German Blue Ram Complete Guide: The Perfect Community Cichlid?

German Blue Rams are small colorful Cichlids suited to a peaceful community aquarium. This fish is perfect if you are looking to add some bright colors to your tank.

They might not be the easiest fish to start with as they need quite strict water conditions, however they are very captivating and will steal your heart in no time.

From breeding to feeding, this is a very rewarding fish.

Cichlids are often thought of as aggressive fish, however German Blue Rams are the opposite.

Keep reading to learn how to care for German Blue Rams, from the perfect water conditions to feeding and breeding behaviors.

Category Rating
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Yellow, Blue and White
Lifespan: 2-4 Years
Size: 2-3 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Family: Cichlidae
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater with plants
Compatibility: Peaceful small fish

German Blue Ram Overview

German Blue Ram

The German Blue Ram belongs the Cichlid family and is known scientifically as Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. This species is also known under lots of other names mostly referring to its beautiful coloration such as Electric Blue Ram or Butterfly Cichlids.

It was first discovered in 1948 and was named after the first collector and importer, Manuel Ramirez.

They are known as one of the best Cichlids, due to their peaceful nature and beautiful colors.

It can live happily in your tank for up to three years if you take good care of them.

The German Blue Ram Cichlid is quite common in the aquarium trade and are easily found in pet shops. You can find them for a modest price of about $7-8.

Typical Behavior

You will be happy to know that the German Blue Ram is quite peaceful – unlike most other Cichlids.

This South American Cichlid is among one of the best Cichlids for community tanks.

When setting up the tank consider that, this fish does not have a preferred tank region and will spend most of its time swimming around the tank.

However, they love crevices and hiding spaces, so plants and rocks are a must in this tank setup.

Appearance of German Blue Ram

German Blue Ram Swimming
German Blue Ram Swimming by Leonardo Dasilva (Flickr)

The German Blue Ram is a very colorful fish, it has a bright yellow-ish, almost green body and head with the rest of the body being blue/white. Black curved lines run along its body with a black dot roughly in the middle of the body. Generally, wild caught specimens have more visible lines than captive bred fish.

Their eyes are red and their fins are yellow or red with blue lines which are almost transparent. The front dorsal fin is generally black.

Females have a pink-orange belly and are slightly smaller. Their body is oval shaped with a pointed tail and fins.

Sexual dimorphism is visible both in the colors but also in the shape of the fins. Males have more pointed dorsal fins than females.

If the colors are not enough to warn off predators, Cichlids also have spiny rays along their fins to prevent them being eaten by larger fish. These spiny rays can get stuck in the enemy’s throat.

German Blue Ram Size

The German Blue Ram is a small Cichlid, that will grow around 2 inches long.

German Blue Ram Habitat and Tank Conditions

The native populations of Ram Cichlids are from South America. They inhabit the extended waterways of the Amazon River, especially the Orinoco River Basin in Venezuela and Colombia.

These Rams live in shallow pools and streams with sandy beds and abundant vegetation.

This tropical fish is used to slow flowing rivers with plenty of aquatic and submerged land vegetation which often darken the surrounding waters.

Tank Setup

The German Blue Ram is sensitive to water parameters, therefore it is crucial to give them the best environment possible.

Firstly, do not introduce this fish to an aquarium that has not been cycled with an excellent filtration system.

Oxygen and nitrates levels should always be monitored.

The water parameters to best mimic the natural environment are as follows:

  • Temperature: 78-85°F
  • pH range: 6.0-7.5
  • Water hardness: 6-14 dGH
  • Moderate to subdued lighting
  • Slow to moderate water current

A mix of gravel and sand can be used as a substrate. You can also add some large rocks for decoration.

German Blue Rams will appreciate a heavily planted tank with lots of hiding places – you can use rocks or driftwood for this.

When arranging the plants make sure you also leave some space for free swimming.

Examples of plants you can use for decorating your aquarium are Java Fern, Amazon Sword and Wisteria. Bogwood and the plants will help to keep the pH in check and also contribute to coloring the water creating a more similar environment to the South American Rivers.

What Size Tank Do German Blue Rams Need?

