German Blue Ram Advice
So, I've always wanted a German Blue Ram, but have been afraid of them due to their relatively high price ($17 at the nearest LFS) and their oft-cited sensitivity. On my trip to the really good (but further away) LFS today, they had a tank full of blue rams that just came out of their mandatory two week quarantine they put all of their stock through before it hits the sales tanks. They were selling the fish for $8 a pop! I just had to get one, plus I *have* been looking for another centerpiece type fish for my 29g community.
I drip-acclimated the fish for about 45 minutes then netted it into the tank. It seemed to be doing fine at first. When I checked back a bit later, I found the fish cowering in the back behind some rocks. A bit later the fish was "cowering" up in the front top left corner of the tank, which seemed a bit unusual. I moved my finger near the fish to see if it was responsive, and it swam out into the center of the tank. Seconds later, my female kribensis shot out of a cave like a bullet and beat the snot out of the poor little ram, which retreated to some floating plants.
The female of the kribensis pair (which have been separated) was always the meaner of the two, so I swapped her into the other tank and put her husband in the 29g with the ram. They were in the 29g for about 30 seconds together and had already started the mating dance, so he's still frantically searching the tank for her 30 minutes later and hasn't paid any attention to the other fish. I'm gonna keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't bother the ram, but if he does I can always remove him as well.
So...I believe my ram is a female, but it's pretty small (about an inch and a half) so could it still develop into a male? Also, does anyone have any tips on keeping this fish healthy? I turned up the heat a little so the tanks running at about 79-80. I don't want to go much higher than that since I don't think the other fish would much appreciate it. The pH is at about 7.2, and I haven't tested the hardness in a while so I don't have that number off the top of my head.
My own efforts at keeping german blue rams healthy long term has been a hit or miss proposition due to the breeding practices of those imported from Asia and Thailand where they are reportedly kept in veritable soup of antibiotics. The longest I have kept one healthy is one year in ph of 7.4 with twice weekly twenty percent water changes and temp of 82 to 84 degrees. The young specimens are difficult to sex but the male will uaually have a longer second dorsal ray than the female. Some have claimed to sex them by the irredecent blue spots on their sides. IF the spots fall outside the black area they are reprted to be male. If the spots are inside the black spot that indicates female. My own observations have shown that on young fish this may or may not hold true. The surest way to indentify females is the pronounced purple belly. It will not get as dark on the males. I very much love these little fish and I currently have two of the european bred strain or so it was advertised. Time will tell as to how well they do. Something else you may wish to consider is product TETRAS BLACKWATER EXTRACT It does appear to have a soothing affect on them but carbon will quickly remove it. IT is a good sign that they have been in the dealers tanks for a couple of weeks. The first sign of illness in my expierience is faded colors followed by rapid breathing and clamped fins. They then remain at the surface in the last stages before expiring. The only treatment I have used with any sucess is METRONIDAZOLE It is an antibiotic. I hope you never have occasion to use it even though it has no impact on biological bacteria. I have read literally reams of information on these fish And even in optimum water conditions some perish. No one appears to have any useful advice on particular ailment that some of these fish succumb to. I would simply recomend a varied diet with foods rich in vitamins with frozen blood worms, and brine shrimp,along with freezedried dapnia. I would not encourage tubifex for they will bloat themselves . IF I can be of any useful help you may PM me And I will share with you what I have observed. :D
Thanks for the info!
This fish is quite small, but it doesn't seem to have the extended dorsal rays so I'm thinking it's a young female. I should have asked at the store where the fish came from. All of the other rams in the tank (including the one I bought) seemed very healthy. The fish was doing fine until the krib attacked it. No real harm was done, but the fish has found a hiding spot near the surface by some floating plants. Hopefully it will realize that the male krib is harmless and venture out into the tank more. I think the only fish in the tank that would be "bugged" by the blackwater extract would be the swordtails, but they're very hardy so I'm sure they could adapt to it. I like the look of blackwater tanks so I might give it a shot. I don't run carbon on any of my tanks so that's not really a problem.
I tried tubifex once and the only fish that really seemed to enjoy them were the guppies, so I haven't bought any since. The ram will get a diet of Tetra flakes, Wardley tropical crisps, frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp and live blackworms. It can also help itself to any guppy fry I add to the tank or swordtail fry, although I kind of doubt it will get much of these since the killies are pretty potent predators of fry.
I'll let you know if any other issues come up. Thanks again!
Ok, strange development:
The ram finally came out of hiding when I fed the fish this morning. Now, apparently, the ram and male kribensis are best buddies. The two swim around the tank together, sometimes with the krib leading, but usually with the ram leading. There's no nipping, no flaring, nothing. They just did this thing where they swam up and down the front glass for a few minutes, right next to each other.
As long as they're not fighting, I'm happy, but I've gotta admit this seems pretty weird to me. Maybe the krib thinks the ram is a female krib, or something?
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