German Blue Rams – Types, Tank Mates, Size & Full Details!

German Blue Rams, also known as ram cichlids, blue rams, butterfly cichlids, and Ramirez’s dwarf cichlids, originate from the Orinoco River basin in Colombia and Venezuela. They are known for their iridescent colors and have been selectively bred into various types, including regular, long fin, and balloon rams. The most common color varieties are German Blue Rams, Gold Rams, and Electric Blue Rams.

The German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) is a stunning South American dwarf cichlid with a vibrant personality, making it a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts.

In this guide, we share expert advice on caring for, breeding, and raising these fascinating fish, ensuring they thrive in your aquarium.

Quick Stats

Scientific Name: Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
Common Name: Ram cichlid, Ramirez’s dwarf cichlid, German blue ram, Asian ram, ram, blue ram, butterfly cichlid,  dwarf butterfly cichlid, Ramirezi
Size: Small
Tank size: 12 gallons (60L) and more
Temperament: Peaceful
Water Hardness: Soft to Medium
Maximum Length: 3″
Minimum Aquarium Size: 25 Gal +
Diet: Omnivorous
Temperature: 75–81 °F (24–27 °C)
Swimming Region(s): Mid-Range
Suitable Tank Mates: Other Small Cichlids, South American community species
Difficulty Of Care: Weekly
pH: 6.5-7.5
Size: 4 inches (10 cm)

German Blue Rams Appearance

German Blue Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi), also known as Ram Cichlids or Butterfly Cichlids, are renowned for their stunning appearance. They are small, yet vibrant fish with a unique color palette.

The base color of their body varies from light blue to yellow-gold, with iridescent blue to green scales covering the head and sides. A striking black spot can be found in the middle of their body, with a second smaller spot near the base of the tail.

The fins of German Blue Rams are also quite striking. They are typically long and flowing, with translucent to bright yellow hues.

Males have more elongated and pointed fins, especially the dorsal and anal fins, while females have shorter and more rounded fins. A unique characteristic of the females is the presence of tiny, bright blue dots within the large black spot on their bodies, which males lack.

Natural Habitat of German Blue Rams

German Blue Rams are native to the Orinoco River basin in South America, specifically in Colombia and Venezuela. They inhabit slow-moving or still waters with sandy or muddy substrates, often surrounded by dense vegetation.

These fish can be found in areas with plenty of hiding spots, such as submerged roots, rocks, or leaf litter.

In their natural habitat, German Blue Rams thrive in warm water temperatures between 78-85°F (25-29°C) and prefer soft, slightly acidic water with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0.

Origin and Distribution

Although their name suggests a connection to Germany, the “German Blue” term actually refers to a specific color variation that was selectively bred in Germany and gained popularity worldwide in the aquarium trade.

In the wild, German Blue Rams can be found in the Orinoco River basin of Colombia and Venezuela. Due to their popularity, various color varieties and body shapes have been developed, including gold rams, electric blue rams, and even a rare black version.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of German Blue Rams

German Blue Rams are a small species of dwarf cichlid, with adults typically reaching 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm) in length. They have a relatively short lifespan, usually living for around 3-4 years, although some may live longer with proper care.

Their growth rate depends on factors such as diet, water quality, and tank conditions. To ensure healthy growth, provide a balanced diet, maintain optimal water parameters, and minimize stress.

German Blue Rams Behavior and Temperament

German Blue Rams are generally considered to be peaceful and social fish, making them suitable for community aquariums. However, they can be territorial during breeding or if housed in too small a tank.

To minimize aggression, provide ample hiding spots and maintain a larger tank size when keeping multiple pairs or different species together.

German Blue Rams are known to form monogamous pairs and exhibit complex social behaviors, especially during breeding. They communicate through body language, such as flaring their fins, and may spar with other Rams to establish dominance.

Despite their sometimes feisty nature, they are compatible with a variety of similarly-sized, peaceful tank mates that can tolerate the same water parameters.

In conclusion, German Blue Rams are an attractive and engaging addition to any aquarium. With their striking appearance, fascinating behavior, and manageable size, they are well-suited for both beginner and experienced aquarists.

