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The aquarium world knows German Blue Rams as one of the most beginner-friendly fish. However, upon asking most fish keepers, I realized they may pose some serious challenges, even to experienced fish enthusiasts.
Surprisingly, though the German blue rams are popular freshwater fish due to their ease of maintenance, vibrant colors, and peaceful nature, the mortality rate is higher.
That’s because they are very demanding of pristine water quality with low nitrates, zero nitrites, and ideal water parameters for their long-term health.
Therefore, in this article, I’m going to talk everything about German blue ram fish and how to keep them happy, thriving, and alive in the aquarium hobby.
Stick with me!
- German blue ram is named after a famous fish collector and importer from Germany known as Manuel Ramirez.
- They have spiny rays in their anal, pelvic, pectoral, and dorsal fin to ward off their predators.
- German blue ram loves digging up the substrate, so put hardy plants and floating plants in their aquarium
- Electric blue ram is an open spawner; i.e., the wild German rams form a family group and lay around 200 eggs in their natural habitat.
|Scientific Name||Mikrogeophagus ramirezi|
|Common Names||German blue ram, blue rams, electric blue rams, Butterfly cichlid|
|Origin||Orinoco River basin of South America in the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia|
|Care Level||Moderate to Difficult|
|Lifespan||3 to 4 years|
|Tank Level||All levels|
|Minimum Tank Size||10 gallons|
|Temperature Range||78.0 to 85.0° F|
|Water Hardness||6 – 14 dGH|
|pH Range||6.0 – 7.5|
|Breeding||Egg Layer/Open spawner|
|Difficulty to Breed||Easy|
|Compatibility||Limited, Generally small fish with the same temperament|
|OK, for Planted Tanks?||With Caution|
The German Blue Ram or Mikrogeophagus ramirezi goes by many names including, German Ram, Electric Blue Rams, Butterfly Cichlid, Golden Ram, Ramirez’s dwarf cichlid, Ramirezi, Ram cichlid, and Ram. The German blue rams are named after Manuel Ramirez1—one of the first collectors and importers of Ram cichlids in the aquarium trade.
German blue ram is a peaceful fish that can easily be kept in community tanks, even with non-cichlid fish species with a similar temperament. For the record, these fish do not do well in an aggressive fish tank.
Origin & Habitat
Opposed to their name, the German blue rams originated from the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela and Colombia. The reason they are called “German Blue” rams is that the blue variation of Ram cichlids was selectively bred in Germany and became popular from there.
The electric blue ram is a small, colorful fish with pointed fins and a tail. Their bodies are oval and the males develop more pointed dorsal fins than female German blue rams.
Starting at their nose, there is a yellow coloration on their body that changes from whitish blue to blue in color. A black curved line runs from their forehead, through their eyes, and reaches down to the chin. Also, the middle part of the body is adorned with a black spot. They have pointed fins that are clear yellow in color with a black blotch. Female Electric blue rams have pinkish-red or orange bellies.
Like all other cichlids, the German blue rams have a full set of pharyngeal teeth located in their throat. They also have spiny rays in their anal, pelvic, pectoral, and dorsal fin to ward off their predators. The front area of their fins is soft, allowing them to move precisely and effortlessly.
Unlike other fish, German blue rams have one nostril on each side of the nose. So, they sense smells in water by sucking in water and expelling it right after it’s sampled.
What is the average adult size?
The Electric blue ram is a small fish, reaching the average size of between 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm) in length.
How long do they live?
The average lifespan of German blue ram largely depends on their water conditions, diet, and overall care. Under normal circumstances, German blue rams live around 3 to 4 years, while some individuals may live up to 5 years.
Food & Diet
In their natural habitat, wild German blue rams feed on plant materials and small invertebrates. However, in captivity, they feed on a varied diet, including brine shrimp, bloodworms, white worms, chopped earthworms, cyclopeeze, live mosquito larvae, and artemia. You can also feed them flake food and pellets as occasional treats.
