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FAQs on Dwarf Ram Cichlid Reproduction

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 Behavior, Ram Compatibility, Ram Selection, Ram Systems, Ram Feeding, Ram Disease, Cichlids of the World, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,

Best to stock, raise a few individuals, allow them to pair up over time.

Breeding German Blue Rams     7/10/18
Hi again Neale,
I have a question about breeding German Blue Rams this time.
<Very soft, very acid water; lots of heat; minimal nitrates. The Rams will do the rest, albeit the 'fancy' forms do not seem to have particularly high fertility or good parenting skills.>
If you remember, previously I had Bumblebee Gobies together with my 2 Rams and Neon Tetras. I have since then relocated the BBGs into their own tank (60×30×36). Still freshwater for now.
Since then, I have had 2 spawnings 10 days apart from the Rams. The first batch I removed from the tank (the Neons were overly interested in the eggs) and hatched them out separately.
<Neons and Rams need much different water temperatures. So bit confused why you're keeping them together. Do you mean Cardinal Tetras? These are fine at the 28-30 C that Rams need; Neons prefer 22-25 C, and tend to be sickly when kept too warm for too long.>
I managed to get the eggs to free swimming stage for 2 days then they all suddenly died overnight. Water parameters were all fine.
<What numbers? Let's be clear, Rams need very soft water to breed successfully, maybe 1-2 degrees dH, at most. In harder water (even "soft" by aquarium standards, e.g., 5 degrees dH) the eggs become fungus-prone, or the fry simply wither away.>
I use JBL 6 in 1 test strips and results were in the green o.k. range.
<I don't know what this means. What are the actual numbers?>
Second batch I left the eggs with the parents and removed the Neons to the BBG tank. I added a foam filter and switched off the HOB once we got to the wriggler stage. Female Ram was all motherly, guarded the fry and kept the male Ram away from them. This morning the fry were all gone. Eaten by one or both of them.
Would appreciate any suggestions and directions on how to keep the fry alive. Which would you suggest, letting the Rams raise the fry themselves or would I get a better survival rate if I hatch the eggs out separately?
<The parents will (usually) look after the eggs reasonably well, and better than the average fishkeeper! But some pairs are better than others, it's true.>
Will it be better to set up a separate spawning tank and move the Rams over when the female gets fat with eggs? Will a 45x30x36 do? I understand that it is really difficult to breed rams but I'm hoping to get at least a few.
<They're not difficult to breed in the conditions outlined above; in others, yes, they're a struggle.>
And for the BBGs, do I leave them freshwater or would it be better if I slowly turn the tank brackish? (Will move the Neons back to their original tank) I'm also thinking of adding some mates for them, what would you suggest? I know guppies and Endler's would work, how about Mollies?
<If the BBGs are happy and feeding well, I see no point to moving them. But if you want to, go ahead! They're a bit peaceful to live with Mollies, but Endler's should work nicely.>
It seems that this hobby involves having more and more tanks in the house but the pleasure and feeling of content derived is none other :)
<A well known problem, yes.>
Thank you, Effie
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Breeding German Blue Rams     7/10/18

Hi Neale,
Thank you for the reply.
Water parameters currently in my Rams tank are as follows:
No3 - 10mg/l
No2 - 0.5mg/l (can't seem to lower this. Even fresh water from the tap shows this reading)
<Non-zero nitrite could easily account for problems with eggs and fry. Extra filtration should eliminate nitrite. Perhaps a larger sponge filter? I would not increase turnover rate (these cichlids dislike strong currents) but more bacteria would help.>
GH - 4°dGH (too hard?)
<Quite possibly.>
KH - 3°dKH
<Also a bit high.>
pH - 6.4
<Could be lower, maybe pH 6, if you can get some Discus Buffer to maintain a safe and steady pH level.>
Temperature - 28°C
I live in Singapore where water temperature stays almost constant 28°C all year round. What would you suggest to soften the water?
<Ideally, rainwater or RO water; though I admit that urban/city rainwater is probably too polluted to be safe to use. So perhaps better to use RO if available.>
Indian Almond Leaves, peat or Blackwater?
<Indian Almond Leaves may soften the water a bit. Blackwater extract doesn't. Peat can, but it's ecologically difficult to justify, so I tend to recommend against it.>
I do use Eiho 6.5 buffer to stabilise the PH.
As for the Neon Tetras (yes I'm sure they are Neon Tetras), I can remove them from the Rams tank and have them in my other community tank but short of having the AC on 24 hours a day, I don't think I can lower the water temperature.
<Understood. Yes, they'd probably be better in the other tank.>
Thank you. Effie
<Most welcome! Neale.>

Bonded GBR pair not getting along so well        5/17/16
Hello crew,
I've been dealing with an issue that I haven't been able to find described anywhere on the net, at least with the same sorts of details. I'm aware that it is not so uncommon for German Blue Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) to get a bit nippy and territorial with each other, especially when a male is getting to know a female. My issue is a little bit different, though.
First, some background:
This is a 29 gallon aquarium, 30" long. Both GBR have been in the tank for roughly 8 months, they were around 3 months old when added. Tankmates include 7 Rummynose tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri), 10 Corydoras habrosus
(largest is just a hint over 1" SL), and a common Bristlenose Pleco (female, about 3.25" SL). They were all added to this tank within a week or so of each other. Tank is filtered by an Aquaclear 70 hang-on-back filter with Seachem Matrix bio-media and Seachem Purigen. There is an air-powered sponge filter as well as a just-in-case measure.
Tank is heavily planted, with an Amazon sword about half the width of the tank on one side that I keep trimmed as a means to keep it from taking over any further. There are several pieces of driftwood of various sizes as well as a Pleco cave (elongated clay pot-esque hidey-hole). There is a Vesuvius sword (Echinodorus angustifolia variant), Myriophyllum mattogrossense, and some patches of Christmas moss as well. In other words, there are a lot of
things to explore, broken sight lines, and hiding places.
Parameters are 79 degrees Fahrenheit, 6.2-6.5 pH, 0 ammonia/nitrite, and nitrates that vary from 0-15ppm (always zero without adding fertilizers).
GH 4 degrees, kH 1-3 depending on normal variance in my tap and time since water change. I do a 50% water change every week to avoid any nutrient
buildups from plant fertilizers.
<Mmm; I'd likely raise the temp. here to low 80's F.>
*Back to my problem: *The GBR pair spawned the day they were introduced 8 months ago.
<? At three mo.s of age?>
I had purchased the female at a local chain pet store and had planned to go to another to grab a male. Unfortunately, the other pet shop sold the male in the time between my scoping out the availability and picking it up. No matter, I bought my male from an online breeder who also taught me a thing or two about hormone injections in rams. I was prepared for my store-bought female to perhaps not be receptive to the more naturally-bred male, but to my surprise they hit it off immediately. In the intervening time, they have spawned at least 10 more times, always reaching the free swimming stage since try #5 or so. I suspect the tetras or filter intake are doing in the fry.
<I'd add a sponge filter... turn off the power filter/s at these times>
In the first 6 months of owning this pair, they were two peas in a pod, whether in mating mode or not. They have no
problem getting food since these tetras are mid-to-bottom feeders in a similar way to the rams. Foods offered include New Life Spectrum Thera+A, Omega One Kelp Pellets (mostly as a supplement to Pleco's diet and to make sure there is some plant material for the various omnivores), blanched zucchini (staple diet for Pleco), and several frozen foods like Spirulina brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and the rare bloodworm. They are fed live blackworms twice a week when my LFS has them in stock.
Around mid-March, I noticed my female with clamped fins and—to the extent the hormone-injected rams can have this—washed out colors. I don't normally think much of the occasional odd behavior of course, but this was paired
with a lot of hiding and some chasing from the male. This has since become a fairly common pattern, though she isn't always clamped by any means but very typically pale. She hides from the male often and he chases her all over the place. They have spawned twice since this behavior began and their behavior and colors go back to normal in the immediate days pre-spawning and while dealing with the eggs/fry. No matter their general behavior, they both eagerly accept food as normal. My main concern is that I have seen her have fin damage a few times and with the latest iteration I figured I better get some outside input. I have seen her caudal fin missing a roughly 2mm by 2mm patch, then after the caudal fin healed up she lost about half the length of one of her pelvic fins. She has been acting normal<ly> and looking ready to spawn for the past few days, but I just noticed that she has a 2mm by 2mm patch missing from one of her pectoral fins, in this case as clear as ever that the area was nibbled off. There are a couple nicks in her caudal fin as well.
At this point, I'm unsure of what to do about these things, especially since she seems to constantly bounce back and eventually does spawn. I know some cichlids do tend to stress the female to induce spawning, though it clearly wasn't needed early in this pair's relationship! I just don't want the female to end up actually dying if the male decides to step up his tactics.
Thanks in advance,
<Well; not much I would do differently here. Cichlids are often damaged in the wild... by predator tries as well as conspecific interactions; particularly as regards reproductive behavior. I would not treat the fish/es, but just elevate the temp. here as mentioned. Am sharing this w/ Neale here for his independent response. Bob Fenner>
Bonded GBR pair not getting along so well /Neale's go         5/17/16

