Synonyms: Apistogramma ramirezi, Microgeopha ramirezi
Physical description: A moderately elongated fish with a long caudal penuncle. The dorsal fins stands tall and the caudal fin is fan-shaped. The head and throat region is pale yellow. The belly is delicate pink, and the rest of the body is blue. The iris of the eye is blood-red with a black stripe running through it. This stripe begins at the forehead and ends at the underside of the head. The first rays of the dorsal fin are taller than the other rays. These are black in color. Just below the black rays is a pale black spot. On the mid-section is an obvious black spot. The pelvic fin is orange-red (female) or black and blue (male) in color. The anal fins are blue with a pink tinge near the tip. The caudal fin is blue with red along the edges. The dorsal fin may have a red edge.
Size/Length: To 3.5" (9 cm)
Similar species: Bolivian Ram ( Microgeophagus altispinosa), which reaches 4" (10 cm)
Habitat: In sunny swamps, lagoons, and brooks in the savannas of the Orinoco River. South America; Venezuela and Columbia
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A 20" (51 cm) tank with a capacity of 10 gallons (39 L). Provide hiding places with plant thickets, roots, wood, rocks, and over-turned flower pots. Leave open swimming areas. A cover of floating plants to diffuse the lighting is welcomed.
Water chemistry: pH 5-7 (6.5), dH 0-10 (3), 73-86°F (23-30°C).
Social behavior: A peaceful, timid fish that can be kept in a community tank with other non-aggressive fish. Do not combine the Ram with aggressive cichlid species for they will disturb this fish. Pairs form monogamous bonds.
Suggested companions: tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish, Discus, Apistogramma, Corydoras, Loricarids.
FOOD: Live; Artemia , bloodworms, glassworms, small insects, insect larvae, Tubifex; pellets; occasionally flakes.
SEX: Females are slightly smaller and develop a pink underside during the spawning season. The first ray of the male's dorsal fin is considerably longer.
Breeding techniques: Increase water temperature to 84-88°F (29-31°C). The water should have a pH from 6.5-6.8, and a soft hardness of 1-3 dH. The female spawns on wood or stones, or in small cavities. A good brood has 250-300 eggs, although clutches up to 400 have been reported. Both parents guard the eggs, which hatch in 2-3 days. The fry are very small and difficult to care for. They are free-swimming after 5-6 days, when they should be fed liquid foods, roftiers, microworms, and later Artemia
Breeding potential: 7. Breeding the Ram is fairly difficult, and the fry are challenging to raise.
Remarks: The correct genus of the Ram has yet to be determined. The Ram and the closely related, Bolivian Ram are now usually commercially tank bred in Southeast Asia. Two variations from selective breeding of the Ram are widely available; a gold (xanthistic) morph, and a veintail variety. Frequent partial water changes are necessary for this colorful cichlid to prosper. Always use a good water conditioner after a water change. The Ram is a short-lived fish, usually not living more than 2-3 years even under the best circumstances. Wild-caught fish are larger, and more colorful than the more commonly available tank-bred specimen. The ram is very sensitive to changes in water chemistry, disease, and medications.
Difficulty of care: 6. The ram is a delicate, fish, sensitive to pollutants, chemicals, and disease. However, its beauty is rewarding.
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