How often to feed them?
It is recommended to feed two to five small amounts of food once or twice a day to keep the water quality optimal for longer periods.
Temperament and Behavior
Fish owners love German blue rams for their ever pleasing nature and beautiful aesthetics. And rightfully so, German blue rams thrive in community tanks even with their non-cichlid mates. However, they may seem aggressive; they are more “bark than bite”.
You can keep them alone, but it is recommended to keep them in pairs and avoid putting two males in an aquarium until your tank is exceptionally large.
German Blue Ram Tank Mates
Here are some great tank mates for a German blue ram cichlid tank:
- Silver Dollar
- Dwarf Gouramis
- Discus fish
- Dwarf Rainbowfish
- Synodontis catfish
- Black Phantom Tetra
- Glowlight tetra
- Cardinal Tetra
- Neon Tetra
- Rummynose Tetras
- Kuhli loaches
- Clown Loaches
Complete Care Guide
No matter how low maintenance German blue rams are, the key to keeping your fish happy lies in the water quality. German blue ram cichlids are prone to rapid breathing and illness due to mismatched water chemistry and quality. Therefore, meeting their tank requirements and maintaining the water quality is essential for the survival of German blue rams.
Here’s a complete breakdown of ideal tank requirements for the German blue ram cichlids.
Since they are small community aquarium fish, the recommended tank size is around 15 gallons.
Keeping live plants in a German blue ram aquarium sounds daunting because most aquatic plants cannot tolerate the warm water temperature. Therefore, it is essential to get plants that can survive the hot water.
Also, German blue rams love digging and so, they might hurt your aquatic plants. To cater to this, I suggest keeping plants like Java Ferns and mosses. You can also add floating plants, especially to the breeding tank to diffuse the lighting. Some great examples of live plants are:
- Java Fern
- Rosette plants (Amazon Sword, Vallisneria, Wisteria)
- Water sprite
Make sure to leave free swimming space while placing plants in their aquarium and install a proper filtration system for their successful survival.
German blue Rams love a well decorated tank. And even though they thrive in a community aquarium, sometimes, they might need to find a safe, comfortable place to hide. Therefore, aquarium decorations should be provided with caution.
You can equip their tank with driftwood, flowerpots, dense plant clusters, caves, and rocks to mimic their natural habitat and keep them happy.
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Make sure all the decorations are the aquarium and fish-friendly with no sharp edges to create a healthy and stimulating environment.
A substrate of fine sand mixed with gravel and granite pebbles works best for a German blue ram tank. That’s because sand mixed with gravel allows your fish to sift through it, which is a natural behavior for them in the wild.
Additionally, you can go for plant substrate or bare bottom as per your preferences and tank requirements.
Note: Make sure your substrate does not leech into the water and change the pH. Avoid using sand for marine tanks
Filtration and Aeration
Maintaining Oxygen levels and water quality leads to a happy, healthy tank with a thriving German blue ram.
German blue ram, like any other fish loves a clean and clear environment with low nitrates, ammonia, and zero nitrites. Therefore, a filter that can handle all these toxins and the size of your aquarium is much needed.
I recommend getting a canister filter for a larger tank. However, for a 10-gallon tank, a hang-on filter works wonders. I also suggest installing a filter with a biological filtration system to break down harmful chemicals and waste substances in the water effortlessly.
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For aeration, it is recommended to provide an air stone or bubble wand to create the flow of bubbles. To save yourself money and time, you can get a filter integrated with an air pump to help aerate the water besides filtering.
The ideal water parameters for German blue Ram are:
- Recommended temperature range: 78.0 to 85.0° F
- Breeding Temperature:– 77 – 82.4° F
- Ideal pH range: 6.0-7.5
- Water Hardness Range:6 – 14 dGH
I recommend performing water changes of 10% to 20% at least biweekly, depending on the number of fish and tank size. German blue ram is super sensitive to certain chemicals and changes in their environment to the point of their sudden demise.