Hello crew,
I've been dealing with an issue that I haven't been able to find described anywhere on the net, at least with the same sorts of details. I'm aware that it is not so uncommon for German Blue Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) to get a bit nippy and territorial with each other, especially when a male is getting to know a female. My issue is a little bit different, though. First, some background:
This is a 29 gallon aquarium, 30" long. Both GBR have been in the tank for roughly 8 months, they were around 3 months old when added. Tankmates include 7 Rummynose tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri), 10 Corydoras habrosus (largest is just a hint over 1" SL), and a common Bristlenose Pleco (female, about 3.25" SL). They were all added to this tank within a week or so of each other. Tank is filtered by an Aquaclear 70 hang-on-back filter with Seachem Matrix bio-media and Seachem Purigen. There is an air-powered sponge filter as well as a just-in-case measure.
<Do review stocking; the required temperature range for Rams, 28-30 C/82-86 F, is well above that of, in particular, Corydoras habrosus. In cooler water their health is compromised, and more to the point in this situation, they're less likely to spawn. Plus, once Mikrogeophagus ramirezi get settled and spawning, their territorial aggression tends to damage even medium-sized Corydoras, though conceivably they'd ignore the midwater swimming pygmy species. I'd still be watching them closely.>
Tank is heavily planted, with an Amazon sword about half the width of the tank on one side that I keep trimmed as a means to keep it from taking over any further. There are several pieces of driftwood of various sizes as well as a Pleco cave (elongated clay pot-esque hidey-hole). There is a Vesuvius sword (Echinodorus angustifolia variant), Myriophyllum mattogrossense, and some patches of Christmas moss as well. In other words, there are a lot of things to explore, broken sight lines, and hiding places.
Parameters are 79 degrees Fahrenheit, 6.2-6.5 pH, 0 ammonia/nitrite, and nitrates that vary from 0-15ppm (always zero without adding fertilizers). GH 4 degrees, kH 1-3 depending on normal variance in my tap and time since water change. I do a 50% water change every week to avoid any nutrient buildups from plant fertilizers.
<All sounds good.>
Back to my problem: The GBR pair spawned the day they were introduced 8 months ago. I had purchased the female at a local chain pet store and had planned to go to another to grab a male. Unfortunately, the other pet shop sold the male in the time between my scoping out the availability and picking it up. No matter, I bought my male from an online breeder who also taught me a thing or two about hormone injections in rams. I was prepared for my store-bought female to perhaps not be receptive to the more naturally-bred male, but to my surprise they hit it off immediately. In the intervening time, they have spawned at least 10 more times, always reaching the free swimming stage since try #5 or so. I suspect the tetras or filter intake are doing in the fry. In the first 6 months of owning this pair, they were two peas in a pod, whether in mating mode or not. They have no problem getting food since these tetras are mid-to-bottom feeders in a similar way to the rams. Foods offered include New Life Spectrum Thera+A, Omega One Kelp Pellets (mostly as a supplement to Pleco's diet and to make sure there is some plant material for the various omnivores), blanched zucchini (staple diet for Pleco), and several frozen foods like Spirulina brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and the rare bloodworm. They are fed live blackworms twice a week when my LFS has them in stock.
Around mid-March, I noticed my female with clamped fins and—to the extent the hormone-injected rams can have this—washed out colors. I don't normally think much of the occasional odd behavior of course, but this was paired with a lot of hiding and some chasing from the male. This has since become a fairly common pattern, though she isn't always clamped by any means but very typically pale. She hides from the male often and he chases her all over the place. They have spawned twice since this behavior began and their behavior and colors go back to normal in the immediate days pre-spawning and while dealing with the eggs/fry. No matter their general behavior, they both eagerly accept food as normal. My main concern is that I have seen her have fin damage a few times and with the latest iteration I figured I better get some outside input. I have seen her caudal fin missing a roughly 2mm by 2mm patch, then after the caudal fin healed up she lost about half the length of one of her pelvic fins. She has been acting normal and looking ready to spawn for the past few days, but I just noticed that she has a 2mm by 2mm patch missing from one of her pectoral fins, in this case as clear as ever that the area was nibbled off. There are a couple nicks in her caudal fin as well.
<Could indicate fighting, especially if the male is "nipping" at her vent, as some cichlids are wont to do.>
At this point, I'm unsure of what to do about these things, especially since she seems to constantly bounce back and eventually does spawn. I know some cichlids do tend to stress the female to induce spawning, though it clearly wasn't needed early in this pair's relationship! I just don't want the female to end up actually dying if the male decides to step up his tactics.
<I think your concern here is valid. I'd start by separating them. Get the female fed well for 6-8 weeks so she puts on some fat. In fish, each batch of egg production is closely related to how well the female has recovered from the last. So you need to do what old school fishkeepers called "conditioning" the female; bringing her into spawning condition. Once that's done, try introducing them to a spawning tank with minimal decor but a few suitable spawning sites. Just because two cichlids are sold as a pair it doesn't mean they are a pair, or for that matter, there's no reason two fish that paired off one time should happily pair off again. Just doesn't work like that. Within the pair the two fish will be continually "testing" each other, and if you don't condition the female, it's easy for her to "fail" the male's test. In the wild he'd drive her off and try to attract another female, but in an aquarium that's not always an option. Do try reviewing some of the older aquarium books on fishkeeping and breeding. Those authors took a lot less for granted, and more to the point, were more reliant on breeding their fish because buying more of a particular species tropical fish was by no means a certainty. Finally, do recognise that the Blue Ram is hopelessly inbred, and if it's anything like the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey, can be expected to have much lower fertility than the wild fish.>
Thanks in advance,
<Welcome, Neale.>

Blue Rams     1/22/16
Hi, do female ram turn to males?
<No; they are of determinate sex. Bob Fenner>

Bolivian or blue ram    10/21/12
Please could you help is this a blue ram or Bolivian ram?
<The former. Bob Fenner>

Female Ram fancies Bala Shark    8/10/12
I have a 55g tank with 1 Bala, 1 unknown Rasbora, 6 Angelfish, 4 Rams, and 6 assorted Corys, 3 of the Rams are only a few months old but, 1 is a fully matured female. My problem is before I bought the 3 younger Rams the large female was acting strangely toward my shark, She would slap him with her tail, nip him (taking chunks out his tail and fins) but also follow him everywhere,
<Strange... the Bala should be near the surface, the Ram near the bottom...
the minnow shark very fast moving, the Ram, slow>
then a couple of weeks ago she laid eggs, but of course he has no interest in fertilizing them and she ended up eating them. I bought the new rams hoping for a male assuming she would leave the shark alone, I discovered 2 of the new Rams are male but the large female attacks both of them if they go anywhere near her. Since the new Rams have settled she has laid another clutch of eggs which again were eaten and she is about to do it again, but still has no interest in the other Rams.
I tried moving the female and one of the male into my 30g tank but she paced constantly in one corner staring at the tank with shark in the whole time, she stopped eating and I felt I should move her back, When I did she swam straight to the shark and started to nuzzle him (she obviously loves him).
<...? Nah>
I am not so sure that this is really a problem, despite her nasty advances toward him, he is very healthy, he is twice the size of her and he takes her abuse well. I'm just not sure if it is healthy for her and now I have 2 males and 1 female left squabbling all the time, no damage to any yet but they are still small. Any thoughts or suggestions here would be appreciated
<I'd just grow up, condition the new Rams. Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Blue Ram Chiclids, repro. f' 1/5/12
Ram Questions
Hi, I am a 11 year old that needs help with my fish. I have two German Blue Ram Cichlids and they laid eggs. I'm not sure if they are a mated pair. Would a female lay eggs if there were two females in 1 tank?
< If conditions are favorable then female cichlids would lay eggs without a male being present.>
If they hatch should I put them in a little box that floats on top of my tank so the male doesn't eat them, or should I let them swim with the mom?
< Rams can be a problem to get the parents to raise the fry. Usually this is a problem for young parents but soon grow out of it with additional spawns. Make sure that the parents are well fed. If they continue to eat the fry then separate the eggs from the parents and hatch the fry artificially.-Chuck
Beginner Jeffrey

Blue German Rams breeding 9/1/11
Hello Crew, Jesse here again
I would like to thank you and at the same time apologize for all of my recent questions! I set up like 3 new tanks and a whole bunch of new fish species for me, and they are having babies and doing all sorts of other crazy stuff and I thank you so much for the help you have given to me already!
<Glad to hear the good news.>
Anyways, tonight my two Blue German Rams laid about 100+ eggs on a rock, and I read that the fry are so small that they need infusoria to make it.
Is this the only thing that they can eat?
<No, not really. Brine Shrimp nauplii are readily taken as well. You can also try using Hikari First Bites, a powdered food. I've found it works very well with cichlids and indeed a wide variety of fish, though the number of fry that survive may be fewer than you'd get with brine shrimp nauplii.>
I have never cultured some, I started 3 cultures just now, two with lettuce, one with dry hay, I read both work so I tried both. Will the cultures be ready in time if the eggs do hatch and the parents don't eat the eggs? This is my first time attempting cultured infusoria and it may not even work, and maybe not in time! If the cultures aren't ready when the fry hatch is there any other foods that will last them?
Thanks ahead for your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>|
Re: Blue German Rams breeding 9/1/11
Hey Neale thanks for the help already tonight, another thing, my male turned into a real terror!
<Unfortunately not uncommon. As I wrote a few days ago re: Angelfish breeding, those cichlids that are farmed have their eggs taken away to be reared manually, so over the generations there's a lack of the selection pressure you get in the wild that favours competent parenting. End result, many farmed cichlids are lousy parents. The great exception seems to be Kribs, which are usually able to breed with little if any help, even in community tanks. It's a shame they're fiddly to breed properly -- at the wrong pH, you end up with all male or all female fry.>
I moved the female out into a back up tank I always have running, she is fine besides a few small chunks from the tail missing.
<Oh. Well, it'll heal.>
Anyways was this the right thing to do?
Or should I put them both back together and remove the eggs? Or just let them all back together?
<It's a tough call. Obviously you should separate them if they're fighting and one is being harmed. But at the same time, you'll never see proper pairing behaviour if they don't come to some modus vivendi. You can "fix" broken marriages in fish tanks, but it's tricky. One approach is to use egg crate to divide the two fish while allowing them to watch one another.
Sometimes, you can help by adding a target fish (something big enough to elicit the need to work together). A good example might be a day-active, fast-moving solitary fish species such as a Flying Fox. The target fish needs to be tough enough and fast enough to avoid trouble, but not so dangerous it poses a threat to the cichlids. If you haven't read "The Cichlid Aquarium" by Paul Loiselle, it's a very good read that explains what's going on the mind of a cichlid, making it easier to work around them. Used copies are available on Amazon for little money (just checked the US site, and it's $6.14).>
Thanks so much, Jesse
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Blue German Rams breeding 9/1/11

I actually did that the first time! I had them in a community tank, but the female hated the male and chased him everywhere in there, so I switched them to their own 30 gallon tank with a 8 inch Senegal bichir, I think they teamed up for defense, and then they paired up, so I did this without even knowing it haha!
Thanks so much for the advice, and I will look into the book!
<You will enjoy, I suspect. Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