To ensure their health and happiness, it is essential to provide proper care, including a suitable environment, a balanced diet, and compatible tank mates.

German Blue Rams Tank Setup

Creating an ideal tank setup for German Blue Rams is essential for their health and well-being. By replicating their natural habitat and providing a stress-free environment, these fish can thrive and exhibit their best colors and behaviors. In this section, we will discuss in detail the various aspects of setting up a German Blue Rams tank.

Tank Size

German Blue Rams are small fish, but they require adequate space to swim and establish territories. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a single pair. For larger groups or community tanks, consider increasing the tank size to 30-40 gallons or more.


A soft, sandy substrate is ideal for German Blue Rams, as it mimics their natural habitat and allows them to engage in their natural digging behaviors. Avoid sharp or rough substrates that could potentially injure the fish.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Recreate the Rams’ natural environment by adding plenty of hiding spots and decorations, such as driftwood, rocks, and aquatic plants. These elements provide cover and help the fish feel secure. They also contribute to the overall aesthetics of the tank and improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients.

Water Parameters

German Blue Rams prefer warm, soft, slightly acidic water. Maintain a temperature between 78-85°F (25-29°C), a pH of 5.0-7.0, and a hardness between 1-5 dGH. Consistent water parameters are crucial to the health of these sensitive fish.

Filtration and Aeration

A high-quality, efficient filtration system is necessary to keep the water clean and stable. Rams prefer gentle water movement, so choose a filter that creates minimal water disturbance. An air pump can be added to ensure proper oxygenation, but make sure it does not create excessive water flow.


German Blue Rams do not require intense lighting, so moderate to low light levels are suitable. Using natural or subdued artificial lighting can help encourage the fish to display their best colors and reduce stress.

Tank Mates

Selecting appropriate tank mates is essential for a harmonious community. Ideal tank mates for German Blue Rams are other peaceful, similarly-sized fish such as tetras, rasboras, and small catfish species. Avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species that could stress or harm the Rams.


German Blue Rams are omnivorous, and a varied diet is crucial for their health and coloration. Provide a mix of high-quality, small-sized pellets or flakes, live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms, and vegetable matter such as spirulina or blanched vegetables.


Regular maintenance is essential to keep the tank clean and stable. Perform weekly water changes, test water parameters, and remove any debris or uneaten food.

Tank Maintenance of German Blue Rams

Regular Water Changes

Perform weekly water changes of 25-30% to maintain water quality and reduce the buildup of harmful substances. Use a siphon to remove debris from the substrate and ensure that the new water matches the temperature, pH, and hardness of the tank.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Clean algae buildup on the tank walls and decorations using an algae scraper or scrubber. Remove and clean decorations as needed, but avoid using harsh chemicals that could harm the fish.

Filter Maintenance

Regularly check the filter to ensure it is functioning properly. Clean or replace filter media according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Monitor Fish Health

Keep a close eye on your German Blue Rams and other tank inhabitants for any signs of illness or stress. Look for changes in color, behavior, or appetite, and address issues promptly to prevent complications. Quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main tank to minimize the risk of introducing diseases.

Temperature and Equipment Maintenance

Regularly check the temperature of the tank and ensure that the heater is functioning properly. Clean and maintain all equipment, including heaters, air pumps, and filters, to ensure their efficiency and longevity.

Plant Care

Trim and maintain aquatic plants to ensure they are healthy and not overgrowing the tank. Remove dead or decaying plant matter to prevent water quality issues.

Observation and Interaction

Take time to observe your German Blue Rams and their tank mates regularly. This not only allows you to monitor their health and well-being but also provides an opportunity to bond with your fish and appreciate their unique personalities and behaviors.

Breeding Considerations

If you are interested in breeding German Blue Rams, provide them with a suitable environment, such as a separate breeding tank with ample hiding spots and a flat surface for egg-laying. Maintain optimal water parameters and feed a high-quality, varied diet to encourage breeding behavior.

