I heard they are very sensative and difficult to care for, as I am a new fish keeper I turned away from them.
But now I did my research and think my water might be good for them. It says to have a ph of about 6 and my water tested by the LFS and they said mine is 6.4. Then the site said you need to have soft/medium water, which is good because the store said my water is very soft. I have a decent thermometer which allows me to put the temp anywhere from 75-82 (maybe more) so that shouldnt be an issue. So what else makes them difficult other than the water parameters.
I have both a blue and a bolivian ram in my 29 gallon and the water is a little on the hard side. I don't think they're as sensitive as they're made out to be. According to this website: Microgeophagus ramirezi "They do best in soft acid water but most of the fish sold today are farm raised and are adaptable to a wide range of water conditions."
They probably won't spawn in harder water but if you're not looking to have a breeding pair you'd probably be all right. This is my first experience with dwarf cichlids so maybe someone else with a little more experience could chime in too but hope this helps!!
Your water is ideal for rams or any other of the south american dwarf cichlids. Keep the temp between 25C and 27C (75-79F) for these fish. That's the easy part.
The "sensitivity" is more of an issue with the biological cycle in the aquarium. The Bolivian ram (Papiliochromis altipinosa) is less fussy that the common (blue) ram, P. ramirezi in this regard. Nitrates must not be allowed to climb, and the best way to handle this is with plants (which the dwarf cichlids all appreciate as it gives them a sense of security) and regular (weekly) partial water changes of 25-40%. I would allow the tank to become biologically established and matured (3 months minimum, preferably 5) before introducing these fish except for the Bolivian ram which in my experience tolerates newer tanks better. Aquaria where the biological equilibrium has not been reached is stressful for all fish, some more than others. I've commented on some of these factors in other threads, and won't repeat it here.
While it is true that tank raised fish may be somewhat more adaptable, I would not recommend pushing this too far. The Bolivian ram has been collected in several locales within the Rio Mamore basin. At one site the pH was 7.6 and the hardness was 4 dH. This probably explains why the Bolivian ram acclimates to alkaline water better than the blue ram and most Apistogramma and similar genera. By contrast, the blue ram is native to waters in the Orinoco basin in Venezuela, and the pH there is around 5.1 with a hardness of 1 dH. Tank-raised fish can develop more tolerance for differing water parameters, or so we may like to think, but the fish is genetically programmed over millions of years of evolution and I am skeptical that radical changes will be successful within a few generations. I have had good luck with both fish, and several apistogramma, to the point of spawning them, in water with a pH from 6 to 6.8 max and very soft.
Ok, here is my take as someone who has had them for a good month/month half.
I finally got my Ph down in my tank to somewhere in the mid 7's. And my water is a little on the harder side. My tank has been set up now for a year this week.....
I finally decided that I'm was ready to give them a try. (Don't really like to torture fish or kill off 10$ fish!) So I ask the guy at the LFS if he has them, he didn't have in stock but would get some in for me. So couple weeks later I show up, there are my lil guys in a tank PAYDIRT! Well still scared about my parameters and what I have read about these fish I shell out the 40$ and grab me for of them. Speed home and acclimate them to my tank (pulling hair out for first week hoping they live!) Well here we are some 4-6 weeks later and my guys are happy as can be! To boot these guys have such a personality! It took them awhile to get used to their new settings but they are happy and don't take anything from my 4" blue groumi and play with each other and every fish in my tank....
Take if for what it is, Ion I was like you at one point too but I made the plundge and couldn't be happier! I want to off some of my fish to another tank so I can pick up another 4-6 of these guys! I'm no expert on fish tank but have done my research and some unfortunate trial and error but have only lost 4 fish in a year and most of them were within first week of getting a new fish (well except for a totally UNEXPECTED die off I had which no one could find out why)
I had some German rams that I got from Buy African Cichlids at Live Fish Direct: Aquarium Fish Breeder and I loved them. I just did away with my 30 gallon and upgraded to a 55 so I sold them to a local. Mine were a little sensitive and I did have one die after about a month but I think it was because my wife fed.
I have been caring for german blue rams and the gold variety for a couple years now. My pH is 7.4 (would kill for 6.8) and moderately hard with kh of around 5. I have managed to keep these little fish healthy for up to two years ,which considering that their life expectancy is around three years,, aint bad I guess. Original posters water parameters should serve these little warriors well.
Nearly all information available on these fish ,stipulate water temps of 80 to 84 degrees and I agree for they have done well for me at 82 to 84 degrees. I believe a variety of foods is the key and I feed them foods high in protein and vitamins.
I perform water changes of 30 to 40 percent on Saturday,wednesday,and sunday on all of my tanks which keeps my nitrates at ten whi8ch seems to suit not only the rams, but my other fish as well.
Dark substrate brings the rams and other fish ,,some measure of comfort .Hope some of this helps.
I've only ever had my one ram, but he seems sturdy enough. pH right around 7.2, moderate water hardness, temp is kept at about 80. Other than the water parameter sensitivity, I don't see any reason why these should be "difficult" fish to keep. They'll eat just about anything. Mine eats Omega One flakes, Wardley sinking crumbles and shrimp pellets, frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex and even krill if I break it up a little bit. He also likes to eat fry, although he's not as adept at it as the badis badis in the same tank.
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