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Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs

Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%D0%91%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%96%D0%B2%D1%96%D0%B9%D1%86%D1%96_005.jpg">Godo2</a>, <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>, via Wikimedia Commons

Among the vibrant treasures of freshwater aquariums, the Bolivian Ram, alternatively known as Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, stands out for its stunning appearance and peaceful demeanor. This dwarf cichlid, belonging to the Cichlidae family, shares ties with other prominent species like the Blue Ram. The fish has a base coat of either silver or tan, complemented by beautiful reddish highlights. Its overall appearance exudes a graceful charm, which is further enhanced by the striking black vertical stripe and the iridescent scales, primarily found in males.

Contrary to what some might think, the Bolivian Ram isn’t a rare gem in the fish-keeping realm. While its wild type remains the most sought-after variant, enthusiasts don’t find an extensive range of selectively bred color morphs as seen with other cichlids.

The natural abode of the Bolivian Ram traces back to the Amazon River basin, specifically in Brazil and Bolivia. Within aquarium confines, they exhibit a preference for the bottom and middle layers, relishing the comfort of well-planted spaces. Their dietary inclinations lean omnivorous, happily feasting on a mix of flakes, pellets, and live food. Their peaceful nature makes them a beloved choice for community tanks, though a touch of territoriality surfaces during breeding times.

In terms of statistics, these aquatic marvels can reach an impressive length of 3 to 3.5 inches and can thrive for up to 6 years when provided with optimal care. What makes the Bolivian Ram so endearing to aquarists, apart from its aesthetic appeal, is its resilience. Unlike its relative, the Blue Ram, the Bolivian variant proves hardier, welcoming novice fish keepers with open fins. Their fascinating courtship behaviors, wherein males flaunt their vivacity to charm females, serve as an aquatic spectacle. Dating back several decades in the aquarium hobby, their rise to fame can be credited to their dynamic colors and affable nature.

As we conclude our aquatic adventure, it is interesting to observe that the term “Ram” does not refer to the terrestrial mammal, but rather pays homage to a variety of dwarf cichlids. Whether you’re an established aquarist or just embarking on your fish-keeping adventure, the Bolivian Ram promises to be a delightful addition, merging beauty with simplicity.

Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs
Godo2, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Enchanting Bolivian Ram: A Comprehensive Overview

Diving into the world of freshwater fish, the Bolivian Ram captures the hearts of aquarists with its captivating colors and gentle temperament. A member of the Cichlidae family, this fish, with its unique characteristics and needs, stands as a testament to nature’s artistic touch. Here’s a comprehensive table to help you understand and care for the Bolivian Ram:

PriceVaries depending on location, typically $6-$15
Common NamesBolivian Ram, Bolivian Butterfly, Ruby Crown Cichlid
VariantsMainly the wild type
Ideal Tank Size30 gallons and above
Water ParameterspH 6.5-7.5, Temperature 75-80°F (24-27°C)
Lifespan5-6 years
Full Size3-3.5 inches (8-9 cm)
Natural EnvironmentAmazon River basin in Brazil and Bolivia
BehaviorPeaceful but can be territorial during breeding
Habitat PreferenceBottom to mid-dwelling
Aquarium DecorationWell-planted with hiding spots
Ideal Tank MatesTetras, Corydoras, Platies, Dwarf Gouramis
Fish to AvoidLarger Cichlids, aggressive species
Best Foods/DietFlakes, pellets, brine shrimp, bloodworms
DiseaseVulnerable to Ich, fin rot; maintain clean water to prevent
Sex-SwitchNot common
Gender DifferencesMales have brighter colors and are slightly larger
Care LevelIntermediate
Breeding LevelModerate

Armed with this knowledge, you’re well-equipped to offer the Bolivian Ram a comfortable and stimulating environment, ensuring a thriving and interactive aquarium experience.

Ideal Tank Mates

Selecting the appropriate tank mates for your fish is absolutely vital when it comes to building a perfectly balanced and harmonious aquarium. The Bolivian Ram, distinguished for its peaceful disposition, flourishes when cohabitating with fish of compatible temperament that do not overshadow it in terms of resources or territory.

