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FAQs on Dwarf Ram Cichlid Systems

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

Question water and Rams.      5/4/17
I have a question about water: can you have water that is very hard,....it's full of Manganese here, and also have a moderate ph?
<Mmm; you can; though it's rare. Typically, water containing much Mg (and or Ca) and being "very hard", also has a high pH>
Most of what I've read about water is in regard to cichlids, as I have 3 golden rams and 3 Bolivian rams in a 45 gallon tank with Corys and fancy guppies.
<Well; IF the Rams altogether are cultured (very likely); they may well be more tolerant of high/er alkalinity, pH... the Corydoras are likely fine (unless one of the much more soft water directly imported species... which I doubt); and guppies enjoy hard, high pH water>
I see after reading your site about Rams, that if the water was warm enough for the cichlids it'd be too hot for the other fish. I didn't realize they needed it so warm.
<The upper seventies F. will/would likely work for all species here>
I don't even have a heater in there right now, my girl friend's ended up malfunctioning and cooked her fish, so after the winter is over I put mine away. it's just spring in NJ.
<I definitely would get/use one; swings in temperature; too much too fast, can be debilitating>
I do every now and then lose a fish, most often a female guppy, my males are thriving. Not sure what's up with that....I have to keep buying more females or maybe it would be better if I just kept males, but I love having baby
guppies. It's getting hard to find female guppies these days, pet stores are always out of them.
Just a few days ago all the fish were inhaling froze blood worms. Today one of my 3 golden rams is just listless. Leaving the other 2 alone,.......The Bolivian rams are very aggressive,.....and do tend to chase the Golden Rams
somewhat. But not so much so that any one has nips or wounds.
Did I make them sick with the blood worms? Are they bad for Cichlids?
<Bloodworms, sewer fly larvae, have been implicated in freshwater fish disease. I'd only feed them sparingly; though frozen ones s/b parasite free. Hikari Brand is>
The Guppies just love them! Much more than flake food.
The Cichlids do too.
(The reason I feed blood worms is I have a Pea puffer in a small take by himself and I feed him 1 worm at a time,.... it takes about 6 to give him a round tummy, then he's done. What I have left from the cube goes to the fresh water tank/or Salt tank every other day.)
Last year I had the same 3 golden rams outside with my goldfish in a small man made pond and they did very well,....came in in the fall with very bright color, I am guessing from the natural light?
<More than this>
They were all fine though. So how did they do so well in water with goldfish, a huge feather finned Squeaker cat fish, and not heated water? But now, with no goldfish, water changes once a week of at least 50 percent, and lots of space am I losing one of them?
I'm so confused.....because my water doesn't fit the norm. It's very hard, but the ph is in the middle 6.5-7. I am not sure what to do for the little fella....he's not a newbie, he's gone through many water changes with no issues,...there are lots of hides....But the hardness is very hard.
I can add Mopani wood and try to soften the water,....not sure if that will help?
<It should over time, but better to blend in some less hard water. Do you have RO for potable uses? I'd mix this half way>
And I hate the tea colored water, even after soaking and boiling the wood it still makes the water in the tank look like tea.
I know this is a long rambling email,.....I am sorry. But if anything jumps out at you besides the temperature, let me know. How warm can the Cory's and guppies and 1 bristle nose live in with out cooking?
<Yes; should be able to>
Or do I need to separate the cichlids? Why now? I've had them for more than a year now,... they have grown big and beautiful. The only change is the substrate,....I took out the old multicolor one I hated. And after through rinsing slowly added an off white one that is more like sand. It's very nice. I even have snails working away in the sand eating left overs if there is any.....
I just don't get it.
Thank you! Mandy in NJ
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
re: Question water and Rams.      5/4/17

Hi Bob,
<Hey Mandy>
Well the Golden Ram is dead this morning, as I thought she would be. She was almost white with gold edges,....almost sounds like that Neon Disease.... listless, no eating, color fading,.....dead.
<Mmm; well... cultured Rams are too easily lost nowayears>
Yes, I'm sure they are aqua cultured,...I ordered them online a year ago.
I Will go easy on the blood worms, these are not Hikari, although that is my normal brand. My daughter got these for me.
<I see>
She didn't know any better and we were out.
Have you heard of any current problem with female guppies in general?
<Yes; like the cultured Rams, they just don't have the "oomph" genetically of Guppies from decades back. My strongest suggestion (for both, all really) is to seek "locally produced stock" if at all possible, practical.
The mass-produced imported from Asia stock is abysmally weak
They never seem to make it more than a few weeks, and I always watch to be sure they aren't being Harassed to death by the males,....and get to eat. They also never have babies,....used to be you had 2 guppies and soon you had
hundreds? What is up with that?
<As stated... this part of the trade/industry has gotten MUCH worse>
I'm getting old I guess, things are changing, and not for the better!
Guppies aren't as strong and healthy as they used to be. Even Endler's.
I've tried them too,....still no luck.
<Mmm; we should go back here... Start at square one as the saying goes. You do have moderately hard, alkaline water? Medium temp.? No ammonia, nitrite, little nitrate?>
Thank you for your time Bob,
<Am very glad to help, share with you Mandy. We can/will discover and right whatever the issue/s are here.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Question water and Rams.     5/5/17

So, I just tested the water from my well directly from the tap, I use 5 in 1 test strips. And it comes up in the middle in general hardness 60. And 80 for carbonate hardness. Ph 6.5 to 7, In the middle really.
Is that alkaline water?
<Mmm; the term alkaline is unfortunately confusing... as used for both "hardness" and pH... this water is slightly "alkaline" in terms of the former, and slightly acidic per the latter (pH). It is of use for the keeping of the species you and I have discussed>
The problem with looking for fancy guppies in my area are they no one has the really nice ones with the amazing tails. But I'll try.
<Perhaps the local fish clubs, Craigslist... might help you find folks involved in their culture?>
Thank you,
<Welcome. BobF>

