The butterfly cichlid / Ram cichlid, or microgeophagus ramirezi, belongs to the cichlid family and has its natural habitat in the warm freshwater regions of Venezuela and Colombia. The life span is about 3 years.
Although it is very sociable and therefore gets along well with other fish, it likes to live hidden in shallow, muddy or grassy shore areas. They hatch their eggs on false rocks or similar. As both parents take care of their offspring, butterfly cichlids are called a parent family.
What distinguishes the Butterfly / Ram Cichlid?
The fish is characterized by a calm mind and a monogamous way of life . From sexual maturity onwards it inhabits its own territory together with its partner. Fights between male specimens usually end harmlessly.
The appearance of the butterfly cichlid
As the name suggests, the butterfly cichlid is characterised by its rich colours, which can change depending on the incidence of light. The head of the fish is orange, in the gill and breast area the scale dress turns yellow. In the middle and towards the dorsal fin there are black, blue or blue-green spots and a black stripe from the neck to the throat. There are also black elements on the dorsal fin.
The butterfly cichlid is particularly suitable for experienced fish keepers.
The following conditions should be given in any case when keeping it to ensure a long and healthy life:
- Pairing, at least one male and one female
- Society by other fish, like neon fish or angelfish
- numerous hiding places or caves
- sufficient space to form hunting grounds
The female specimens of the butterfly cichlid reach a maximum body size of up to 5 cm, the males, however, grow up to 7 cm long. The sexes of the animals can only be distinguished optically on closer inspection: The male fish are characterised by stronger colours and a more pronounced sting on the dorsal fin. A sexually mature female can be recognized by a reddish belly and in some cases also by a fuller body volume.
To ensure good husbandry, the water temperature should be between 24 and 26 °C and the water should have a pH value between 6.0 – 7.5.
Feed and nutrition
In its natural habitat, the carnivore feeds exclusively on living animals, in particular mosquito larvae or water fleas. However, the fish also accepts granules or flakes of food. In this case the food should sink to the bottom and not swim at the water surface, as the butterfly cichlid does not live in the upper water regions.
The ideal aquarium for the butterfly cichlid
It is therefore especially important to adjust the bottom of the aquarium to the wishes of the fish.
- dark, peaty ground cover
- when keeping a pair, at least 55 litres of volume, with a minimum length of 60 at
- for larger groups up to 200 litres, as well as territories delimited by small stones
- Sufficient retreat places by plants, roots, coconut shells or larger stones
- free swimming area, consisting of at least 50 % of the aquarium