Bolivian Ram Fish Care Guide
Bolivian Ram Fish are very fascinating and friendly fishes that have the potential to add grace to your aquarium.
Hailing straight from the river basins of Bolivia and Brazil, this fish is very hardy and easy to care. If you are planning for a community fish that would do well with your other peaceful fish, then the Bolivian Ram is the one for you.
They are shy, timid as well as colorful and cordial with other fish. Interestingly, they will soon build a lovely rapport with you once you start feeding them.
They will greet you in their pleasing style similar to that of your hairy friends. Read on through this Bolivian Ram fish care guide to learn more about them.
What Is The Bolivian Ram's Scientific Name?
The Bolivian Ram is a hardy fish, which is perfect for aquariums and tanks. It looks very impressive with its colorful texture, and interesting breeding and social behavior.
The Bolivian Rams are great community fish as they gel well with other friendly fish species. They are known for their easy spawning behaviors and they are easy to breed in aquariums with not so complicated condition requirements.
The Bolivian Rams are endemic to the basins of Amazon and upper Rio Madeira of Bolivian and Brazil. They are found in lagoons, pools and steams thriving with thick vegetation.
Due to their shyness nature, they enjoy hiding places and shaded areas in the water bodies.
The scientific name for The Bolivian Rams is Mikrogeophagus altispinosus (Haseman, 1911). The etymology of its name suggests that this interesting fish has derived its name from Latin.
Mikrogeophagus comes from 'mikros', which means 'small' and 'geophagus' is the generic name. Altispinosus also comes from two Latin words- 'altus' that means 'high' and 'spinosus' whch means 'prickly, thorny’.
It was originally described as Crenicara altispinosa (1911) way before Haseman described it as Mikrogeophagus altispinosus.
The Bolivian Rams are also known by their other popular names such as Bolivian Butterfly-Cichlid, Ruby Cichlid, Butterfly Ram, Red Cichlid, and Ruby Clown Cichlid.
What Type Of Cichlid Is This?
The fish family, Cichlid, is one of the largest families of fishes.It contains almost 2000 types. These types are divided into different groups like African Cichlids, the South American Cichlids and the Dwarf Cichlids, to name but a few.
The Bolivian Ram is a type of cichlid that falls in the group known as Dwarf Cichlids. Dwarf Cichlids are generally smaller than other cichlids. An adult Bolivian Ram can grow up to 8.89 cm (3.5 inches) long. The length is just like other Dwarf Cichlids like Rainbow Cichlids, Ram Cichlids among others.
You’ll see that Bolivian Ram also comes with a cool combination of dull brown or greyish blue body and whitish yellow or orange belly. The border of the fins and the tailare designed with bright reddish or light yellow color.
Like other Dwarf Cichlids, the Bolivian Ram is also able to adapt itself in different water conditions and situations. Again, Dwarf Cichlids are less aggressive than other Cichlids.
What Do They Look Like?
The Bolivian Rams are pretty, colorful and impressive fish species. They hail from the Amazon River basin in Bolivia and Brazil and they are very timid and peaceful in nature.
They are small colorful fish that likes to hide away in the caves at times and then gracefully swim around the community tank. They have elongated oval shaped body with pointed tail and fins. Longer filaments and much-pointed dorsal fins are observed in the mature males.
The male Bolivian Rams are larger than the females. The males grow up to 3 inches in length whereas females reach 2 inches.
The Bolivian Rams features an overall solid color ranging from a grayish blue to dull brown. They have a whitish yellow belly along with a yellow front half. They have a black spot just below the middle area of their dorsal fin.
A crescent vertical line is noticed in many Bolivian Rams that runs through their eyes. The edges of their tails, pectoral and anal fins and the tips of the dorsal fins are orange.
Their fins are soft and ideal for effortless movements that enhances their fast swimming. Their color appearance helps to enhance the look of any community tank and they behave cordial to other inhabitants of the tank.
Are They Easy To Care For?
They are a good fish for anyone at the beginner’s level. They are easy to care and thus, make a good addition to the aquariums. Their tank requirements and maintenance criteria are minimal.