In conclusion, setting up and maintaining a German Blue Rams tank involves paying attention to various aspects, including tank size, substrate, decorations, water parameters, filtration, lighting, tank mates, feeding, and maintenance.

By providing a suitable environment and closely monitoring the health and well-being of your fish, you can enjoy the beauty and charm of these fascinating creatures for years to come.

Acclimating German Blue Rams

When introducing new German Blue Rams to your aquarium, it is essential to acclimate them to their new environment gradually to avoid stress and potential health problems. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Float the bag: Place the unopened bag containing the new fish in the aquarium, allowing it to float for 15-20 minutes. This will equalize the water temperature inside the bag with that of the aquarium.

  2. Gradual water exchange: Open the bag and add a small amount of aquarium water (about 1/4 cup) to it every 5 minutes for the next 30 minutes. This will help the fish adjust to the new water chemistry.

  3. Net and release: Use a net to gently transfer the fish from the bag to the aquarium, avoiding the introduction of bag water into the tank. Discard the bag water.

  4. Observe: Keep a close eye on the newly introduced fish for the first few hours to ensure they are acclimating well and not exhibiting signs of stress.

German Blue Rams Diet and Feeding

German Blue Rams are omnivorous and require a varied diet to maintain optimal health. Offer a combination of high-quality, commercially available foods and live or frozen options to provide a balanced diet. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Dry foods: Pellets, flakes, or granules designed specifically for cichlids or tropical fish are suitable for German Blue Rams. Choose high-quality brands that offer a balanced blend of proteins, fats, and vitamins.

  2. Frozen foods: Brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and mysis shrimp are excellent frozen options for supplementing your Rams’ diet.

  3. Live foods: Offering live foods like brine shrimp, blackworms, or daphnia can encourage natural hunting behaviors and provide essential nutrients.

  4. Vegetables: Blanched spinach, zucchini, or peas can be offered occasionally as a source of fiber and vitamins.

Feed your German Blue Ram Cichlids 2-3 times a day, offering only as much food as they can consume within 2-3 minutes.

German Blue Rams Tank Mates

German Blue Rams can coexist peacefully with a variety of tank mates. Choose tank mates with similar water parameter requirements and non-aggressive temperaments.

Some suitable tank mates for German Blue Ram Cichlids include:

  1. Tetras: Cardinal tetras, neon tetras, or rummynose tetras can make excellent tank mates for German Blue Rams due to their peaceful nature and preference for similar water parameters.

  2. Corydoras: These bottom-dwelling catfish are compatible with German Blue Rams and will help keep the substrate clean.

  3. Plecos: Smaller species of plecos, such as bristlenose or clown plecos, can coexist well with German Blue Rams.

  4. Other dwarf cichlids: Apistogramma or Bolivian rams can also be suitable tank mates, provided that there is adequate space and hiding spots for each species.

  5. Peaceful livebearers: Guppies, mollies, or platies can make good tank mates as long as they can tolerate the higher temperatures required by German Blue Rams.

Avoid large, aggressive species or fast, competitive eaters that may cause stress or outcompete the Rams for food.

Breeding German Blue Rams

  1. Set up a separate breeding tank: Provide a 10-20 gallon tank with soft, slightly acidic water and a temperature of 82-86°F (28-30°C). Include flat surfaces, such as flat rocks, slate, or terracotta saucers, for the Rams to lay their eggs on.

  2. Condition the breeding pair: Offer the prospective breeding pair a diet rich in live and frozen foods to promote optimal conditioning. This will help improve their chances of successful breeding and ensure healthy offspring.

  3. Introduce the breeding pair: Place a healthy, mature male and female German Blue Ram in the breeding tank. Observe their behavior to ensure compatibility. If they display aggressive behavior towards each other, separate them and try again with a different pair.

  4. Spawning: German Blue Rams will clean a flat surface before laying their eggs on it. The female will lay 100-200 eggs, and the male will follow to fertilize them. Both parents will take part in guarding and fanning the eggs, which should hatch within 2-3 days.

