Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, more commonly known as the Ram originates from northwestern South America, although nowadays many different variants are captively bred for the aquarist hobby, with changes to body shape, finnage & colour. It is still widely regarded that the "wild" form & colour are by far superior to any selectively bred variant.
Their natural habitat is soft & slightly acidic water, however they will happily live in neutral water.
Ideal conditions for breeding are a Temperature of 24 to 26 °C with a pH around 6.5 & a general hardness of around 4dH.
Sexing the adult fish is fairly easy. The main differences are that the male is usually larger than the female, with the dorsal & anal fins being more pointed in shape, also a lot of males have an elongated second or third ray on the dorsal fin, however females can also have an elongated second or third ray. The female usually has a few flecks on the dark spot & when in breeding condition & ready to spawn her belly is goes pink or red in colour.
An adult male will reach a size of around 2 to 2.5 inches long, with the female around 1.5 to 1.75 inches..
To achieve breeding condition, Rams should be fed a varied diet with occasional high protein foods such as bloodworm or brine shrimp.
The tanks set up should consist of a fine gravel substrate with a broad leaved plant & a flat surfaced stone, which all could be potential spawning sites.
Once a couple of Rams have paired off they will select a suitable spawn site, either a flat surface such as a stone or a leaf or they may dig a shallow pit in the substrate.
Rams are egg laying open spawners & both parents take part in cleaning & guarding the eggs. The eggs hatch around three days later & the parents regularly move the "wrigglers" to various locations in order to keep them safe.
The fry will not need food for another two days or so, as they will live & grow off of their yolk sack until they become free swimming & can actively take & seek out food.
Fry can be fed on microworm or liquid fry food & eventually will be big enough to take newly hatched brine shrimp after another week or two.
Occasionally & especially with young parents, they adults may eat the eggs before they hatch. This can be overcome by removing a batch of eggs complete on the rock or leaf that they are on, & hatching them out in another aquarium containing the same water as the original tank that they came from.
© Vincent Balman 2006. This fact sheet may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author.