she eats like a pig and doesn't look pinched. Is my tank too full? <Is near a "psychological" limit here> Will the Corys manage with a bit of chasing at meal times (I'm 99% certain it doesn't happen at any other times) or would it be better to get rid of the rams? Thanks very much, Ruth <I do think all should be fine here... The Corydoras/Callichthyids are quite armored... and the Rams know this... I might try feeding at both ends of this tank simultaneously... Please do read (on WWM, fishbase.org, elsewhere) re the water quality of Microgeophagus... perhaps lowering water temperature will reduce the agonistic behavior. Bob Fenner>

Stocking a 15 Gallon FW Plant Tank   3/21/07 Hello, I have a 15 gallon eclipse system tank, that has been cycled since late  August. The inhabitants I currently have are 3 marbled hatchets, 3 nanus neon  cories, and 1 German blue Ram. There are also 2 different Amazon swords, one is ground level that grew a stem and leaves to reach the surface, emergents I  am guessing? Also, the second is a large sword, with large broader leaves  that stretch to the top of the tank. These have been in my tank since Early November or late October. Temperature is at 78 degrees and pH is about 6.4 (  slowly bringing it down to 6, it used to be 7) I have a couple of questions. My blue ram is very shy. He has been in my tank since October, the last fish added, and since then he has been very frightened of me. He eats and explores the tank, but only when I am not in the  room. I would have to hide and watch as he scouts around the tank. When I walk  by, he hides, and does not come out at all. Is there a way for me to get my  trust in him and so he gets to know who I am better? He won't even come out to feed when I am standing there, I would have to go hide. Up until this day, he has not had any diseases or such and has been quite healthy. I don't even feed him the bloodworms because it doesn't go to his belly but to my tanks nitrates.  Any advice? < Rams are normal very shy fish to begin with. Having other fish in the tank creates some activity and helps these fish get over their shyness. They are referred to as dither fish.> Second, is my stocking complete? I have the three small nanus cories, at  the moment not bigger than an inch, the 3 marbled hatchets about 1.5 inches long each. And the ram who is about two inches. I understand that the inch per gallon  is just a general idea to help you stock, but it doesn't necessarily give you  the exact stocking level. The tank is 10 width, 20 length, and about 18-20  height depending on how high the water level is. Can I add anything else to the  tank? Maybe a mate for the ram or a small group of tetras? < Check the nitrates. If you can keep them below 20 ppm between water changes then you can add some additional fish. A small group of tetras would work just fine for your dither fish problem too.-Chuck> I am fixing up the tank, adding some real driftwood, more live plants,  upgraded lighting to the least 30 watts, and better fertilizing gravel for the   plants. The lighting is the only problem, because of the eclipse hood. Thanks, Joe

Rams Fighting Or Mating? 9/26/06 Hi guys! About a week ago I bought a couple of relatively young rams at a LFS. I thought they were both female, but since then it has become apparent that the one is probably male, although judging from the black spot on the other I'm pretty sure it's still female. My tank is a 18 gal eclipse, running for a long time (over a year) and tank specs are pretty good (0,0,15), other than that the water is a bit basic and hard, but I'm working on fixing that. There are several plants in there, but it's not heavily planted by any means. When I got the rams, they seemed to adjust to my tank conditions pretty quickly, even though it's not in their ideal range. The one I think is male colored up really quickly and the other seemed to recover from the stress, but didn't really color up. They've been hanging out together for a while, and every once in a while they sort of "face off" and maybe dart at each other a little bit, but not really nip each other. While they do this the pale one would get really pretty, but become dull again as soon as it was done. I was worried about aggression, so last night I separated the one out in a little trap thing in the tank. Now it's really pretty, but the other one is right next to the trap and they both are trying to get at each other. They aren't acting aggressive either, more like a pair to my uneducated eyes. Eventually, since they hung out together so much, I took the pale ram out of the trap and it turned pale again! I don't know what to do. Should I try to find another tank for this ram? Or should I just wait and see? I tried finding an answer to this question, but nothing quite seemed to fit my situation. Thank you so much Sarah < Lets determine the sexes first to see if you have a pair. Males are generally larger with longer fins. Females sometimes have a rosy red belly when they are in good shape. the key is usually the black spot on the side. Males have metallic blue spangles on the flanks except over the black spot on the side. Females usually have larger spangles right over the black spot. Many times all the fish in the dealers tank are the same sex. If you have two males then there is a territorial dispute. If you have a pair then this could lead up to spawning if they end up being compatible. My guess is they are two males.-Chuck>  

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