They require 30% of the water in the tank to be changed on a weekly basis. Cleaning off the algae and maintaining pristine water quality is necessary to avoid diseases and deaths.
The minimum tank size for Bolivian Rams is at least 20 gallons with slow-moving water and filtration. They love soft and acidic water with 6.4 to 7.0 ph level. They are happy with a water temperature range of 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
They are omnivores and they enjoy a great variety of food from benthic detritus to pellets and flakes.
They will accept live as well as frozen bloodworms, cyclopeeze, brine shrimp, and others. They are lovely beings as they grow attached to their feeders and greet them in “the Bolivian Rams” style. They are also easy to breed when given proper spawning conditions.
Are They Aggressive?
They are one of the most peaceful and friendly aquarium fishes. They are endemic to Bolivia and Brazil. The fish has been a popular choice for community tanks for their peaceful demeanor in the community tanks.
They are not at all aggressive. On the contrary, these fishes are very pleasing and shy. Due to their shy nature, they like to hide away at the caves placed at the bottom of the aquarium.
They are not very competitive, thus, it is recommended to keep them with other friendly fish species that are less intimidating. They have proven to be a great community fish as they do not bother others fishes.
The Bolivian Rams are known to behave peacefully in schools up to 10 as well as alone in a community tank. They do not need fishes from their own species to be happy and cheerful.
They gel well with peaceful fishes like Synodontis catfish, Silver Dollar, Dwarf (Neon)-Rainbowfish, Dwarf Gourami, Plecostomus and many others. They might behave a little aggressive to large and aggressive fish that tend to threaten them.
Can You Mix Them With Other Fish (Tankmates)?
As stated before, they are very peaceful and friendly fish. However, they are not good with a general mixed aquarium due to their shy nature. So if you have an Compressiceps Cichlid, then think again. They prefer small schooling fishes, as they do not prefer competition.
The fish requires pristine water to survive, which strike out the possibility of dwelling with fishes that might prefer other conditions. They are very friendly with peaceful fishes like them who prefer open water- dwelling charades.
The Bolivian Rams can shed their natural shyness only when they are sure of no possible threat within the vicinity. They hide away in their caves if they sense any hint of threat from other fishes.
Mostly The Bolivian Rams are observed to be the most pleasing and peaceful fish in any community tank. They remain happy when they placed alone, or in a school of own kind in the community tank.
These fishes do not show any hint of aggression to any find of the fish species. They require an ample space to swim, rocks to breed and caves to hide. You will also observe that they sleep in the caves and feel safe in them.
Their timid nature makes them ideal community fish that enhances the looks and atmosphere of any aquarium. They are very friendly with many peaceful fish species like Dwarf (Neon)-Rainbowfish, Synodontis catfish, Plecostomus, Silver Dollar, Dwarf Gourami, Synodontis catfish, and others.
Where Is Their Natural Habitat?
Originating from South America. They are endemic to the countries like Bolivia and Brazil. The fishes are widely found in the Amazon River throughout the upper Rio Madeira basin.
The Bolivian Rams got its name because it was collected from a shallow pond located in Bolivia. The species inhabits in the Guarpore basin at San Ramone and the Rio Mamore close to the mouth of Rio Guarpore River at Trinidad. They can also be found in the floodplains below Todos Santos and the mouth of the Igarape River at Guarjara- Mirim.
They are very friendly and pleasant as a community fish. However, they are also very timid and shy. They are mostly found in the pools, streams, and lagoons with thick vegetation.
These streams flourish with thick and submerged roots and branches that offer ample shaded area. Due to the shy nature of the Bolivian Rams, they enjoy these shaded areas and use them as their hiding place.
They, naturally, like the bottom and midsection of the streams and find small caves to hide, sleep and feel safe. They feed on small organisms and plant materials by sifting the fine substrate. However, they like to catch free organisms present in the water and at the surface as well.
How Big Do Bolivian Rams Get?
Among different types of Cichlids, as stated earlier, they belong to Dwarf Cichlids. The name says it all. They are not big fish at all.These are beautiful and small Cichlids.