  5. Rearing the fry: Once the eggs hatch, the fry will remain attached to the spawning site for a few more days, absorbing their yolk sacs. After they become free-swimming, feed them freshly hatched brine shrimp or microworms several times a day.

  6. Water quality: Maintain high water quality with regular water changes and proper filtration. Clean water is crucial for the survival and growth of the fry.

  7. Separating the fry: Once the fry have grown large enough to be separated from their parents, move them to a grow-out tank with similar water parameters. Gradually introduce them to a diet of crushed flakes or pellets as they grow.

With proper care, attention to water quality, and a well-balanced diet, you can successfully raise these beautiful cichlids in your home aquarium.

Signs of Stress in German Blue Rams

Stress can severely impact the health and well-being of German Blue Ram Cichlids.

Some common signs of stress in these fish include:

  1. Loss of coloration: Stressed German Blue Rams may exhibit faded or dull colors.

  2. Rapid breathing or gasping at the surface: This may indicate poor water quality or insufficient oxygen levels.

  3. Loss of appetite: Stressed fish may refuse to eat or show little interest in food.

  4. Lethargy or hiding: Rams that are stressed may become less active, preferring to hide or stay in one spot.

  5. Clamped fins: Holding the fins close to the body is another sign of stress or illness.

Common Health Issues and Treatments for German Blue Rams

German Blue Rams can be susceptible to a range of health issues, including:

  1. Ich: Caused by the parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, Ich manifests as small white spots on the fish’s body. Treat with an Ich medication and raise the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) for a few days.

  2. Bacterial infections: Common bacterial infections include fin rot and columnaris. These can be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics designed for aquarium use.

  3. Swim bladder issues: This can cause difficulty in swimming or maintaining buoyancy. Fasting the fish for a day or two and feeding it boiled, shelled peas can help.

  4. Parasites: External parasites like anchor worms, gill flukes, or internal parasites such as worms or protozoa can be treated with specific anti-parasitic medications.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

  1. Test water parameters regularly to maintain optimal conditions.

  2. Perform regular water changes and clean the tank, substrate, and decorations.

  3. Use a high-quality filter with adequate filtration capacity for your tank size.

  4. Quarantine new fish and plants before adding them to the main tank to prevent the spread of diseases or parasites.

  5. Keep a close eye on your fish to monitor their behavior and detect any signs of illness early.

Should You Get a German Blue Ram for Your Aquarium?

German Blue Rams can be an excellent addition to a community tank, as they are generally peaceful and add vibrant colors to the aquarium. However, they can be sensitive to water quality and may not be the best choice for beginners.

If you can provide stable water parameters and meet their specific needs, German Blue Ram Cichlids can be a rewarding and attractive species to keep.

Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List does not currently list German Blue Rams as threatened or endangered. However, factors like pollution, deforestation, and habitat degradation may affect their natural habitats.

Availability & Pricing

German Blue Ram fish are widely available in pet stores and through online retailers. Prices may vary depending on factors such as size, coloration, and availability, but they typically range from $6 to $15 per fish.

Frequently Asked Questions About German Blue Rams

  1. Are German Blue Rams aggressive? Generally, German Blue Rams are peaceful, but they can be territorial during breeding. Provide ample hiding spots and choose compatible tank mates to minimize aggression.

  2. Can German Blue Rams be kept in a community tank? Yes, as long as they are kept with peaceful, similarly-sized fish and the tank is large enough to accommodate all inhabitants.

  3. How long do German Blue Rams live? With proper care, they can live up to 4 years in captivity.


German Blue Ram are a beautiful and popular choice among freshwater aquarium enthusiasts. With proper care, attention to water quality, and a balanced diet, these fish can thrive in a well-maintained community tank. Be prepared to meet their specific needs and provide a stable environment to ensure their health and happiness.

As long as you are willing to invest time and effort in maintaining optimal conditions, German Blue Ram can be a rewarding and attractive addition to your aquarium. Their vibrant colors, intriguing behavior, and peaceful temperament make them an excellent choice for experienced aquarists looking to add a touch of beauty to their freshwater setup.