Bolivian Ram Cichlid Care 101: Tank Setup, Diet, & More

Bolivian Ram Cichlid
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: August 13, 2023
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Looking to liven up your aquarium? Meet the Bolivian Ram Cichlid! With vibrant colors and a friendly attitude, it’s perfect for both newbies and pros. Originating from Bolivia’s rivers, its bold patterns and shades of orange, blue, and yellow stand out. Don’t be fooled by its looks – this cichlid is easy to care for. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a beginner, Bolivian Ram Cichlids adds captivating colors and charm to your underwater world.

Quick Summary

  • Bolivian Ram Cichlid is a vibrant and friendly fish suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarium enthusiasts.
  • Bolivian Rams sift through substrate for food; use sandy substrate for comfort and natural feeding behavior.
  • Bolivian Rams have a peaceful temperament and can coexist with other calm fish. Avoid aggressive, fin-nipping, and predatory species.

Species Summary

The Bolivian Ram Cichlid, scientifically known as Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, is a captivating fish species native to the rivers of Bolivia and Brazil. These stunning creatures are widely recognized for their vibrant colors and peaceful nature. Unlike other Cichlid species, Bolivian Rams exhibit a remarkably calm temperament, making them an excellent choice for community aquariums.

Belonging to the cichlid family, Bolivian Rams add a touch of elegance to any aquatic environment. Their striking hues range from shades of yellow and orange to hints of blue and red. This species’ peaceful demeanor allows it to coexist harmoniously with various tank mates, providing a tranquil ambiance in your aquarium.

Originating from South America, specifically the river systems of Bolivia and Brazil, these fish have adapted to thrive in subtropical climates. These peaceful fish prefer slow-moving waters with sandy or rocky substrates where they can seek shelter among plants and driftwood.

Bolivian Rams are relatively small in size compared to other cichlids. Typically reaching around 3 inches (7-8 cm) in length, they make an ideal addition to smaller tanks or community setups. Their compact size also allows for easier maintenance and care.

Bolivian Ram Body


Bolivian Ram Cichlids are known for their unique physical details and vibrant coloration. These small fish have a compact body shape with a high dorsal fin, which adds to their overall charm.

Bolivian Rams can range from golden yellow to deep blue. They often display beautiful stripes and fin patterns that further enhance their visual appeal. One distinctive feature is the presence of a black spot on each side of their body, adding an interesting contrast to their appearance.

Sexual dimorphism is also observed in Bolivian Ram fish. Males tend to be slightly larger than females and may develop elongated filaments on their dorsal fins. This difference in size and fin structure helps distinguish between the sexes.

Bolivian Ram Care

Bolivian ram cichlids are highly adaptable and can tolerate fluctuations in water quality…

Bolivian Rams, also known as ram cichlids, are highly adaptable and can tolerate fluctuations in water quality. However, it is crucial to meet their specific care requirements to ensure their well-being.

To provide optimal care for your Bolivian Ram, maintain a well-maintained aquarium with plenty of hiding spots. These fish thrive in environments that mimic their natural habitat, so consider adding rocks, caves, or driftwood for them to hide and explore.

Tank size and space are significant factors when keeping Bolivian Ram Cichlids. For individual tanks, a minimum of 20 gallons is recommended to allow them enough room to swim and establish territories. In community tanks, provide at least 30 gallons to accommodate other compatible tankmates.

Regular water monitoring is essential for the health of your Bolivian Rams. Use a testing kit to check parameters such as temperature, pH levels, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. This will help you identify any issues early on and take necessary actions to maintain optimal water conditions.

Tank and Water Requirements

To ensure the health and well-being of your Bolivian Ram Cichlids, it is crucial to create a tank environment that mimics their natural habitat in the Amazon River Basin. Here are some key considerations for tank size, water conditions, and overall setup:

Bolivian Ram Cichlid Swimming in a Planted Tank

What to put in their tank

When setting up a tank for Bolivian Rams, it is important to consider their specific tank and water requirements. Firstly, the tank size should be a minimum of 30 gallons (113 liters) to provide enough space for these fish to swim and establish territories. This ensures that they have enough room to move around comfortably.

Another important aspect to consider is the substrate-sifting behavior of Bolivian Rams. These fish have a unique behavior of sifting through the substrate in search of food. To accommodate this behavior, it is recommended to provide a sandy substrate that allows them to burrow comfortably. This will help them engage in their natural feeding behavior and make them feel more at home in the tank.

