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Old 06-05-2013, 04:44 AM   #1
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Bolivian Rams - Stocking & Pairing

Hello, I have a 36 gallon bowfront aquarium that has been cycled and running with fish in it for almost a month. I wanted to do a community tank with both mollies and a pair of bolivian rams (or, if possible, 2 females and 1 male ram). My tank has an Aquaclear 70 HOB filter running on it and is a planted setup. I do 50% water changes 2x weekly and use the API Freshwater Master Test kit. My ammonia and nitrate levels are 0ppm. I am not new to fish keeping but I am new to keeping bolivian rams. The temperature in the tanks stays at 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Currently, I have 6 mollies living in the tank along with a male betta and 3 otos. I also have 6 baby mollies in a breeding net that I will give away to my LFS when they are a month old (born last week) so they will not be permanent residents. The mother molly died a week after giving birth to them and was healthy until her sudden death. I was sad to lose her so I decided to net her babies and raise them until they are big enough to be given away next month.

I would really like a pair of bolivian rams and was wondering what the best way is to have a pair? I heard that buying a group of them increases the odds.

I started with 2 Bolivian rams (bought the last 2 my LFS had in stock about 2 weeks ago) and suspect they are both males. After a week of exploring their new tank together, the 2 rams split up and each occupied a side of the tank, chasing the other ram away if they wandered into each other's established 'area.' The two rams both have lots of color (bright yellow bellies) as well as extended rays on their fins. One ram is slightly bigger than the other and seems to be the "boss" of the tank. Although I think they are both male, I'm not an expert on sexing rams, and the "example" pics I saw really couldn't help me confirm their genders.

I went back to my LFS and purchased 5 more rams with a total of 7 currently living in my tank. I know that's a lot of fish (way overstocked) but I did this hoping that 2 out of 7 would eventually pair off. The new rams are a little bit smaller than the first 2 I got but everyone seems to get along fine. I have been keeping an eye on them and will continue to monitor their behavior in case there is aggression. I tried to choose rams at the LFS with shorter fins in hopes at least 1 or 2 of the new ones were females. I know it is possible to sex them by the shape of their sexual organs under their bellies but I'm not confident I can tell the difference.

My plan is to eventually give away/sell 4 or 5 of the 7 rams and keep 3 (2 females, 1 male) or just a mated pair of rams.

Could I get away with having 7 in my tank for a couple of months if I do 2x weekly water changes and minor ammonia/nitrate levels? Again, this will NOT be permanent.

What are signs of pairing behavior? I got 7 to try and increase my chances. I can also try to post pictures of a few of them if anyone here knows how to sex them.

Any advice on this matter is greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:25 AM   #2
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You are doing all the right things and as long as you are watching your parameters you should be fine. Does your heater have to ability to be turned up? They would perfer higher temperatures when breeding. If you can't get your water temp higher then I would reccomend putting slightly cooler water in the tank when you do water changes, so then it will simulate the warming of the water. The signs of courting are very obvious, they will flap there fins, spin around, and flare there gills, when you see that you can start removing the others.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:28 AM   #3
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Although people recommended trios, sometimes the mates pair can bully the other female killing her
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:26 AM   #4
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How is the Male Betta with the Rams?? I currently have Male and Female Betta, 6 Rainbow Tetras, 3 Albino Corys and 3 Ghost Shrimp and I am setting up a 72g as i write this and would like to add some German Blue Rams but i am worried about the betta, The betta is the only fish that matters right now bc its my 4 year olds and she would freak out if something happens to it. Thats why i am asking
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:39 AM   #5
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When Rams, both German Blues and Bolivians, are young they are much less aggressive and tend to coexist without too many problems. But as they mature aggression levels increase and old males tend to be very aggressive. I started out with 11 young rams in a 220g 100% planted tank and now have 2 pairs. Even with all that space aggression between the pairs can get quite intense. Once rams pair they will stay very close together and the pairs colors will get much brighter and intense. Females will get pink bellies. The male will also try to keep other rams away from his female. If you get a pair I would remove the rest and keep only one pair and not a trio of 1m/2f.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivercats View Post
When Rams, both German Blues and Bolivians, are young they are much less aggressive and tend to coexist without too many problems. But as they mature aggression levels increase and old males tend to be very aggressive. I started out with 11 young rams in a 220g 100% planted tank and now have 2 pairs. Even with all that space aggression between the pairs can get quite intense. Once rams pair they will stay very close together and the pairs colors will get much brighter and intense. Females will get pink bellies. The male will also try to keep other rams away from his female. If you get a pair I would remove the rest and keep only one pair and not a trio of 1m/2f.
Totally agree. Once a pair is formed, the third wheel has more than likely one fin in the grave. Recommend Bolivians before you try blues, people tend to have a higher success rate with them over blues. I've had a blue pair since January, but for some reason they just don't want to mate or I've missed them lay eggs. They're not very good parents right away.
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Old 06-05-2013, 05:24 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the advice!

I was worried people would be extremely critical of my decision to temporarily keep 7 rams together in a 36g. I've heard about other people buying groups of rams to get a pair but they usually had bigger tanks (like a 55g).

My biggest worry (besides hoping 2 rams pair off) is that the rams will get more aggressive because the tank is only 36g. I tried to add plenty of live plants for cover so fish who get picked on more often can hide.

My tank is heated with an Eheim heater. Initially, I kept the temperature at 79-80 but was worried that was too warm for the fish and lowered it to 76. If Bolivians breed at warmer temperatures, is it safe to keep the temperature at either 78/79/80 for an extended period of time (until they show signs of pairing/breeding)? What temperature is recommended for breeding?

I will stick with everyone's advice and only keep a mated pair in the tank, should one form out of the 7 I have. Thanks for letting me know about possible aggression problems from a mated pair.

I was thinking about going to Home Depot to buy pieces of slate tile to break apart and put in various areas of the tank. Do most people do this to encourage rams to pair off and pick a breeding spot? I tried to put the base of a terracotta pot in the tank but no one seems interested in it.

I have seen my first two rams flare at each other and lash their tails but they never stayed together. They would occasionally lip lock but one would always chase the other away.

Attached are some photos of my rams. The bowfront design of my tank (and the fact they like to move out of view of my camera!) makes them difficult to photograph well.

The picture of just 2 rams are the rams I originally started with.

Not sure if you can tell from my blurry pictures, but there is a size difference between the original 2 and the new ones. I don't know how old the new ones are or how large bolivians get when they are fully mature.



@ ZCNY - Mollies are generally quite peaceful fish and for a while I was worried the Bolivians would nip my betta. From my experience so far with a male betta in a community/ram setup, everyone leaves the betta alone. Even during feeding time when fish tend to get a bit aggressive and nippy, my betta holds his own and is doing extremely well in the community tank shared by mollies and rams. I was also worried the HOB filter current would cause my betta problems and weaken him but he tends to stay away from the current. I'd say give putting the betta in with rams a try and see what happens. Monitor the betta closely for nipped fins and signs of stress (staying near the top away from everyone, not moving, being chased by other fish, etc.) Bettas aren't picky eaters (at least mine isn't) and he is able to get food despite competition from other fish. I'd keep a 5g tank on hand as backup in case any problems arise and the betta needs to be separated.
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