Ram cichlid – Breeding and rearing

Schmetterlungsbuntbarsche
© Steffen Hochdorfer

Ram cichlid, Microgeophagus ramirezi, are demanding in their breeding.

Only experienced aquarists master the challenge of breeding these fish, which originate from the shallow waters of Venezuela.

Necessary conditions for breeding

The breeding of the Ram cichlid can be carried out with natural rearing by the parent fish, or by artificial rearing. The fish require very soft water with a hardness of 3 dH. If the water is too hard, peat must be mixed into the gravel.

Spawning takes place quickly every three weeks. In order to raise healthy young fish, a low PH value and a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius is necessary. If the environmental conditions are not suitable for rearing, the parent fish will stop brood care. They devour the spawn. The breeding aquarium should be 100 x 40 x 30 cm.

For spawning on the sandy bottom some plants or slates are used. To prevent the formation of germs in the water, a UV filter can be used. A generous swimming space facilitates mating and rearing of the young fish.

Environmental conditions in the rearing tank

  • Total hardness under 3 dH
  • Temperature 28 degrees Celsius
  • Conductivity below 50 µS/cm
  • no nitrate or nitrite
  • UV filter

The courtship behavior

Males and females swim together before laying eggs. The male fish shakes its abdomen up and down again and again. A few days before laying eggs the colour of the female fish becomes stronger, the belly glows reddish. The male does not change colour until the day of oviposition. The fish are oven breeders. They live monogamously and together they defend the breeding ground against other fish.

Spawning behaviour

A few hours before spawning, the laying tube is visible in the female. The fish remove algae from the selected breeding sites. The gravel is pushed for the pit with the mouths from the inside to the outside. Up to 500 eggs per deposit are laid directly into a pit at the bottom or in densely leafed plants. The male swims over the egg clutch and fertilises the eggs.

© Spawning behaviour of Ram cichlid in the video © Michael Petersen

Brood care and feeding

The brood care takes place alternately, the males are usually more active. The brood is aggressively defended against other fish. If the spawn disappears, this can have various causes.
Causes for the disappearance of spawn

  • the eggs die as a result of poor water quality
  • Fish, shrimps or snails eat the eggs
  • the parent fish eat the eggs due to stress factors
  • the brood care instinct is not developed

Rearing of young fish

The young hatch after three days and swim freely after another three days. Immediately after hatching, the young are resettled by the parent animals to avoid excessive germ contamination of the water. Natural rearing is more complex than artificial rearing. However, the young fish only learn the brood care behaviour directly from the parent fish. Artificially reared fish are no longer equipped with a brood care instinct.

With artificial rearing, the young fish of the first three clutches can already be reared. The eggs must not come into contact with air during transfer.
Suitable food for the young fish are mosquito larvae, cyclops and frozen food.

>> Read on: Ram cichlid Posture and Portrait

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