Sudden Lumps/Growths on Ram's Head - Please Help?? 6/9/11
Hi WWM Crew!!
Your web site is great! I have been extensively reading through your pages and have seen the great advice you have given to others. I was hoping you would please help me as I cannot find a definitive answer, but can only suspect early HITH as a possibility??
<Mmm, not definitive unfortunately>
Have included as much info as I could think of and the last couple of week's events leading up to my current problem.
I try to keep my water quality pristine - Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, and never let my Nitrates get above 10ppm (it generally tests around 5ppm). The PH is stable at 7.6. I test my water once to twice a week (with API drops) and perform 50 - 60% weekly water changes (temperature matched) - more if I feel it necessary. I only have a thin layer of fine gravel which I vacuum weekly and thoroughly and only ever rinse my filter media in tank water.
Tank temp is 27 Celsius.
For the last seven months I have been running a 250 litre tropical tank without any problems at all. Inhabitants were 11x cardinal tetras, 3 blue rams, 1 yellow balloon ram (who has paired up with a blue and they often spawn), 2x sterbai cories, 2x albino cories, 2x dwarf gouramis and 2x angelfish (which I have grown out since they were tiny).
Less than three weeks ago, I purchased a brand new 300 litre Aqua One tank which came with an Aqua One 1250 canister filter and I basically transferred everything from the old tank into the new one - gravel, silk plants, a couple of ornaments, the filter and about 10% of the water. The new tank had everything the old tank had in it and I ran both the old and new filters simultaneously. I tried to make it so the move to the new tank would be no different than doing a huge water change on the old one, but over the next few days, I suddenly lost 8 of my cardinals and 1 of the dwarf gouramis. All other fish seemed unaffected.
My little balloon ram then became very ill, losing all its colour, hiding and not eating. I was sure I would lose it too, when it suddenly occurred to me that I had added a couple of new live plants to go with the new tank (which I shamefully didn't sterilize) and am thinking they could be the cause of the sudden problems???
<Maybe... but I more suspect some sort of chemical contamination from the new tank, water...>
I immediately removed the plants and did an 80% water change. This seemed to have helped the sick ram because by the next day it regained its full colour, appetite and activity. Then yesterday, I noticed these protruding white lumps appeared on its head and around the eyes! I now have all four rams in a 60 litre quarantine tank and have started with salt at 0.1% and raised the temp to 30 Celsius. The ram Is behaving and eating normally, and even looks like its getting ready for another spawn with its mate. Could this be the start of HITH disease??
<I don't think so>
I have attached some photos of these lumps. Perhaps they are something else entirely.
I don't know what course of action, if any, I should take. Should I medicate and what with?
<I would not "treat">
Should I treat the whole community tank or just the quarantine tank?
I also keep discus and fancy goldfish (not together!) and would hate to cross-contaminate to their tanks with whatever this is.
Sorry for the novel, but am feeling pretty lost right now and really hope you can help me help my little fish!
<Not to worry... thank you for providing as much info. These bumps may be some sort of "pre nuptial tubercles" (hormonal happenings w/ quite a few neotropical cichlids)... Could be something pathogenic (Microsporidean, other protozoan), but I discount this, as your other Mikrogeophagus have not shown similar... And again, the fact that you state this male has been involved in spawning, the stress of the changes you list... I would leave all as is, not even continue the salt exposure. This situation will likely resolve itself w/in a few weeks.>
With many thanks,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sudden Lumps/Growths on Ram's Head - Please Help?? 6/11/11
Hi Bob - thank you so much for your reply and for sharing your expertise! I am very grateful. I've never seen such tubercles on a ram before - fascinating!!
<I do sometimes wish I were back in academia/the ivory tower... Would REALLY like to study hormones and behavior of various organisms>
Thanks again for your help,
<Cheers, BobF>

German Blue Ram Breeding issues 5/11/11
Okay so I have a pair in a 40 gallon planted tank. The Parameters as of a few seconds ago are as follows Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate .5. The temperature is 85 PH is 7.4 (I'm working on lowering it.
<Do not, Do Not, DO NOT lower the pH directly. If you think this is what you need to do, then you clearly don't understand about water chemistry.>
I have 3 large pieces of driftwood in the tank and I'm doing water changes with RO water what else can I do to lower it?).
<Mikrogeophagus ramirezi needs extremely soft and acidic water. Use your hardness test kit to measure the ratio of RO and tap water you need to get somewhere between 1- and 3 degrees dH. Then use a pH buffer to stabilise the pH at 6.0. Once you know how to do this to one bucket of water, repeat for each bucket of water added to your aquarium so that over a series of water changes the water chemistry changes slowly. Do note many aquarium fish will not thrive in these conditions. A Ram Cichlid aquarium will, for example, be far too warm for Corydoras (except C. sterbai), Neon tetras, and Otocinclus catfish. What people don't always realise is that the fish they buy at pet stores have been bred through extensive use of hormones, antibiotics and sometimes artificial colours. This is called "juicing" and among other things may render the males infertile. Also, once transferred to the home aquarium Mikrogeophagus ramirezi has a dismal survival record, most specimens lasting less than 6 months, partly because they lose the resistance to bacteria they had when given antibiotics. Spawning happens readily enough, but rearing the eggs is extremely difficult without very soft, very acidic water, preferably in a dimly-lit tank, and all this assumes your male is fertile. As I've stated here again and again, and as most expert fishkeepers will tell you, Ram Cichlids are best avoided.>
I previously had them in a heavily planted 20 gallon tank. They spawned unexpectedly in that tank less than 24 hours after I put the female in with him. I moved them into the other tank because the next morning all the eggs were gone and someone told me it was the Pleco. In the forty gallon tank there is them 5 Oto's and 6 Corries (learned on your sight they don't really go together?)
<Not with Rams, no. Rams are not community fish, and need their own single-species aquarium. Tankmates can include "hothouse" tropical fish that appreciate very warm water, such as Angelfish and Discus, but forget about breeding under such circumstances.>
They spawned again yesterday and they were guarding the eggs all day today.
I went to work and came home today and no one was guarding the rock so I went over to check and the eggs were gone... Who is most likely responsible for eating the eggs this time?
<Could be either of the catfish or for that matter the cichlids themselves. Fertility in farmed specimens of this species is extremely low, especially among the "fancy" varieties like Blue Rams that are even more inbred and genetically weakened than the standard sort sold inexpensively in pet shops. Their instinct is to eat unfertilised eggs.>
I've also read that it takes them a few times to "get it right" is that what's happening here?
<Can be.>
The female is smaller than he is. Probably younger. Do younger pairs have a harder time "getting it right"? Should I just be patient. I'm planning on adding more fish to the 40 gallon tank and right now there's only 4 neon tetra's
<Neons, like Otocinclus and Corydoras are "low end" tropicals that must be kept cool, 22-24 C/72-75 F. One reason people fail to keep Neons alive for long is keeping them much too warm.>
a Female Betta and another female ram in the 20 gallon tank. The Neons are going as is the Betta. Could I switch them out for the female and leave them alone in that tank and see if it will work?
<You could try swapping the females, but with the usual warnings about male aggression to new females in his territory.>
Are there any fish that I can add to the 20 gallon tank that won't pose a threat or should I just leave them alone in that tank?
<Breeding tanks are not community tanks. Don't expect to breed fish in tanks where there are more than one species.>
I feel like this is my fault that the eggs keep disappearing.
<I guess. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: German Blue Ram Breeding issues 5/15/11

I took your advice and for the last three days have been researching pH and the RIGHT way to lower and stabilize it.
I bought a kit to check the dGH API Drip kits (took me a while to figure out how it worked. Had to read the instructions a few times). It seems 1 part tap to 2 parts RO water makes it a 3 dGH.
<Okay'¦ sounds like you have fairly soft water already. 3 degrees dH is very soft water, and if that's one part tap water to two parts RO (which has 0 degrees dH, by definition) that would seem to suggest your tap water had a hardness of 9 degrees dH.>
Long story short my rams are in their own tank and I'm using the mixture at water changes 10% at a time to slowly get it where it needs to be.
I've seen only improvement in color since moving them to their own planted 20 gallon tank and keeping the temp at 84 (The cycle was cloned using filter media from the other tank and plants taken from the main tank).
<May take a few days, weeks before they "get in the mood" again.>
Thank you for your strict words. It's what I needed to hear.
<Hmm'¦ wasn't my intention to be strict. I'm sometimes pretty tired by the time I get around the answering the Daily FAQs, and after a day of shepherding teenagers, sometimes I'm a little harder with the grown-ups than I ought to be!>
I'm also not going to be housing anything with them. I couldn't find any relatively small "hot house" species to house them with.
<Yes, this is often the case. Cardinals can work well though, as well as "False" or "Green" Neon Tetras, if you can find them. Some of the smaller Hatchetfish such as Marbled Hatchetfish are worthwhile too.>
They seem to be faring just fine with their own company.
<Certainly true.>
For my 40 gallon tank I'm now researching new inhabitants and making sure the temp and matches high and low.
The new stocking will be:
4 Peacock Gudgeons
<An excellent species. Should do well at 9 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5. Tricky to feed though. Won't eat flake or pellets; only fresh, wet-frozen and live foods.>
6 Diamond Tetras
6 Bloodfin tetras
<Both superb species.>
5 Otos
<Do read warnings about this species elsewhere on WWM; much sold, rarely maintained for long without some forethought re: diet.>
6 Corydoras (albino)
<Corydoras paleatus; an excellent species, though the albino ones are marginally more delicate and tend not to grow as large as wild fish.>
I checked the pH range for all the fish and I have a range of 6-7.5 for them.
<Hmm'¦ do remember pH value isn't normally critical, so long as its stable.>
A dGH range of 6-12 and a temp range of 72-78.
<Yes and yes.>
I'm thinking I should keep the pH of 7 a dGH of what would you recommend? and a temperature of 76. How does that sound?
<Something that avoids extremes is fine. If your tap water is around 10 degrees dH, pH 7.5, that would be absolutely fine. The less you fuss with your tap water, the easier and cheaper water changes become, and it's water changes that matter more to these fish than the water chemistry.>
I am trying to do what's good for my fish. I'm sorry for sounding like an uneducated "newbie".
<Sounds as if you're educating yourself, so well done! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: German Blue Ram Breeding issues 5/15/11
Short update. They spawned last night or early this morning. But this is a different pair in a 20 gallon tank by themselves too. I'll attach pictures. They're kind of bad because they spawned on the backside of a piece of driftwood instead of somewhere more accessible. The darker reddish looking one is without flash and the other one is with flash. I'll let you know if anything comes of them. Are Ghost shrimp a threat to the eggs? If so I might have to get them out of there too.
<The Shrimp may go after the eggs and young if the parents aren't attentive. I would remove the Ghost Shrimp. Bob Fenner>

