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Bolivian ram - is this a bully behavior or a sign of illness


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Hi. I have 5 bolivian rams in a 360 liters tank. They have been in there for past 4 months and were juveniles when purchased so this would make them around 8 months. In the past month, a pair formed, and had eggs and fry up to a two week mark. Given it is a community tank, noone survived. Two weeks after that, eggs and fry, guarded by only one fish, that lasted about a week. It has been over a week after that and the behavior of one of the bolivian rams is super strange.

It is paler and sitting on a substrate. If swimming, it does so somehow erratically. It is sitting on other side of the tank. There are two fish that are very closely grouped. Then there are other two who are very loosely grouped, hanging out near each other and near the other two that are always very close. 

During feeding the fifth fish will join, will hang out with all four in a close feeding group. Zero aggression during feeding. Zero aggression when one of the four fish comes close to the fifth one. They just swim close by, no issues, no recognition, no chasing, no nipping.

Is this a "two pairs and a lone fish" scenario or is the fish sick? When not guarding eggs/fry all five fish always hung out together, swam more or less together, fed together but they are still juveniles. Even when guarding the aggression was limited to chasing away, but given the tank is 120cm long, the chaser loses steam in about a third of its length.

Thanks for advice

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Hmm.. so, I've got one Bolivian ram and there is a journal below in my signature line.  You might want to have a look?  Since starting the journal folks began posting experiences with their rams in it.  Redfish and flyingcow for example, experienced aggression and bullying with their Bolivian rams.  It seems most of these cases were when only 2 rams were present.  

Page 4 is where the posts about the aggression begin 

Edited by Chick-In-Of-TheSea
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i have a male and young female, spooky (the male) chases the female around all the time

 

to me the lone one seems sick, its odd that its acting normally otherwise, could you try separating it? that case if it is sick it wont infect the other fish

 

try checking for redworms aswell, ive heard that they are quite common (and experinced) them in bolivians 

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Ofcourse no pictures, because horrible skills on my side and them moving too much

I can tell I have one male (though it has no black fins on top), but has a sharp anal fin and two extensions on the tail. Three are females, based on the incomplete black (that is very vague but stops in the middle of the dorsal fin) and on the protruding sex organ

I have no idea what the last one is, seems to be male but the tail is not so prominent, though the anal fin is longer and sharper.

I could separate it, but the only tank that could work houses all my rabbit snails babies and I would have for the bram to kill them unnecessary. What do you think. Move and risk rabbits or keep and risk illness 

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On 6/19/2023 at 12:36 PM, beastie said:

Ofcourse no pictures, because horrible skills on my side and them moving too much

I can tell I have one male (though it has no black fins on top), but has a sharp anal fin and two extensions on the tail. Three are females, based on the incomplete black (that is very vague but stops in the middle of the dorsal fin) and on the protruding sex organ

I have no idea what the last one is, seems to be male but the tail is not so prominent, though the anal fin is longer and sharper.

I could separate it, but the only tank that could work houses all my rabbit snails babies and I would have for the bram to kill them unnecessary. What do you think. Move and risk rabbits or keep and risk illness 

I just use the vent method to sex them, much easier and more reliable

 

how large is the ram? and how small are the snails?

you could put a divider in with him in the snail tank 

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On 6/19/2023 at 6:51 PM, The endler guy said:

how large is the ram? and how small are the snails?

Like 4 cm fish, snails ranging from 4mm to 5 cm 🙂 I have like 13, cant even count all of them. In the main tank they killed all the ramshorns, they leave the nerites alone, but I am not sure, thi swould be too small space. I may haeve a 40 cm cube tank soon, so will see

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  • 2 months later...

So, the saga continues

My bolivian rams spawn all the time, nice colors, they never protect the brood past few days of them becoming free swimming and I think I understand why. The bolivian ram in question of the topic, lets call it the "sick one". The behavior changes whith breeding behavior of the other rams.

So for example when fish are spawning, the sick one hides, pales, lies on the substrare, when they are not in spawning conditions, the ram behavesnormally. If it were sign of illness it would have had already died I assume. Thoughts? 

 

Todays story is, I have a female on the right side of the tank, female 1. She spawned on a leaf, male fertilized, they are paired. Later today, female 2 spawned on a rock on the left side of the tank. The SAME male (yes, I can tell), fertilized and paired. The male will swim from female 1 to female 2, he is greeted by both as the partner and helps guard the spawns. If the yspawn both of them at the same time regularly and he switches females, no wonder the other females doesnt finish guarding the young.

Fish number 4 is not clear to me if male/female, sits in the middle of the tank, is chased away by female 1, female 2 if it comes too close to the spawns and male when he passes, but not brutally or far away, it is happy existing in the middle. Fish number 5 is doing its weird behavior, sitting fully on the substrate, pale color, currently hidden under the wood mound so  I cant take picture. I suspect fish number 4 is female and thus not bothered and fish number 5 is a male and very much not ok with the main male, thus hiding? I am thinking about removing the fish from the tank. It eats normally and doesnt look bad but swims and behaves tsrange

Pictures in order female 1 with male, female 2, male, fish 4 once, fish 4 twice, fish 4 thrice, fish 5 under the pile of wood, yes I know you cant see it 🙂 

 

Please advice ,thanks

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  • 2 weeks later...