Also, they are prone to fish tuberculosis or Piscine. Therefore, aquarium maintenance is the key to keeping them healthy and happy. I also advise cleaning and sanitizing their tank decorations and other stuff with a sponge. It is also recommended to vacuum the substrate to remove the waste and all the food.
Before setting up a breeding tank, it is important to know that the German blue ram is an open spawner; i.e., the wild German blue rams form a family group and lay around 200 eggs in their natural habitat.
Therefore, in captivity, start with 6 juveniles and let them bond. After they have bonded successfully, move the breeding pair to their own respective tanks.
Requirements for a breeding tank
- The ideal water temperature for a breeding tank is around 77 – 82.4° F. They prefer slightly acidic and soft water.
- Provide quiet areas for them as they are usually nervous and may end up eating their own eggs if stressed, Also, provide lots of hiding places such as caves and plants, especially wide leaves to spawn on.
- It is recommended to tape the sides of your tank with a taping paper to alleviate stress.
The breeding process
Before spawning, the breeding pair usually spend lots of time cleaning the top of pebbles. After they are comfortable and spawned, the female German blue ram lays around 200 eggs and the male ram cichlid fertilizes them externally. Once they have successfully spawned, you will notice the colors of the pair have intensified drastically.
After 60 hours, the eggs hatch, and just after a few days, the fry will be swimming freely.
Note: German blue ram are known to eat their own fry after hatching, thus, you may put the young ones into a separate tank
Once the fry is free swimming, the male ram takes them into its mouth to clean and then spits them out.
After the yolk sac has disappeared, you can feed the fry micro worm or infusoria. You can also feed them newly hatched baby brine shrimp.
Always remember to maintain the water quality while feeding the fry. It is recommended to perform 10% water changes every day.
Despite being hardy fish, the German blue ram is vulnerable to poor water quality and oxygenation. Hence, resulting in several fish diseases.
One of the most common problems is Ich, which is caused by parasitic infestations from protozoa or worms. Other common diseases include:
- Costia disease
- Cestoda or tapeworm infestations
- Bacterial infections and diseases
- Fish tuberculosis
- Skin flukes
Are German blue Rams difficult to keep?
No, they are moderately easy and not difficult to keep. Still, not recommended for beginners because they demand top-notch water quality and they are very sensitive to certain chemicals and water changes that might pose a challenge to beginner aquarists.
Are German blue rams schooling fish?
No, they are not schooling fish but like to be in pairs or small groups of 6 individuals mainly. They can be territorial, especially while breeding, and may show aggression towards other fish. Therefore, it is important to provide them with lots of hiding places and plants to rest on and reduce stress, and aggression.
What is the difference between a blue ram and a German Blue Ram?
There is absolutely no difference between a blue ram and a German blue ram. Both of the names are given to the same species, “Mikrogeophagus ramirezi”. The blue ram cichlid or a German blue ram is a name given to the same species of blue color morph which is a small and peaceful fish found in the streams of Venezuela and Colombia.
Do German blue rams need caves?
Yes, the German blue ram needs lots of hiding places to alleviate the stress and reduce aggression towards other fish. Therefore, caves, rocks, and aquatic plants are essential for their survival.
Are the German Rams hard to keep?
Yes – they are very demanding of their water quality and tank requirements. Therefore, a novice fish keeper might not be able to keep them.
What is the lifespan of a German ram?
German blue rams typically have a life expectancy of 3 to 4 years, while some may reach 5 years. The water quality, nutrition, and general care of German blue rams all affect how long they live on average.
How big do blue ram cichlids get?
The usual size of the electric blue ram is between 2-2.5 inches (5–6 cm), making it a small fish.
German blue rams or electric blue rams are beautiful freshwater fish with a peaceful temperament. However, they are not beginner friendly and may require some exceptional care in pristine water conditions.
If not taken care of properly, the fish might show signs of stress and illness, eventually leading to their death. Therefore, proper tank maintenance and tank setup should be exercised to avoid accidents.
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.