German Blue Ram 101: Care, Breeding, Tank Mates…

The German Blue Ram Cichlid is one of the most underrated freshwater species you can find. They’re absolutely beautiful, peaceful, and compatible with a number of different tank mates.

We’ve been a fan of this fish for years and always encourage other aquarists to give this species a shot!

But because this fish is under the radar, there’s some conflicting information when it comes to their care. From temperature to breeding practices, there are a lot of discrepancies.

So we’re going to set the record straight.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about German Blue Ram care, with info you can trust. 

Species Summary

The German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) is a type of cichlid that can be found in Columbia and Venezuela. Within this region, the entire species is located within the Orinoco River basin.

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There have been some reports floating around that claim these fish have been found in other areas of South America. However, those instances are likely just a case of misidentification.

Mikrogeophagus ramirezi looking for food

While these fish are most commonly known as German Blue Rams, there are a handful of other common names you’ll see used in the aquarium scene. Among them are, the Blue Ram, Butterfly Cichlid, Asian Ram, and Ramirezi.

The waters this species prefers are slow-moving and a bit on the murky side. There’s often a significant amount of plants in the area where these fish gravitate, which helps them stay safe as well as find food.

At one point these fish were considered to be a kind of Apistogramma. However, they’ve since been moved into a different classification as is reflected by their scientific name.


The average lifespan of a German Blue Ram is around 3-4 years. This assumes that you’re providing them with excellent care and an optimal habitat.

Author Note: These are one of the easiest cichlids to maximize lifespan. Their size, temperament, and base care requirements are all very manageable.


The appearance of the German Blue Ram Cichlid is the main thing that draws in potential owners. Their bright colors and interesting patterns are quite spectacular!

You’ll often see a mix of yellow, blue, red, and orange all over their body. Most of the time, the dominant color on the front half of their body is yellow, and the dominant color on the back half is blue.

However, this can vary. There are some specimens that are more yellow on the front and back thirds of their body, with some faded dark blue toward the middle.

One of the most noticeable features when it comes to their beautiful colors is the black line that runs vertically across their face over their eye. This band is rather thick and can’t be missed. It gives them kind of a bandit look!

There will also usually be some very dark blue or black patches hear from the front of their dorsal fin and middle of their body. These are also rather large and will usually match the color of the band over their eye.

German Blue Rams won’t have these dark patches on the back half of their body. This area will be rather pristine and unassuming compared to all the action going on in the front.

There will often be some dots/spots on their fins (with the exception of the ventral fins) too. Most of the time these are either bright blue or yellow. This will depend on the dominant colors of the individual fish.

This species has the classic fin shape that you expect from cichlids. Even though they’re smaller, they have the same angled semi-rectangular dorsal fin and a wide, even caudal fin.

Average Size

The average size of a German Blue Ram is around 2 to 3 inches in length when fully grown. Theis size can be impacted by a number of factors, but the main two are how they were bred and their diet when growing up.

Author Note: This is quite small for a cichlid, making them a very approachable species if you don’t have a lot of room. Many beginners are nervous about the prospect of managing a 70+ gallon tank, so a small and beautiful fish like this is a great choice.

German Blue Ram Care

German Blue Ram care is nothing to be intimidated by. These fish are low maintenance and easy to keep due to their hardy nature and peaceful temperament.

But that still means you should pay attention to their basic needs. There has been a fair amount of misinformation being passed around on forums when it comes to this species, so it’s important to understand their baseline requirements.

The following sections will give you all the information you need in order to keep these fish happy and healthy.

Tank Size

The recommended tank size for German Blue Ram Cichlids is 20 gallons. This will give them plenty of space to swim and explore.

We’ve seen a lot of people saying these fish will do fine in a 10-gallon tank. While they’ll technically survive, the extra space we recommend will significantly impact their overall health and happiness in the long term.

A German Blue Ram Cichlid swimming in a planted freshwater tank

For most aquarists, the difference between 10 and 20 gallons isn’t that much (both in cost and finding space for the aquarium).

Water Parameters

One of the most important parts of German Blue Ram care is maintaining the water. While this might seem like something that applies to all fish, this species can be especially affected by subpar water conditions.

To start, stick with the parameters below.

  • Water temperature: 72°F to 79°F
  • pH levels: 5 to 7.5 (aim for the middle)
  • Water hardness: 5 to 12 KH

We recommend checking the water frequently for the first couple of weeks of owning these fish. This will help you ensure that water conditions are stable since your fish will still be adjusting.

Invest in some solid filtration as well. Water cleanliness is extremely important for this species.

Author Note: It’s also necessary for you to perform partial water changes on a consistent basis. Changing out around 20% of the water each week is ideal.

What To Put In Their Tank

When setting up the inside of their aquarium, the most important items to include are plants.

In their natural habitat, German Blue Rams will spend most of their time using vegetation to hide. A tank that isn’t heavily planted will make them feel unprotected (which will elevate their stress levels).

You have a lot of options when it comes to the kind of plants you want to include. We like water wisteria and hornwort, but there are a ton of others you can choose from.

You can also consider some floating plants as well since this species doesn’t need a lot of light (more on that a bit further down).

However, don’t go overboard with the plants. These fish still need room to swim, so don’t make things too crowded!