When designing the tank layout, it is crucial to create a balance between open spaces for swimming and hiding spots or shelters. This can be achieved by using rocks, driftwood, or plants to create suitable hiding spots for the fish. It is important to consider their natural swimming patterns when arranging these elements to ensure that they have enough space to swim freely.

Water Quality

Maintaining good water quality is essential for the health and well-being of Bolivian Rams. Regular filtration and partial water changes are necessary to remove toxins and keep the water parameters stable. This will help create a clean and healthy environment for the fish to thrive in.

In terms of water parameters, Bolivian Rams prefer soft, slightly acidic water conditions. It is recommended to aim for a temperature range between 75°F and 82°F (24°C – 28°C). Additionally, maintaining a pH level around 6.0 to 7.5 and suitable water hardness will help create the ideal water conditions for these fish.

Overall, by considering the tank size, substrate-sifting behavior, open spaces and shelter, water quality maintenance, and ideal water parameters, you can create a suitable and comfortable environment for Bolivian Rams in your aquarium.


By providing an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat, you can create an optimal setting for your Bolivian Cichlids. Remember to monitor water conditions regularly and make adjustments as necessary to promote their health and happiness in your aquarium.

Diseases To Watch Out For

Diseases can pose a significant threat to Bolivian Ram Cichlids. Stress and poor water conditions are among the primary factors that contribute to their susceptibility. These beautiful fish are prone to common ailments such as ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) and fin rot. It is essential for aquarium owners to be aware of these potential issues and take proactive steps to prevent them.

Stress plays a critical role in compromising the immune system of Bolivian Cichlids, making them more vulnerable to diseases. This stress can arise from various sources, including overcrowding, inadequate hiding spots, or sudden changes in environmental conditions. By ensuring optimal water parameters, such as temperature, pH levels, and ammonia levels, owners can help minimize stress-related illnesses.


One particular disease that often affects Bolivian Ram Cichlids is ich. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is a parasitic infection characterized by white spots on the fish’s body and fins. If left untreated, it can cause severe damage or even death. Regularly monitoring water quality helps detect early signs of ich infestation so appropriate treatments can be administered promptly.

Another common issue associated with stressed fish is bacterial infections. When immunity weakens due to stressors like poor water conditions or aggressive tankmates, bacteria have an opportunity to infect the cichlid’s weakened system.

Dry aquarium fish food flakes in plastic containers

Food & Diet Recommendations

Bolivian ram cichlids have an omnivorous diet, which means they eat a variety of foods to stay healthy. A balanced diet is crucial for their overall well-being. Here are some recommendations on what to feed them.

What to feed bolivian rams

When it comes to feeding your Bolivian ram cichlids, it’s important to provide them with high-quality flakes and pellets as the main component of their diet. These can be easily found in pet stores and are specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs.

In addition to flakes and pellets, it’s beneficial to supplement their diet with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia. These options mimic their natural prey and add variety to their meals, which is important for their overall health and well-being.


While live and frozen foods are important, it’s also a good idea to occasionally include vegetable matter in their diet. This can be in the form of blanched spinach or peas, which provide additional fiber and nutrients.

Diet Variety

To ensure that your Bolivian cichlids are receiving proper nutrition, it’s essential to offer a varied diet. Sinking pellets can serve as the primary dry food, while live and frozen foods can be given as supplements. This combination of foods will help ensure that they are getting all the necessary nutrients they need to thrive.

When it comes to feeding frequency and portion size, it’s best to feed them small amounts multiple times a day rather than one large meal. This helps prevent overeating and also helps maintain water quality in the aquarium. By paying attention to their feeding schedule and portion sizes, you can help keep your Bolivian cichlids healthy and happy.

By following these food and diet recommendations, you can ensure that your Bolivian cichlids receives the necessary nutrients for optimal health and vitality.

Bolivian Ram Cichlid School

Temperament & General Behavior

Bolivian Ram Cichlids have a peaceful temperament, making them suitable for community tanks. However, it’s important to note that these peaceful fish may become territorial during the breeding season. During courtship, male Bolivian Rams may display their affection by digging pits in the substrate.

In terms of social preferences, Bolivian Rams can be kept in pairs or small groups. When selecting tank mates, size compatibility is crucial to ensure a harmonious environment.