An adult Bolivian Ram can grow up to 8.89 cm or 3.5 inches. Some people have experienced some Bolivian Rams to grow up to 3 inches (7.6 inches) long.There are some large Bolivian Rams found with a length of 4 inches (10.2 cm).
So, we can say that an average length of a Bolivian Ram is 3.5 inches. It is not more than the size of a business card. The small size has made a Bolivian Ram ideal for keeping in a fish tank.
Normally the height of the fish is not counted. If you leave the fins, the height of the body of a Bolivian Ram is about one-third of the length of it. So, it is about 1.2 inches (3.3 cm). With the fins, the height becomes almost double.
What Do They Like To Eat (Diet)?
They are omnivores and benthophasgous by nature. When they live in the wild, they take a mouthful of substrates as they sift it in search of edible items.
However, they release the remaining non-edible items through their mouth and gill opening. They snatch food from water columns and scratch the solid surfaces in quest of food.
When placed in tanks, they accept live and frozen food with equal fervor. Some of the food items they are leased with are Daphnia, Artemia, Drindal worm, Bloodworm, brine shrimp and others.
Soak the frozen and dry freeze items in garlic juice for fussy Bolivian Rams. Garlic juice stimulates their appetite and strengthens their immune system.
They like flakes and pellets as well. The fishes are also acceptable towards homemade gelatin bound recipes, which includes balanced portions of fresh fruits, vegetable, dried fish food, and pureed shellfish.
Ideally, they are fed a small amount of food several times a day instead of one big portion once a day. This keeps the water clean for a longer period.
What Are Their Water Requirements?
They need pristine water quality to survive, which calls for weekly water replacement and weekly cleaning of the tank.
As The Bolivian Rams require nearly perfect water condition, a well- filtered tank is ideal for them.
The filtration and flow of the water should maintain a perfect balance to suit their requirements. The Bolivian Rams like slow to moderate flow of water in their tanks.
The Bolivian Rams thrive in acidic and soft water. The pH level should range in between 6.4 to 7.0 with low to moderate hardness.
The temperature in the tank should range in between 74 to 82 degree F. try to keep at the upper range of the temperature bracket, as they seem to be happier with higher reading. When the conditions are optimum (as mentioned above) for the Bolivian Ram, they easily breed on their own without any specific trigger.
What is the best tank size for a Bolivian Ram?
The Bolivian Rams are fascinating fish species that are a delight for the aquarist. They are easy to take care with minimum requirements for environmental conditions in the tank. One the most important requirement for the Bolivian Rams is pristine water quality.
Their tanks need weekly cleaning and at least 30% of the water replaced for maintaining a healthy environment for them. Ideally, they require a minimum tank size of 20 gallons.
This allows them to swim easily around the tank. The paradox with large tanks is that they are easy to maintain, as the water in the tank tends to be more stable.
The Bolivian Rams require a temperature ranging from 74 to 82 degrees F to flourish. They need soft and acidic water in between the range of 6.4 to 7.0. Proper water filtrations balanced with slow to moderate water flow are essential for the Bolivian Rams.
An ideal tank set up for the Bolivian Rams would need some soft and sandy substrate to replicate their natural habitat and encourage their natural behavior of sifting it. You can add some branches or wood roots to create shady spots and caves. To encourage spawning you can place some flat rocks.
What Do The Male And Females Look Like?
The way to differentiate between a male Bolivian Ram and a female is the tails. The tail fin of a male contains extended filaments in both sides. In case of a female, there are no such long extended filaments. Females have a slightly extended filament in their tail fin.
Another difference between a male and a female is the head structure. The head of a female is a bit rounded than the head of a male.
There is a difference in their dorsal fins too. The 3rd and 4th ray of the dorsal fin of a male Bolivian Ram is a bit longer than other rays. In case of a female, there is no such prolonged ray in the dorsal fin.
The dorsal fin of a female Bolivian Ram contains rays arranged in a progressive slope. As a result, the boundary rays are a bit longer than middle rays, but these maintaincontinuousprogress.
