The German Blue Ram, although a very exciting and colorful fish, has created some discomfort for aquarists. Many aquarists have complained of the premature demise of this wonderful fish, most often within a few days or within months after introducing them to their tank.
Synonyms: Apistogramma ramirezi, Microgeophagus ramirezi, Papilochromis ramirezi
Common Names: Balloon Ram, Butterfly Cichlid, Golden Ram, Singapore Ram
Main Ecosystem: River
Temperment: Very shy. Can become territorial during breeding.
Care: Feed a variety of foods, including a good flake or pellet as a staple and the occasional fresh or frozen treat. A planted tank with dense foliage is preferred; however, artificial plants are also good. Rocks, such as slate or other elongated structures, are also recommended.
pH: 5.0 – 7.5
Temperature: 77°F – 84°F
Hardness: 5°dH – 12°dH
Potential size: 2.1″
Water Region: Middle-Bottom
Lifespan: 2-3 years
Color: Black, Gold, Neon Blue
Gender: The male’s front dorsal fin rays are much longer than the female’s, forming the telltale “spike.” The dorsal fin of the male also tends to have a pointed shape near the caudal fin, where the female’s is more rounded. Females are smaller and have a reddish tinge on their pelvic regions, especially when getting ready to spawn. Also, the black spot on the side of the female blue ram may have irridescent blue spangles throughout, and the male’s tends to be solid black.
Acclimation: It is highly recommended that a QT tank be used for any new German Blue Ram additions. This will allow you to monitor their health. Two weeks is generally considered the minimum QT period. German Blue Rams are extremely sensitive to water parameters and are easily stressed. They are also prone to “premature” deaths due to breeding techniques utilized in Asia (more on that below). As a result, acclimation must be done with patience. Acclimation should not be rushed and should be performed for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Float the bag to equalize the temperature. Then add tank water slowly. Let the water run down the sides of the bag as splashing has been identified as stressful to them. Turn off tank lights prior to introduction to main tank. This allows your new German Blue Rams to become adjusted to their surroundings and deters other fish from becoming “nosy” and causing additional stress to them.
Breeding: Breeding German Blue Rams is usually easy once a pair bond is achieved. Often, rams will not pair up just because a male and female are together. Getting multiple juvi’s and letting them grow together often results in pair bonds. Once a pair bond is formed, a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is the best for the adults, eggs, and fry. German Blue Rams become sexually mature fairly quickly – maturity can be reached as early as 4-6 months. Many aquarists report some pairs as being monogamous. Others have said German Blue Rams are polygamous and prefer the ‘harem’ approach.
This is where breeding German Blue Rams can become a challenge, since breeding German Blue Rams is not always an easy task. Young German Blue Rams will most likely not get it right the first few times and some pairs spend most of their free time fighting: fluctuating lighting times may distort their breeding. A big red abdomen and a visible ovipositor is a good sign that a female is ready and willing, and the female or male cleaning a piece of rock, wood, or creating a pit in the sand of gravel is also a promising indication. The pair will begin to show a little more interest in one another by twirling and nudging each other, even at night. The male may display irregular bursts of energy where he’ll dart away or begin sliding his body against the female.
The female can lay between 20-200 eggs. Both parents will tend to the eggs. It is not unusual that the parents will eat the eggs, especially unfertilzed ones. As mentioned previously, they may spawn several times until they get it right.
Comments: The German Blue Ram, although a very exciting and colorful fish, has created some discomfort for aquarists. Many aquarists have complained of premature demises of this wonderful fish, most often within a few days or within months after introducing them to their tank. I had this very thing occur with my first German Blue Rams, despite being purchased them from a very clean and reputable LFS. Researching this fish has revealed that most of the German Blue Rams available commercially are imported from Asia, where the fish are injected with hormones. This process results in the fish becoming more colorful and induces premature spawning. It is often recommended that aquarists obtain wild caught or spawns from breeders.
Last update: 2006-02-02 15:06