Ram system stocking, and FW stkg f'      7/17/14
Dear WWM Crew,
Hope you are all doing well. You are simply the best in business. My tank inhabitants owe their health to all of you largely.
I have a 30X12X15H (23ish US Gallons) lying around and I wish to turn it into a tank around German Blue Ram. I have studied the listed FAQ on GBR on your site over the last few days. I would still like to run my plans past you for your valuable inputs.
I understand that they are best avoided as Asian farm bred ones are genetically in ruins and souped up with antibiotics. In India I have not yet come across their Bolivian cousins so I guess I will have to take a
<Yes; not many near to real wild-type specimens about... almost all captive produced>
My environs are pretty warm, with temperatures hovering around 28-30 degrees C for the good part of the year. I already have a chiller in my other system and I cannot afford another. So I was planning to build a
system with inhabitants comfortable in that warmth (and the oxygen demand and possible faster metabolism)
<Will work here; at this temp. range and size/volume system>
The tap water is KH 5 and pH 7.2 so I shall mix with RO to bring the KH down to around 2-3. With the leaves and wood mentioned below and my plan to use peat, I expect the pH to drift lower and I hope to hold it around 6.3 - 6.5 after careful monitoring.
<A good plan>
I will have play sand based substrate (with some areas having potting soil and laterite under it) decorated assorted driftwood/branches, coconut shells, some pebbles and flat rocks making caves. I will use Indian Almond leaves, floating plants like water lettuce, duckweed and maybe Frogbit. I might have some Hornwort, Anubias and Crypts somewhere done the line.
<Excellent; though the Ceratophyllum may not thrive under these water conditions... is a cooler, harder, more alkaline water loving genus>
Now the stocking plan:
1 Pair of the best quality GBR I can find
5 Sterbai Corys. I know GBRs do not like nosy neighbours esp. during spawning so are these very poor choices in this sized tank?
<Will be fine>
If the above is negative what about a Gold nugget Pleco? I am not very keen on breeding so bottom dwellers threatening eggs is not an issue.
<Could have... both/all>
10 Cardinal Tetras
5 Threadfin Rainbowfishes
Do I have room for a single Pearl Gourami OR an Angel?
<I'd leave out these last... at least for several months>
Is this workable with 3-4X turnover with 2 large HOB filters?
<More turnovers (twice plus) would be better>

I will use zeolite in one to counter the sub-optimal acidic conditions for the beneficial bacteria.
Thank you for your time.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Ram system stocking      7/18/14

Dear Bob,
Thank you so much for your response.
<Welcome Dev>
I shall crank up the turnover. I was thinking that most of the fishes in my wish list were from sluggish and relatively stagnant water conditions, so a 7 to 8 times turnover will be somewhat unnatural to them.
<Mmm; no; this is really not much water movement at all... as you will see>
Are the HOBs with smaller media volume necessitating the higher turnover to compensate and have adequate bio filtration?
<To some extent; yes... but the increased water movement does much more... improving gas distribution, outgassing of CO2... preventing thermal stratification and its ills; moving particulates...>
Thanks again.
<Welcome in turn. BobF>
Re: Ram system stocking      7/19/14

Dear Bob,
<Hey Dev>
Thank you again for a very informative reply. I am always trying to understand the underlying workings
of stable aquaria and WetWebMedia is my most regularly visited source of such information.
<And you, B>

Fish questions about German blue rams.    2/9/13
I will find out soon about my water hopefully this weekend. I got it tested at pet land they just did a basic ph test. but I'd rather do it at world of fish or Aqualand- more reputable. If I cannot get the water tested due to time/staff gas mile payments what kind of test kit should I get to test my tap.
I think I know what kind of dwarf cichlid i want to have in my 20 gallon set up when I get it set up. Germen blue rams I saw a you tube video of a guys ram collection with some discus. they were very nice well bred fish.
Rdlee1000 is his online you tube name. I think he is outside the us though.
And I don't know if he is selling any right now. the video is over 3 years old. Do you know of any good reputable germen ram breeders/collectors I could contact.
Thanks Alex.
<Where do you live? The best approach would be to join / contact your national cichlid association. Failing that, a local / city aquarium club.
Do remember that German Rams (like any other Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) need very soft, very acidic, and very warm water to do well. That's why they're great with Discus -- same needs. You're aiming for 0-5 degrees dH, pH 5.5-6.5, temperature 28-30 C/82-86 F. Basically incompatible with community tropical fish, with a few exceptions (like Discus and Cardinal Tetras).
Failure to understand this is why the vast majority of people who buy Rams end up watching them die within 12 months, often within 6 months. Two alternatives: Bolivian Rams and Cockatoo Cichlids, both of which are small colourful, adaptable, and basically easy to keep. Cheers, Neale.>

Ram tank setup   1/19/12
Hi Neale
The bacterial bloom is now clearing up in the tank intended for Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, so it will soon be time to start preparing the environment. I realise they're tough fish to keep but I want to at least try.
<Be sure you understand that [a] most of the farmed stock is very poor quality; and [b] they must have very soft, very acidic water. Don't even bother trying if your water hardness is above 10 degrees dH, pH 7, and you're aiming for 1-5 degrees dH, pH 5.5-6 for any realistic level of success. At these very low pH and hardness levels biological filters don't work reliably. Understand this, and act accordingly, under-stocking the tank and providing supplemental forms of ammonia removal -- zeolite, fast-growing floating plants.>
They've got excellent personality and are really engaging.