Next up is the substrate.

While Blue Rams aren’t true bottom-dwellers, they will spend a lot of time near the substrate digging around. This is a common cichlid behavior that these little creatures display quite often.

To accommodate them, a sandy substrate is usually ideal. This will prevent them from getting cut or scratched when digging around. You can also go with a fine gravel substrate if needed as well.

Author Note: Because of this digging behavior, you’ll need to do a good job rooting your plants. It’s possible for these fish to uproot them when they’re churning up the substrate.

This also makes hardy plants a good decision as well.

German Blue Rams prefer lighting that’s a bit on the dim side (or at least no more than moderate). Again, this is because most of their time in the wild is spent tucked away in thick vegetation.

You can do this by either controlling your light source directly or using plants to reduce the amount of light that makes it to their area of the aquarium. Both methods are fine.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to have a bit of a slow current to mimic their natural habitat. This should be easy to accomplish no matter what setup you have.

Common Possible Diseases

The most serious health issue that German Blue Rams have a tendency to develop is fish tuberculosis, which can be rather unpleasant.

A lot of newer aquarists don’t even know this exists since it’s not as common as a disease like Ich (which they can get as well). Fish TB can be life-threatening and comes from bacteria in the water.

There are a number of symptoms that will present if your fish develops this illness. The most common are a loss of weight and size as well as sores on their bodies (these can get rather nasty if left untreated).

In some cases, your German Blue Ram might develop dropsy as well.

Treating fish TB requires the antibiotics that you’ll need to get from a vet. If this unfortunate situation happens in your aquarium, consult a vet and follow their instructions.

Author Note: If this disease is confirmed you’ll need to wear gloves when doing anything in the tank. The bacteria that causes fish TB is very similar to the kind humans get!

As far as the other common kinds of diseases that this species might get, the best way to prevent them is by keeping your water quality in great shape.

Food & Diet

Feeding German Blue Rams is not very challenging. These fish are omnivores and are not very picky!

It’s a good idea to use some kind of pellet or flake food as the base of their diet. Any products from a high-quality seller will do fine.

In addition to this, you’ll want to give them some protein-rich foods as well. Brine shrimp, tubifex, and bloodworms are all great. They’ll provide some balance to their diet and also a bit of enrichment!

It’s worth pointing out that these fish can be a little bit fussy when they’re still getting used to their tank. When this happens, you might find that it’s a bit hard to feed them.

In order to work around this, we recommend giving them more of the frozen protein-rich foods we mentioned above. This will usually snap them out of their funk and get them eating again.

Behavior & Temperament

One of the great things about German Blue Rams is their peaceful nature. These fish are very mellow and just want to do their own thing.

This makes them great for community tanks since there’s a long list of potential tank mates you can keep them with (more on that in the next section).

You’ll often see these fish hiding out among the plants, or digging through the substrate. They are an interesting mix of shy and exploratory!

You’ll usually see them in the bottom half of the aquarium, but it’s not out of the question for them to visit the top and check things out. This makes them quite a fun fish to watch.

Tank Mates

The list of potential German Blue Ram tank mates is quite long thanks to the peaceful nature of this fish. They’ll get along with pretty much anyone!

The general rule to follow when thinking about tank mates is size and temperament. This species does best with other small fish that don’t want to cause any trouble.

Any large or aggressive fish should be avoided at all costs.

Here are some good tank mates to get you started:

German Blue Rams also get along with all types of freshwater aquarium snails. They’ll leave the little critters alone and go about their business! You can also keep them shrimp such as the Amano or Red Cherry.

Author Note: If you want to keep more than one German Blue Ram in the same aquarium, it’s best to limit the number to two. This will help prevent territorial behavior (especially if you’re keeping two males together).

When keeping two males together make sure you increase the tank size to at least 40 gallons as well. 

German Blue Ram Breeding

Breeding German Blue Rams is very simple. There are a number of advantages this species has when it comes to being bred in captivity.

If you want to maximize your chances, get some juveniles and let them become a mating pair. This isn’t 100% necessary, but it makes things a whole lot easier.

These fish will become sexually mature at a very young age as well. After about 6 months they’re ready!

For the tank conditions, start with the base water parameters and gradually increase the temperature. By only 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help mimic the natural conditions of the breeding season.

It’s important to have some flat rocks in the breeding tank as well. Your Blue Rams will use these surfaces as a place for their eggs.

It’s a good idea to keep these fish by themselves when attempting to breed them. While they’re normally peaceful, breeding makes them territorial and might result in them going after other fish.

Once the process has started it should only take 3-4 days for the eggs to hatch. Then in under a week, the fry will be out swimming around!

We recommend feeding the little babies brine shrimp. This food packs a punch and will give them the nutrients they need to grow.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this guide ion German Blue Ram care has shown you what a wonderful fish this species can be. When other aquarists flock to the more popular freshwater creatures, they’re missing out on all the amazing things this fish has to offer!

We plan on keeping these fish for quite a while. Once you get used to them, the thought of a species that’s less colorful (and not as easy to care for) doesn’t seem appealing at all.

If you’re interested in learning more about the German Blue Ram and want to ask us some questions, get in touch with us on social media. We love discussing fishkeeping with our readers!

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