Investing in a beautiful aquarium for your living room is always a fantastic idea. But, after some time, a feeling of discontent may grow in you. So, if you decide to revamp, it’s great to add a Bolivian ram to the aquarium for a more spectacular and refreshing view.
But why a Bolivian ram and not any other?
While other ornamental fish are good as well, all are unique in their own way. If you want to experience what a cichlid has to offer, then Bolivian ram tops the list. It livens up your aquarium with a distinct fusion of bright colors. Additionally, it’s one of the attractive fish that is easy to care for hence a good fit for aquarium starters.
That’s the little unfolded. There are lots more to discover beyond its visual appearance. And it’s only here where your luck lies in finding out whether it’s worth your home and money.
Scientific Name: Mikrogeophagus altispinosis
Common names: Bolivian ram, butterfly ram, red ram, ruby crown cichlid
Habitat Origin: The freshwaters of bolivia and brazil
Physical Size: 2.5 to 3.5 inches
Diet & Nutrition: omnivorous
Lifespan: up to 4 years
Care intensity: Low
Male to Female Ratio: 1: 3
Difficulty level: beginner to intermediate
The Bolivian Ram is not as significantly large as you may think. Instead, it’s a small cichlid with varying sizes between 2.5- 3.5 inches. The smallest of 2.5 inches are the female species, while the males grow largest to 3-3.5 inches.
It’s a multicolored variant of the Cichlidae family. Its entire body flares with a vibrant pigmentation of more than one color. The front body part is a bright shade of yellow, which lessens towards the rear into a tan/silver hue. The yellowness also dims towards the belly into a whitish-yellow color. This coloration brightens into a rainbow-like spectrum when the cichlid is stressed up.
If you examine it closer, you notice a black spot existing in the body’s middle on the lateral line. Plus, several faint vertical stripes run from the eyes to the body section. The most conspicuous black stripe crosses through the eye to both ends of the head section.
All the fins radiate with fiery red edges with a translucent blue dominating. Like most American cichlids, it has one nostril, a unique feature lacking in most fish. Overall, Bolivian Ram has a striking elongated ovate-shaped body.
Difference Between The Males And Females
The male species of Bolivian rams do not resemble the females. However, some contrasting aspects enable you to identify which is which.
As previously mentioned, the males tend to be longer and slimmer than the females. The adult males reach 3.5 inches longest. Looking at the females, they have a noticeable plumper body with a more rounded belly.
But the easiest way to distinguish a female from a male ram is by examining their vents during spawning. The male’s vent is long and pointed, while the female’s vent is shorter and stubby.
This is a fundamental parameter in ensuring the comfort and safety of your ruby red rams. If not taken seriously, then the decorative fish may succumb to the fatal habitat. Moreover, the water quality and quantity rely on the size of the aquarium.
Thus, the aquarium size should be at least 20 gallons, depending on the number of fish kept. However, the 20-gallon aquarium works for a small school of Bolivian rams of about four to six.
But to be on the safer side, it’s better to set up a 30-gallon aquarium to avoid most fish-keeping problems. Besides, this extraordinary fish is a swimming fanatic. So it would love ample swimming space for optimal growth and proper health.
If you aspire to rear large communities, the initial size of the aquarium should increase. Congestion chokes the inhabitant fish and also interferes with the oxygen supply.
Must-haves For Aquariums With Bolivian Rams
After the creation of a suitable aquarium size, other aspects of care and protection set in. The core focus is what to include in the aquarium and what not to. Ultimately, they need to be that the Bolivian ram would enjoy in their presence.
The status of the water in the aquarium determines the ram’s survivability and capability to reach the expected life span. Therefore, it requires you to simulate water conditions similar to its original habitat.
Providing favorable water conditions means you precisely create:
- A water pH of 6.0 to 7.5
- Water temperatures in the range of 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit
- A Water hardness level of 6-14 dGH
- Low to moderate water movements
Water Tips: As a committed aquarist, you should change the water weekly to keep the nitrate low. And as much as its care is not intensive, the Bolivian fish still requires vigilant monitoring. So, if possible, make it a daily routine and equip yourself with a water test kit.
When setting up a pleasant aquarium habitat, placing particular substrates should not be left out. And the good part is the Bolivian ram is non-destructive, which makes it a unique aquarium fish.