<Yes, but they're not as good as many other, easier to keep small cichlids, such as Shell Dwellers in hard water or Apistogramma cacatuoides in soft/medium hard water.>
I had got two of these fish for the 60 litre community tank when I knew less and now realise they need a new home. Sadly, I lost one recently, so I'm down to one but I can't leave her in there.
<I see.>
I wanted to run the plan past you before I do anything rash, if you would don't mind.
The tank is a 60 litre with 100W heater, Fluval U2 filter, and 1 x 15W plant growth light. I will continue to cycle the tank until NH4 is 0, NO2 is 0, NO3 is detectable. Temp will be kept a 24C, the same as my community tank.
<Right. Too cold for Mikrogeophagus ramirezi; these absolutely must have temperatures between 28-30 C. They come from pools and streams exposed to strong light, so are used to great heat. Kept cold, their immune systems stop working.>
Then a gravel clean and 50% daily water change until NO3 is zero and no debris rises. I had rinsed the filter pads from my 140 litre off in this tank's water in attempt to speed up cycling, so the substrate is covered in semi-decomposed gourami poo. The evil gourami will then be temporarily housed in this tank while I stock the 140 litre. She doesn't seem to take kindly to company. She'll then be reintroduced 2-4 weeks later.
Next stage will be pH adjustment. I am aiming for a steady pH 6. Would you advise me to go lower?
<Ideally, yes; Mikrogeophagus ramirezi needs acidic water. A pH of 6 is fine though, and any lower than this and you start having problems with biological filtration.>
I was hoping for getting the pH in-range for the fish but maximising bacterial action. From what I've read the best way to adjust the pH seems to me to be peat pellets.
<Uh, no. Least predictable way. Any idea how much peat you need to go from pH 7 to 6? No? Neither have I. And what happens when the pH is at 6; will the peat stop acidifying the water? Nope.>
This is where I could really use your help. I contacted Scottish Water a couple of weeks back and asked for carbonate hardness for my supply. They told me it was 10-11 mg/l. Soft, which fits with the general character of water in Scotland. Having looked at the tutorial on WWM it seems I have <3 dH.
Now's where it pickles my head slightly. I was also sent my mains chemical analysis summary for the whole of last year:
pH min 7.4
pH max 8.2
pH mean 7.6
<So, a basic pH.>
Strange for such soft water.
<Not really. This is the big misunderstanding. Hardness and pH are related, but they're not identical. Pure water with ammonia added will have a basic pH but no hardness at all.>
I also note that after a water change my tank pH drops and then slowly gets rises until the next change.
This happens on all three of my tanks. I'm not sure if these points are relevant but I thought I'd better mention them.
<pH variation between water changes is common. Usually pH drops, but can go up too, especially if there's something alkaline in the aquarium, e.g., the gravel isn't lime-free.>
I can see two options to use the peat pellets. The middle cartridge in the U2 filter, when I bought it, was about half full of the ceramic media. I had some extra floating about so I topped up the cartridge. I could replace out up to half of the ceramic media with peat pellets, adding a few at a time until I reach the desired pH. Any idea if this would even be enough and could it cause problems with the bacteria?
<Could work, but I'd still use Discus Buffer to stabilise the pH.>
Another option would be to run a cheapo internal with sponge media in parallel with the U2 and replace the sponge with more and more peat until pH is stabilised.
If you have any better suggestions they would be welcome.
<See above. Discus Buffer is your friend.>
Once I have achieved a stable pH I intend to fairly heavily plant and possibly add some bogwood. There were a couple of cave-like ornaments that came with the tank so I'll might just leave them in too or instead of the bogwood. Can you suggest any plant species that will tolerate very warm, soft, low pH water?
<Anything from Southeast Asia would be good; Cryptocoryne species probably good starting points.>
I'll probably throw java moss in since by all accounts it's practically unkillable but something reasonably fast growing would also be useful. 
<Java Fern and Moss grow slowly.>
Once planted, temperature will be raised to 28C and it's finally time to stock. You've mentioned cardinal tetras as good companions for rams before but I had a look and found 2 others that look like they'd be OK in this situation. Hyphessobycon bentosi and Hyphessobycon erythrostigma. Is there any reason why I'd struggle with these? They take up to 28C and go down to <pH 6, according to Fishbase.
<Wouldn't be ideal. Choose genuine hothouse tetras like Cardinals that appreciate heat rather than tolerate it.>
Can I get away with 2 pairs of rams in a 60 litre or would that be pushing it?
<Pushing it.>
I'd like at least 6 tetras in there but if I can get more I'd be happier.
It would be good to see a bigger shoal. I'm only going to put rams and one species of dither fish in the tank. I'd appreciate your advice on density.
Numbers-wise, I'd prefer rams over tetras but not if it's going to mean too few tetras for their comfort or more rams than there is space for territories in the tank.
Now, sex-wise for the rams, I currently have a female. I've read if I get a male (or 2 more males and another female) and they don't pair that there can be some friction.
<Yes; they are cichlids and behave just like any other territorial cichlid.
Some Apistogramma are best kept in harems; have you thought about them?
They're much more reliable fish.>
I'd like to try to breed them if I'm lucky enough to get a pair of survivors but if there might be fighting I'm hesitant. I know only I can make that decision but I wanted verification of whether that was myth to not.
The tetras will go in the tank first. A week later extra ram(s) will be purchased and the remaining ram from the community tank will join them in being acclimatised to their new home.
Anyway. thanks for your time. I think I've covered everything, sorry for War and Peace.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ram tank setup  1/21/12