Re: German Blue Ram Breeding issues 5/15/11
Parents ate all the eggs. But that's their first spawn.
<Ah yes... does happen>
I moved the shrimp out too so I guess there's always next time.
<You are correct. Cheers, BobF>

Dwarf ram cichlid breading 4/14/2011
Hi, I have a breeding pair of dwarf ram cichlids and they have breed, the fry hatched 5 days ago but today the male won't let the female near the fry and aggressively attacks her if she tries to go to them, I am unsure what to do?
<This is not unusual. Best to remove the female to another -- at least 10 gallon, and fully cycled -- aquarium for the duration. Cichlid "divorces" are not uncommon, and sometimes fix themselves as the fish mature. But also be aware that inbreeding means that many cichlids are too stupid (for want of a better word) to know how to exhibit their proper behaviours. The absence of suitable dither and target fish can also cause weaker than normal pair bonds. Much written on this topic by Paul Loiselle and others;
consider buying/borrowing one such book. Cheers, Neale.>

Ram Cichlid Pairing 9/13/10
Hello! I bought 2 beautiful male and female Ram Cichlids yesterday. The male nips the female every now and then, but I guess this is normal Cichlid behaviour. Usually the male will sort of ambush the female and both will keep still for a few moments afterwards. How would I know if/when they pair off?
<Assuming conditions are right, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, the Common Ram Cichlid, pairs readily. If conditions are wrong, the female especially won't be "in the mood" to breed. Let's recap the needs of this species. You need very soft, very acidic water. You're aiming for 1-5 degrees dH, pH 6-7. Hard water = dead Ram Cichlids. Water temperature needs to be very high, much warmer than almost any other fish will tolerate, 82-86 F/28-30 C. This is why you cannot keep Ram Cichlids in community tanks. Cooler water = dead Ram Cichlids. Lots of folks try to keep Ram Cichlids in community tanks, and lots of folks end up with dead Ram Cichlids. You need a gentle water current, ideally an air-powered sponge filter. The quality of Ram Cichlids in the trade is abysmally low, and they are extremely prone to Mycobacteria infections and Hexamita infections. You can't do much about Mycobacteria, but you can at least prevent debilitating Hexamita infections by providing the right water chemistry and temperature, plus nitrate levels below 20 mg/l. These fish should be sold with a warning level -- easily 9 out of every 10 sold dies within a few months because people buy them without researching their extremely specific needs. Personally, I'd always recommended the Bolivian Ram, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, for the casual aquarist. One last thing. Common Rams are notoriously difficult to sex. Be open minded about the fish you think is a female -- it could easily be a male who happens to have short fins.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ram Cichlid Pairing
I have Rummy Nose Tetra tankmates, because I ready even Discus keepers keep them with Discus because of their high temperature needs.
<Quite so. Also Cardinal Tetras work well in this warm water.>
The heater is set at 78F.
<Ignore the dial on the heater; they're hopelessly inaccurate. What's on the thermometer? Must be 82-86 F for Ram Cichlids.>
0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 30 Nitrate. The pH is 6.4 while the water hardness is cruising around 10 degrees.
<The hardness is on the high side for Common Rams. You might get lucky though. E-mail me back in a year, and tell me if they're still alive. I'd bet money against it, but as I say, you might be lucky.>
Sorry if none of this makes sense, I have a horrible headache right now.
<Ooh, sorry to hear that. A nice cup of tea and a lie down should help.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ram Cichlid Pairing
Oh that's what I mean, sorry, yes the thermometer gives me a display of 78F. Sorry for the confusion. Should I notch it up to 82F?
<No. As I said, the *thermometer* tells you the temperature of the aquarium. The dial on the *heater* is very, VERY approximate. Usually they're off a couple of degrees either way. If your thermometer says the
water is between 82 and 86 F, you're fine; if not, adjust as the heater by a degree on its dial, wait 24 hours, and then check again. Repeat as required.>
The local shop I got them from has a very good reputation for high quality fish (they aren't them typical street sellers who source fish from Asia) and all fish appear to look healthy.
The other rams in the shop's tank were busy sifting through the substrate (picking up small particles and spitting them out). Mine are doing the same. . . they are sand-sifters, right?
<Yes. The name, Mikrogeophagus, literally means "small earth eater", Mikro = small, geo = earth, phagus = eater.>
I forgot to mention it in the last message, but my female has the pink blotch on the belly, while my male is bigger and has more intense colouration and longer fins.
<Sounds promising.>
Oh! And they seem to enjoy my big lava rock and Echinodorus plants.
<They are open spawners and tend to lay their eggs on flat, smooth stones, ideally ones snuck in a corner behind some plants. A fun species, very attractive, but sadly much more demanding that retailers suggest. Spawning usually follows a few days of good feeding: live or wet-frozen bloodworms and brine shrimps and daphnia do the trick nicely. They might possibly spawn if fed flake or freeze-dried food, but I wouldn't hold your breath.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ram Cichlid Pairing 9/13/10
Ok that's what I'm doing. The thermometer says 78F but the heater dial says 26C. I'm adjusting it accordingly now. Really though, they seemed happy and full of colour at 78F.
<The colour, unfortunately, is often "juiced" on farms. What the breeders do is use antibiotics and/or hormones to get Common Rams to colour up nicely and stay healthy long enough to be shipped out and sold. Over the weeks this "juicing" wears off, and that's why the mortality rate of Common Rams is highest a few weeks or a couple of months after purchase.>
Also thank you for that bit of Latin!
<Sometimes these Latin names are like those "Easter Eggs" in computer games. Once you understand them, they're a nice little extra. My two favourites are the Common Angelfish and the White Cloud Mountain Minnow.
For the first, the Latin name is Pterophyllum scalare, which means "leaf-like wings" and "like a flight of stairs", this second part of the name referring to the step-like edges to the dorsal and anal fins. The
minnow's name is Tanichthys albonubes, which means "Tan's fish" and "white cloud"; in this case the first part of the name refers to a Chinese boy scout, Tan, who discovered the fish, and the white cloud refers to the White Cloud Mountain in China where the fish was found. Pretty neat, huh?
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ram Cichlid Pairing 9/14/10

Ok the thermometer says 80F now.
I knew about the White Cloud one, but not the Angelfish name. Some of them are quite creative . . .
<Yes they are. Have fun! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ram Cichlid Pairing
Hey Neale!
Today I am seeing what I think is the male trying to court the female. He has intense colouration and flaring of his fins. He is almost constantly "ambushing" the female and rubbing against her scales. The female is trying to keep to herself mostly right now.
Thank your for your wisdom.
<Hello again. Female cichlids need to be "conditioned" before they will breed. In fact most female fish need to be conditioned. Think of it as the equivalent of a good meal and a box of chocolates before you can get your own lady friend interested in the mood. In the wild fish aren't breeding every day of the year, but in synchrony with seasonal effects such as the appearance of aquatic insect larvae in spring. Try feeding your female the very best foods you can, ideally live bloodworms and daphnia, but failing that, wet-frozen substitutes. Nudge the temperature up a degree or two, up to a maximum of 30 C/86 F. After a week or so, you should find your female looks visibly fatter and her colours become heightened; she's now filled with eggs and looking for a partner. That's where your male Ram Cichlid comes into the equation. Ideally, you'd separate the female while conditioning her, a simple egg-crate screen working fine. Cheers, Neale.>

Sexing Rams 5/18/10
So is this a female? Notice the small triangular flap at the base of the belly between the pectoral fins. Also "she" has blue throughout the black spot. This is my first attempt at sexing any fish, let alone a ram, so just looking for a good 2nd opinion. Thanks
< Hard to tell from the head on view. I see a little pink on the belly in your photo. Females usually have a pink hue to the stomach region. The side black spot should have some larger reflective scales either on it or around it.-Chuck>

Microgeophagus Ramirezi
Can you help me sex this ram? -- 5/17/10

<Notoriously difficult to sex.>
It has developed more red on the dorsal fin and chases any fish that gets near it (tankmates are 2 other rams, Corys, Otos, & Xray tetras). It's in neutral, soft water @ 80'¢f.
<Much too warm for Corydoras, except Corydoras sterbai, but not warm enough for Rams. For what it's worth, neutral water isn't ideal, and you really do need it to be slightly acidic. Frankly, Rams have a very poor survival record generally, and you're aiming for 82-86 F, 2-3 degrees dH hardness, pH 5.5-6.5. Outside of those conditions, lifespan of Ram cichlids tends to be measured in months, not years.>
There are 2 other rams with it and this one seems to dominate the others. One of the other rams is totally submissive with duller colors and the
3rd is bright like this pic but without the dorsal extensions and it likes to hold it's ground with the dominate one.
<Males should have longer dorsal fin rays at the front, but farmed fish are notoriously unreliable in this regard. Females should have a reddish patch around the belly, but this is most obvious when sexually mature, and may be absent from some specimens.>
They sometimes do a fight/dance(?) where they hover side by side and slap against each others sides followed by some chasing.
<Does sound like males fighting.>
But I'm having trouble sexing the fish in the pic because it sports the dorsal extension, but is smallest of the 3, and has blue on the sub dorsal fin black spot (the immediate first black spot behind the eye is solid). Any help or insight is appreciated.
<My guess is it's a male. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Microgeophagus Ramirezi -- 5/17/10

Thanks for the reply. Today I noticed a difference in the rams: 1 of the 3 has a tiny little "fin" thingy at the front base of the anal fin.
<Possibly the genital papilla?>
This ram and the dominate ram are the ones chasing each other/slapping sides together, while the 3rd hovers in the corner.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Microgeophagus Ramirezi -- 5/18/10

Is it normal for rams to be aggressive to potential mates?
<Yes. They're cichlids! Females that are not ready to spawn will be chased
out of the male's territory. Cheers, Neale.>

Mating Rams 4/9/10
Hi everyone! Quick question, I have a balloon ram, and an electric blue ram (I attached a pic of each). I just noticed tonight that they are spawning!
They have made a nice little bed of eggs. Has anyone ever heard of different ram species mating?
< These are not different species. They are line bred variations of the same species that show designed characteristics.>
Do you think they will hatch into viable fish fry?
< No reason to think they won't.>
If they do, once hatched, are they pretty much on their own without the parents protection?
< The parents should protect the eggs and fry in a typical cichlid fashion.>
And, what would I feed the little mutt rams?
< They are usually too small for baby brine shrimp so I would recommend green water with infusoria-Chuck.>
Thank you for your help in advance! :) Banjo

