Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosa)

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Unlike their German Ram cousins, the colors in the Bolivians, especially the red tint along the edges of their dorsaland caudal fins are visible at all times of the day.

Common Names: Red Ram, Butterfly Ram

Category: Cichlid

Family: Cichildae

Origin: South America (Brazil)

Main Ecosystem: Lake

Salinity: Freshwater

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Omnivore

Care: Prefers a well planted tank with lots of hiding places. Prefers soft acidic water and medium current. Enjoys warmer waters, especially in the low 80 F range. Will enjoy a varied diet of flake and live foods.

ph: 6.2 – 7.0

Temperature: 77 – 82º F

Hardness: 3-5 dKH

Potential size: 3-4”

Water Region: Mid to bottom

Activity: Diurnal

Lifespan: 4 years

Color: Gold, black and blue body; yellow, black and red fins

Mouth: Normal

Sexing: Bolivian rams are a little harder to sex than their close cousins, the German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi). Males are usually stockier and have extensions on the upper and inner rays of the dorsal and caudal fins. The dorsal on the males is more pointed and elongated.

Acclimation: Due to the fish being very sensitive to pH values, it is extremely important to match the pH of the transport water to your tank water. This must be done very slowly, especially if you are receiving fish that are coming from a low pH environment and going into a higher one. The best method of doing this is the drip method. I use a “fish only” bucket and place the contents of the transport package into the bucket along with the fish. Take an airline tube and place it into your tank. Pinch off (tie off) the tube to allow a slow drip and place the tube into the bucket. When the bucket has twice the water volume than you started with, empty half and begin the process again. Once the bucket fills up to twice the volume again, net out the fish and place into the tank. It is also a good idea to introduce any new cichlids to an established stocked tank with the lights out and re-decorating immediately prior.

Breeding: Standard cichlid breeding applies to Bolivian rams. If you begin with a decent amount of juveniles, they will select their own mate and pretty much do what they do best; find a secluded spot and dig a small pit in the substrate. The male and female cooperate in the pit excavation. Once they are satisfied with the pit, the female will hover around the pit and the male will patrol the immediate area. The male will attack any fish entering the protected zone. I know this first-hand. I was planting some additional dwarf sag in an area that was protected and didn’t realize it until the male came out of nowhere and bit me.

Comments: I received my five Bolivians as fry almost a year ago. They are eight months old as of this writing. I added them to a tank that houses an established pair of angels, four German blue rams, serpae and lampeye tetras, Corydoras julii and a nicely sized sailfin pleco. They have not demonstrated any hostile or aggressive acts against any of their tank mates and seem to have adopted the German Blues as their brothers and sisters (or at the very least, cousins).

It has been a pleasure watching them grow into adulthood and I particularly like their distinctive facial shape which resembles a puffer. I cannot say enough about their coloration. Unlike their German Ram cousins, the colors in the Bolivians, especially the red tint along the edges of their dorsal, caudal and anal fins is visible at all times of the day. They have appeared to display some breeding behaviors from time to time but I have not seen any evidence of fruit from their labors. The lip-locking battles are priceless. In case you are unfamiliar with cichlids, lip locking is a demonstration of dominance and is not harmful to the fish. They will appear to square off maybe an inch apart and charge head first at each other. They lock lips for a second or two and the one that lets go first is the loser and immediately swims away in the opposite direction. The winner remains motionless in the “victory circle” for quite some time.


Last update: 2006-05-22 11:25
Author: Jchillin

Filed under Fish Profiles, Freshwater.