Hi Neale
The last ram in the 60 litre turned up it's toes a few nights back. Can't say it was entirely unexpected. Thanks anyway for your help and I'll go with another of the dwarf cichlid species for this tank. The only reason I was doing all this was for that one fish.
<Oh well. Too bad. But as I've said many times here at WWM, the Common Ram isn't a reliable species and best avoided. Many, MANY better species, for both hard and soft water systems. Cheers, Neale.>

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

"Failure to thrive" in female Blue Ram cichlid... -- 7/7/10
Hello Crew! I'd say Good Evening, but seeing as you're dotted all over the world, it might not be evening for you....
Let's get straight to the nitty-gritty, shall we?! I have a 10 gallon well-planted tank containing a Betta (shorter-finned variety so as not to tempt nipping, and it seems to work), two Blue Ram cichlids (male and female),
<Garbage fish.>
and a Dwarf Gourami.
<If you believe it, even more worthless.>
That's it - I've been told I can have more but I'd rather they all had plenty of space to swim around in.
<Who told you this? Ten gallons is a trivially small amount of space. A pair of Ram Cichlids would be pushing your luck. It's not about the "inch per gallon" rule but about oxygen, nitrate dilution, pH stability, and just plain psychological need for space.>
And the different species have always ignored each other really, with the exception of the male ram occasionally getting a bit territorial with the Betta.
Ammonia and nitrites nil, nitrate at worst <10ppm when it's due a change.
<Ram Cichlids are very sensitive to nitrate, especially when other factors aren't 100% perfect.>
I religiously do a 30% water change twice a week as I'm a bit obsessive about the idea of my fish swimming around in their own filth - I'd hate it, so why should they have to put up with it?...
Oh, and temperature is a constant 26.5 degrees C.
<Too cold for Ram Cichlids; these really need 28 degrees C minimum, and 30 degrees is better.>
Tank is just under a year old.
<Nothing said about water chemistry. Be crystal clear about this, Ram Cichlids need virtually no hardness and a very low pH; 2-3 degrees dH, pH 5.5-6. One thing many people don't understand is that in very acidic water bacteria barely grow. This has two effects. It makes biological filtration unreliable, which is why Zeolite is used instead. But, and this is central, it also means fish used to such acidic conditions hardly need much of an immune system. There's nothing for them to get sick from. Move them into harder, less acidic conditions and BAM! they get overloaded with bacteria.
This phenomenon is very well understood now, and has been demonstrated as the reason why wild-caught "blackwater" fish such as Discus, Chocolate Gouramis, Liquorice Gouramis, Pikeheads, and yes, Ram Cichlids have failed so often in captivity. To some extend this has been bred out of Discus, but the solution with Ram Cichlids has been to "juice" them with antibiotics on fish farms. Once the poor cichlids are removed from fish farm conditions and they aren't receiving antibiotics, they get sick. Every single bloody time as far as I can figure. I wouldn't waste my money on them unless [a] I was buying quality fish, preferably wild-caught or F1 stock; and [b] I had a very soft, very acidic aquarium to move them into.>
Anyway. My problem is with the female Ram. I've had the pair of them for nearly 5 months now.
<Oh dear...>
They both started off a similar size and colour - the male obviously slightly brighter, with longer dorsal spines, and the female with the pinker belly. With time, the male has become positively gorgeous (and doesn't he know it - the tart!) and almost doubled in size, whilst the female is almost white - the only colour being a broken horizontal stripe from mouth to tail, with a very slightly pink belly. I can only describe it as a "failure to thrive", in that she's stayed pretty puny in size compared to her Mr. Flashy Pants partner!
<Indeed. Could be anything; a bacterial infection and of course Hexamita, a very common dwarf cichlid disease, would both cause these symptoms, especially at a chronic rather than acute level. I'd start assuming it's Hexamita and use Metronidazole.>
Her appetite is fine - they all eat heartily on a diet of tropical granules, with treats of freeze-dried bloodworm and brine shrimp twice a week. But I'm convinced she's thinner than she should be (definite concavity to the belly). I've quarantined her on 2 occasions, treating her for internal bacterial and parasitic infections separately,
<Useless. Metronidazole is the only thing useful against Hexamita.>
but no improvement. And then I thought it might be that she's being slowly harassed to death by the randy male in the tank who wants to breed 24/7 (she does unfortunately have to seek shelter amongst the plants and ornament fairly often) - only she didn't improve when quarantined on her own.
<Obviously social stress will make a bad situation worse. She needs quarantining, medicating.>
I've read soooo many articles trying to work out what might be wrong with her, but haven't yet reached a conclusion. Please help?! I really value the WWM crew opinion above all others (seriously - not just being a suck-up, honest!) so would really appreciate any suggestions you might have to offer.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. Sel., sys. mostly  1/24/09 I have a basement tank, 36/ 18 by 14, 52 gallons. I plan on using a river sand bottom, <Soft sand will be appreciated; the name Mikrogeophagus means "little eartheater", and like the true Geophagines cichlids, these fish (in the wild) sift the sand for algae, invertebrates and decaying organic material.> my tap pH is around 6.8 to 7. but I plan on using RO water (With a ph of 6.0), they make for you at World of fish, (its voted best LFS in twin cities). At the store they sell blue angel rams, $30 a pair, from a local breeder. These fish look much better, more vigorous and brightly colored then the regular rams they also sell (blue/German) they keep the angel rams in RO water but the others they do not. <Locally bred fish infinitely better and worth the expense. Farmed Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are of variable quality and often "juiced" with hormones and antibiotics; consequently their survival rate after shipping is dismal, even though they look nice in the shops.> The tank they are in is labeled NFS, as they are treating for ich, but all fish on the mend, no signs of ich on the rams at all (Corys had it), rams are showing territorial/natural behavior and they use the same RO, water I'll be using if I get them, at the shop. <If you have locally bred fish available, buying farmed specimens would be dumb.> I'm planning on buying a high intense light, and planting with live plants and driftwood. What kinds of plant do Rams like or that grow well in their water? <In the wild they live in sun-baked shallow pools with mostly amphibious vegetation that mostly grows above the waterline. So there's not really much "authentic" you can go for. Instead, concentrate on species that will tolerate the conditions in the aquarium. The very high temperature (minimum 28 C/82 F) will stress some plant species, while the necessary soft water will stress others. To be honest, I'd probably go with floating plants initially, such as the Limnobium, and leave rocks and hollow ornaments across the bottom for the fish. If you wanted rooted plants, buy species in pots that you can easily fertilise with tablets since the sand itself will contain no nutrients (unless you put a layer of pond soil or whatever underneath the sand). Cryptocoryne species would be ideal.> What are good foods for these guys? <These are quite fussy fish that tend to have favourite foods. I've never seen Mikrogeophagus show much interest in flake or pellets, though I dare say some will eat the stuff. Mostly they seem to require a varied diet of live or (wet) frozen foods: bloodworms, glassworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, etc. Remember to vary the diet; if they get just bloodworms, you're setting them up for a vitamin deficiency in the long term.> I talked to the staff at the LFS and they said add tetras first after cycling then wait a month or more before aiding rams/ change like 5 to 10% of the water a week. <Likely far too little in terms of water changes. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are acutely sensitive to nitrate, and tend to develop things like Hexamita at the first sniff of high levels of nitrate. In part this is surely why they die so quickly in most community tanks. So rather than estimating a water change, grab a nitrate kit and keep track of the nitrate level each week for the first few months. You'll get a picture of how quickly nitrate levels rise, and can act accordingly. You're aiming for under 20 mg/l nitrate, and ideally 0-10 mg/l. Part of this is avoiding overfeeding: these fish need only small amounts of food to do well.> I was think 1 or 2 pairs of rams and 12 to 15 tetras in a school. <Ok.> I was wondering if a school of neon, rummy nose or cardinal tetras would be good dithers ? Are there any other good tetra-like fish to keep with them or is it best to keep the Angel rams separate? <Neons need cool water, so they're not an option for use alongside the warmth-loving Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. Cardinals can work well, and probably make the best bet. Rummynose tetras would be good in some ways, but they're hyperactive fish, and need to be kept in a decent sized group to school properly; if they just mill about looking nervous, that'll have the reverse effect on your Mikrogeophagus. If you don't mind switching continents, Harlequin Rasboras work well too.> I do understand the fancy type of rams are less hardy but I will be moving in five years + anyway.( though I am planning on taking the tank with) <You'd be lucky if most of the farmed specimens last 5 months, to be honest. They really are abysmally poor fish. I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. Like pouring money down a drain.> thanks <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. 1/24/09 Thanks I will research more, I'll also make a video of it- the tank I mean. <Sounds good. Look forward to hearing/seeing more in due course. Do try and pick up one of the books on Dwarf Cichlids, there are many. Even the old TFH one by Jörg Vierke (used, less than two dollars on Amazon) will be a useful read in terms of understanding the ecology of these fish in the wild and their specific requirements in captivity. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are nice fish, but the reality is most people fail to keep them alive for more than a few months, at best. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. 1/24/09 When/if I get them should I use jungle parasite clear on them when they go into the main tank, or should I use a separate, tank.? <"Scattergun" approaches to healthcare rarely work. Quarantine all new livestock, and if signs of illness appear, diagnose and treat as required. The main killer with Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is Hexamita, and it is likely latent in all specimens, certainly those produced on fish farms. Hexamita becomes a problem when the fish are kept too cold, exposed to high nitrates, given a poor diet.> Also is it better to use fake plants then live? <No difference so far as the fish are concerned. Use whichever you want.> I know if I did so it would save on lighting and help reduce care in an already "Demanding" setup. <Cichlids would prefer tanks without lights at all, so do whatever you want so long as there are shady places for the fish to swim. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras, Ram sel.    1/28/09 Do you know of any local Ram breeders that sell decent/or excellent quality rams? I'm going to wait a few years before getting them, but I wanted to look for breeders. I live in St Paul MN. <Well, since I live in Hertfordshire, England, I'm afraid I can't comment on the local fish breeders in Minnesota. Obviously the first step is to find your city or state fish or aquarium club, and get in touch with them. There is certainly a Minnesota Aquarium Society for example: http://www.mn-aquarium.org/ Join up and attend their meetings. They'll surely be able to get you in touch with people in your area who breed fish. One of the great things about this approach is that the people in aquarium clubs are typically advanced hobbyists, and so are likely to be breeding fish you've never heard of, or don't see in aquarium shops. There are lots and lots of lovely dwarf cichlids that rarely get traded, so you might find some real treasures this way. Cheers, Neale.>

