Blue Ram Cichlids, sometimes called the Butterfly Cichlid, are a brilliantly colored species of cichlid native to Columbia and Venezuela. Blue Ram Cichlids are prized for their stunning looks and interesting personality.
They are generally peaceful and social, making them great for community aquariums. With proper care and attention, Blue Ram Cichlids will thrive and reproduce in no time!
Caring For Blue Ram Cichlids
Blue Ram Cichlids are a little more difficult to keep than the average cichlid. Though our complete guide, you should be able to learn everything there is to know about caring for these amazing little fish!
Some sources claim that you can raise Blue Rams in a 10 gallon aquarium, but I would highly advise this. Blue Rams are a beautiful, interesting species and require a good amount of space. If you plan to keep a pair of Blue Rams, I would suggest using a 20-30 gallon aquarium. Doing so will allow you to give them enough hiding spaces, plants, and rock formations. It may require a little more start up money, but in the end you will avoid a lot of headaches. Your fish will also be healthier, happier, and most likely live longer!
Blue Ram Cichlids are much more sensitive to water conditions than other species of cichlids. Temperature should remain between 78-84° Fahrenheit in the worst case scenario, but they thrive best at a consistent 80°. As always with water temperature, its crucial that it remains consistent and doesn’t fluctuate around.
Blue Rams require a pH of 5.5-7 and prefer soft water. They are very sensitive to bad water conditions, so make sure you test your water regularly. Any traces of ammonia or nitrite is fatal to Rams. Try to keep your nitrates as low as possible through regular water changes. As always, make sure your aquarium is COMPLETELY cycles before adding your Blue Rams.
Water flow should be minimal in your blue Blue Ram aquarium, especially if you want them to spawn. A little water flow from the filter is usually enough!
Aquarium Set Up and Tank Mates
Surprisingly, Blue Ram Cichlids do best when housed with other fish. Keeping different species with your Rams tends to make them less aggressive and more relaxed. A few great tankmates include Tetras, Rainbowfish, and Guppies. These peaceful tank mates help you Rams feel safe and provide a little more action in your aquarium.
Blue Ram Cichlids require an aquarium with tons of hiding places. In the absence of hiding spots, they tend to become aggressive and pick on each other and other species. If possible, try to mimic the Rams’ natural habitat as closely as possible. This includes plenty of vegetation, wood, and rock caverns. Providing cave-like structures is vital to making your Rams feel protected and comfortable. Vertical rock formations will encourage your Rams to spawn, so include these if you plan to breeding them in the future.
Blue Ram Cichlids are often seen as a pretty difficult species to keep. In reality, this rumor just comes from the fact that they require a bit more work. Unlike other cichlid species, you can’t just throw them into a tank and expect them to do well Put a little love into you Ram setup and your fish will thrive.
Once again, Blue Rams break the cichlid stereotype. Unlike other cichlids, Rams are picky eaters and wont engulf anything thrown into the tank. They are commonly known to stop eating for a few days when first introduced to an aquarium. This is a normal behavior and does not indicate that your fish are sick in any way. During these first few days/weeks, try feeding your Rams meaty, nutrient rich food. Frozen brine shrimp or bloodworms usually do the trick. Live brine shrimp are also a great treat!
Once your Rams are eating steadily, slowly introduce them to cichlid flakes or pellets. Watch your Rams as they feed and make sure they are getting enough food. They can be slow eaters, so other fish are often inclined to steal the food before the Rams have a chance to get any.
As with any fish, switch up their diet often to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients. I suggest switching between frozen bloodworms/brine shrimp, cichlid pellets, and cichlid flake food. Feeding them a wide variety of food will also bring out their vivid natural colors.
Breeding Blue Ram Cichlids
Blue Ram Cichlid Breeding can be an amazing process to watch and experience. In fact, Blue Ram Cichlids are one of my favorite fish to breed in home aquariums. Watching them through the process or pairing, spawning, and raising fry is an incredible experience that is only supplemented by their beauty. Though they can be slightly more difficult to breed than other cichlid species, with a little work you should have baby Rams in no time.
