Bolivian Ram Cichlid – Care, Habitat, Tank Mates, Feeding & Details!

Bolivian Ram is also known as Bolivian Ram Cichlid or Bolivian butterfly (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) is a fresh-water ray-shaped fish from the cichlid family. The species was first described in the scientific literature more than a century ago – in 1911.

Dwarf cichlids from South America are loved by aquarists around the world. These unusual and brightly colored fish will decorate any tropical aquarium. In our article, we will try to cover all the important things like – Care, Feeding, Tankmates about this beautiful fish.

Quick Stats

Scientific Name: Mikrogeophagus altispinosus

Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Colorful
Lifespan: 4 years
Size: 3.5 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Family: Cichlidae
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater
Compatibility: Other peaceful freshwater fish


A Bolivian Ram is a dwarf cichlid that does not grow more than 8 cm in length. She is peaceful and has an interesting bright color and body shape.

Despite its modest size, Bolivian Rams are fish with high intelligence. They can recognize their master, form strong pairs, and have a pronounced parental instinct.

The Bolivian Ram is well suited for general aquariums, although it is considered slightly more aggressive than its closest relative, the German Blue Ram Cichlid.

The fish is not difficult to care for and can be recommended for beginner aquarists.

Bolivian Ram Appearance

The Bolivian Ram cichlid grows up to 8 cm long. Its main color is pale yellow, its head and chest are bright orange. A dark, rounded spot is located right in the middle of the body on the sides, behind which noticeable gray stripes stretch towards the tail.

The eyes of Bolivian butterflies are large and a dark vertical strip passes through them.

The dorsal fin is long and pointed, especially in adult males. A red border extends along the upper part, and the extreme rays of the caudal fin are similarly colored. The fins themselves are transparent.

Life expectancy of Bolivian Ram in the aquarium is 5-7 years.


The birthplace of the Bolivian Ram is tropical ponds of South America. The fish can be found in the vast territory of Brazil and Bolivia. The first copies of this Bolivian Ram were caught precisely in the territory of Bolivia, for which the fish got its name.

Bolivian Rams prefer to live in shallow water, where he finds shelter among snags and thickets of aquatic plants. Spends most of the time in search of insects that live on the bottom.

Care and Maintenance

If you plan to keep these beautiful fishes in your aquarium then you should know that Bolivian Rams require at least 20 liters of water per fish. You can put a couple of fish in the aquarium, but it is better if it is a small group of 6-8 individuals.

Bolivian Ram is very fond of digging in the ground, so it is better to keep sandy or small-pebble base in your aquarium. This fish will look great among natural decorations like stones, snags, and living plants. Bolivian Rams prefer dim lightings.

The fishes need places for hiding thus you need to add plants and other decorations in your aquarium, not forgetting to leave a place for swimming. Bolivian butterflies do not damage the leaves of plants, so you can use any species you like: wallisneria, echinodorus, cryptocorynes, etc.

The more shelter in the aquarium, the better. You can build them using the available decorations, or add ceramic pots and coconut halves. Be sure to put several flat stones at the bottom, it is possible that they will be a great place for spawning of Bolivian Rams.

Pure water is the key to the well-being of the Bolivian Rams. Be sure to install a filter suitable for power in the aquarium and ensure proper aeration. Once a week, water will need to be replaced with fresh water. It should be 20% of the volume of the aquarium.

The water from the central water supply is completely unsuitable for keeping fish, so before replacing it must be made safe for the inhabitants. To maintain a comfortable temperature of these thermophilic cichlids, you will need a thermostat.

The optimal water parameters for the content are: T = 23-26 ° C, pH = 6.0-7.5, GH = 5-15.

Bolivian Ram Tank Mates

Bolivian Ram is a peaceful cichlid. You can keep Bolivian Rams with other dwarf cichlids or other fishes who are peaceful in nature.

The Bolivian rams will get along well with Neon tetra, Pygmy Corydoras, Rummy nose tetra, Molly fish, Swordtail fish, Gourami fish, Tiger barb, silver dollar, pleco fish, Odessa barbs, etc.

You should avoid keeping your Bolivian rams with big and predatory fishes as those nig fishes might start hunting these butterflies.

Between themselves, Bolivian rams live together if the volume of the aquarium is sufficient. Clashes between males are possible without serious consequences.

Feeding Bolivian Ram

In nature, Bolivian Rams eat various invertebrates, which it digs from the bottom. At home, the best option would be to feed the fish with high-quality dry feed. Unlike live or frozen feeds, they are completely balanced and, thanks to a complex of vitamins, ensure the health and longevity of your pets.

It’s very easy to bring infection with live food into the aquarium, which can not be said about dry food.

When selecting food, the smallmouth size of the Bolivian butterfly should be taken into account.

  • Tetra Rubin flakes is a feed with a high content of natural color enhancers. After a few weeks of feeding, you will notice that your fishes have become much brighter;
  • Tetra Cichlid Color Mini pellets is a food specially formulated for small cichlids. Contains a large number of high-quality proteins, as well as natural color enhancers;
  • To diversify the menu of Bolivian butterflies, natural delicacies in nutritious jelly – Tetra FreshDelica will help. You can offer bloodworms or brine shrimps to your cichlids, which they will surely like.

It is advised to feed Bolivian Rams in small portions to avoid overeating.

Breeding Bolivian Ram

To breed a Bolivian Ram at home, You will need a separate spawning tank because in the general aquarium the probability of eating fry by other fish increases sharply.

Sexual dimorphism in the Bolivian Ram is not expressed. A sexually mature male (about one-year-old) can be identified by larger body sizes, elongated fins, and a brighter color.

It is not recommended to create a pair artificially, in most cases this will lead to the rejection of spawning or destruction of the masonry. It is better to keep a group of fish in the spawning aquarium of an appropriate volume and let them choose their partner.

Fine soil, large flat stone, and a group of small-leaved plants should be placed in the spawning aquarium. Ideally, the capacity should be at least 60 liters.

It is possible to stimulate fish for spawning with the help of small daily water changes and raising the temperature to 27-28 ° С. If the pair is ready for spawning, they will begin to clear the place for caviar, usually a flat stone. Then the female lays 100 to 200 eggs, which are then fertilized by the male.

The burden of caring for the offspring lies on the shoulders of both parents. The main watch is carried by the female, the male replaces it with feeding time. Parents fan the eggs with their fins, creating a flow of water, and also remove the dead.

The incubation of eggs is short-lived, it takes only 2-4 days. The fry that was born for about another week feeds on the yolk sac, after which they switch to independent food production. At first, young parents guard their newly-born offspring.

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