A fish no one knows about  7/18/08 Hello. I'm Samie. I'm 16. I can take care a lot of different fish, but I seem to have an eye for trouble makers. <Oh?> I have a 10 gallon tank. It has been set up since January. My pH is 7. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all at 0. I have drift wood and 1 small plant. <All sounds fine, but do bear in mind that 10 gallons is really too small for the fish you have chosen, and long term are likely to have problems. Because 10 and 20 gallon tanks have almost the same footprint and cost almost the same amount of money, I always recommend people go with 20 gallons when starting out.> The fish I have are tetras (2 white skirts, 1 rosy, and 3 x-rays) Ghost Shrimp, and Balloon Body Gold Ram. <Ah, now these fish aren't compatible. White Skirt tetras are albino Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, a notorious fin-nipper and going to get quite large, about 5 cm long. Rosy Barbs (what I assume the "rosy" is) are Puntius conchonius, a subtropical species able to get to 14 cm and so obviously way too big for your tank. The long-fin version will also be vulnerable to fin nippers. X-Ray Tetras are Pristella maxillaris, a superb species, but in my opinion slightly too big for a 10 gallon tank. All these fish are schooling species, and MUST be kept in groups of 6 or more if they are to be happy. Keeping them in the numbers you have may be convenient to you, but it is intensely stressful for the fish, and long term they may exhibit aberrant social behaviours, such as shyness, fin-nipping, or chasing.> My problem is, no matter how many people I ask, no one seems to know how to help me. <We'll do our best...> My Balloon Body Gold Ram is not eating. <Likely too cold, wrong water chemistry. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi can ONLY be maintained in very warm (28-30 degrees C), very soft (less than 10 degrees dH), very acidic (pH 5-6) water conditions. None of your other fish will tolerate this, and some, like the Rosy Barb and the Shrimp will be quickly killed by such conditions. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is simply NOT a community fish, and the majority of specimens die within months when put into community systems. Specifically, when kept too cold and too hard water their immune system is suppressed, and they become prone to diseases such as Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head.> ?? I have tries frozen foods. Micro Pellets. Betta pellets, Betta flakes, tropical flakes, and he/she won't eat. <Likely sick, dying.> He/she has a red spot on he back. So I started treating him with MelaFix. Since it's been only 1 day. <Could be Finrot, another opportunistic infection that affects fish when they are stressed by a poor environment. So this is consistent with my analysis.> There is no change yet. <There won't be. Firstly Melafix may be cheap but it isn't effective so serves no useful purpose except perhaps as a preventative. Once fish get sick, you need more useful medications like eSHa 2000 (in Europe) or Maracyn (in the US).> If know anything about this fish. <Much information in cichlid books; look up Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. Widely kept, bred and so the basics for its care are very well known. It's a shame retailers don't tell people what they need PRIOR to purchase. Underlines our mantra here that you should always RESEARCH a species BEFORE buying it.> Why he/she won't eat. <Wrong environment. Doomed.> or even if it guy or a girl. <Difficult to sex, but males tend to have longer dorsal fin rays.> Please help me out. <Have certainly tried.> <Cheers, Neale.>

Rams in a hard water area -- 1/28/08 Hi guys, <Hello.> First off, great site. As a relative newcomer to all this, I've learnt a lot from your site, but there are some specific questions I had regarding my slightly shaky knowledge of water chemistry! <Please have a read of these articles on water chemistry: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm A lot of the problems aquarists have with keeping fish alive come down to keeping the wrong sorts of fish in their local water chemistry conditions. By default, beginners should first find out their water chemistry, and then select fish that do well in such conditions. Randomly buying fish and hoping they'll adapt sometimes works, but often doesn't.> I live in an area with quite alkaline water coming out of the taps, with a pH of about 7.5 - 8, and I know the water is also very hard, although I haven't tested it for an exact figure. <Do test, or at least get a sample tested at the fish shop. In Southern England for example, the water often has a pH around 8 and a hardness around 20 degrees dH -- this is harder and more alkaline than the water in Lake Tanganyika! Consequently, many soft water fish DO NOT do well.> I have recently purchased a Juwel Rio 125, which as yet is totally empty, no water, plants or substrate, although I have purchased some soil and lime-free substrate. <Rio tanks are nicely made, so good choice.> I hope to eventually keep a pair of rams, a few Corys and a school of Glowlight, cardinal or black phantom tetras, as yet undecided. <Back to the drawing board, please. Do research the requirements of each of these species and you'll see there isn't much overlap. Rams need very warm water to do well, at least 28 C, which is far too warm for many Corydoras and the Black Phantoms. On the other hand, while Corydoras will tolerate hard, alkaline water well, Cardinals and Rams generally do not.> First off, is this a good selection? <No.> Obviously I am aware that these fish prefer slightly acidic soft water conditions to thrive, so here is where my main question arises. I have read a little about RO water, and so I know that at some stage this is going to have to be involved in my tank setup, and is available from my LFS, but I'm unsure as to the best way to use it to get to the conditions I require for these fish, which I have researched and seem to be around a pH of 6.5 and a hardness of 6-10 dH (does this sound right to you?). <Do read the article on soft water aquaria in particular. I keep soft water fish in a hard water area, and do so by mixing rainwater with tap water, typically at a 50:50 mix to keep things simple. I'd personally forget about Rams; the quality of commercial stock is extremely poor and riddled with disease by the time you buy them because they get weakened by being kept at standard temperatures. Bolivian Rams, Flag Acara and Keyhole Cichlids are much better community tank South American cichlids, and infinitely easier to keep. Do pay close attention to the temperature requirements of the fish too. South America is a big place, and many fish from the continent, such as Neons and Peppered Corydoras, want cooler water than those from warmer waters. Mix the two together and someone will be unhappy.> Sorry if this question is a little broad, if you require any more information I'll do my best to supply it, and keep up the good work! Phil P.S. Please bear in mind I live in the UK, so if you are going to recommend any products those available here would be useful! <Cheers, Neale.>

Trying water from outside. (Ram - Pond - Water)  - 12/07/06 Hello. I am setting up a ram tank, with some rummy nose tetras and Amazon sword plants, using fluorite in the bottom of the substrate. <A good product... I use this> I will cut tap water with distilled water, my tap water registers at 8.5. alkalinity. <Mmm... likely you mean pH> Here's the thing. I may go the route with peat, if I decide to commit to a stained brown, but clear water. There is cement pond outside shaped in a square with seven foot sides and about two and a half feet deep. The maple  tree near it has shed a lot of leaves which have fallen in it. <Mmm... Maples can leach undesirable material into water>   It is now December. The water is dark brown from the leaves. The water has aged  through an entire year and a half outside, collecting rain water, breathing. It  must be very soft and perhaps ideal for rams and other fish from the Orinoco  backwaters. Would using this water like a blackwater extract source be a bad  idea? <Worthwhile testing, experimenting with... But if it were me, I'd make my own blackwater... with boiled, non-alkalized peat... indoors... Or if only dealing with a few tens of gallons, buy a commercial product for this purpose. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ishan