To create a visually appealing aquatic environment while also prioritizing the welfare of all its inhabitants, it is crucial to thoroughly comprehend the characteristics and behaviors of potential tank mates. Here’s a closer look at ten ideal tank mates for the Bolivian Ram:

  1. Tetras
    Small, schooling fish like the Neon Tetra or Cardinal Tetra complement the Bolivian Ram beautifully. Their bright colors add vibrancy to the tank, and their peaceful nature ensures a stress-free environment.
  2. Corydoras
    These are bottom-dwelling catfish that scour the substrate for food. They have a calm demeanor, making them a great choice. Plus, their unique appearance adds another layer of interest to the tank’s lower levels.
  3. Platies
    Known for their diverse color patterns, platies are hardy and peaceful. They inhabit the middle layers of the tank, ensuring no territorial disputes with the Bolivian Ram.
  4. Dwarf Gouramis
    These beautifully colored fish co-exist well with Bolivian Rams. Their gentle nature and preference for the top and middle layers of the aquarium make them an excellent companion.
  5. Harlequin Rasboras
    With their distinct orange hue and black triangular patch, they add a splash of color and are non-aggressive, making them perfect tank mates.
  6. Rummy Nose Tetras
    Their distinct red noses and tightly schooling behavior can become a focal point in the tank. These tetras are peaceful and thrive in similar water conditions as the Bolivian Ram.
  7. Hatchetfish
    Preferring the top layer of the tank, these fish are known for their unique body shape that resembles a hatchet. They are peaceful and add diversity to the aquarium’s upper levels.
  8. Plecos
    Specifically, the smaller species like the Bristlenose Pleco can be a good fit. While they’re bottom dwellers, their largely nocturnal behavior ensures they don’t disturb the Bolivian Ram.
  9. Cherry Barbs
    These small, colorful fish are not only visually appealing but also have a peaceful temperament. They usually mind their business and don’t bother their tank mates.
  10. Mollies
    Available in various colors and fin shapes, mollies are adaptable and peaceful. They thrive in a community setup and get along well with Bolivian Rams.

In summary, when choosing tank mates for your Bolivian Ram, it’s essential to consider fish that thrive in similar water conditions and exhibit non-aggressive behaviors. By doing so, you can ensure a serene and harmonious underwater world.


Are Bolivian Rams jumpers? Do I need a lid for my tank?

Like many fish, Bolivian Rams can jump, especially when stressed or scared. It’s advisable to have a lid on your tank to prevent any potential escape attempts.

Can I keep multiple Bolivian Rams together?

Yes, Bolivian Rams can be kept in pairs or small groups. However, ensure the tank is spacious enough to allow for territories, and monitor for any signs of excessive aggression, especially among males.

What signs indicate a healthy Bolivian Ram?

Active swimming, a good appetite, vibrant colors, clear eyes, and fins held open are indicators of a healthy Bolivian Ram. On the flip side, clamped fins, faded colors, or erratic swimming can be signs of stress or illness.

How can I differentiate between a stressed and a relaxed Bolivian Ram?

A relaxed Bolivian Ram will often display its vibrant colors, swim gracefully around the tank, and interact with tank mates without showing signs of aggression. A stressed fish, on the other hand, might exhibit faded colors, hide more often, have clamped fins, or breathe more rapidly.

Is it normal for Bolivian Rams to dig in the substrate?

Yes, it’s a natural behavior. Bolivian Rams often dig or sift through the substrate, either searching for food or establishing a breeding spot. It’s advisable to provide a soft sand substrate to prevent any injuries to the fish while it engages in this behavior.

What’s the ideal group size if I want a community of Bolivian Rams?

While they can be kept individually or in pairs, if you wish to have a community, a group of 4-6 Bolivian Rams in a sufficiently large tank is ideal. This provides them ample opportunity to establish territories and reduces the chances of aggression.

Can Bolivian Rams change color?

Yes, Bolivian Rams can change their color intensity based on their mood, environment, or health. A darkening color might indicate breeding behavior or stress, while vibrant colors usually indicate a healthy and content fish.

How do I set up a breeding tank for Bolivian Rams?

For breeding, provide a separate tank with softer water and a slightly higher temperature (around 82°F or 28°C). Including flat rocks or slate can serve as potential egg-laying sites. Ensure the tank has good water quality and a gentle water flow.

Are Bolivian Rams sensitive to medications?

Like many other fish, Bolivian Rams can be sensitive to certain medications, especially those containing copper. It’s crucial to always read the instructions and, if possible, consult with an expert or veterinarian before administering any treatment.

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A long-time freshwater fish enthusiast with a passion for sharing knowledge about this fascinating hobby. Over the years, Michelle has dedicated countless hours to studying, learning, and experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of fish-keeping.

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