- Scientific Name: Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
- Family: Cichlidae
- Size: 1½ inches
- Temperature: 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
- Alkalinity: soft to moderately hard
- pH: acidic, 5.0 to 6.0
- Origin: Colombia, Venezuela
The ram may be the most beautiful of all the dwarf cichlids, with its iridescent blue scales, golden chest, exquisite black markings and brilliant red eyes. The blue ram has the coloration of a wild fish. A golden tank-raised strain is also common. It has a yellow color overall, with red in the fins and on the forehead. Long-finned strains are also available — often marketed as butterfly rams.
The ram is both hardy and delicate. On one hand, this fish spawns readily in the aquarium. A pair claims a site — usually a rock, cave, or piece of driftwood — and cleans it before depositing eggs. The male tends to have longer ventral fins and longer spikes at the front of the dorsal fin. The males also have brighter coloration overall. The female tends to develop a pink stomach when ready to spawn, and drops a breeding tube that is much larger and blunter than the male’s, which is small and pointy.
The ram can also be delicate. Other fish can harass it easily, and it even appears to be stressed by others of its own kind. In my experience, if you add several rams to a single aquarium, they’ll slowly die off until one pair remains. So keep no more than one pair per tank.