Temperature Range - Metynnis and Rams? - 09/30/2006 Hello y'all, <Hi.  My apologies for the delay in reply; I've been out, and your email came to us in a format that unfortunately our Webmail system had some trouble with, and I am one of the only folks able to respond to it.> First of all, thanks as usual for your maintenance of a wonderfully informative site. <Thank you very much for these kind words.> (I recently wrote my comprehensive exams for a PhD in education, and cited this site as a great example of a constructivist learning environment. So thanks for your contribution to my degree as well.) <This is high praise indeed - thank you again.> I would like to keep Metynnis hypsauchen and Microgeophagus ramirezi together in a 150 gallon system. <Maybe possible in this size system, given enough plants and hiding spaces....  but do keep in mind that the rapid schooling and darting about of the Metynnis may be stressful to the shy rams.  This is something I, personally, wouldn't try, but I imagine it can be done with success in as large a system as this.> My plan is to keep the temp at about 80-81° F, as this seems to be at the upper limit of the silver dollars and the lower limit of the rams. <The rams can go lower if you don't intend to breed.  Warmer would be preferable for them, but I'm rather concerned about the warm water making the Metynnis even MORE quick and spazzy.> However, I'm concerned that much of the literature about rams stresses that they're delicate, and happier at temps around 85. <Indeed.  But I would not bring the Metynnis to this temperature.> Should I: a) go with the "intersection" temp of 80-81 b) keep the temp higher, on the theory that the silver dollars are more tolerant of out-of-range temps than the rams c) not keep the two species together? <....  I would choose "C".  But again, that's just me.> Thanks again for your help and patience. <And you, again, for your kind words and consideration!> Melinda Johansson <All the best to you,  -Sabrina> pH, Microgeophagus    4/25/06 For some more questions on pH for my rams.... I thought I just might by either reverse osmosis water or... get gallons of distilled water. <Mmm, these might do... to blend... but there are cheaper means> If I use reverse osmosis water, everything in it is gone right? <Mmm, pretty much... including oxygen> so would I have to add more nutrients or chemicals to keep my plants alive? <Yes... would> I thought if I mix prepared distilled water along with some tap water every water change about every 2 weeks, then it might lower my pH. Do you think this idea might work? <Would likely> I will just have to find the right amount of distilled water to put in to keep my pH stable. Thanks <Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>

Keeping blue rams Hi guys, hope all in well in your neck of the woods. I am really interested in keeping the dwarf blue ram cichlids. I have been doing lots of research as they are unlike anything else I keep. The tank I have available is an empty standard 29g (30"(L) x 12"(W) x 24"(H) I believe). I want to set it up right from the get go so I don't have to start over. My tap water has a high pH of around 8.2. What's the best way to keep this in the 5-6 range - that's what they need, correct? I am getting conflicting information regarding using RO water, peat moss, black water extract, etc...please help in this regard. What is the best substrate for them? Regular aquarium gravel (large vs. small pebbles?) slate rock, sand...? How many can I comfortably keep in this size tank? I was thinking 4 would be sufficient, but I am worried about two pairing off and harassing the others. Is it best to have a planted tank (IE, live plants)? I was hoping I could keep live plants and driftwood in there to help the pH out. I realize they are somewhat sensitive, but this would be a species only tank so I am more than willing to go above and beyond to do the necessary things to keep them happy and healthy. What kind of water change schedule do to recommend? I have been reading that some people do small changes (10% or so) once a week to maintain water quality, and others say the more they mess with it, the worse off they are. So they keep it lightly stocked, heavily planted, and leave it for a month or two at a time. I am used to doing water changes on my other tanks every 2 weeks or so, so months on end w/out water changes would seem like neglect! What's your take on this? Any other tidbits you can throw in would be great too. Thanks a bunch! < You are talking about one of my favorite fishes of all time. In the wild these little guys come from the open savannah areas of Venezuela and Colombia. You really have to look hard to find wild rams these days. Most of the time they are being bred in Asia. There is a variety also called the German Ram that is a little more robust and carries a little more dark spotting then regular rams. These are easier to take care of too. Overall the water should be warm around 80 to 82 degrees. Water should be very clean. I would use an outside power filter with a bio wheel like a penguin 170 and a reliable heater that won't stick. Sand would be better than gravel. Good food is essential to get them to show off their colors. A good florescent light bulb would really get them glowing. If you just want to keep them alive then I would start off by mixing 1/2 of your tap water with 1/2 distilled water and checking the pH and alkalinity. Try and get the pH to at least 7 to prevent problems. You may need to use a buffer from either Kent or SeaChem to get the ph down to 6. If you want to breed them then you really need to soften the water and get the pH in the 6 range. When you use an RO unit that takes out all the minerals in the water then you have to use less chemicals to bring the pH down to 6 and then stabilize it so it won't continue to drop. For the little bit you are going to need I would get it at a local water store that has already done it for you. If you want to breed the rams then you need to know how to sex them. In general the males are larger and have a black spot on the flanks. If you look at that spot in the sun or with a flashlight you will notice that the black spot is void of the metallic blue scales that cover the rest of the sides of the fish . Females are smaller and may have a reddish hue to the belly area. If you look at the black spot on a females side then you will notice that there are a few highlighted blue to purplish scales on that black spot. When they pair up they usually lay their eggs out in the open on a rock or on the glass and chase all the other fish away. The eggs will hatch in three days and the fry will become free swimming in another three days. Now the problem comes in. Baby rams are too small for newly hatched brine shrimp so they must be feed the tiniest of foods for the first week. After that they should be removed or the parents may eat them. Regulate your water changes by checking the nitrates. Rams like very clean water and there should be zero ammonia and nitrites. The nitrates should not get above 15 ppm. Driftwood would be great but some plants will not like the higher temps but you should try some of the more hardy plants anyway.-Chuck>

Rams and Water Chemistry I have begun cycling a tank for rams, I wish to breed a pair in a species tank(10 gal.). <Sounds like fun!> I understand their need for a certain water chemistry, but I would like to know "non-chemical" methods for maintaining or correcting chemistry. <There are a few, and it will depend, of course, on your current water chemistry - what pH, GH, KH comes out of your tap.  Since you're asking about rams, I feel safe in assuming you wish to lower the pH and alkalinity.  My own preferred method is to use peat moss in the filter, and bogwood in the tank.  The tannic acids released from these will keep the water soft and acidic, and do a very good job of it, too.  I use this for my plant tank, which I keep at a pH of 6.2.  Out of the tap, my water sometimes has a pH of 9.4 - with peat and bogwood alone, I bring it down to 7.0, and then the CO2 I add for the plants gets me to a happy and stable 6.2.  The only "drawback" to peat and/or bogwood is that it will stain the water a rich tea color.  Frankly, I like and want this, as it looks more natural in a planted aquarium.> Also, what is R/O water? I have seen this in several ram forums, and am not sure what it stands for. <And here you have hit on another method of getting the pH and alkalinity that you want.  RO water is "Reverse Osmosis" water, a method of water purification that leaves you with "just water", removing all the crud that is in tapwater, from chlorines and chloramines to toxic metals.  With this method, you will have to add back the minerals that are stripped away which the fish need.  There are products available for this; I know SeaChem and Kent make some.  Then you'll be set with "just water" plus what the fish need in their water.  From there, you may have to add a buffer to raise the pH and KH to your desired level, if the RO water is still too low.  Don't use pH raising (or lowering) concoctions, as these are very short-lived; without the proper buffering capacity of the water, the pH will fall (or rise) back to where it is/was stable.  If you need to alter pH/KH after using RO, use one of the many buffering products available.  Please check out our FAQs for more on RO and RO/DI water:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rofaqs.htm  and be sure to follow the blue links at the top for more.> Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks again!  April Gurganus <You bet.  Hope all goes well with your rams!  -Sabrina>

