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Ram Cichlid
~Pooja Chakrabarty

Ram Cichlid: Microgeophagus Ramirezi

The Ram Cichlid or is a colorful, relatively peace-loving cichlid from South America. Being one of the smaller cichlids, it is also sometimes referred to as the Dwarf Cichlid, and its vibrant colors have earned it the name of Butterfly Cichlid.

The Microgeophagus Ramirezi popularly goes by the name of Ram Cichlid. It is also referred to as the Butterfly Cichlid. This fish from Colombia and Venezuela usually grows to a length of 3" but may even be smaller. For this reason it is also often called the Dwarf Cichlid.

A ram cichlid would love a tank which has a lot of plants and open space. These peaceful cichlids get slightly aggressive during spawning, but are more often bullied by larger tank mates. Temperatures of 78oF to 84oF, and pH levels of 6.5 to 7.0 are good for ram cichlids. You can keep these cichlids in groups (they do especially well in a species tank), and a 10 gallon tank will do fine. Ideally you should keep them with fish that are slow-moving, for they tend to hide if made nervous. Small tetras, barbs, and even Heckel Discus fish can be kept in the same aquarium as ram cichlids.

Temperatures of 78oF to 84oF, and pH levels of 6.5 to 7.0 are good for ram cichlids

Though these fish are not difficult by temperament, they are not recommended for beginners. You must avoid keeping them at low temperatures and in water that is hard or on the higher limits of the pH scale. The water should as far as possible be free from ammonia, and other nitrogen compounds.

These carnivorous cichlids love live food but you must also feed them flakes, frozen food, and pellets. A good diet will also bring out their many colors showing you why they are called Butterfly Cichlids. These beautiful freshwater fish live for about 2 years, and are of two main varieties: the Blue Ram Cichlid and the Gold Ram Cichlid.

It is simple to identify the sex of breeding ram cichlids as the males have more elongated strands on their tail fin, while the females tend to be rounder and with pinkish bellies. These fish pair off easily. The females lay the eggs (up to 500) on flat rock surfaces, and both parents fiercely watch over their eggs and fry. However they may eat up the eggs, hence it would be a good idea to keep the parents in a separate tank and raise the fry separately.

Although they are not the recommended fish for budding fish enthusiasts, they are easy to keep, and very easy to breed. Ram Cichlids truly look lovely as they swim around your aquarium.

[Permission for using the above picture has been given by Jeff Rapps of Tangled Up In Cichlids.]

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