Mik/crogeophagus... Blue! & Mutant -- 12/01/09
Hi Bob,
Not sure if you have one of these on WWM yet. Might be worth adding to the page on Ram cichlids; over here, they're called "Electric Blue" rams. Almost look like blue chromis!
Cheers, Neale
<Mmm, yes... have seen about. Beauties! Have attached some thumbs of. Oh, and a short-bodied mutant as well. Cheers! BobF>

Mik/crogeophagus... Blue! & Mutant, and pond dis. follow-up TBP -- 12/01/09
Hideous things, aren't they! Not my idea of beauty at all. But I can see that they'll sell in droves, even though this species rarely lasts long in "cold" (by its standards) tropical aquaria.
Your addition to today's Heron/Goldfish query was interesting. You're probably right to assume a mature pond provides much healthier water conditions than any aquarium,
<It certainly does and a comment re beyond. I have found that "pond fishes" are remarkably creatures of habit... That removing one, changing some aspect of their physical environment, routine, really has a large (mal-) effect on them, their social dynamic, health. MUCH better to either regularly disrupt their world, or do ones best to be very moderate in modifying>
but I do wonder if a cold winter would cause problems in terms of immune response.
<I do believe that like humans in comas, there are instances where more good than otherwise is done in keeping these and other organisms in a thermal-suspension-stupor>
Cheers, Neale
<And you my friend. BobF>

Blue ram flesh wound? 8-23-2009
Last night I was watching my pair of blue ram cichlids and something is not right. They have been inseparable since I got them about a month ago, their colors have been amazing, the female has been red in her belly after a week of having her and last Tuesday they even laid eggs. After the male did not become territorial in terms of the female, they took turns guarding the eggs and worked together as a team, the eggs ended up not producing fry.
<Does happen... may require a few "attempts" to get things right. Sometimes adding a few surface-swimming dither fish can help.>
Last night I noticed my female had a red spot near her tail, I thought I was seeing things and it was just her belly, but I looked closer and it appeared as though a piece of her was ripped off.
<Whatever the immediate cause, does appear to be a secondary bacterial infection. Usually caused either by water quality issues or physical damage, but with this species, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, other factors come into play. Their quality just isn't good to begin with, and if you've had them less than a couple of months, they may be infected with something they caught on the fish farm or in the retailer's tank. Mycobacterium spp. infections are a particular nuisance. Hard water causes real problems with its high bacterial count, and these fish really do need very, very soft water to do reliably well: pH 5.5-6.5, general hardness 1-5 degrees dH. If a biological filter works, then it's likely the water is too hard and basic for Rams to do well, and they're best kept in soft water tanks filtered with zeolite and carbon.>
Also, when I looked at her straight on there was like a weird mark around her eye, almost appearing as though she had a 3rd eye. As I watched her and the male interacting, the male was being very aggressive to her, actively looking for her then pushing her out of the way'¦ basically bullying her around.
<Can, does happen; if a male decides a female is too sick to be worth mating with, he may well drive her off to make space for another female. Remember, these fish likely don't form stable pairs in the wild, and may be, to some degree, harem spawners.>
For the first time since having them they are separated and the female is basically hiding from the male. Oddly enough the male is not bullying the 5 cardinal tetras at all.
<Again, reinforcing the idea that his behaviour is "normal", even if not attractive or desirable.>
This afternoon I went to check on the female again while I fed them and she just sitting at the bottom near the corner and did not even move; her not eating is a huge concern for me because they beg for food normally. Is it possible that the male has bit her?
<Judging by the wound, no, I think not.>
I have included pictures and I'm sorry about the quality, I tried to get the best ones I could. Also, I just want to note that there is NO way this is an issue involving water quality, it's a 10 gallon/81-82 degrees F, and I do water changes basically every day (5%) to every other & I use stress coat.
<The thing with water quality is that at very low pH and hardness levels, biological filtration doesn't work properly, so if you're using a biological filter at all, the water is too hard and basic. Therefore it's always a risk under such circumstances that Rams will contract opportunistic bacterial infections. It's a similar situation to that with other black water fish: wild Discus, checkerboard cichlids, chocolate gouramis, Hemirhamphodon, pikeheads, and so on.>
I just need some help/insight as to what is going on asap, love these little guys, they are the most beautiful ones I have yet to see. I greatly appreciate your help, thanks again.
<A general antibiotic such as Maracyn or Maracyn II may help, but do review the general issues with Mikrogeophagus ramirezi.
Not a cichlid I recommend, and well known for being difficult to maintain, despite being widely sold.
Cheers, Neale.>

Sexing rams? 05/27/09
Hello Crew,
I, for the first time, bought a pair of fish on the recommendation of my LFS.
The pair of rams I got seems healthy and happy.
<Ah, one of the worst fish you can choose on a whim! Do understand that Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is NOT a community fish; when kept in standard community tanks, their mortality is very high. Requires warm (28-30 C) water that is very soft (less than 5 degrees dH) and very acidic (pH 5.5 to 6.5). Extremely prone to nitrate-related issues such as Hexamita, so water quality needs to be perfect. Only choose companions that enjoy similar conditions, such as Cardinals, or ideally, keep them in a single species aquarium.>
I asked for one male and one female, but now I wonder if I don't have two boys.
<Very difficult to sex. Males typically have much longer dorsal fins, while the females -- in breeding condition -- sport a red patch of colour around the belly. Your specimens appear to be farmed fish with somewhat "dumpy" bodies and indifferent fins, a very common occurrence among farmed fish, which are often of rather poor quality. So while the one with the shorter black fin rays at the front of the dorsal fin may be the female, it's impossible to be sure until you've seen them spawn.>
The two are inseparable, always swimming the tank as a pair and sharing a cave. I've noticed that every now and again the two will 'ram' each other, no pun intended. The slightly aggressive behavior is not common, but it makes me think the two might both be male. I've read that the males are a bit bigger and have purely black spots where the females are a bit smaller and have purple tinted scales over their spot.
<Colours are very variable anyway, and farmed fish are notoriously "juiced" with hormones and colour-enhancing foods that do nothing for their health but make their colours brighter than normal.>
The one that appears larger in the picture is slightly so, but both seem to have black centers to their spots. Can any determination as of sex be made by the attached images? Thanks for the help in solving this mystery!
<A nice species but an extremely challenging one, not least of all because of the poor quality of the stock sold in pet stores. So do observe their requirements carefully, and don't even think about keeping them in a community tank! Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Kribs- Breeding German Rams 06/15/08 I took a fifteen mile bike ride to my favorite local fish store today in 90 degree weather, and alas, found out that they only had one Kribensis left. So after going through many options I settled on buying 3 golden dwarf German strain rams. The sales clerks got me 2 females and one male, and a cichlid specialist there confirmed they were of those sex, but I might need to return a female if a pair occurs and they become aggressive. I just read on your site that the fish like soft water which I will be working towards. Right now they are all doing great, with bellies full of live brine shrimp a few minutes after being introduced. I added some slate in addition to the coconut shell for a spawning site. I intend to do twenty percent water changes twice a week. So all I really need to do is up the temp. to the low 80's and work on getting the pH down for a successful spawn right? < Rams are very cool dwarf cichlids but they are different than other dwarf cichlid species. Most dwarf cichlids like the genus Apistogramma are sexually dimorphic at an adult size. Ram male and females look almost exactly alike. Males tend to be larger. Females are smaller with a pink to reddish belly when they are mature. The best way I know to sex rams is to shine a flashlight on the flanks of the fish. Over the dark spot on the flanks, the females usually have larger blue scales covering that dark spot. Males usually don't have any colored scales over the dark spot. Once you know you have a pair they can be enticed to spawn by heating the water up to the low 90's. They usually spawn out in the open on a rock or even on the glass. They will spawn in hard alkaline water but the eggs usually do better in softer water. They can be conditioned with live, frozen or high quality pelleted food. the eggs usually hatch in three days and the fry become free swimming in another three days. At this time the fry need to be fed. Baby brine can be too large for their tiny mouths so they need infusoria or green water for the first week until they get big enough to eat baby brine. Breeding pairs have a tendency to eat the eggs and fry. Some pairs get past this stage as they get more mature.-Chuck>

Re: Kribs -German Rams II 06/15/08 I do believe that I have at least one pair because two of them, (one with an over all brighter coloration, and a large difference in size and dorsal fin length, the other small and pale) have begun to chase the third to the other side of the tank. I got my water tested today at work, pH read 7.8 but I have been treating the water the past few days, and there is ammonia and nitrite/ate registering so I'm working on frequent water changes and added a aeneus Cory to help eat leftovers. The fish are eating frozen bloodworms twice a day. Am I on the right path? < The dominant ram may be a male. Frequent water changes can't hurt. Many cichlid keepers don't keep Cory's with their dwarf cichlids. You will notice that the rams and the Cory hang out around the bottom of the tank. Rams are very territorial so when the Cory stumbles into the rams territory he is quickly chased away. Be careful on how you are modifying the water chemistry. Never change chemical parameters in the aquarium. Always do changes in a separate container and do it slowly over time.-Chuck.>

Re: Kribs -Breeding German Rams III 06/15/08 They actually don't seem to mind the Cory because he's usually frolicking in the jungle of plants during the day. I actually noticed something about the rams though. I said that the male and female will chase the other female away from the right side of the tank, and when the male chases her, he does so with a very nippy sort of chase. When he sees the other female he rushes up to her but doesn't bite, he gives her more of a nudge towards the area where they usually stay. Is this a good sign? <If they spawn the other fish will become more of a target than they are now. Signs look good for a possible pairing.> Oh and will Hikari First Bites be a suitable fry food? < Haven't tried them. They may be too big.-Chuck>

Breeding German Rams IV 6/25/08 After last test the readings of the conditions in the rams breeding tank are as follows: pH 6.2, < This is OK.> ammonia .25, < Should be zero in an established tank.> nitrite 40, < Wow , very dangerous. This should also be zero.> nitrate .5 in ppm. < This is oK.> The temp is at 82 degrees. < This is fine . Leave the water temp at 82 F until you get the other factors corrected.> All I need to do is keep rising the temp right? <Your tank has some biological filtration problems. Check your tap water against the water in your aquarium. Some areas of the country that are close to agriculture tend to have high nitrogenous wastes from fertilizer run off. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 20 ppm. If your tap water is good then you need to do water changes until the bacteria start to convert the ammonia and nitrites to nitrates.-Chuck>