Rams inquiry Hello. I'm writing this for my father who had a question re: rams. He has a hard time keeping them alive...the tank is 82 degrees, pH 7, frequent water changes, other fish include cardinal tetra, discus, and angels. Is the problem the pH? Thanks Shahrzad Patterson <A lot of folks have trouble with cultured rams (Microgeophagus)... disparate sources often cite pH "shock" and simply too hard, alkaline water as a principal contributing factor. The pH of the water they are naturally from is listed at 5-6.0... some ten to a hundred times lower (the pH scale is base ten logarithmic), and warmer (27-30 C.) and likely softer (dH of 5-10) than your friends... this would be an area I would adjust in an effort to maintain this fish... though you may well find that your (intermittent, short-term) supplier is maintaining them in much more alkaline conditions. Otherwise, I assure you, as an old-timer in the pet-fish trade, that shipments of this fish vary GREATLY in terms of hardiness time to time. So, waiting, observing new arrivals for a week or so may also make a/the difference in their survivability. Bob Fenner>

Blue/Gold Rams     Dear Mr. Fenner, <Adam>     My name is Adam and I had some questions about rams.  First off I have a 125 gal. tank @ 78 F with a few large iridescent sharks, African butterfly fish, hi-fin bullsharks, redtail and rainbow sharks, silver dollars, black ghost knife, and a few common Plecos.  I just today did a water test to find that I have a ph of 8.4, very hard water and 200+ ppm of nitrate. <Yikes... the hardness not a concern for your minnow shark species... but the Dollars, Plecos and Rams prefer much softer. I'd be checking your nitrate test kit... 200 ppm is about ten times past toxic.> I just need to know what the best way is/are to fix all the problems I have with the water spec.s as applied to the preferences of blue and gold rams. <Better to keep them in a tank without the more "outgoing" species above... and to start with cleaner source water... likely from a reverse osmosis device, though you could use an in-line treatment tool... and then to treat this water either with peat, a chemical prep., or with a system with live plants... before using>   What kind of live plants are good for rams and their ideal water conditions? <Others found in the same habitat, that enjoy soft, acidic, warm water... the specifics of the more readily available aquarium plants are listed on www.WetWebMedia.com> Will Amazon sword work?   <Yes> How do peat granules in the filter work and are there any side effects to the water? <The humic acids, other organics that are the peat counteract, neutralize carbonates... do effect the water... making it softer, more acidic, often yellow to light-brown in color> If I use a co2 fertilization system will that also effect my water quality, and is this a good idea? <Will, and yes... will lower pH, hardness, boost plant growth>   Is there a difference in hardiness between blue and gold rams?   <Sometimes yes... either can be hardier or not... depending on source (the "German" Blue Rams are very tough for instance, but the ones out of the orient often die easily)> And lastly, can the fish I listed above handle all the water conditions needed to keep healthy rams?  If not, just say so, I would love to have rams in my tank but if I can't so be it. <Better to NOT mix all the fishes you list above together... at least two different tanks would be best... with one being for more outgoing, hard and alkaline, cooler water... the other for easier going, soft, acidic, warmer water. Bob Fenner> Thank you so much for your time, Adam Staude

Non-utilization of Spellchecker/Grammar - Ram Setup hey. am cycling a 30 gallon tank. right now all I have in it are some rock with some forming a cave. I want to keep about 3 ram cichlids and other fish such as Corys, tetras, and other small cichlids. now I just need to know. what can I do to make sure that my little rams lead very happy little lives. I have a 20 watt light, I've set the temperature to 28 degrees Celsius. what plants can u suggest I add? my pH is at 7 and always has been. I have successfully kept angelfish, Neons and mollies in the past. do rams have similar requirements?? also I only have ever fed my fish flake food. what live or frozen foods can u suggest I feed rams. would there be anything around the house to feed them? I cant wait until I've finished cycling!  <<your setup seems fine. Check with your LFS what plants they have that will thrive at the higher temperatures that the rams like. you should add some frozen foods to their diet. Blood worm is very good, but make sure you are not allergic (many people are), also frozen brine shrimp and white mosquito larvae (glassworm) will be a good addition to their diet. Try to get two pairs, your tank is big enough. Have fun, Oliver! >>

Working with Ram Cichlids 6/31/05 Hello, I'm going to get two ten gallon aquariums, and I want to put rams (Papilochromis ramirezi) <The correct name is Microgeophagus ramirezi.> in one of them. Your website recommends 27-30 degrees C, 5-6 ph, and 5-12 dh. I have an "Aquarium Owner's Guide" that recommends 22-26 degrees, 6-7 ph, and 3-8 dh. Do you know if this is because of a different subspecies than the one mentioned on your website, or if the information is wrong? < In the wild these fish can come from open savannah type pools that receive no shade from trees. The tropical heat can send these water temperatures all the way up to 35 C. The pH of this water can be extremely acidic and be down as low as 4.5 -5.5 with a hardness below 1 dGH. At these levels not too many other fish would survive and rams don't need these extremes to do well in an aquarium. I would use the recommendations from the WWM website if you are going to be keeping rams in a community tank situation and the recommendations from your aquarium guide if you want to set them up for breeding.> Also, since rams require such a high temperature, what kind of small fish do you recommend to keep it company? < At such high temperatures the water tends to not carry as much oxygen as it would at lower temperature so you need to increase the aeration. Little Amazon tetras that don't get too big should be fine.> Finally, the tap water where I live is very basic (8.6 ph) and very hard (26.9 dh).  What is the most effective way lo lower the ph and dh? thank you. < There are many different ways to do this but I will give you the simplest answer. Go to a water store and buy 8 gallons of distilled water. Mix it with 2 gallons of your tap water. Every week you should to a 20% water change and replace the water with 80% distilled water and 20% tap water. At this ratio of distilled to tap the water can usually be acidified using peat moss if you really want to get the pH down.-Chuck>

