Ram Cichlids (Ramirezi Fish) – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

The ram cichlid has many graded morphs, and it is sold under a variety of names, including the Asian ram, butterfly cichlid, blue ram, dwarf butterfly cichlid, Ramirezi, and German blue ram.

The fish are named based on appearance, and inbreeding has resulted in some brightly colored morphs. Excessive inbreeding has, however, led to weak populations, and you should buy from a reputable dealer to get healthy cichlids.


The body of the Ramirezi fish displays different hues, which only adds to their beauty. The fish have high fins when compared to their bodies, and the pelvic fins are mostly blue and red.

The body has a yellow-green coloration, while blue dots extend into the caudal, anal, and dorsal fins.

The flanks of the fish can be blue or grey, while the chest and head are black with blue shades, gold, or yellow. The eyes are a deep red, and there is a dark horizontal stripe that runs from the head over the eye. The fish can also have a black spot at the front of its dorsal fin.

Males are more vibrant, and they also grow larger at 5cm.


The Ramirezi fish is native to South America’s Orinoco River Basin in Colombia and Venezuela. It inhabits shallow ponds and streams with muddy or sandy bottoms and some plants.

The fish sift through the fine substrates to feed on organisms and organic material. Ram cichlids were first described in 1948, and become an aquarium favorite because of their colorations.

Wild Ramirezi fish do not fare well during traveling, and it is advisable to purchase hardier ones from breeders.


Ram cichlids thrive on an omnivorous diet in the wild. You can give them frozen or live blood worms, artemia, earthworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex, as well as Cichlid pellets, flakes, and ocean plankton.

Give them small portions two to three times a day, and ensure they get their fill if you have more aggressive fish in the tank.

Water and Tank Requirements

What is the ideal tank size and water parameters for ram cichlids? Below, you can find all the details you need to keep your fish healthy:

Tank Size

It is ideal to keep ram cichlids in a 20-gallon aquarium with a length of 20 to 24 inches. A pair will thrive in such a setup, especially if it has a gentle flow. You can keep one fish in a 10-gallon tank, but it is better to keep them in pairs.

A 30-gallon setup is more favorable if you are rearing a community of fish. You will require more gallons for multiple male rams since they need their own territories. A big tank also makes it easy to maintain high water quality.

Temperature and PH

Ram cichlids prefer high temperatures of around 26 °C (80 °F), and you should, therefore, equip your aquarium with a heater. The PH should be kept between 6.0 and 7.5.

Water Conditions

The Ramirezi fish are adapted to slow-moving waters in their wild habitats. Exposing them to a strong water flow will mean that the fish will continuously be fighting it. You can fit an air-powered sponge filter in your tank to slow down the water current.

Your aquarium will also demand a high level of biological filtration to get rid of fish waste and keep the nitrates and ammonia at zero. Since the rams need pristine water, only add them to a well-cycled setup.

Aquarists should replace at least 10-20% of the water weekly, or more if the aquarium is heavily-stocked. Add water that has been treated and heated to the appropriate temperature. Rams also need enough oxygen, and you should keep monitoring its levels.

The Ramirezi fish do not demand bright lights, and you can use floating plants to dim the lights and make them comfortable.


Ram cichlids are active diggers and will spend a lot of time foraging in the substrate. Sand is the most common substrate for rams, although you can use gravel or a plant-soil substrate.

Do not use substrates that will impact the water’s PH like aragonite “cichlid” sand or coral sand. Driftwood is preferable because it does not leach minerals into the water, and it mimics the natural aquatic environment.

Select plants that can tolerate the high temperatures in the ram tank like the Java Fern, Vallisneria, anubias, Amazon Sword, and Cryptocoryne. The plants should be set at the back and sides to leave the front and middle parts of the tank open for swimming. Rams also appreciate small caves to hide when they feel threatened.


You can keep rams alone or together, and it better to rear a group of juveniles and allow them to bond over time. Once you notice a pair swimming close to one another, you can keep separate them in one aquarium.

The Ramirezi fish is commonly kept in community aquariums with peaceful dwarf cichlids and other fish species. You can couple rams with neon tetras, cardinal tetras, dwarf gourami, Plecostomus, and discus.


In the wild, rams will form family groups and lay 150 to 200 eggs. If you intend to breed the fish, start with multiple juveniles and separate then once they couple up.

Keep them on a live foods diet for several weeks and set temperatures at 82-83 °F.

The fish are open spawners who will lay their eggs on decorations. They spend some time cleaning the rocks, after which the female lays oval orange eggs.

The male fertilizes them, and the two parents take turns fanning them. The rams can, however, feed on the eggs if stressed, so ensure you provide a quiet environment.

The eggs hatch after three days and will become free-swimming after a couple more. The male can attack the female sometimes, or the parents may split the fry into different groups.

The male will ultimately take over and can be seen cleaning the young rams in his mouth and then spitting them out.

You can rear the fry in a different tank and sustain them with infusoria or micro-worm meals. It is advisable to do 50% water changes with reverse osmosis for the highest water quality.


Ram cichlids will suit any peaceful and established community aquarium. The only thing to be keen about with the Ramirezi fish is the water quality since they do not respond well to bad water conditions. Invest in a filter and heater to keep them at the high temperatures they are used to in the wild.

Updated: February 20, 2020

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