Breeding German Rams V. 6/25/08 Actually a lady today told me the same thing today at work. She said that my tank might be having old tank syndrome. She told me that I should do a 90% water change to get rid of all ammonia/nitrate/nitrites and vacuum out the gravel and use plants to reduce nitrites. Is this good advice? < Check the tap water first as I had previously recommended. If your tap water has problems then changing the water won't help much. If your tap water is ok then do a partial water change every day until the numbers are under control. Vacuuming the gravel is a very good idea if it is done slowly and gently. If it is done too briskly then it could remove the biological filtration that you are starting to establish. Plants will absorb all forms of nitrogenous waste, but at 82 F plants will be struggling to survive at these temperatures.-Chuck>

Breeding German Rams V.V 7/10/08 They just spawned! < Congrats!> The male and I think the mother are being very good guardians so far but the other female discovered the eggs taste good when I fed them. Should I remove or separate them. < Your question is not very clear, but if you are asking about removing an extra female then I would say that removing her is a very good idea.> And are Hikari First Bites a suitable first food? < I have never used them before to ram fry but they may be worth a try.> How long should it take for the eggs to hatch? < About 3 days.-Chuck>

Breeding German Rams VI -- 07/11/08 Actually by the time I woke up the eggs are gone. But since cichlids mate for life I just bought a divider and the First Bites. I'm just going to keep doing what I was doing and hope they do it again. < They should spawn again in a couple of weeks. Cichlids do not mate for life. They are together as long as it is satisfactory to both partners. Mates have been known to kill one another.-Chuck>

Ram breeding 5/15/07 Hello WWM crew, First, awesome awesome site. <Hello and thanks!> I've learned so much, and with education comes appreciation. My German blue rams have spawned for the second time. <Very good.> The first time many of the eggs turned white and were lost. <Happens...> From what I've read on your FAQ's they either were infertile or were lost to fungus? <Usually a bit of both: the few infertile ones get fungused, and the fungus spreads to the developing eggs. The parents should help prevent this by removing infertile eggs.> Not much I can do about the former but what of the latter? <Add anti fungus medication to the water. Keep the water quality high. Ensure water is slightly acidic (pH 6.5) and very soft (2-5 dH).> I also understand that when a certain percentage of eggs are lost the parents will abort the process and consume the few remaining eggs. Is this true? <No idea, sounds dubious. If the batch is bad, the parents will "recycle" them. But cichlids often do trial runs before settling down to breed properly. Patience is required...> My other questions are re: feeding the fry should I get to that point. <You will... breeding cichlids isn't difficult, it's just a question of getting "all your ducks lined up". Once you have, the parents pretty well take care of everything.> I've read your advice/directions of how to use lettuce to culture infusoria. <This does indeed work well with rams. Also try microworms. If all else fails, some green algae dragged from a clean pond can work very well. The fry will peck off tiny animals/plants you can't see.> Of course I now do not have enough time. So, had I cultured a batch previously, can I freeze or otherwise preserve that for later use? <Not really.> I'll be using some Cyclop-eeze or equivalent fry food which I've never used before. <Definitely worth a shot!> Do I need to turn my sponge filter off when I add this? <Try it and see. If the fry are eating the food, it'll be obvious. If the food is simply getting zipped into the filter, then yes, switch off for a couple minutes at a time. With baby fish, feed small amounts but often.> The rams/eggs are in a 10 gal tank with clay pots/dishes and some java moss along with a few timid guppies. <Sounds ideal.> Thanks so much, you guys are awesome. Keep up the great work. -- Dean <Good luck! Neale>
Re: Ram breeding
5/20/07 Thanks for the info Neale. Alas, all the ram eggs turned white and were lost. I don't think they were fertilized. I guess I need to be patient. <Maybe not fertilized, maybe just the wrong water conditions. Check pH/hardness, and if acceptable (i.e., not hard/alkaline) just give the cichlids time.> I have another issue I'd like your help with. I'm planning to set up a 150 gal Amazon tank which will eventually be home to a silver Arowana. I realize that finding tank mates for them can be difficult and I had a large one years ago that lived happily with an Oscar. <Different species of Arowana vary widely in their territoriality. The South American species are generally good community fish with species that stay at the middle and bottom layers of the tank. The Asian species tend to be far less tolerant. If in doubt, stick with catfish, loaches, etc. that the Arowana won't view as a threat.> However, now that I will have one in a planted tank, I wonder if you might suggest some larger, non-plant-destroying, fish that might fit the bill. <150 gallons is a good tank size to start with, but do bear in that it is a bit smaller than the ideal for an adult Arowana. Typically, tanks in the 180-200 gallon size range are recommended.> Ideally, some specimens from the same part of the world would be appreciated. <So as not to overburden the swimming space and filtration, I'd probably be looking at catfish to start with. Thorny catfish (family Doradidae) are always fun and in the 15-20 cm size bracket there are some very nice species, such as Platydoras costatus (the Striped Raphael). A similar sized catfish is Hoplosternum littorale (the Common Hoplo) a relative of the Corydoras but bigger and very hardy. It is a first-rate scavenger, and easy to tame. Docile Pimelodidae are possible, but choose with care as many species get extremely large while others are hyperactive and will stress the Arowana. Sorubim lima and Pimelodus ornatus are two reasonably easily obtained pims of suitable size. Sorubim lima at least seems to do well (better?) in groups. Inevitably, one of the Loricariidae would make a good choice. The smaller stuff like Ancistrus would probably end up as dinner, but anything around the 30 cm mark such as Hypostomus would be not too big and not too small. Panaque are always good value and very attractive fish, but they produce huge amounts of wood-chippings that need to be siphoned away regularly (daily in my inexperience!). For the midwater, you'd perhaps do best with either some sort of docile cichlid, like the aforementioned Oscar, or a school of mid-sized characins, such as silver dollars. Pacu get far too large for your aquarium, and Semiprochilodus tend to be aggressive and might annoy the Arowana. The same goes for Leporinus, which while the right size, have the potential to be very nasty.> I realize they like lots of open water for swimming and will plant accordingly! <Very good! Besides the question of swimming space, plants also trap uneaten food and faeces, particularly when large fish are kept. Often the best approach is to skip plants in favour of plain gravel at the bottom plus rocks or other structures that are easy to clean. An authentic Arowana habitat would not be filled with aquatic plants anyway, but with tree roots. Arowanas normally forage in the "flooded forest", as you probably know, and in S America they are called "water monkeys" because they swim in the water but eat bugs and beetles they catch from overhanging trees. So while some low-lying plants, such as Cryptocorynes, might be fun, I'd tend towards using fake or real wood instead. There are some excellent fake mangrove roots that would look ideal here.> I'm very much looking forward to having a silver again; haven't had the opportunity for the last 12 years. <Sounds like you're going to have fun. Do consider upgrading the tank though, or at least putting a bigger tank on your wish list from Santa. The price difference between a 150 gallon tank and 200 gallon tank won't be great, and probably better value to get the 200 now than have to upgrade 6 or 12 months from now.> Thank you, Dean <Good luck! Neale>

Breeding Ram Cichlids -- 05/07/07 Hello, My German Rams mated! Yay! And while I am very excited about this, I wasn't expecting it/didn't think it would happen so soon (I've only had the female for about a month and they really didn't seem all that in to one another) and I am a bit unprepared for it. What is the best and quickest way to grow/culture infusoria? <There are actually lots of recipes for culturing infusoria. Here is an easy one. Take some rotting lettuce leaf and add it to the bottom of a wide mouth jar. Fill it 2/3 full with near boiling water. Let it cool for 24 hours then add about and ounce of aquarium water from the surface or some stagnant pond water. Cover the jar. In about a week you should have some infusoria to feed the babies. This recipe is just one from the book " Encyclopedia of Live Foods", by Charles O. Masters. This is a great book that is long out of print but worth the effort to find.> In reading info on several websites, I am a bit overwhelmed by the process and am worried that I may introduce something to the tank that may not only kill the fry, but also hurt the rest of my fish. Is this possible? From what I have read, I don't think I will have enough (any) infusoria available by the time the fry hatch. In lieu of infusoria, is there anything else that I can feed them? <There are some commercial fry foods around that are worth a try. Try Cyclop-eeze. It can be found liquid and frozen from Drsfostersmith.com. Azoo makes an Artificial Artemia and an Artificial Rotifera. Hikari makes First Bites to for fry.> I am also worried that the eggs may have already died. I have heard/read that the first couple of batches don't survive and that some males are infertile. I saw the eggs yesterday morning for the first time and they looked just like I thought fish eggs would (I've never really seen any outside sushi restaurants). This morning when I checked the tank, the eggs definately looked different. It is hard to describe, but they didn't look as round, almost like they were deflated a bit. Or like coarse ground salt grains. Some of them were clearer and some were more whitish. I keep telling myself that that is just how they grow, but I have a feeling that's not true. I realize that most won't make it to maturity, but I would like to get at least one to adulthood. And hopefully the pair will keep spawning and I will be prepared next time. Any information would be greatly appreciated. < The white eggs are probably dieing. Transparent eggs are still viable.> If it helps, I have a 20 gallon long tank with the aforementioned pair of German Rams, a Balloon Gold Ram, an Apistogramma, 2 Mollies, 3 Corys and 8 Neon tetras. I have soft water and good water chemistry (pH a bit high for the rams at 6.8 but have been trying to slowly lower it). I do regular (every 7-10 days) water changes and keep the temp around 82-84F. Thanks so much. The CLV < It will take a few tries for the pair to figure out how to spawn effectively. Once they do you will have time to prepare some food for the fry.-Chuck>

