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A Way to Successfully Breed Rams

Fish Folk

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Thought someone working on breeding might be interested in seeing a method for spawning and raising Golden Opal Rams (Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi). We've tried many times to allow our adult Rams to raise their own fry without pulling eggs, but every time ended unsuccessfully. This way definitely can work, even if it's not the most natural. Hope someone finds it helpful! 


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Thanks very much! When our fish club was meeting before COVID shut downs, we could auction a pair of these off for between $30-40. Selling to our LFS, we only can get about $5 a pair. Haven't ventured much into selling online. These started with a cross between an electric blue male and a gold female. This spawn is from a selected pair from that first batch. That's why some of them have got the blue-flame fins. 

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Cool! We got into breeding big time because of Rams. One LFS told us, “Don’t try to keep them. You’ll kill them. They’re hard.” The other LFS just down the road was like, “They’re the best! So easy. No problems. Here, get this pair!” We got them... they spawned... we eventually raised a few... and now we’ve raised hundreds. 

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Thank you! Rams are definitely our favorite dwarf cichlid. I think we'll probably need to give a pause to breeding them . . . so that we can fall back in love with them all over again later. Some pro breeders are secretly working on breeding red rams. No idea how successful they are, but I guarantee whoever unlocks that set of genes is going to make a MINT. 

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On 11/28/2020 at 7:57 PM, Fish Folk said:

Thought someone working on breeding might be interested in seeing a method for spawning and raising Golden Opal Rams (Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi). We've tried many times to allow our adult Rams to raise their own fry without pulling eggs, but every time ended unsuccessfully. This way definitely can work, even if it's not the most natural. Hope someone finds it helpful! 


You did a great job on these videos! Great explanations, and I lone how you did it all in steps. Thanks!

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The Spawning tank is a 29 gal. Large HOB Filter plus small sponge filter. Weekly water changes. Tap water (town / city water) is 7.8 from the tap, but fairly soft. GH ca. 90 ppm. KH cal 30 ppm. In the planted tank with wood, pH tends to drop down to 7.5 pH. We keep the temperature high largely due to the young Discus we also keep in this aquarium - 82-degrees Fahrenheit (28-Cel). 


Here is a copy of the BAP report we submitted to our fish club (PVAS) for an earlier batch of Rams raised in this tank. This report was actually for the _parents_ of these adults in this series. Some of the details for the more recent batch are altered, but a lot is the same. 



19 October 2019



Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi

German Blue Ram (Electric Blue Male & Golden Female)



Method of Reproduction: Egg Layer

Number and Gender Distribution of Parents: 1 Male (Electric Blue), 1 Female (Golden) Pair

Origin of Parents: LFS (source unknown)

Approximate number of fry: Originally hatched ca. 75

Date of Birth: Free Swimming 18 September 2019

Approx. Number of Fry at 30 Days: ca. 45



Breeding Tank:

pH — 7.5

GH —5 drops / ca. 90 ppm

KH — 2 drops / ca. 35 ppm

Temperature: 81 degrees Fahrenheit

Average Nitrate: 20 ppm

Aquarium Size: 29 gal; in inches, 30.25” wide x 12.5” deep x 18.75” high

Water Source: town / city water

Water Changes: 60% every 2 weeks

Filtration System: Hang-on-back, Emperor 280 (with bio wheel)



pH — 6.3 (50 % R.O. water added daily)

GH — (tests were difficult to read) - assuming unreadably soft

KH — (tests were difficult to read)  - assuming unreadably soft

Temperature: 81 degrees Fahrenheit (same as 29 gal, Fry Container suspended in Tank)

Average Nitrate: 25-30 ppm

Aquarium Size: Lee’s Large Specimen Container; in inches, 7” wide x 3.25” deep x 6” high

Water Source: R.O. bottled water

Water Changes: 50% daily

Filtration System: none; in future, we plan to add a micro sponge filter to cycle the container)



(Spawning Tank) Live Plants: Heavily planted tank featuring: dwarf baby tears, rotala indica, ludwigia ovalis, ludwigia repens, red melon swords, wisteria, bronze crypts, java moss

(Spawning Tank) Caves or Similar Hiding Places: one small plastic cave, and several salt-and-pepper rocks rams prefer to lay eggs on

(Spawning Tank) Substrate: Eco-complete black substrate

Lighting Type and Timing: One blue coral T-12 (?) fluorescent with LED strip lighting (used ca. 12 hrs / day), and additional LED utility light (used for only about 4 hrs x day)


(Fry Container) Live Plants: small Water Lettuce sprouts

(Fry Container) Caves or similar hiding Places: none, bare bottom

(Fry Container) Substrate: none

(Fry Container) MISC: Several snails added to process some waste, and lightly running air stone suspended inside



Food Fed to Parents and How Often: Fluval Bug Bites, Cobalt Fry Minis, Hikari Freeze-dried BBS, Live BBS (2x / day)

Food Fed to Fry and How Often: Live baby brine shrimp, Sera-micron (2x / day)



Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi, best known as the “German Blue Ram,” are the fish that really got us into breeding. Our first attempt last year ended in failure. But then we were able to raise 7 fry from a second batch to maturity. One major goal has been to raise a BAP viable batch of 10 or more.

In brief, we set up the decor so that the rams will spawn on a small rock  which is then removed to a separate container with a suspended air stone to “tumble” the water over the eggs. Between 1/2 to 1 ml. of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is added 1x every 12 hours, for just two doses to fight off fungus. The fry hatch in ca. 2-3 days, seen as wigglers. Once they eat through their yolk sack and are free-swimming, the challenge begins.

Sometimes a male does not properly fertilize the eggs. Another time the eggs were laid in an area too difficult to “pull” in order to hatch. With this pair - an Electric Blue Male, and a Golden Female - their first batch did not survive past three weeks. We tried feeding on hard-boiled egg-yolk and Sera micron, but without an early transition to live food, they did not grow properly.

With this (submitted) batch, we determined to move them over to baby brine shrimp earlier. This has made all of the difference in survival rate. Furthermore, we have since been able to successfully move more batches over the two-week threshold with this feeding plan. We feed the rams 2x / day, feeding BBS and a light dose of Sera-Micron mixed in water. Daily vigilance is essential with Ram fry. We carefully siphon off all waste and uneaten food off the bottom, and draw out 50% of the container water. This is replaced by R.O. water that has been suspended in the tank to reach tank-temperature (ca. 81 degrees Fahrenheit).

We plan to transition these small fry first to a “well-seasoned” 5.5. gal aquarium containing a fair amount of algae and plants to grow out for a month or so. From there, we have a 20 gallon long that will be the larger ram-colony grow out tank until the rams are ready to be culled, moved on to our LFS, or selected for ongoing breeding projects.

Three other batches were also grown in this period. Another small one from the same parents had only 6 fry survive. Two other batches from 2nd generation GBR born in our water had 4 fry and ca. 50 fry respectively. Apart from the first few days where fry are free swimming and need food that they can consume, the crucial time frame for survival is the 2-3 week point. In this period, the rams tend to crash with just a few survivors — or en masse — they tend to press through and survive as a larger group.

Water quality is crucial, as any buildup of Ammonia or Nitrate leads to early fatalities. It is difficult to keep the containers fully cycled with this approach. Nitrite tends to read higher than preferable. In the future, we plan to implement micro-sponge filters in the Specimen Containers to cycle them once the fry are large enough to avoid being hurt.

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