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Old March 1st, 2014, 08:30 PM   #1
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Default Cichlid Profiles - Mikrogeophagus (Apistogramma) ramirezi

The two iconic dwarf cichlids of the aquarium hobby, M. altispinosis and M. ramirezi, respectively the Bolivian and German Blue Rams, while still affectionately considered "Apistos," by hobbyists, have been allocated to their own genus, having been previously placed in Papillochromis. They are mini "earth-eaters," related to Geophagus. The two are superficially similar in appearance, but distinct in range and habitat, and shall be treated separately, although they do readily hybridize. The German Blue Ram was described in 1948, from the Orinoco River Basin of Venezuela and Colombia, and the llanos (a half million square miles of seasonal floodplains and savanna grasslands). It is a non-migratory, peaceful, shallow water species that lives side by side with many of its captive tank mates, gravitating to areas with soft or sandy bottoms which they sift for food. They reach a length of 2.75 inches in the wild, but are often sold 3/4 of an inch smaller do to captive inbreeding. The wild types are oval shaped, with round sloping heads, fiercely colored with reds, oranges, yellows and blues, having pale blue to iridescent blue in the posterior. with a black midbody blotch just below and sometimes well onto the dorsal fin, a yellow midbody and orange to burnt orange head, often with a red eye. There is prominent black stripe from the forehead to chin which runs through the eye. and the unpaired fins are orange or redddish. There is significant pearling on the unpaired fins. Males have a black headdress on the first three spines of the dorsal fin, the second two of which are quite elongated. Females are slightly stouter and have a prominent pink or red belly. The tails of males are V shaped, and those of females round. Through selective breeding, color enhanced, poorly colored, Electric Blue, Angel and Balloon Ram strains have been produced. Asian breeders have been known to inject them with hormones, which coupled with their fragile tolerance for water chemistry changes, often kills them. The Gold Ram is a naturally occurring color morph.

German Rams live in soft waters of 72-81 degrees, and prefer pH 4.5 to 6.5. They are difficult to keep in captivity, as they are fairly nitrate intolerant, require extremely clean water with small water changes done weekly, and are very prone to diseases such as Hexamita, lateral line erosion, and false fungal infections. They have a captive life expectancy of 4-5 years. They should be kept in 20 gallon aquaria for an adult pair, and as they are social until paired. The best way to achieve a mated pair is to rear about 6 juveniles together. Their tanks should have sand substrate, densely planted areas and areas for free swimming. Tannin providers such as peat, leaf litter, driftwood and blackwater tonic improve their vigor and desire to breed. They remain monogamous once paired. They require hides, and a flat stone on which to lay eggs. They may lay 20-200 adhesive eggs which hatch in about 40 hours at 80 degrees F. The pair will defend a territory the size of a 20 gallon tank. Inexperienced pairs sometimes eat their eggs or fry, and they have been reported to occasionally mouthbrood. The fry require infusoria or microworms for the first few days. Adults eat most standard fish foods and like worms and daphnia.

For pictures, see "Images of German Rams." For pictures of the new color and body morphs, see "Ram Photos" and "Images of Hybrid Ram Cichlids."
Dr. Robert Price

Last edited by robertprice; March 1st, 2014 at 10:12 PM. Reason: spelling
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