German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) is a popular cichlid fish due to its beautiful coloration and peaceful nature. Unlike most cichlids, this species makes a great community tank inhabitant.
In addition to being sociable, these little cichlids also display interesting cichlid behaviors like swimming around in pairs and displaying territorial behavior.
However, these fish are somewhat fragile and only thrive if tank conditions are right. So we made this guide to provide you with the necessary knowledge on how to properly take care of German Blue Rams as well as all other information that may be useful.
- Tank Size
- What To Put In A German Blue Ram Tank
- Light Requirements
- Water Conditions & Parameters
- Filtration System
Species Profile & Overview
Contrary to what its name suggests, the German Blue Ram originates from the slow-moving rivers and streams of South America. These small cichlid species are native to the Orinoco river in Venezuela and Colombia.
In the wild, they inhabit shallow waters with plenty of vegetation for cover as well as some rocks or driftwood to hide among. The water flow is often slow to moderate and the temperature is high.
Compared to other cichlids, German Blue Rams have a peaceful temperament and prefer living in pairs. These fish are quite shy by nature but can become more active when kept in an aquarium with other peaceful species.
In their breeding season, they may show signs of aggression and territorial towards their kind or other fish. But they often just want to scare the fish away and won’t hurt them.
German Blue Rams are also known by a few other names in the aquarium hobby. Depending on where in the world you live, you might see them referred to as GBR, Blue Ram, Asian Ram, Ramirezi, and Butterfly Cichlid.
German Blue Rams are famous among fishkeepers due to their vibrant colors which are a mix of bright blues, yellows, oranges, reds, black, and whites. This makes them an attractive addition to any home aquarium setup.
The German Blue Ram is uniquely painted in beautiful colors and patterns that not any other freshwater fish has. This makes them an excellent choice of fish for those who want something small but colorful.
Their body has a traditional oval shape but the fins make them look very different from other fish. The head is slightly pointed at the front where the mouth is located. The other unique features on their head are the two large red and black eyes.
The fins of the German Blue Ram are also quite attractive. They come in unique shapes that make the fish look very different from other species of freshwater fish. The dorsal fin has several small rays running along the top of the body. All their fins are decorated with a beautiful dot pattern and coloration that makes the fish sparkle under the light.
Their coloration is what really sets them apart from other species of fish. They typically feature a bright yellow body with iridescent scales in shades of blue, green, orange, and black.
These species are also line-bred to develop other colors. Nowadays there are Black German Blue Rams, Darknight German Blue Ram, and a few other color mutations available in the market.
German Blue Ram are small species that reach an average length of 2 – 2.5 inches. Males tend to be slightly larger than females but it’s not fat that all GBRs go by.
The size of GBR fish makes them ideal for aquarists who have smaller aquariums. Although larger tanks may be necessary if keeping a group.
The average lifespan of a German Blue Ram is between 3 and 4 years when kept in captivity. Poor water quality can lead to disease or infection which will shorten their lifespan significantly.
An inadequate diet can also cause health problems over time due to malnutrition. Stress from overcrowding or improper tank size can cause increased aggression among other fish which could result in injury or death for your pet fish.
Behavior & Temperament
As a cichlid, German Blue Rams are generally peaceful and can be kept with other peaceful fish. German Blue Rams will become territorial when breeding or if there is limited space in the tank.
When kept in small aquariums or overcrowded aquariums, they may become territorial and aggressive towards other fish. To prevent this from happening, it is important to provide plenty of hiding places for them so that they can retreat when feeling threatened.
They generally stay in the lower part of your tank near a cave or plant that they mark as their territory. If you have a sand substrate you’ll often spot them skulking among the plants and digging through the substrate.
German Blue Rams are a combination of timid and curious fish that show interesting behaviors. They are active fish but will stay in their territory if other fish are in the tank. They may only leave their nest (territory) if it’s feeding time.
German Blue Ram Care
German Blue Ram is an excellent choice of cichlid for those who have some experience with sensitive fish. If you have less experience with warm water species then this fish might suffer in your care.
To thrive, a GBR needs the right diet, tank size, tank setup, and the right water parameters. This makes them somewhat hard fish to keep long term. So we do not recommend this fish for beginner aquarists.
In the next few sections, we will cover all the basic needs this fish has and make you ready to be the best parent for your German blue rams.