Bolivian Rams are known for their peaceful nature and can be kept in pairs or small groups. When it comes to selecting tankmates for these cichlids, it is important to consider size compatibility to maintain a harmonious environment. The following are recommended companions for Bolivian Rams:

  • Silver Dollar fish: These fish are known for their calm temperament and can coexist peacefully with Bolivian Rams. They are also similar in size, which helps maintain a balanced tank.
  • Tetras: Tetras are small, peaceful freshwater fish that make great tank mates for Bolivian Rams. They come in various colors and add visual interest to the tank. Their peaceful nature ensures a harmonious coexistence.
  • Loaches: Loaches are bottom-dwelling fish that can help keep the tank clean by eating leftover food and debris. They are generally peaceful and can coexist well with Bolivian Rams.
  • Catfish: Catfish, such as Corydoras, are peaceful and make great tank mates for Bolivian Rams. They are bottom-dwelling fish and can help keep the tank clean by scavenging for food.
  • Gourami: Gouramis are peaceful and can coexist well with Bolivian Rams. They come in various colors and add beauty to the tank. It is important to choose a Gourami species that is similar in size to the Bolivian Rams.

Tankmates To Avoid

  • Aggressive Cichlids: Avoid keeping Bolivian Rams with aggressive cichlid species, as they may engage in territorial disputes or aggressive behavior towards each other. Examples of aggressive cichlids include Jack Dempseys, Red Devils, and Convict Cichlids.
  • Fin-nipping Fish: It is best to avoid fish species known for their fin-nipping tendencies, as Bolivian Rams have delicate fins that can easily be damaged. Fish such as Tiger Barbs, Serpae Tetras, and Rosy Barbs are notorious fin-nippers and may cause harm to the Bolivian Rams.
  • Large Predatory Fish: Bolivian Rams are relatively small in size, so it is important to avoid keeping them with large predatory fish that may see them as potential prey. Fish like Oscars, Arowanas, and Pike Cichlids should not be kept together with Bolivian Rams.
  • Fast-swimming Fish: Bolivian Cichlids have a calm and graceful swimming style, so it is best to avoid fast-swimming fish that may create a stressful environment for them. Species like Danios, Rainbowfish, and Rasboras may be too active for the Bolivian Rams’ liking.

By avoiding these tank mates, you can ensure a peaceful and compatible community tank for your Bolivian Ram Cichlids. It is always important to research the specific needs and behaviors of any fish species before introducing them to your aquarium to promote a healthy and stress-free environment for all inhabitants.


Breeding Bolivian Ram Cichlids is an exciting process that requires adequate space and careful attention to their needs. These beautiful fish are best bred in pairs or small groups, preferably in spacious tanks that provide enough room for swimming and minimize aggression.

Breeding Bolivian Rams at Home

During the breeding process, female Bolivian Ram fish lay adhesive eggs on flat surfaces such as rocks or leaves within their tank. The male then takes on the role of guarding the eggs while the female diligently fans them with her fins, ensuring proper oxygenation.

The egg-laying behavior of these cichlids is fascinating to observe. Fertilization occurs as the female releases her eggs and the male simultaneously disperses his milt over them. This collaborative effort between the male and female ensures successful reproduction.

Once the eggs have been fertilized, it’s essential to provide a suitable environment for their development. The growth stages of the fry can be supported by feeding them baby brine shrimp, which serve as a nutritious food source. As they mature, they can gradually transition to dry food.

Maintaining good water quality through proper filtration is crucial during breeding and beyond. Bolivian Cichlids thrive when their natural habitat is replicated as closely as possible within an aquarium setting. Providing ample hiding places and shelter mimics their wild environment, making them feel secure.


It’s worth noting that while these cichlids exhibit excellent parental care behaviors, there may still be risks posed by predators or aggressive tankmates. Keeping a watchful eye on any potential threats can help ensure the survival of both parents and juveniles.


How big do Bolivian Ram cichlids get?

Bolivian Ram cichlids typically grow to about 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) in length. They are considered small to medium-sized aquarium fish.

Are Bolivian Ram cichlids aggressive?

No, Bolivian Ram cichlids are generally not aggressive. They are known for their peaceful and friendly nature, making them suitable for community aquariums.

How many Bolivian Rams should be together?

Bolivian Rams are social fish, and it’s recommended to keep them in small groups of at least 3-5 individuals. This helps reduce stress and promotes their natural behaviors.

Do Bolivian Rams need to be kept in pairs?

While Bolivian Rams can be kept in pairs, they tend to do better in small groups rather than just pairs. This allows for more natural interactions and social behavior within the aquarium.

How many RAM cichlids can you have in a 10-gallon tank?

A 10-gallon tank is quite small for Bolivian Rams due to their territorial nature. It’s generally recommended to avoid keeping them in tanks this size. However, if you’re determined to keep them in a 10-gallon tank, it’s advisable to have just one Bolivian Ram to prevent aggression and ensure proper space for their well-being.

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