Getting a Breeding Pair
Getting a breeding pair of Rams is one of the most difficult parts of the entire Blue Ram Cichlid Breeding process. They are difficult to accurately sex, but that is only the beginning. Even if you can pick out a male and female, they still may not form a breeding pair. Rams tend to be picky in their mates, so the pair might just never reproduce.
To guarantee a breeding pair, I would recommend purchasing 6-8 juvenile Rams and raising them to maturity. Because they reach sexual maturity so quickly, this usually doesn’t take too long. For this technique you will need a tank of at least 30 gallons, as you will most likely have more than one pair in the end.
As the juvenile Rams mature, you will notice pairs breaking off from the group and isolating themselves. After you see one or two pairs form, you can remove the other Rams from the tank or return them to the fish store.
Suitable Tank Conditions For Spawning
Now that you have one or two pairs, you are ready to fix up their environment to encourage spawning. Rams are much more likely to spawn in soft water (you can soften your water by having a good amount of peat moss in your tank!). You should increase your water temperature to around 82°. As always, make sure your water is pristine and free of nitrates. Try to avoid sticking you hands in the tank or causing too much commotion. Stressed Rams will never spawn.
Providing a suitable place for your Rams to lay eggs is a vital piece of the Blue Ram Cichlid Breeding process. Rams usually prefer a tall, flat, vertically placed rock to lay their eggs. Other pairs are inclined to lay eggs on large leaves or patches of gravel, so be sure to include these in your tank for the highest chance of success.
When they are close to spawning, you will probably notice your Rams cleaning the vertical rock slate to prepare it for eggs. The red patch on your female’s belly will grow brighter and they may show increased aggression. The female Ram will lay, on average, 150-250 eggs. If it is the pair’s first spawn, it can even be as low as 20 eggs.
Caring For Blue Ram Fry
Your pair’s eggs will take 3-5 days to hatch into “wigglers”. These wiggles will sit on the bottom of the tank for another 3-5 days until they can finally swim. It is important to leave the pair with their fry for the entire process, as they can be quite good parents after a few trial runs. If they happen to eat their fry the first few times don’t worry, this is normal. They are just learning!
Once your fry are free swimming, they will normally stay in tight schools around their parents. During this time, the pair will raise their offspring, move them around the tank, and guard them from any other fish.
Feeding Blue Ram Fry
Feeding Blue Ram fry can be quite a challenge. Though they can survive in the tank with no special foods prepared (will pick at algae and tiny creatures), survival rate will not be very high. If you would like the highest possible survival rate, you will have to feed you Blue Ram fry special foods.
One of the easiest foods you can feed you Blue Ram fry is powered egg yolk. You can get this at some baking stores or online. Mix the powered egg yolk with a little bit on water and use a turkey baster or eye dropper to squirt in into the fry school. This technique has worked wonders for me over the years for more species than just Blue Rams. Though it will not give them all of the necessary nutrients, powdered egg yolk will usually get them big enough to the point that you can start feeding them different foods.
If you are really serious about raising the fry to adulthood, look into feeding them live vinegar ells. Blue Ram fry are especially tiny, but vinegar ells are small enough to fit in their mouths and provide excellent nutrients. Raising vinegar ells for fry food requires a specialized set up (not hard but a little time consuming), but it is worth it in the long run. Read more about how to raise live vinegar ells here!
Once your Blue Ram fry have grown a little bit, you should be able to start feeding the baby brine shrimp. Baby brine shrimp are the baseline fry food for any species, so if you plan to breed fish you should be familiar with the process. Like vinegar ells, raising baby brine shrimp for fry food requires a little set up and work. You can read more about the process here.
Growing The Fry
When the fry are about three weeks old, most breeders remove them from the main tank. This is not necessary, but some pairs will eat the fry around this time to prepare for another spawn. I generally move them into a ten gallon grow out tank.
If you decide to remove the fry, make sure to only use water from the original aquarium. Keep the water temperature identical, as any variation can kill the fry. During this time, I try to begin introducing other foods into their diet. Finely crushed flake foods or pellets often work well. The fry should begin eating larger qualities of food and you will notice their growth explode. They should be moved into a larger aquarium as they grow, or even sold to a local fish store. Luckily, Blue Ram Cichlids are always in high demand, so most fish stores will be happy to buy healthy fry from you!