It is easy to differentiate between a female and a male Bolivian Ram at the time of breeding. When it is time to breed, the woman Bolivian Ram gets a light pinkish patch on her belly.The male can’t develop that patch.
These are the common differences between a male and a female Bolivian Ram.
Are They Easy To Breed?
It’s not difficult to breed Bolivian Rams. If you intend to breed them, they’ll only require soft water combined with the right water conditions and they’ll breed on their own.
There aren’t any special triggers known for them to breed either. Left on their own, male and female juvenile Bolivian Rams will pair up and begin the mating process which will lead to breeding and the laying of eggs.
Bolivian Rams mate for life, and to breed them, the males and females must be left together in a tank until they pair off. Once they’ve found their mates, they must me put in their own separate tank.
To ensure a successful breeding, water conditions must be good and the fish must be fed frozen foods of high quality. This must be done until the pair is ready to lay their eggs.
Bolivian Rams are known to be open spawners and lay their eggs anywhere from flat rocks to wide leaves, and sometimes even on the aquarium glass. In the wild, females usually lay 100-200 eggs, and up to 100 eggs while in a controlled environment.
After the female lays her eggs, the male will fertilize them right after. It takes 60 hours for the eggs to hatch. Unfortunately for the eggs, new parents sometimes eat their eggs but they will eventually get off this behavior after they’ve bred a few times.
But aside from eating their eggs, Bolivian Rams are known to be good parents. They watch over their fry and move them from different locations for a few weeks using their mouths. It’s important to change the water of your tank on a daily basis since the fry are sensitive to the nitrates in the water. (
Are Bolivian Rams Likely to Get the “Ich” Disease?
Bolivian Rams are susceptible to freshwater ich disease, also known as white spot disease. It’s a common disease among tropical fishes which is caused by parasites attaching itself to the fish.
They appear as white spots on the scales and can cause problems by hampering the breathing and movement the fish and in some cases, it can result to death.
It can be a difficult disease to contain because it spreads quickly and will easily infect all the fish in the aquarium if you’re unable to treat the water and fight the disease.
There are several possible causes of ich which include a sudden change in the conditions of the aquarium environment, introducing fish that already have been infected or even having tank decorations that might already have the cysts of the parasite.
The good news is that this disease can be easily prevented. Actions that should be taken include maintaining the optimum pH level and temperature of the water, changing the water frequently and with high quality water, and ensuring that the fish and decorations you purchase are healthy and clean.
If your Bolivian Rams are already infected, you can treat this disease using medication during the phase when the parasite is still multiplying. Doing so once the fish are already deeply infected will no longer cure them.
Can You Keep Just One Bolivian Ram On Its Own?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to keep a Bolivian Ram on its own. Pet owners can keep them solo or in pairs. Bolivian Rams tend to have a peaceful temperament and are social creatures, meaning they interact and can get friendly with other kinds of fish kept in the tank.
However, they don’t do well if they’re kept with aggressive fishes. They’re also smart enough to recognize their owner or feeder, and can get excited for food when that person is nearby.
It’s also fine to have them as a group. If you do, it’s possible that a male and a female Bolivian Ram will pair off and you’ll observe them bonding on their own and swimming together. This is a good sign to put them in their own tank for them to breed.
Whether solo, in pairs or as a group, it’s a good idea to decorate your aquarium with rocks, plants, and driftwood to keep them comfortable, but be sure to leave space for them to swim freely.
Do Bolivian Rams Eat Shrimp?
Like many fish their size, Bolivian Rams can’t eat full grown, live shrimps. They do, however, eat frozen shrimp brine. Being omnivores, they eat both plant and animal matter.
Other frozen foods that Bolivan Rams can enjoy are blackworms, bloodworms, and daphnia which are water fleas. Note that frozen food should only be a supplement to their diet and should not be their main source of food.
Most of the time, they should be fed mainly fish flakes and pellets because the vitamins found in them help maintain the good health of the fish.
When feeding, it’s best to feed them in small portions several times a day instead of feeding them once with a big portion. Experts recommend feeding them a pinch of fish flakes or pellets 2-5 times a day.
