» Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Blog, Cichlids, Education, Freshwater Fish, Mike D | Comments Off on The Beauty of the German Blue Ram

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The Beauty of the German Blue Ram

 

By Mike DeOliveira

 

As a young boy, animals always fascinated me. Whether it was the weekend fishing and crabbing trips with my grandfather or my yearly trip to the Poconos to search for frogs and salamanders, animals were always at the center of my attention. You name it and I probably kept it. I owned turtles, red-eyed tree frogs, snakes, rabbits, hermit crabs, and the list goes on and on. Keeping these animals as pets, I always wanted to give them the best home possible. It was on one of my trips to an unfamiliar pet store that I was introduced to the wonderful world of fish-keeping and an absolutely beautiful fish called the German Blue Ram.

German Blue Ram

German Blue Ram

This pet store wasn’t like the one around the corner from my house. They seemed to specialize in freshwater and saltwater fish and according to their sign; they had the solution to all of your aquarium needs. As soon as I entered the front door I was met by a large planted aquarium, full of vibrant shimmering fish and bright green sword plants. It was amongst the fauna in this aquarium where I found the fish that opened my world to aquarium keeping. The fish I was looking at was the German Blue Ram. At this point I had never kept a fish before in my life. Not even a goldfish, but I couldn’t fight the urge to own such an exquisite creature. So naturally, I did my research.

I came to find out that the German Blue Ram is a dwarf cichlid native to the Amazon River basin, located in Venezuela and Columbia. Cichlids are one of the largest families of fishes with thousands of species spread around the world. Its scientific name is Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. The underwater landscape in these areas are dominated by driftwood which gives the water a tea color as the driftwood releases tannins into the water. This causes the pH of the water to become acidic. The proper pH to keep your aquarium at for the German Blue Ram is anywhere from 6.0 to 7.0. This can be accomplished by adding a powdered buffer to the water you use for your aquarium. The ideal temperature to maintain is 80° Fahrenheit. Incorporating live plants and driftwood help recreate the fishes natural environment and also makes your aquarium look like a living piece of art. Aqua-scaping, as it is known, is a great way to express your artistic side and can be extremely satisfying when the end result is a beautiful underwater garden to relax in front of.

German Blue Rams

Two German Blue Rams fighting over territory. Butting heads like a true cichlid.

The ram, also known as the butterfly cichlid, is one of the more popular fish in the aquarium hobby and it’s clear to see why. They are simply bursting with color and personality. The males are especially impressive. At about two and half inches fully grown with a yellow head and blue spots running down the side of the body, his beauty is unmatched. His dorsal fin is tall, bright red, and comes to a point at the end. His female counterpart is slightly smaller with more rounded fins and a bright pink belly. This fish is omnivorous and will gladly accept bloodworms or brine shrimp, as these tend to be more palatable. They will also generally accept a flake or pelleted food. These fish fit best in a peaceful, community aquarium but because they are cichlids, they still have their aggressive side. Unless your aquarium is larger than 40 gallons it is not recommended to mix this fish with other types of dwarf cichlids. Of course, having plants and places to hide can help with their aggression. They should only be introduced to an established aquarium and will not fair well if any ammonia or nitrite is present in the water. Maintaining pristine water conditions is vital for the rams’ survival. Other species of fish that I have found to be compatible with the ram includes various types of peaceful tetras and rasboras. Corydoras catfish and sucker mouth catfish also make suitable tank-mates.

What really appealed to me about fish-keeping is that fish are found in so many different environments around the world. One of the most important aspects of the hobby is to provide the fish with what it needs to survive. Throughout my experiences I have learned there is no better way to do that then to try and recreate their natural environment. In many of my aquariums not only have I had fish survive, they thrived! The more you put in, the more you get out of it and once I laid my eyes on this stunning fish I knew it would all be worth it.  

Male German Blue Ram

Male German Blue Ram

Female German Blue Ram

Female German Blue Ram

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