Home Caring for Bolivian Ram Cichlid: Tank Mates, Feeding, and More!

Caring for Bolivian Ram Cichlid: Tank Mates, Feeding, and More!

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Bolivian Ram Cichlid

The Bolivian Ram Cichlid is a popular aquarium fish loved for its colorful appearance, small size, and distinctive features like spiny dorsal fins and parrot-like mouths. Its scientific name, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, means “small eartheater” because of its size and eating habits. Originally known as Crenicara altispinosa, it was later grouped with Apistogramma before finding its place with M. Ramirez due to similar behaviors.

The naming of the genus Mikrogeophagus has a bit of history and confusion, involving a dispute over how it’s spelled. Despite the initial use of Microgeophagus with a “c,” Mikrogeophagus, spelled with a “k,” was accepted as the valid name. This little cichlid is a favorite in aquariums and is known for its charm. While some researchers suggest links to Biotodoma, its unique qualities make it a cherished addition to aquariums worldwide.

Bolivian Ram Cichlid Appearance:

Bolivian Ram Cichlids are like living rainbows, displaying vibrant colors that include all the shades of the rainbow. With large eyes, parrot-like snouts, elongated dorsal fin rays, a black eye stripe, and a black spot along their sides, these fish are a visual delight. When stressed, they develop six faint crossbands on their bodies, and during breeding, the female’s yellowish body and distinctive markings intensify.

Aquarium Setup:

Starting with a group of six to eight young Bolivian Ram Chichlid is ideal, allowing the formation of pairs in a few months. They adapt well to various water conditions, with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5, GH below 10, and temperatures between 25° to 28°C (77° to 82°F). A 50-liter (15-gallon) tank is suitable for an adult pair. Fine sand, driftwood, flat stones for egg laying, and lush greenery create a comfortable habitat.

Water Conditions:

Good filtration and weekly partial water changes are essential to maintain water quality. Elevated nitrate levels, often a result of infrequent water changes, can negatively impact the well-being and even cause mortality in young Bolivian Rams.

Bolivian Ram Tank Mates

Bolivian rams, scientifically known as Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, are generally peaceful cichlids that can coexist with a variety of tank mates. However, it’s essential to choose companions that share similar temperaments and water requirements to ensure harmony in the aquarium. Suitable tank mates for Bolivian rams include:

  1. Peaceful community fish like tetras, rasboras, danios, and gouramis.
  2. Small to medium-sized corydoras catfish species.
  3. Other peaceful cichlids, such as Apistogramma species and dwarf cichlids.
  4. Non-aggressive bottom dwellers like bristlenose plecos and otocinclus catfish.

Avoid pairing Bolivian rams with overly aggressive or territorial species that may intimidate or harm them. Additionally, ensure the tank provides plenty of hiding spots and visual barriers to minimize stress and aggression among tank mates. Regular monitoring and observation can help maintain a peaceful community aquarium environment.


These omnivores enjoy a varied diet of small-sized live and dry foods. Care should be taken not to overfeed due to their voracious appetite.

Bolivian Ram Cichlid Breeding Process:


Mature males, slightly longer and slimmer, court females through displays and chasing. Spawning involves the female laying eggs on a chosen stone, and the male fertilizes them. After hatching, the female fans the eggs with her pectoral fins, and the male guards the territory.


After hatching, the larvae are carried to a pre-dug pit by the female. Free-swimming larvae can be fed freshly hatched Artemia and microforms. Separating fry from other fish is advisable, and water changes are crucial for their sensitive early stages.

Perfect for Novice Enthusiasts:

Bolivian Rams possess all the qualities of an ideal aquarium fish—colorful, medium-sized, adaptable, and easy to breed. Their peaceful temperament makes them suitable for community aquariums, making them a perfect choice for novice enthusiasts interested in South American cichlids.

Where were they found?

The Bolivian Ram Cichlid, also called Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, comes from rivers in Bolivia and Brazil, South America. Specifically, they inhabit slow-moving waters and areas with dense vegetation. You can find them in regions characterized by moderate temperatures and various water parameters in the wild. These cichlids have also become popular in the aquarium trade, where they are bred and kept by enthusiasts worldwide.


The Bolivian Ram Cichlid, scientifically known as Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, stands out in the aquarium world for its vibrant colors, small size, and distinctive features like spiny dorsal fins and parrot-like mouths. Originating from the river basins of Bolivia and Brazil, these cichlids bring a touch of South America to aquariums globally. Their ease of care, adaptability, and peaceful nature make them ideal for both novice and experienced enthusiasts. From their scientific journey to their visual allure resembling living rainbows, Bolivian Rams remain cherished additions to aquariums, adding beauty and charm to the underwater landscapes they inhabit.


Is Bolivian Ram Cichlid suitable for beginners?

Yes, Bolivian Rams are excellent for beginners. They have a peaceful temperament and are adaptable to various water conditions, and their vibrant colors make them a joy to keep in aquariums.

What is the ideal tank setup for Bolivian Rams?

A tank with fine sand, driftwood, flat stones for egg laying, and lush greenery is ideal. For an adult pair, a 50-liter (15-gallon) tank works well. Regularly changing water and good filtration are important for their well-being.

Can Bolivian Rams coexist with other fish?

Mostly Bolivian Rams are peaceful and can coexist with other non-aggressive fish. However, it’s essential to monitor their compatibility and provide hiding spots, especially if breeding pairs are present.

What does Bolivian Ram Cichlid eat?

They are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet, including small-sized live and dry foods. It’s important not to overfeed, as they have a voracious appetite. A balanced diet contributes to their overall health and vibrant colors.

What is Bolivian Ram lifespan?

The Bolivian Ram lifespan usually ranges from 4 to 6 years in captivity. However, with proper care, a healthy diet, and suitable tank conditions, some individuals may live even longer.

What is the full-grown Bolivian Ram size?

The full-grown Bolivian Ram size typically ranges from 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 centimeters) in length. However, individual sizes can vary based on factors such as genetics, diet, and environmental conditions. Generally, males are slightly larger and more robust than females.

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