Bolivian Ram Cichlid: Care, Diet & Tank Mates

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If you already have an aquarium with amazing freshwater species and are searching for a quiet, exotic fish, then the Bolivian Ram is one of the best.

These lovely species make an excellent addition to an existing communal tank because they are very quiet and won’t bother other species or crustaceans in your aquarium.

These easy-to-care species can be effortlessly bred inside your tank; therefore, if you’re thinking of getting into a breeding occupation, the Bolivian Ram might be an ideal candidate.

Read on to learn ways to look after these beautiful species, their diet, and breeding information.

Bolivian Ram Cichlid Overview

Bolivian Ram Cichlid

Any shared aquarium would look stunning with Bolivian Rams, also known as Mikrogeophagus altispinosus. Despite being Cichlids, Bolivian Rams are much friendlier than their Cichlid family.

They are calm tropical species that can live with other animals without having any problems. These species are only found in specific areas of the Amazon River Area.

They are native to the Bolivia region and were named after that. However, they can survive in freshwater ecosystems across Brazil.

These attractive species often referred to as the Bolivian Butterfly and Ruby Head Cichlid, have grown to be pretty popular among fish keepers. Their distinctive traits may introduce a lively element into your tank coupled with the fact that they require minimal maintenance.

  • Scientific name: Mikrogeophagus altispinosus
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Disposition: Calm
  • Size: 3-4 inches
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Life expectancy: 4 years
  • Required tank size: 50 gallons
  • Temperature:4-78°F (23-26°C)
  • Water pH:0-7.5
  • Hardness: 0 to 10 dGH


Bolivian rams are tiny, brightly colored species. They feature an enormous oval-shaped structure that grows approximately 3-4 inches in length when fully developed. It’s important to note that they possess a thin row of jagged, ray-shaped flippers and tails, which is a common feature of species with ray fins.

Their skin tones are remarkable, ranging from muddy color to grayish-blue. They feature a yellow abdomen that occasionally stretches to the rear.

They are easily identified by their unique black patch mostly in the center of their abdomen, but many animals also exhibit a black strip across their eyelids. Orange borders could be seen on feathers and tails.

There are sexual morphological traits in this fish. Typically, males are relatively large than females, have sharp pectoral fins, and have extended threads down the spine. Women are considerably shorter, only growing to a size of roughly 2.5 inches.

Their flippers include spiky edges to help them fight off enemies. These edges are deadly because they may choke and kill the attacker. Their front body is flexible enough to help them swim effortlessly.


A Bolivian Ram lives for around 4 years in total. Just like any species, there are various factors that affect how long they live. Bad water quality and improper habitat can substantially reduce their longevity.

It’s imperative to design your pet’s surroundings in a way that will let them live out their complete lives. To ensure that these species enjoy prolonged and fulfilling lives, special cares, high-quality water, as well as a comfortable habitat are required.

Bolivian Ram Care

Caring for Bolivian ram is quite easy if you’re a responsible parent. These species are very strong and resilient and can tolerate minor water changes.

Nevertheless, it’s necessary to adhere to their recommended guidelines. Bolivian Rams demand specific settings that should be fulfilled. If you fail to address such demands, it may result in multiple health problems.

Aquarium Filter

The filtration system is necessary with most aquarium installations since Bolivian Rams prefer a fresh, well-oxygenated environment. But, they hate strong water flow.

They frequently prefer peaceful rivers in their natural environment. It is essential to have a tank filtration system with a larger volume; however, a baffle might reduce the filter’s water flow.

Most tank canister filtration features adjustable water flow. It is also possible to significantly reduce the water’s intensity by modifying the outflow’s direction in such a way that it only strikes the tank’s top layer.

Apart from installing a suitable filter in your aquarium, you should also frequently change the water. Regular water replacements of 20-25% are sufficient to maintain the tank’s nitrogen and ammonia concentrations.


In terms of aquarium light sources, these species do not need bright light. They generally spend a lot of hours in dark spots in their natural environment.

When needed, you can reduce the brightness if the controls are customizable. Offer shady places inside the aquarium if you have fixed several plants that need intense lighting.

Tank Setup

Natural objects are generally preferred for tank décor. The Amazon River System is full of life.

Natural vegetation flourishes in these waterways. These shrubs provide excellent protection for Bolivian rams. You may create a similar habitat in your tank.

Begin with a fine granular substrate. You may also add bigger stones to the tank for diversity.

These species are completely different and are not bottom dwellers so you won’t have to worry about them destroying the substrate. Although they will go down the substrate and look for food inside the substrate, they won’t dig deeper into the substrate like other fish.

After you’ve set your substrate, add green plants of various sizes and shapes. There are many wonderful freshwater plants, such as the Marimo Moss Ball, Amazon Sword, Vallisneria, and others. They give considerable shade while also protecting your species from the sunlight.

Don’t forget to add various stones and driftwood. Driftwood, like vegetation, provides an excellent location to sleep and hide.

Similarly, polished rocks would serve as a breeding setup for these species. If you can make some caverns out of rocks.

You might also buy fake rock décor. Regardless, such caverns are ideal for your species to nest.

They may hide eggs from larger species in the aquarium for protection. Keep in mind the fish’s swimming patterns while you set up the aquarium. Provide huge open areas in the middle of the aquarium so they could swim freely.

Bolivian Ram Water Parameters

Since Bolivian Rams don’t really require a large aquarium, it is recommended to provide at least a 50-gallon aquarium for one fish and a further 5–10 gallons for the new Ram you introduce.

