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German Gold Ram

(Microgeophagus ramirezi)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Expert   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 3"
• Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons   • Water Conditions: 76-82° F, KH 1-8, pH 5.0-6.8
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Farm raised, selective breeding   • Family: Cichlidae
• Species: Rams   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

German Gold Ram native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The German Gold Ram is a selectively bred variant of the common Wild Ram, in which breeders have accentuated the natural gold coloration. While Wild Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) are endemic to the Orinoco River basin, in the savannas of Venezuela and Colombia in South America, the selectively bred German Gold Ram is raised in fish farms in Germany, Southeast Asia, Israel and North America.

Their natural habitat is warm (25.5-29.5 °C, 78-85 °F), acidic (pH 4.5-6.8) with slow flowing waters, containing very few dissolved minerals, and ranging in color from clear to darkly stained with tannins. Wild Rams are typically found where cover from the heavily vegetated shoreline or fallen or submerged trees and tree roots provide them with shelter from larger predatory species, while offering plenty of feeding opportunities with micro-crustaceans and insect larvae.

Juvenile specimens tend to be a little bit dull or transparent in color, but will quickly "color up" as they mature into adults. Since Rams have a relatively short natural life span of about 2 years, they mature from juveniles to adults rather quickly.

The short lifespan of this species is also a factor when selecting individuals for purchase as the larger more colorful specimens tend to be older individuals. Older specimens also go through a form of menopause where they no will no longer spawn, thus hobbyists looking to breed need to select young specimens.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep German Gold Ram in the home aquarium.

German Gold Rams are generally considered to be an expert level only fish species due to their rather specific water parameter requirements. Wild Rams require soft acidic water with very stable pH and water temperatures; however, selectively bred farm raised species like the German Gold Ram are more flexible on water parameters. While farmed raised specimens are more tolerant of water parameters, they do require excellent water conditions. While their small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums (20 gallons), it is generally easier to maintain more consistent water parameters in larger aquariums.

They do best in groups of 5 to 10 individuals as opposed to a single specimen or a pair; however, an established or mated pair will also do well together. Keeping a group of Rams requires a reasonably sized aquarium (30 gallon plus) to properly support the group. Rams require excellent water quality with a low TDS (total dissolved solids), along with solid biological, mechanical and chemical filtration.

High quality water conditions are usually achieved by using a canister filter, sump filter or high-end power filter that is sized for the next larger aquarium than the one being used to house the Rams. Weekly partial water changes are also good at keeping TDS low and overall water quality high.

Rams are best housed in groups of 5 or more individuals, as they would live in social groups in the wild. While they are peaceful towards other tank mates, they fight amongst themselves to establish a group hierarchy.

Larger groups of fish help to spread out their in-fighting, which makes it easier on the group as a whole. They prefer aquariums with a sand, gravel or mixed substrate, plenty of plants and driftwood. Rocks, live plants and driftwood also work to create territory within the aquarium so that individuals can establish their own space within the tank.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed German Gold Ram and provide a healthy diet.

As the German Gold Ram is a selectively bred farm raised species, they are very used to consuming commercially processed flake and pellet foods. They are generally considered aggressive feeders, who will eagerly swim to the aquarium glass as the hobbyist approaches in anticipation of being fed.

As with most fish species, it is best to feed them a variety of food items in order to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system. Meaty flakes, mini-pellets, freeze-dried worms and frozen brine and mysis shrimp are ideal for German Blue Rams. They should be fed a couple times per day and amount that they will consume within five minutes.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed German Gold Ram in the aquarium environment.

German Gold Rams once they are sexually mature will form monogamous pairs prior to any spawning activity. Generally the first signs of spawning activity is that the male Ram will aggressively keep any other male Rams away from his female and their preferred spawning location. In general the mated pair will become very intolerant of other Rams or similarly sized and shaped fish species in their desired spawning location.

Typically Rams will spawn on flat rock surfaces, smooth flat wood surfaces or in small depressions that they will dig in the substrate. Like many Cichlids, Ram Cichlids practice bi-parental brood care, with both the male and the female playing roles in caring for the eggs and defending their spawning territory. They will typically produce a clutch of between 125 to 325 eggs, though larger clutches have been reported.

The parents will watch over the eggs, defend against fish trying to eat the eggs and fan the eggs with their fins if they determine there is insufficient water flow or improper temperature near the nest. After about 40 to 48 hours, the eggs will hatch into larvae, who will not be free-swimming for approximately 5 days. After which the parents will escort the dense school of babies to areas of the aquarium to forage on micro fauna, insect larvae or other micro foods.

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