Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons (20 Gallons Recommended)
Experience Required: Moderate
Water Conditions: 78-84 degrees, pH of 5.5-7.0. Soft to moderately hard water.
Maximum Size: 3 inches
Temperament: Typically Peaceful
The German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) is a staple fish in the aquarium hobby, this species of dwarf cichild comes from South America. These waters are soft and warm with a low pH and dense vegetation. They’re an omnivorous fish, feeding mostly off of plant matter and small organisms in the wild.
Aquarium Conditions/Difficulty of Keeping:
The German Blue Ram fish has a bad reputation of being an extremely delicate and difficult fish to keep and often times that scares people away just from the aquarium, like a german shepherd dog. In reality that’s not entirely true, there is a problem with the quality of some German Blue Rams though. They are often inbred to achieve the brightest colors but by doing so the breeders weaken the gene pool. Some fish are even injected or grown with hormones to increase the vibrancy of the fish’s color. What this ultimately leads to is a very fragile fish which is prone to illness. If you get your German Blue Ram from a reputable source they are actually quite hardy fish, provided your water is clean.
In the aquarium they do require pristine water conditions and will thrive in soft, acidic water. However, as long as the hardness and pH of your water is stable you shouldn’t have a problem keeping tank-raised fish as they typically adjust fairly well. However, you must be very careful when adjusting pH because if it fluctuates it causes a lot of stress and will rapidly weaken your fish’s immune system. As a general guideline it’s best to leave the pH alone and allow your fish to adjust unless you’re at extremes.
Rams do best in a planted aquarium with lots of caves and other structures to explore but they will be just fine in the average aquarium provided it’s not overstocked. While German Blue Rams are generally very peaceful dwarf cichilds they are territorial (especially when breeding) so it’s best to provide plenty of floor-space for each Ram (or pair) to form their own territory. I recommend breaking up the line of sight from one side of the aquarium to the other to help keep aggression down by providing a sense of space and security. German Blue Rams are also known to be very intelligent fish and in a bare-tank they will become bored and more aggressive. However, if the above needs are met they’re generally a peaceful fish and perfectly suited for the community tank.
A lot of people adore German Blue Rams for their likable characteristics and beauty. These fish are relatively small but they still display vibrant blues and yellows and pink. Along with sharp black lines. Coloration varies slightly depending on gender but more on that later. Rams are unique also because once they form a pair, their bond is very strong. Paired Rams will stay together throughout their life, they’ll occupy the same territory together so a pair of Rams will require roughly the same amount of territory as a single Ram. This pair will share parenting duties and fiercely protect their territory and their young together.
There are a lot of misconceptions about how to sex German Blue Rams, the biggest being that if a Ram has blue in their black dot then it’s a female. This is simply not true. There are two ways to sex German Blue Rams that I find to be reliable, if the third dorsal ray is taller than the first two, then it’s a male. However, if that’s not the case then it’s usually a female. All females have a pink belly and typically have shorter fins in general than their male counterparts. Males of this fish species typically have longer fins and their bellies aren’t pink. A lot of the time in fish shops they’re too young to accurately sex because as they mature their colors become more vibrant and females develop their pink belly. However, if the third dorsal ray is taller than the first two then it’s a pretty good bet you have a male, regardless of age.
I’m happy to sex your German Blue Ram for you if you send me a picture of them via Facebook.
While this is a general overview of German Blue Rams, not a breeding guide, we’ll briefly touch on breeding. Paired Rams will breed in soft, acidic water with temperatures in the low to mid 80’s. Sometimes these fish will spawn in less-than-ideal water conditions but rarely, if ever, will any fry hatch unless the above conditions are met. Being a species of chiclid, Rams have unique personalities and some Rams that have been bred in Asian farms for generations are terrible parents and often have a very difficult time keeping their young alive. Other Rams will make much better parents and will be able to successfully parent their fry, especially wild caught examples. Attempting to breed German Blue Rams in a community tank greatly reduces the chances of any fry surviving and typically only the very best parents will be able to raise any amount of fry in the community environment. Even with great parents this still requires a great deal of luck.
The German Blue Ram is an omnivore which will accept a wide variety of food in the aquarium. At first when it’s introduced to a new enviornment they can be finicky at first but they should begin eating community fish flakes, bloodworms, cichild pellets, shrimp pellets, etc. are all viable food options. They’ll also enjoy frozen and/or live foods.
As with all fish, it’s best to give them a varied diet.
Typically German Blue Rams make perfect community fish, however there is never a guarantee when it comes to fish-keeping so always have a backup plan in-place. Lastly, this guide talks specifically about German Blue Rams but most of this information is true for Electric Blue Rams, Golden Rams and Balloon Belly Rams. These are all different genetic strains of the same fish so their care is very similar. Sexing them is slightly different and the above Rams are generally less hardy than German Blue Rams because there’s a better chance of them being injected or inbred to achieve such vibrant coloration.