Re: Unexpected Surprise ! Microgeophagus "blessed event" 4/22/07
Dear Mr. Fenner: <Ashley> Thank you for your prompt reply. I have read the excerpt on WWM re: the alkaline reserve, etc and will try to rectify my problem as indicated as I believe that is exactly what is wrong with my water. However, upon checking my tank today I have a wonderful surprise, totally unexpected and now am faced with *what-to-do*. <Do tell> My paired Golden Ram Cichlids have not only spawned but I now have as it seems gazillions of little Rams under the protection of their parents. <Congrats!> My other 3 Rams are huddled at the other end of the tank. <Ah, yes... as I alluded to... need for more space... to "get away"> I was planning to get a 20 gallon tank for these fish and keep the 10 as a QT, but my equipment is not in as yet. So in the meantime, I would expect the odds these fry would even survive is next to nil, <Along with perhaps the other adults...> but if some can, what should I do? Also if there is a chance to have them grow, do I need to put in special food for them specific for fry? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ramreprofaqs.htm and the linked files above> Should I get a tank divider to separate the 3, or put the 3 in my main which is a 55 gal species only Angelfish tank contesting of 7, (this water & temperature will not be the same as my Ram tank), or just let nature take its course. <Mmm, a tough question/proposition... There's not enough room in the present tank... but trying to re-catch the Rams in the larger tank... I would likely move them myself> It would be nice to see them grow and mature as I have gotten many of my cichlids to spawn but never to maturity. As far is getting rid of them, that would be no problem as I would have many enthusiasts that would take this little fish. They are a pretty and comical cichlid. "A little fish with a big fish attitude." <Ah yes> I'm just thrilled for this to happen and wanted to share this with you. I believe that reading on this site enabled me to give them a proper environment and to any one wanting to keep fish I can't stress it enough, as they do on WWM, to read first and then buy the fish, your rewards will be three fold in seeing the fish in its best finnage/form is very rewarding. Once again, thanks!! :D! <Thank you for this sharing, your enthusiasm... Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: Unexpected Surprise ! Ram repro. UPDATE 23/04/07
Dear Mr. Fenner: <Ashley> I did what you suggested and put the 3 Rams into the bigger Angel tank, and right away their color changed from their golden brilliancy to a washed out yellow, but I believe they are much happier for it. <Ah, good> They are swimming around and exploring, although the Angels seem to be annoyed at the newcomers. I have this tank at 78F, and the ph is at 7.0. I have ordered peat pellets from my LFS and will add those to the filtered system to try and make it more acidic. <Good> I know Angels also like it at a more acidic range and soft water so hopefully this will help somewhat. <Yes, should.> I am also raising the temperature to 80F, so 2 out of 3 conditions are being met, to try and accommodate both the Angels and Rams in the 55 gallon tank. <Very good> As for the Ram parents and fry, they are still holding in there, being day 3. The *school* of fry has diminished somewhat but I don't think me chasing the other fish to get them out helped with the stress level of the parents. <Yes... and do know that the first batches of Microgeophagus (and other Cichlids) often do have "troubles"... high/er incidental mortality... I take it you've read re culturing foodstuffs for the young... and are preparing such, as well as water for changes...> I can see the fry much more clearer from being regular dots, to little wiggles with 2 eyes now, with a white clear string ( if you call it a body), :D ! My question is ( and if I missed it on the FAQs on breeding RAMS on the WWM, I apologize), can/or should I change the water in the *breeding tank* now, as it is due for its weekly maintenance? <Yes I would... Stipulated (for browsers mainly... as am sure you're well aware) that said water is suitable in terms of chemistry, physical properties... soft, acidic, warm...> And also in reading the FAQs it does say that there should be enough microbes, etc in the tank that they would feed on in an old established tank but mine isn't that aged, perhaps only 2-3, months at best, or to cultivate Daphnia (of which I have no access to a kit at the moment), so being that the fry are now 3 days old and growing, will the bits of decay or leftover flake food be enough to sustain them until I can get such fry *food*? <Mmm... not really likely... a bit of a "sticky wicket" here... as there are cross-purposes in wanting to provide sufficient nutrition, BUT avoid pollution... there are other cultured organisms (too late to try to grow now...) and a myriad of commercial and DIY items that one can try... I would look to your Local Fish Stores here... as you need something in a day or so... Likely paste or liquid food (in a tube) will be the direction you have to go... with this cycle... I would add something more in the way of "sponge filter/filtration", an open-topped Dacron media box filter (both these to add bio-filtration w/o the possibility of damaging the young... and some small Corydoras sp. catfish when the parents are removed...> I read all I could on the Golden Rams on the site, if I missed parts and am asking questions with answers already present on the site, I do apologize, but I saw lots of information regarding what to do before, and to get them to lay, but not an abundance on what to do after you get them to fry stage and so on. <Mmm, books are of much more value here... the same husbandry, care applies for "wild type" Rams... Do check with your library, inter-library loans... Amazon... re dwarf cichlids...> I would like to add, at first I thought the parents were eating the fry as they were catching them and what looked like eating them, but no, they were what I would call corralling them and spitting them back out into the school to keep them contained. <Yes. Well stated> That was amazing to watch. So hopefully mine will advance and I could share my experience with the readers to add to the FAQs on Rams. :D! <I thank you; they will too.> Will the parents quit being so protective as the fry grow more mature, and if so, will they eat them or continue to let them exist in the tank? <They will bother them most likely... Do need to be separated... The best route, to remove the parents...> Once again, thanks for the advice, and your time. Will keep you posted. :D! <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Breeding Ram Cichlids 4/6/07 Hello, I have bought 3 ram cichlids about a month ago from a local PetSmart and I tried to get males and females because I have an interest in breeding them. I am convinced that I have at least a pair. Just the three of them are in a 10 gallon tank with plastic plants and a sideways flower pot for like a "shelter" because them seem like they need lots of cover. Do you have any tips on how I can breed them, like should I use driftwood or slate or neither? I feed them pellets, mini krill, and frozen beef heart. Your help is greatly appreciated. Also, what can I do to make their habitat as best as possible? I do regular water changes and keep the water around 84 deg. Thanks, Kevin < Rams like warm soft acidic water. You have the temp right, but did not mention the other water parameters. Try changing 50% of the water with R/O or distilled water. Add a couple pieces of driftwood to help acidify the water and darken it a little bit to make them feel more comfortable. Rams like to lay their eggs out in the open. Sometimes they pick an open flat rock or the side of the glass. Sexing rams is not easy and many times they are bred in Asia and they send all the same sex in a shipment. Males are larger and have no blue scales over the black spot on the side. Females are usually smaller and have some enlarged blue to purple scales over the black spot. Sometimes they have pink bellies too. ram babies have very small mouths and usually need very small live foods for the first week or so.-Chuck>

Female Ram Not Interested In Male 3/9/07 Hi there, My name is Angelia and I want to say that your site has been awesome for answering all of my questions. I have searched and searched however and I can't seem to find a solution to this question. I have two German Blue Rams, a male and a female as far as I can tell. That up until yesterday evening were doing great. The problem is with the female, she has really faded in color, and acquired a dark lateral line that I haven't noticed before, and when ever she is close to the male she acts like she is going to go belly up. She clamps all of her fins and looks like she is having a hard time staying up right. She isn't eating a whole lot, mostly tasting stuff and spitting it out. The male sticks close by her and looks like he is kinda picking on her, but when he does leave her and is on the other side of the tank her fins spread out and she acts normal, other than the pale color. The male on the other hand is very vibrant, more so than when I got them, (the female was looking great until yesterday evening). Is this normal or is there something wrong? Is he just chasing her to death? I separated them last night, putting her in a breeder net to give her a break and this morning she seemed fine, eating and swimming normal, but as soon as the male got close when I let her out she clamped up and started swimming funny again. Thank You, Angelia < Sounds like the female ram is being intimidated by the male. He is interested in b reeding and she may not be up to it. She shows the male that she is not colored up and takes a submissive posture by closing her fins. Separate her for awhile and give her a little TLC. After she puts some weight back on you can try and reintroduce her again to the male. Increase the hiding places in the main tank in case the male gets a little too aggressive.-Chuck>

The Blue Ram - Queen of the Desert 12/17/06 Dear WWM Crew, I think I have trans - gender Rams... <Happens> So, I've heard that Rams in pet shops, come in, commonly all males, or all male-ish, due to breeders infusing the Rams with Hormones, to produce the more colorful males. Which really bites. <Mmm, mostly do "juice" the males... and send mainly these... as females by and large "don't sell"> I have just bought a 'pair' of Rams, in MD. The third ray of 'the male' was elongated and the 'female' had no third ray elongation and was smaller. <Could be just immature...> After only a day or so they have come out of their shell and are happily chasing each other around and strobing their colors as they flirt about. <Okay> The thing is, the bigger male has developed the rosy abdomen that I hear belongs to the female and has lowered the ovipositor or something like that. They both have blue speckles over the spot on their side. The 'male' is about an 1.25 inches. <Oh! Is a bit large to be a male here...> Do you think these fish are essentially infertile and most probably effected artificially by hormones? <Mmm, might be infertile... have almost assuredly been hormone treated...> I questioned the dealer/owner, at the time of purchase about such effected Rams, as I made the purchase, the rosy abdomen was not noticeable at the time, and he assured me these Rams were not those 'phony' Rams. <... Well... there are such as this about... on the West Coast often labeled as "German" this or that Rams... But...> I paid $15 for the pair. I plan on getting more for my basic Ram/Orinoco Biotype set-up, at least two more pairs so perhaps these two will be lessons learned and interesting conversation pieces. <Good... good attitude> I have a school of six Pristella Tetras and am also planning on getting a school of about ten Cardinals, a few Corys and a Royal Pleco, so far, for my 55 gallon. <Mmm, the Plec may be a bit too much here ultimately size-wise> Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. <I'd look to other Loricariid species> Thank you for all the help you've given me, your services are a boon.. Ishan <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Breeding Ram Cichlids 9/30/06 Hi crew. I have a pair of blue rams which spawned recently. About 40% eggs hatched. The fry became free swimming. They decided to spawn again. My question is should I remove the fry and let the parents guard the eggs or should I leave the fry and the eggs with them. After how many days can I separate the rams from the fry. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanking you < If you are trying to save every fry then remove the eggs the day they are laid. Place them in a clean tank with warm 82 F water, and a few drops of Methylene blue to inhibit fungus. They should hatch in about three days. If you are more interested in watching the parents take care of the fry, then separate them after the fry become free swimming.-Chuck>

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>

Breeding Rams 9/9/06 Hi crew. I purchased a pair of blue rams. They are in a 10 gal. tank. They are about 1 inch. They appear to be afraid as they do not eat. The tank contains a 1 inch convict, a few pots. Should I add a few plants as I want to breed them. How can I make them feel secure. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanking you < Remove the convict. He gets too big and is too aggressive for the rams to compete against. Raise the water temp to 82-84 F. Use soft acid water an feed lots of different live and frozen food. Keep the water clean. If they are pair then you should see some results in a couple of weeks.-Chuck>