The minimum tank size for a German Blue Ram is 20 gallons. This size tank will comfortably house a pair of adult rams but no other species can be present. However, the larger the tank, the more comfortable and healthy the fish will be.
If you want to have a group of German Blue Ram, you will need a bigger aquarium and lots and lots of plants. A larger tank also allows for better water quality since there is less waste produced per gallon of water when compared with smaller tanks.
The extra space will also allow you to keep up with regular maintenance such as cleaning and water changes without stressing out the inhabitants too much.
What To Put In A German Blue Ram Tank
The German Blue Ram is a colorful and active fish that prefers a planted aquarium with plenty of hiding places. When decorating the aquarium for this species, it is important to create a well-planted aquascape as this is what they prefer the most.
German Blue Ram needs hiding places and areas of shelter. This is because they are a timid species and can become stressed easily if they can’t find a place to hide. Decorations such as driftwood, rocks, caves, and plants can all be used to create these areas for the fish to hide in when feeling threatened.
Additionally, German Blue Rams prefer soft substrates like sand or very fine gravel. These fish spend most of their time near the bottom of the tank and will dig in the sand for food and shelter.
We are in favor of using natural decorations as they can add a lot of beauty and realism to an aquarium. These decorations will also help with creating an environment in which beneficial bacteria can thrive, helping keep the water clean and healthy for your fish.
At least the plants have to be alive if you can’t or don’t want to have rocks and driftwood. These fish live in planted areas and need a similar environment in a tank. Live plants will also help your tank with oxygenation, natural filtration, food source, stress reduction, and aesthetics.
Some live plants that are compatible with German Blue Ram include Java Fern, Anubias, Amazon Sword Plant, Water Sprite, Bucephalandra, and Jungle Val. To keep these plants thriving in an aquarium environment it is important to provide adequate lighting for photosynthesis.
German Blue Ram need a moderate to high light intensity to look their best. But they are shy fish so lots of plants are needed to make them calm when the lights are on.
The light should be bright enough for the colors of the fish to show up clearly, but not so intense that it causes stress or discomfort. High-quality lighting is beneficial for plants because it helps them photosynthesize more efficiently and remove more toxins.
A good source of light can affect the colors of GBR fish in several ways. It can bring out the vibrant blue and orange hues that make this species so unique. Try to prevent too intense or too low lighting conditions as both can cause the fish to lose color due to stress.
An adjustable full-spectrum LED light allows you to control how many blue and red wavelengths are emitted into the water. This will help ensure that your fish’s coloration remains as vibrant as possible.
Water Conditions & Parameters
Most people struggle with keeping German Blue Rams alive long-term. This is because they often fail to give these fish the right water parameters. GBRs are hardy fish but the range of parameters they can survive is too narrow making it hard for new aquarists to keep them alive long-term.
This is why these fish are not good fish to get for first-time fish keepers. GBRs need warm waters that most other fish can’t tolerate. If you keep them with other fish at lower temperatures you will soon realize the mistake you made!
To keep these fish happy should focus on matching the parameters of the tank to what they have in their natural habitat. Below is the ideal range of parameters for a German Blue Ram:
- Temperature: 82 – 86 Degrees Fahrenheit
- pH: 5.5 – 6.0
- TDS: 50 – 130 PPM
At high temperatures, there will be less oxygen in the water so an air bubbler is a must and the number of fish should be low so your fish don’t suffer from oxygen deficiency.
Another important aspect of keeping these fish happy is water changes. Doing one or two water changes per week will keep the water stable and remove the toxins. Make sure not to shock the fish when changing the water.
Our Water Change Calculator can help you with a shock-free water change.
German Blue Rams are sensitive to pollutants in the water and need a strong filtration system to keep their tank clean and free of toxins. A strong filter will help remove excess waste, uneaten food, and other debris from the water which can be harmful to the fish’s health.
When picking a filter for your aquarium make sure to check its flow rate (how much water it can process) as well as its size relative to your tank.
If you choose one with too high of a flow rate it can create a strong current in the tank and that’s something GBRs don’t appreciate. At the same time, if it doesn’t have enough flow, it can cause dead spots in the tank.
We recommend a canister filter that is rated for the size of the tank you have. These filters are the most reliable type of filter for a german blue ram. They are also very easy to maintain which is another plus point.