By doing this, you also contribute to the improvement of the water quality in your tank.
Are Bolivian Rams Live Breeders or Egg Layers?
Bolivian Rams are egg layers and are not live breeders, and females can lay up to 200 eggs at a time in the wild and around 100 eggs in a tank. Breeding them is easy since you just need the right water conditions like temperature and pH levels.
If you have a group of juveniles, you can wait to see which ones will pair off. You’ll know this when you see two Bolivian Rams swimming alone together. Once this happens, you can move them to their own tank so they can mate and breed.
Bolivian Rams usually lay their eggs on rocks or pebbles with flat surfaces but also have been known to lay eggs on wide leaves and sometimes even on the glass of your tank!
After the female lays her gray, oval eggs, the male will fertilize them and stay within the area of the eggs to protect them. Although there are known instances when new Bolivian Ram parents eat their eggs, this will stop this behavior after breeding a few times.
After 60 hours, the eggs will hatch and wrigglers will be able to swim freely after 7 days.
How Long For Bolivian Ram Eggs To Hatch?
The Bolivian Rams are commonly referred to as the open spawners and usually lays about 200 eggs. The female will be moving across the spawning region many numbers of times.
During that process, they keep laying eggs while the males stand there. The female often lay about 72-100 eggs while the male would cross them so that the fertilization takes up.
This is followed by the fanning process which is done by the female. The presence of pebbles in the water region as well as a temperature of about 75-82 F and low light is highly recommended during this period.
The Bolivian eggs will hatch in a period of 3 days. The Bolivians can also survive in hard water and can tolerate a pH value of up to 7.6 Bolivians are considered to be as better parents mainly because they patiently waited till the hatching of eggs and then proceeded to eat the wriggles.
The parents always keep moving to different places and in a week, the fry will be free swimming. This type of breeding is very simple. Approximately after a period of 4-5 days, the wriggled generally become the free swimmers. The Bolivian Rams have immense clutches of eggs. They mature a little slower and grow around 1 inch before it gets sold.
What To Do If My Bolivian Ram Is Not Eating?
Sometimes the Bolivian Rams are found not eating. Usually, the new ones take their own time in getting used to the conditions before adapting to the eating habits.
Measures like presoaking the worms before feeding can be tried as this would make it even soft for them to swallow. The frozen bloodworms can be tried soaking with garlic juices.
This is highly advised for the Bolivian Rams when they don’t eat as it increases its appetite and also enhances the deficiency systems. Food that would increase their appetite and also attract them is advised.
Foods like shrimp and bloodworms can also be tried feeding to the Bolivian Rams. One should ensure that the light in that region says, the tanks must be very dim and enough cover must be provided to ensure that they are comfortable.
Algae food also can be tried for the Bolivian Rams. Frozen bloodworms are the best food that could be served to them during this period. Even frozen shrimp and the lice mosquito larvae are tempting as well.
There should not be huge noise around the region. The initial days of the new Bolivian rams can be tricky, but with the above mentioned and food conditions, it could turn better for them.
Roughly How Much Do They Cost?
The cost of the Bolivian Ram is usually a little higher than the usual ones. They range from 8$-15$ depending upon the location. Based on the size, demand, availability, and quality the cost of these fishes can increase up to 20$.
Despite their size, these are considered to be quiet peaceful in the locality. The average cost would be $10 and these being calm, are very much compatible with other fishes.
They usually have a lifespan of around 3-5 years. These are commonly referred to as the social pairs which strive to remain faithful to each other. The adult size of them is around 6-8 cm.
The cost varies based on their sizes and colors. The physical appearance of these fishes has an impact on their cost. Additionally, one has to keep in mind the cost of setting up the tank with the appropriate pH level, and the suitable food products for them. Being the best tropical calm fish, people are fond of it and ready to spend the money on it.
The Bolivian Rams have become one of the most popular peaceful fish that has found a home in many community tanks across the world due to their friendly nature.
As you already know, they are easy to care, hardy and interesting creatures that they are not easy to let go.
Come and share your experiences with your Bolivian Rams or ask further questions to know them better.
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