Starting the placement process is sand. After that, you spread granite pebbles and smooth rocks over the sand providing a hiding spot. Plus, it aids in obstructing reflections that stress up the fish.
Substrate Tips: Always check the choice of the substrate does not leach interfering with the water pH, such as stratified rocks. If it’s sand, it’s recommended to use pool filter sand and not sand for marine tanks.
The aquarium looks most beautiful when it’s made as purely natural as possible. That’s why including aquatic plants works the magic. After the substrates are well-positioned, the next is to fix the plants, whether live or artificial, into the system.
There are specific plants that complement an aquarium with Bolivian rams. They include:
- Anubias nana
- Amazon sword
- Java fern
- Rosette plants etc.
All these aquatic plants should be dense and clustered with a great spacing in-between. That grants the fish the ability to swim freely without hitting any obstructions.
Adding driftwood largely helps aerate the water besides providing subtle looks. Generally, the aquarium plants offer hideouts for the Bolivian ram, which is crucial during spawning. Also, if the dwarf ram feels threatened, it has a place to run to for safety.
Continued Care And Protection
Continued care for the Bolivian ram is not complex after setting up the tank and the aquarium inclusions. Once you fully understand this fish’s requirements, it’s easy to get in the swing of things after a month or two. The fact that they are hardy and docile proves this ram is manageable.
Apart from inspecting the tank parameters, you should watch out for the following.
Food And Diet
It’s affordable to keep butterfly rams well-fed owing to their omnivorous nature. They are omnivores in the sense that they devour anything given to them.
In the wild waters, they feed on benthic detritus and the existing aquatic plants. In captivity, you need to embrace a diet schedule as it’s no longer a wild and carefree environment.
Since the Bolivian rams love to stay at the aquarium’s bottom, sink-able pellets would be excellent food. It can also be fed flakes together with fresh or frozen meaty foods. Sometimes, they consume the plants in the aquarium. Therefore, it’s ideal to place a considerable quantity to prevent unnecessary depletion.
The feeding frequency is unrestricted. You provide the fish with small amounts of food several times a day instead of bulk quantities at once. This is because the bulk quantities are toxic in that they form a build-up of the excess mass. And upon organic decomposition, a release of nitrogen occurs, which hampers the survival of the fish.
The Common Illness
Like any living organism, the Bolivian ram can get ill and, if overwhelmed, dies of the illness. Although these appealing fish rarely sicken up, there is one common disease: the ich.
An ich attack happens when the aquarist fails to maintain the right quality of water in the aquarium. However, no matter how vigilant you may be, the fish might still catch the ich.
It’s an infectious disease. So, the moment you notice it, isolate the sickling fish to prevent a vast spread to the other fish. With a slight increase in the water temperatures, the ich may fade away on its own. If it does not, focus on finding copper-infused over-the-counter drugs to eradicate it.
Compatible Tank Mates
The Bolivian rams dislike shoals. Therefore, overcrowding them in an aquarium is fatal. But they relish the presence of other peaceful species. When they live with different companions, they feel more safe and comfortable.
The other fish should be slightly larger than the Bolivian rams since the small ones may fall prey. And if you intend to keep a moderately big number, the size of the tank is considered. The larger the tank, the higher the population reared, and vice versa is true.
Here are some good tankmates for Bolivian ram:
- Dwarf gourami
- Silver dollar
- Cherry barbs
- Platies among others
The popular tetras are not the best tankmates. The Bolivian ram feeds on them.
Where To Get Bolivian Rams
The availability of these dwarf cichlids is very high. So it’s not a must for an interested person to go all the way to Brazil or the Bolivian freshwaters to fetch them. That would be an expensive ordeal, yet they are bred anywhere worldwide.
They are available in nearby fish stores at affordable prices. When on your searching spree, you will easily find them. Further, you will get to familiarize yourself with more about the Bolivian ram. It only requires you to be confident enough to seek the knowledge of the skilled vendor.
There are a couple of colorful cichlids, but none compares to the Bolivian ram with its burst of color. The Bolivian ram manifests a desirable behavior for an active aquarium.
If your worry lies in the care methodologies, as said before, it’s easy and not intensive. It’s tolerant of challenging environments. So regardless of whether you are at a beginner or expert level, this pretty fish would suit anybody.
Full of charm and character, it deserves to dwell in your already-built aquarium. It’s the perfect embodiment of peace, refined looks, and magnificence. Who knows if it’s your next favorite pet!