In addition to maintaining the tank water with balanced oxygen levels, it’s critical to check the nitrogen concentrations and make sure they don’t escalate to a point where the species are in danger.

Despite being usually relatively tolerant, their optimal water parameters reflect their native habitats, like rivers, backwaters, and ponds; therefore, low waterbodies are preferred.

Additionally, it is advised to keep the water hardness of these species between 6 to 14 dGH, and 10 dGH is considered the safest.

Bolivian Ram Water pH

It is important to maintain the water somewhat alkaline. Especially a pH between 6.0 and 7.5 is preferable since Bolivian Ram enjoys waterways that feel like their wildlife.

Bolivian Ram Ideal Temperature

Overall, the freshwater for Bolivian Ram must be between 73.4 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. You should increase this range to 80.6 and 82.4°F if your goal is to encourage breeding.

They are resilient species and will withstand a thermal temperature of up to 86°F, which could be necessary for some circumstances while aiming to eliminate diseases and infestations.


Bolivian Rams are opportunistic and low-maintenance, which is aligned with the easy-to-care personality. With such a voracious hunger, these species can consume everything from refrigerated to living food.

It implies that they can eat things such as larvae, tubifex, black or white worms, crustaceans, and artificial diets. Due to their natural economic circumstances, river debris (leaves and other pollen) would often be a part of their meal as well.

Altogether, a diversified and complex diet that includes fleshy meals and granules or shavings enables them to stick to a nutritious diet and supports their pigment formation.

A Pellet diet must be preferred over shavings since Bolivian Rams are generally bottom-feeders and pellets settle down at the bottom of the tank and are much easier to consume.

You should offer them their pellet diet in moderation, approximately 2-5 pinches of fish feed throughout the day. If you provide their huge portion of feed in a single go, then it could spoil the water pretty fast as fish produce lots of waste.

Offering them in small quantities 2-3 times a day would keep the tank water clean for a longer time.

Tank Mates

Bolivian rams make excellent shared tank species. They are calm species who will find it difficult in sharing an aquarium with territorial tank companions.

They could be housed with many friendly species, like plecostomus, guppies, moon fish, pethia padamya, and Sumatra barbs, as well as Colisa lalia, plant piranhas, firehead tetra, imperial tetras, and Sterbai cory.

They are very reserved by nature and prefer to stay alone and not socialize much with their tank mates. Fish size is the main consideration when picking tank companions for them.

If you choose a fish that is way too small for the Rams, then they could assume it as their prey and swallow it. The same rule applies to non-fish species.

Bolivian rams may misinterpret little crustaceans like red shrimp as a treat, although bigger animals like glass shrimp, Japanese shrimp, or wood shrimp are good for them.

Common Diseases in Bolivian Rams

Bolivian Rams can also develop many diseases. Although these species are not prone to have any serious diseases, you can expect them to suffer from Ich disease if their tank is not maintained properly.

Ich is often a stress-related disease. It results from bad water quality or inappropriate living conditions. Rams can also develop Itch if they are housed with a territorial fish.

There are many methods to cure Ich. Some fish keepers prefer to temporarily adjust the water’s temperature to around 86°F for their pet to recover. Copper-based medications are also beneficial in treating this disease.

Ich is very dangerous; therefore, you should keep your affected fish in isolation.

Breeding Process

It’s really simple to breed Bolivian fish. However, they do take up a significant amount of space. It would be much easier to breed these species if you own a large aquarium for them to swim freely.

Although it’s not required, experts suggest moving the fish to a breeding tank for their safety. By keeping the fish isolated, you can stop violent activities and improve the chances of the fry surviving.

The Bolivian ram lays eggs. But they display many odd traits.

You can begin the breeding process by adding mating pairs to a big aquarium. If for some reason you don’t see a potential pair, then you may add several young fish, and they will start mating at their time.

Males and females usually cling to one another, telling you exactly that they have mated. When the female Ram finds a comfortable spot behind the big rocks, she will lay her eggs there.

After she has finished, the male fish hide and fertilize the layed embryos. Both the parent fish will protect their eggs from attackers.

The eggs usually hatch in around two to three days. The fry is well-protected by their parents.

Their parents would keep their young ones in their mouths and carry them around from one place to another. They might even try to hide their newborns!

You may feed the young fish with juvenile shrimps. The young fish will start to swim within 7 days of their birth.

After they start swimming perfectly, their parents would teach them where and how to find prey. When the young fish turn 2 months, you can start giving them a packed pellet diet.


Are Bolivian Rams Territorial?

The Bolivian Ram is a calm, well-mannered species, particularly when compared to many cichlid varieties. They will not harm any fish and can easily get along with others.

They are friendly with similar peaceful species but prefer to hide away from others due to their shy nature.

Can You House Two Male Rams in The Same Tank?

You can surely house two male Bolivian rams in the same tank. There would be no reason for them to get aggressive if there is no female with them.

However, there remains a possibility that they will become aggressive toward one another. Male rams love to mark their territory, so in order to avoid conflicts, you need to buy both males together.

Are Bolivian Rams Schooling Fish?

Bolivians are not known as the schooling species. They like the company of their own kind and move around in groups in the tank.

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The Bolivian Rams are shy, friendly, and calm species originating from south America that would make excellent pets for inexperienced fish keepers. These species are low-maintenance, have striking colors, are resilient, and are easy to feed.

Since these species are not that social, they require tank mates that are not aggressive and require similar tank water conditions.

As long as the aquarium is kept clean, these strong species have a remarkable endurance for moderate temperature changes.

It’s important to keep in mind that you should always protect them from developing common infections, keep changing their water regularly, and maintain a healthy environment for them.

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