Common Diseases and Prevention
German Blue Rams are generally quite susceptible to all aquarium diseases, particularly those caused by bacteria and parasites. Common illnesses include Ich (white spot disease), Velvet Disease, Dropsy, Fin Rot, Hole in the Head Disease, and Skin Flukes.
These diseases can cause a variety of symptoms including discoloration of the skin or fins, lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss. In severe cases, these diseases can be fatal if left untreated.
Poor water quality can lead to a number of diseases including bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasitic infestations, and even stress-related illnesses.
To prevent diseases in an aquarium it is important to maintain good water quality by regularly testing the levels of pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. It is also important to perform regular partial water changes (25% every two weeks) to remove any accumulated toxins from the tank.
Diet and Feeding Requirements
German Blue Rams are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. However, they prefer a meaty and insect-based diet.
In the wild, German Blue Rams feed on a variety of food sources including worms, crustaceans, insects, small fish, and algae. They often find their food among plants or in the substrate of the river but can also swiftly hunt smaller creatures.
Best Feeding Practices:
- Provide a varied diet to ensure your fish get all the nutrients they need for good health. Offer them high-quality flake food, freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, daphnia, or other frozen foods as well as homemade foods made from fresh vegetables and Beefheart.
- Feed small amounts several times per day rather than one large meal; this helps prevent overfeeding which can lead to water pollution and poor water quality conditions in the tank.
- Avoid feeding live feeder fish since these may carry parasites or diseases that could harm your fish. Instead, opt for commercially prepared diets specifically designed for cichlids like German Blue Rams if possible.
- Refrain from overfeeding; only give enough food so that it is consumed within 5 minutes after being added to the tank (this prevents uneaten food from decaying). Remove any remaining uneaten food with a net before it has time to sink and decay on the bottom of the
Breeding German Blue Ram
To breed German Blue Ram in an aquarium, start by providing a large tank with plenty of hiding places and plants. Try to only keep the male and female that are paired together in the breeding tank.
When GBRs pair, they will swim closely together and will defend their territory together. This is a clear sign that they are paired together and will breed if conditions are right.
The parameters of the breeding tank should be consistent with no fluctuations. The water should be kept at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH level between 5.5 – 6.0 and a very low hardness level.
These conditions will trigger the breeding cycle and will also let the fry hatch and grow without many losses. These fish can breed in other ranges of water parameters as well but the eggs might not hatch and the parents will eat the eggs.
German blue rams will lay their eggs on flat surfaces so make sure to add flat rock, terracotta, or slate to your tank. Try to place it near the area they’ve chosen as their territory. This will encourage them to lay their eggs on the flat surface you provided them with.
Once you have your tank set up properly, add some live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms to encourage breeding behavior from the Rams. They should receive a high protein diet only for up to a month to help the female to develop her eggs quickly.
Finally, keep an eye out for any eggs laid in the tank. They will lay about 100 to 300 eggs per spawning event. You can keep the eggs with the parents but if the fish are young, it might take a few tries for them to learn how to take care of the eggs and fry.
The fry will need fine live foods like newly hatched brine shrimps to survive. So make sure you have your brine shrimp hatchery ready!
Given enough space, German Blue Rams are a peaceful species that try to stay in their territory. As long as other fish are not territorial and not coming after your GBR, you should not have any problem keeping other fish with your GBRs.
In general, German Blue Rams get along well with other non-aggressive fish. But try to keep similar-sized species that can live in a similar environment. If you pick the wrong tank mates and keep them in a small aquarium you will see lots of aggression and fighting in the tank.
Considering these, here are our top picks of tank mates for German Blue Ram:
- Silver Dollar Fish
- Vampire Pleco
- Sunshine Pleco
- King Tiger Pleco
- L397 Pleco
- Rubber Lip Pleco
- Kuhli Loach
- Neon Tetra
- Cardinal Tetra
- Ember Tetra
German Blue Rams are a unique and attractive addition to any aquarium. They are peaceful, easy to care for, and can live in a variety of water conditions. They also have bright colors that make them stand out from other species of fish.
Keeping German Blue Rams in an aquarium is relatively simple as long as their basic needs are met such as clean water, adequate space, and plenty of hiding places. With proper care, they can be a beautiful addition to any home aquarium for many years to come!
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