Given that neither b-ram is actively guarding and the fish is still weird, I took it out of the tank and put it in my 60l cube. By took it out I mean I tried to catch it for the past 4 days, so the fish is even worse for wear than before and is hiding in the cube. Will see how it looks alone, if the behavior is caused by the others or by some sickness.

Will keep you posted

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In my Bolivian ram journal (link below), and it’s pretty far into it, there is a discussion about rams bullying each other. Seems a lot of people have had bad luck with TWO rams, @xXInkedPhoenixX being the only exception I know. Maybe got lucky with sexing but then again, every tank is different in size and scape so there are more variables at play and it’s hard to understand. I don’t have a good answer for you about the sick one, but it does sound like there could have been bullying at one point that drove the fish into a stress response. Prime Time has a species profile video showing “sparring” of rams and I believe he mentioned it gets worse when they are breeding or protecting eggs. I will tag some folks to see if they can contribute anything based on their personal experience with Bolivian Rams. @redfish @flyingcow @knee @The endler guy

Edited by Chick-In-Of-TheSea
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On 9/3/2023 at 11:56 AM, beastie said:

So for example when fish are spawning, the sick one hides, pales, lies on the substrare, when they are not in spawning conditions, the ram behavesnormally. If it were sign of illness it would have had already died I assume. Thoughts? 

Not necessarily.

If there is one that is pale, I would move it to QT and treat for internal parasites.

If you can get a video or image of the one lying on the substrate that would be helpful. I don't think that is very typical behavior.

I would start with Expel-P (make sure you black out the tank for 24 hours) and then a treatment of paracleanse.

You'll need a minimum of 4 treatments for this to be effective.

On 9/3/2023 at 11:56 AM, beastie said:

The male will swim from female 1 to female 2, he is greeted by both as the partner and helps guard the spawns. If the yspawn both of them at the same time regularly and he switches females, no wonder the other females doesnt finish guarding the young.

Very normal.

On 9/3/2023 at 11:56 AM, beastie said:

fish 5 under the pile of wood, yes I know you cant see it 🙂 

Very very very difficult to see. Hm. Is it on its actual side "laying down" or is the fish just hiding?

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It is fully sitting on the substrate, even if it swims, the bottom part is dragged on the substrate. I suspected parasites too, but this behavior has been close to three months and it was not constant, there were breaks where the fish would act and color up completely normally which threw me off

I took some pictures from the quarantine, it is not sitting in a good position for a picture though. It is not active right now, but it is also stressed. Anyway, it is in quarantine, I can do more now

 

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On 9/14/2023 at 2:10 AM, beastie said:

It is fully sitting on the substrate, even if it swims, the bottom part is dragged on the substrate. I suspected parasites too, but this behavior has been close to three months and it was not constant, there were breaks where the fish would act and color up completely normally which threw me off

My corydoras, I had them for a long time before I decided to treat for worms fully.  Symptoms were basically lethargy and not eating well.

After trying a ton of foods and all these things. I ended up treating and it was like a whole new fish.

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On 9/14/2023 at 12:10 PM, beastie said:

It is fully sitting on the substrate, even if it swims, the bottom part is dragged on the substrate. I suspected parasites too, but this behavior has been close to three months and it was not constant, there were breaks where the fish would act and color up completely normally which threw me off

I took some pictures from the quarantine, it is not sitting in a good position for a picture though. It is not active right now, but it is also stressed. Anyway, it is in quarantine, I can do more now

 

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@Colu @Odd Duck what do you guys think?

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@beastie  I'd follow the QT advice above and treat for any illnesses.  You clearly have better luck keeping multiple rams.  Our two, one was dominant and didn't let the little guy eat regardless of what I did.  The small one would hide like yours all day long.  The big one would hunt down and chase the little one.  I bought them at the same time from the same tank.  Even after I separated them the little guy never really recovered.  The big one lives in the community tank and doesn't bother any other fish.

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I decided to euthanize the fish. I caught it in a day or two way too easily, didnt swim away much, didnt move much. In the QT it would sit and not move, barely swim, not eat. Rather than let it starve I euthanized

 

There are no deworming medication available in EU, because of overuse of those leads to resistant parasites and everyone uses whatever without having proof the parasites are in the fish. And all the medication leaves with the water to river stream, where it "treats" other fish, poisons snails and so on. Thus why EU banned it and we simply have no way to deworm now. Maybe it would help the fish, maybe it wouldnt, but it was starving so I eased its misery. Ah well. The 4 remaining are working ok in the big tank for now, again I have wigglers from one pair

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