Ram systems I'm going to get two ten gallon aquariums, and I want to put rams (Papilochromis ramirezi) in one of them. Your website recommends 27-30 degrees C, 5-6 ph, and 5-12 dh. I have an "Aquarium Owner's Guide" that recommends 22-26 degrees, 6-7 ph, and 3-8 dh. Do you know if this is because of a different subspecies than the one mentioned on your website, or if the information is wrong? Also, since rams require such a high temperature, what kind of small fish do you recommend to keep it company? Finally, the tap water where I live is very basic (8.6 ph) and very hard (26.9 dh).  What is the most effective way lo lower the ph and dh? >> Go with ph 6-6.5, 3-10DH and temp from 26-29C. You can keep them with any small fish from the Amazon like cardinals, Rummynose, and Corydoras. Best way with water like that hard and alkaline is to get water from another source, since you need only 10 gallons you can get it from a friend with better water, no reason to play with chemicals to lower the values, good Luck, Oliver.   Ram question, peat in a bag I've been wanting to get into cichlids because I like their color but lack experience.  I was wanting to put my tank to the test as far as tankmates goes; I've got long-finned danios, angels, balloon-belly mollies, an Opaline Gourami and a peacock eel.  I saw that danios were in the "tankmates" section to get the rams out but I wasn't sure about the others.  Water maintenance is no problem; I work at a pet store where we do free water testing so that shouldn't be hard to do at all. <Should get along if the system is large enough> I also had a question about peat, though.  I've seen that angels like peat as well in their water but I didn't know how to make a bag.  I don't want to order online but I want to make my fish happier.  Is there a way to prepare a peat bag (or even a way to install it into the substrate/filter)?  Or do you have it posted somewhere and I just haven't found it? <Mmm, you can/could buy, use a Dacron bag made/sold in the trade for containing such chemical filtrants... but pantyhose, stockings can work here as well... and yes to "just" placing the boiled peat and bag in the tank, under the substrate, though placing it in an area of water flow is better for more rapid effect. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your time, Sarah

Ram Cichlids, Water - 08/18/2005 Hello! GREAT site. <Glad you enjoy it!> My question to you is if my local water ph is high (sometimes reads to the maximum of my regular ph test kit which is 7.6 - 7.8, I don't have a higher reading test kit, so I can only guess if it's more) <Do please get a test kit for higher ranges, and find out what, exactly, your pH is.> can I still keep dwarf rams? <Likely, if you can find a local breeder who raises them in similar conditions.> I have a 55 gal. with tetras, an angelfish, and two Corys who all seem to be doing well. I have yet to lose a fish in the two years since setting up the tank except for the second angel that the first one terrorized. I know these are all from similar waters as the dwarf rams, so what do you think? <Likely no compatibility issues here.  Sounds good.> Have you ever seen them do well in a high ph environment? <Yes.... even breeding.  But again, you should strive to find rams that are already used to such a pH from a breeder in your area.  Try asking around at fish stores, and join any local fish clubs within reasonable distance.> I do have lots of driftwood in there, but no real plants, only fake ones. Also, I never tested the hardness of the water. Will that be a factor? <Possibly; it is certainly worth knowing when you seek out someone with similar conditions from whom to purchase your fish.> THANKS!  -Marty <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Adding Chemicals to R/O Water For German Rams  1/16/06 I plan on using Buffer to do the 6.8 pH that you  recommended, but the R/O Right adds some salts and other "essential  stuff" that the water supposedly needs to be healthy--even for a soft  water tank.  I hadn't heard about the needing to do that, so that  is why I was confused.  So would you add it? Thanks again, Scott < I would recommend that you follow the directions on the package and see how the rams are doing. German rams are a domestic strain of rams that are much hardier than their wild cousins.-Chuck> Setting Up a Ram Tank  - 01/12/2006 Hi Bob, before I get started, I would just like to  say that your site is the best source of aquatic advice and information  that I've found.  Unbelievable how much information you guys put  out, and also how consistent you are!  Thanks for the site. < Bob and the rest of the WWM crew thank you for you kind words.> Now to the fun stuff!  I am getting ready to move into my first  permanent residence since living with my parents, and I am going to  shut down my reef tank with the move and make a change most of my  friends with aquariums don't understand. I'm going to start a  German Ram tank.  They have been my favorite fish since the moment I saw them years ago.  I will be using a 90 gallon tank, 48"L x  18"D x 24"H.  I will be using RO water with Seachem neutral  regulator combined with their Discus buffer to get my pH set.  I  know people recommend anywhere from 5-7 pH, but what single number would you want? < 6.8.> Also, I want to get pairs of rams, so how many pairs should I get with the tank dimensions that I have? < Six to eight pairs.> I have heard some people claim you should use a 2 to 1 ratio of female  to male rams also, then others claim just one female per male.  What do you recommend? < Six males to six to eight females.> I plan on using live plants that aren't too delicate so they don't fall  apart.  I have ordered "Eco Complete Plant substrate" to use with  them.  I have a sump that will use CPR's bio bale for biological  filtration.   I have ordered a 216watt T5 light fixture, not  wanting to hang any Metal Halides in our new house.  Is that enough light for Swords or any other plants that you'd recommend with the tank being 24" deep? < If the swords don't work then try some Cryptocorynes.> I'm also figuring on throwing in some Cardinal and Glowlight Tetras.  And the biggest 2  questions. What have I not thought about that I need for the tank, and what have I forgotten to tell you? Thanks again for the website! Scott < Rams are my favorite all time fish. They like warm water of at least 82F+. German rams are much hardier than the wild ones from Venezuela. Don't let the nitrates get up over 10 ppm. Quarantine all your fish before putting them in the big tank.-Chuck>

Re: Setting Up Plants In a Ram Tank Thank you very much for the reply and recommendations, it is greatly appreciated.   I have three more questions.  I have probably been reading too  much or fallen prey to manufacturer's selling techniques, but, is it necessary  to treat RO with an additive like Kent's R/O Right? < Plain R/O water has no buffering capacity and the pH can go all over the place. Fish don't like this unstable water so you need to use a buffer.> Also, I have broadened my options for substrate to the Eco Complete, Seachem's Fluorite, and/or Laterite.  What would you recommend for plant AND ram health? < I have had very good success with Fluorite. Laterite is too easily disturbed and makes a mess , but plants love it.> Will any of these substrates affect the hardness in the tank water to  a level that the Rams will not appreciate? < No.-Chuck> Thanks again, Scott Ram system   1/19/06   Hi again, I am starting (planning) a Ram  tank and getting all of my stuff together.  The tank is a 90  gallon.  I plan on having 12-14 Rams in it, along with some live  plants.  I do not plan on using CO2 unless I run into problems, so  the plants will be easier ones like Crypts/Swords.  I have a CPR  wet/dry filter (CR1000).  I know the Rams are sensitive to  Nitrates and am concerned that the wet/dry may be a nitrate  factory?  Should I take some filter media out? >> I would not worry about the nitrates as much. A regular and frequent water change of around 25% a week will ensure that you do not have problems. Good Luck, Oliver

Rams and Plants. Dwarf cichlid... sys.   3/18/06 Hi, Nice site! I have a 2 and a half gallon tank (bow front). It is well planted with a heater and small whisper filter (a  newer air driven model) and 1.5"  of  gravel. So my question is: Can I keep 2 German Blue Rams in the 2.5? It  is has been cycling for 2 months now. What maintenance would I have to  carry out? Thanks, Anthony <This is really too small, unstable a "world" for Apistogrammas, Microgeophagus... but could be tried... with care in pre-making, storing all new water, extreme regularity in maintenance. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rams.htm and the FAQs file linked above. Bob Fenner>  

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