The German Blue Ram is a small fish that needs at least a 10 gallon aquarium.

As a general rule, you should allow 10 gallons of water per Ram.

German Blue Ram Tank Mates

German Blue Ram Tank Mates

German Blue Rams are the perfect Cichlids for a community aquarium.

These fish can be kept with non-Cichlids and peaceful Dwarf Cichlids. They need a peaceful community as they will struggle in an aggressive tank.

Good tank companions are Silver Dollars, Dwarf Gouramis, Discus, Plecostomus Catfish, Cardinal and Neon Tetras.

Other great tank mates include Corydoras, Rummynose Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, Clown Loaches, Guppies, Mollies and Platies.

Large aggressive fish are not a good match. Avoid large aggressive Cichlids such as the Green Terror.

Also, if you want to add some non-fish inhabitants to the tank make sure that they will not fit into your Ram’s mouth, otherwise they might end up as dinner.

If they start showing signs of aggression it’s probably because they don’t have enough hiding places and don’t feel safe, or you are not feeding them enough.

It is common for Rams to become slightly more aggressive during breeding season as they tend to protect their offspring.

Keeping German Blue Rams Together

You can keep this fish either as a pair or alone.

When keeping more than one male, make sure the aquarium is large enough to have two separate territories.

If you decide to keep a pair it’s better to allow the fish to pair themselves up rather than buy two random specimens at the shop.

German Blue Ram Care

Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi by Leonardo Dasilva (Flickr)

This fish is quite sensitive to water parameters (especially nitrates levels), so it is not wise to place this fish is a new aquarium.

It needs frequent water changes, at least one a week – try to replace 10%-20% of the tank water once a week. If you have a heavily stocked tank you will need to replace more water.

If water quality is ignored, it can have major consequences on your fish’s health. When replacing the water, the water added should be treated and be a temperature.

In addition to the many common diseases related to poor water management and oxygenation, such as Ich disease, German Blue Rams are particularly susceptible to fish tuberculosis (TB). This can also be passed onto humans.

Fish TB is caused by a similar bacteria that causes TB in humans, Mycobacterium marinum. Mycobacterium marinum is a free-swimming bacteria found in both freshwater and marine environments.

Common symptoms include your fish becoming thinner, ulcers around the head or body of the fish, grey-white nodules, dropsy and pop eyes.

Make sure to never touch directly the water without protection if this is the case.This can be treated with specific antibiotics that generally must be prescribed by a Vet. The whole environment will need to be sterilized and plants and substrate replaced.

Temperature is a big factor for these bacteria. It cannot survive in an environment hotter than 98°F.

Diet and Feeding

German Blue Ram Close Up
German Blue Ram by Aquakeeper14 (Wiki)

The German Blue Ram is an omnivore and eats a varied diet of both meat and plant.

Typically in the wild, Rams feed on small insects or invertebrate and plant material floating in the surrounding waters.

When settling into a new tank, your Rams might appear a bit skittish and refuse to eat. Don’t worry there is nothing wrong, they just need time to settle. To convince your Rams to eat again you can tempt them with some tasty food such as live mosquito larvae.

Once they are acclimated, you can feed your fish 2 to 5 small pinches of food a day. You can feed them brine shrimps, blood worms, earthworms and artemia.

Try to add some vegetables and plants to keep a balance diet. You can also try to feed them pellets and flakes, but they should not form the basis of their diet.

Small pinches of food a couple of times a day can help to maintain the water quality rather than putting all the food in the aquarium once a day.

Is The German Blue Ram Right For Your Aquarium? (Summary)

The German Blue Ram is a very colorful and peaceful fish, perfect for well settled community aquariums.

It is a peaceful Cichlid that will enjoy the company of other small and peaceful fish.

This species is very sensitive to water conditions, so make sure you perform frequent water changes and have a good filtration system.

A healthy and balanced diet along with suitable water conditions will keep this fish healthy.

Given their appearance, you can have a lot of fun naming them.

How did you name your fish? Leave a comment in the section below…

Robert Woods Portrait
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third generation fish keeper and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America and the Nature Conservancy.

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