Mysterious Rams! Dear Crew, Greetings from Blighty! In my lovely freshwater tank (240l, ph 6.5-7, nitrates 0, v. low alk) we have finally added 3 Rams, on the advice of the LFS we bought what we thought were 1 male and 2 females....however...it has since turned out to be 2 lads and 1 lass, as the boys have been fighting, so, back to the LFS we went with boy1 (sadly missing a couple of scales) to return with what we were promised was a girl <Mmm, am surprised to find so much damage with this species in such a sized system...> ...but having put her/him into our tank, she coloured up lovely and turned out to be...(can you guess!) another boy, intent on chasing boy2, so that he is also missing a couple of scales. So we will be taking him back to the LFS as soon as humanly possible. Is there a fool proof way of telling the difference? <More "fool proof" when Microgeophagus spp. are larger... the size, color, morphological (particularly the first few spines of the dorsal fins being longer)... are discernible sexual characteristics> and is there anything we can do to help boy2's wounds heal more quickly? Concerned and amazed by my feisty fish. Nicola <There are chemicals that can/could be used (administered to treatment water as dips/baths, introduced in foods, even injected in cases where the specimens are severely debilitated or valuable), but I would do nothing other than keep the specimen/s in ideal, stable conditions... soft, acidic water, not-too brightly lit... well-fed, and they should recover nicely.> Nicola Blay, BSc, MSc International Zoo Veterinary Group Keighley Business Centre South Street, Keighley West Yorkshire, BD21 1AG UK <Oh! BTW, these fishes are sometimes treated with androgens, producing what appear to be males (with elevated agonistic behavior), but may well be genetically females... This is a long-standing practice with a few species/groups of fishes coming out of the orient (though the fishes originate elsewhere)... to "boost sales", provide "pairs" to human customers... I mention this to encourage you to seek your Rams from more than one source (perhaps a local breeder). Bob Fenner, phenotypically a male and a real one as well>

Like A Rock... actually a Ram Hey Bob, Had a big success that I had to share....at least it's big to me. For the past couple of months I have had one female Ram in my planted tank. I've been patient waiting for some decent males to show up at the LFS. I finally brought a couple home a week and a half ago. <One of my fave fish species> This evening I was doing my usual spot check and noticed that the female had laid about 250 - 300 eggs on a hollowed out portion of a piece of bogwood right at the front tank panel. The male and female are taking turns fanning the eggs and are violently chasing off all comers. The next several hours will be interesting. <Neat> I raised the tank temp two days ago from 72 to 74. Have been adding Ketapang and Blackwater every week. Didn't think Rams bred so easily. <Didn't used to years back... but now much more facile... due to conditioning/selection of a few successive captive generations. Bob Fenner> Dave

SEXING RAMS I have recently purchased 2 Blue Ram Cichlids (Microgeophagus Ramirezi) and I am looking at purchasing more depending on how they interact with the rest of my fish. I would like to know if there is any way to tell the sex of them and if so how. I would like to have an equal mix of male and female. Thank you, Spenser Nice < Sexing rams can be difficult. Most dwarf cichlids are sexually dimorphic with the males usually being larger and more colorful, but rams don't follow this pattern. Male rams are usually larger than the females. Some female rams have pink bellies, but not all the time. On the side of wild rams there is a black spot. Look closely at this site with a flashlight from the side. Females usually have numerous highlighted colored scales over this spot. Males usually don't have any colored scales on this spot and it remains black. Many times rams are imported from Asia and they are usually all the same sex. They can be all males or all females. There are a strain of domesticated rams referred to as German Rams that have darker markings over the front and back of the fish.-Chuck>
How can I determine sex? I have one but want to get a mate. < Rams are different from many other dwarf cichlids in that they are not sexually dimorphic like the Apistos and Nannacaras. I discovered this little technique years ago that seems very reliable. First of all males are slightly larger than the females. The forehead is a little broader on the males too. Females that are mature may have a rosy pink area on their belly. Males fins are slightly longer than the females. Take a very close look at the black spot located on the side of the fish with a flashlight. On most males they have numerous blue scales on the side of the fish except over the black spot. Females on the other hand have larger more pronounced scales in and around this black spot. Sometimes they are slightly different colors too. Check out any good dwarf cichlid book at the LFS that shows a breeding pair of rams and you to will soon see the difference. Sometimes all the fish in the tank are the same sex. If you rams were imported from Asia then they may have artificially enhanced longer fins too. This is one of my favorite all time fish. Good luck.-Chuck>

Sexing Blue ram cichlids Hello, <Hi there> I would like to know if there is any way to tell the difference in sexes of blue ram cichlids, AKA Microgeophagus ramirezi. And if so, how? <This is posted on our site... which you would have seen, had you had the courtesy to follow instructions: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rams.htm> Thank you, Spenser Nice P.S. I have tried sending you an email asking this same question before and received no reply. I would really like to figure this out, and so would the head fish guy at my local pet co who is also an avid reader of your site. Again, thank you and please send me a reply. <Please read. Bob Fenner>

Egg Eating Rams Moving to New tank 12/1/05 Hi there and thanks in advance for any help you can provide. I have a 25 gallon freshwater with 1 Pleco, 3 gold rams, 1 Curviceps cichlid <<Chuck, or anyone else, if you get a chance, would you provide me with the genus and species of this animal? Marina>> <<<Flag cichlid. Used to be Aequidens Curviceps, is now Laetacara Curviceps .>>> and 2 African butterfly cichlids, 2 plants, a large rock/cave, piece of wood on slate and a small bridge. 2 of the rams have had eggs 4 times thus far and each time the eggs are eaten/disappeared usually when I wake up in the morning and after usually 2 days. The butterfly cichlids I purchased about 4 weeks ago have just laid their second batch of eggs. The first batch had the same fate as the ram eggs. Any idea's of what I can do to try to help them keep the eggs? Should I try an egg light (read that on your site)? < After spawning the fish are exhausted and have expended a lot of energy to spawn and have worked up an appetite. Try to keep them well fed with lots of baby brine shrimp or micro worms. Egg eating is a problem for these species and they can get into a habit of eating eggs that is hard to break. the eggs could be removed and hatched artificially.> I am also purchasing a 55 gallon that I would like to move most of the occupants too, but still keep one of the mated pairs in the old 25 gallon. What is the best way to get the new tank safely cycled and not damage the old tank or kill any of my fish when they get moved? < Take some of the old gravel and place it in the new tank. The bacteria in the old tank are needed to get the bacteria in the new tank going. Add new fish slowly over a week or so. Quarantine any new fish from the store for at least a couple of weeks before adding them to an established tank.> Is it possible to run the new filter for the 55 gallon on the 25 gallon without doing any harm to the fish and using the old 25 gallon filter with the new tank to help the process? Should I move some of the substrate and/or plants, ornaments? < Swapping filters for awhile will not harm anything.> Thank you for any help you can provide, I really appreciate it. Your site is a great resource, thanks for all the time and work you all put into it. Troy < Thanks for your kind words.-Chuck>

Gold Ram Spawning 11/1/05 Dear Bob, <Actually, Sabrina here, in his stead.> My pair of Gold Rams has spawned 4 times. <Excellent!> The three previous times they have eaten the eggs after lights out. <Bummer....> So this time I decided to place the eggs in a net breeder in the tank. I would have preferred to have left the eggs for the parents to care for but they seem more motivated to eat than parent. My question is how do I determine the fertile eggs from the infertile? They are all white in color, but the majority of them are translucent. The eggs that I think are infertile are the eggs that are more of a solid white or cloudy white. This is correct.... Usually the viable eggs will be more clear-ish, or maybe orange-ish.> From everything that I have read I am supposed to remove the infertile eggs because they will cause the eggs around them to grow fungus. Is this also correct? <That's the best idea, yes. You are correct.> Thanks for the help, -Mike Mural <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>
Re: Gold Ram Spawning 11/2/05
Thanks for the quick reply, <You bet.> The eggs that have turned white are the empties. I have little fry wriggling all over the leaf I removed with the eggs. <Ahh! A delight!> I thought it took 60 hours for them to hatch. I also have discus in the tank and the temperature is 85°F, could this cause them to hatch more rapidly? <Yes, certainly.> It is a well established (4 years) heavily planted tank. I want the fry to make it but was not prepared for them to breed so quickly after eating the last batch of eggs. So my problem is what to feed them. The fry are much smaller than the Kribensis fry I have raised in the past. So I added some Java Moss from the tank to the breeder net. I tried to hatch some brine shrimp but they have not hatched yet. So my main question is what to feed them since I am in a bit of a squeeze? <In this heavily planted tank, there are tons of opportunities for tiny and microscopic life.... Any piles of decaying plant matter, rotting leaves, or other detritus in the tank? I would add some of this to the breeder net.... with caution, as it could "foul" the water in their little world rapidly. Otherwise, you might try liquid fry food available at fish stores, or even dried, powdered egg yolk.> Thanks again, -Mike <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Rams Breeding :-) 1/31/06 I have a 120 gal that has an Xp3 filter (rated well over 120 gal.) a 4 bulb compact fluorescent Coralife light, 4" fluorite eco-complete mix, 2 300 watt heaters, 100-150 plants, 2 LARGE pieces of driftwood, ph 6.9, ammonia 0, Hardness: medium. I have 6 rams, 6 cardinal tetras, 4 lemon tetras, 4 clown plecs, 6 Cory cats, and 3 killies. I believe my rams have spawned, because there are about 50-100 little white eggs that look like pictures I have seen on google. One of them hovers over the broad leaf they are on and when I went to move a plant, it went for my hand. I looked, and to my surprise, I saw a bunch of eggs! What do I do? FOOD, REMOVE, KEEP TOGETHER? I really don't have another tank, so I would like to keep them in the 120. Please tell me what I need to do to care for them. I have bred Cory's before, but didn't notice till there were only five left, so please respond promptly, so I can keep as many as possible. I'm not trying to count my eggs before they hatch (lol lol lol), but will LFS's want these at all, or are I better off keeping them? >>Anthony, baby rams are really tiny when they hatch, and very sensitive to a small parasite called Tetrahymena that may well be in your tank without affecting anything. From my experience you will need to raise the fry in a clean bare tank with live micro worms etc, but you could try to see if some will hatch and grow up in your tank. Add a night light with a very dim glow to make sure your Plecos do not eat the eggs/wigglers when it is dark. Good Luck, Oliver
Re: Rams Breeding 2/1/06
Hi, thanks for the info, but roughly how often do they breed? Monthly, bimonthly? Thanks, Anthony < When they are in good shape and conditions are right about once every two weeks.-Chuck>

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