Cover Image Credit: BlueRam92 (Creative Commons license)
Electric blue rams are cute as buttons. They’re also kind and sociable. But guess what – they’re not suitable for all fishkeepers. Why? Keep reading, and you will know.
In this care guide, I will break down everything you need to know about these fantastic fish. By the end of this piece, you will be pretty versed in the dos and don’ts of raising electric blue rams!
So, let’s begin without any delay!
A Quick Introduction To Electric Blue Rams
|Name||Electric blue ram|
|Scientific Name||Mikrogeophagus ramirezi|
Electric blue rams are the stunning, tank-bred color morphs of the original Ram cichlids. The fish’s ‘ancestors,’ the OG rams, live in the Orinoco River basin in Colombia and Venezuela in the wild.
There are several color morphs available, like German gold ram, balloon ram, and golden ram. But none of them come close to electric blue variants in terms of popularity.
The electric blue ram was developed only in 2009. And as it turns out, these tank-bred morphs are a bit more tricky to raise than their wild cousins.
They’re also not readily available to purchase and therefore are pretty expensive.
During my research, I found out that these fish are often treated with hormones, which ultimately weaken the specimen and shorten their lifespan.
You have to tread carefully. Only buy electric blue rams from reputable sellers. If the price seems too good to be true, there’s definitely something fishy going on!
How Much Do Electric Blue Rams Cost?
On the internet, the price starts from as little as $10 and climbs up to $22. As I said above, these fish are often treated with hormones to spur their growth and coloration. So, be mindful where you get them from.
How Long Do Electric Blue Rams Live?
Unfortunately, electric blue rams have a short lifespan. They only live for around 2-3 years.
Electric Blue Ram Appearance
Electric blue rams have delicate, oval-shaped bodies adorned with flowy, long fins. The body is tapered at the head and tail.
As the moniker suggests, the fish is best known for its distinct and popping blue accents.
Some parts near the head and the base of the body sport an olive green color, almost like seaweed. The rest of the body, including the fins, is a dazzling shade of electric blue.
Unfortunately, excessive interbreeding of captive fish often yields smaller fish with weaker color patterns. However, as the photo above shows, this is clearly not the case for electric blue rams.
The fish’s iridescent blue scales constantly reflect light, which makes the fish look even more animated. It wouldn’t be wrong to say their coloration is on par with saltwater damselfish, if not more!
Like all cichlids, electric blue rams have two sets of teeth – one’s a standard set located in the jaws, and another is pharyngeal teeth positioned in the throat!
And unlike many other fish that have two sets of nostrils on each side, electric blue rams have just one nostril on each side.
All the fins of the fish’s body – pectoral, dorsal, anal, and pelvic – have spiny rays at the ends to deter possible threats. On the contrary, the front parts of these fins have a soft texture which facilitates effortless gliding and precise movements in the tank.
Electric Blue Ram Size
Electric blue rams are dwarf cichlids. They barely grow bigger than 3 inches long.
Electric Blue Rams Males VS Females | Differences
Here are a few pointers that will help you differentiate male and female electric blue rams:
- Males are a bit bigger than females.
- Males’ fins are longer and pointier than females’.
- Males’ dorsal fins are pointier towards ends.
- Females’ dorsal fins are pointed at the front.
- Female bellies turn a reddish-orange color during the breeding season.
- Breeding tubes in males are long, curved, and pointed.
- Breeding tubes in females are short, stubby, and wide.
Electric Blue Ram Temperament
Unlike other dwarf cichlids, electric blue rams are friendly and easygoing. They’re not known to be too territorial or competitive. When you first introduce them to the tank, they’ll hide around a lot. However, once they are familiar with the environment, they will be more extroverted.
This cichlid’s behavior is described as “more bark than bite.” So, they will rarely get involved in brawls in the tank or inflict injuries on others.
They only get mean during the breeding season, as they need to keep their young ones safe from possible intruders.
Otherwise, electric blue rams are community fish that thrive the best with other peaceful non-cichlid or dwarf cichlid species.
Since these fish love to hide around quite a bit, they’ll appreciate it if you add some hiding places in the tank.
Electric Blue Ram Tank Mates
- German blue rams
- Blood parrot cichlids
- Kribensis cichlids
- Silver dollars
- Dwarf gouramis
- Dwarf (neon) rainbowfish
- Glowlight tetras
- Neon tetras
- Black phantom tetras
- Apple and nerite snails
- Dwarf crayfish
When selecting potential tank mates for electric blue rams, never go with aggressive or highly energetic fish that will eat up all the food before your ram even has a chance.
The most common mistake beginner hobbyists make is housing these fish with other dwarf but highly aggressive cichlid species. Most dwarf species are on the aggressive side – don’t go by the size.
These docile fish need peace in the tank to feel safe. All the fish that I listed above are peaceful and slow-moving community fish.
And here’s a list of fish that you should avoid at all costs:
- Veil angelfish
- Jack dempseys
- Convict cichlids
- Red devil cichlids
- Bucktooth tetras
Lastly, whatever species you choose to go in the tank, you must add a lot of hiding spots.
Electric Blue Rams Male: Female Ratio
Although electric blue rams are peaceful for the most part, males can be mean towards females of their species. Thus, the ideal male: female ratio would be 3-4 females for one male.
If you add them in a ratio of 1:1, the female can be acutely harassed by the over-anxious male always ready to breed. One hobbyist on a forum reported that his female died untimely due to this!
Water Parameters For Electric Blue Ram
|Breeding Temperature||77-82°F (25-28°C)|
|General Hardness||6-14 dGH|
|Nitrate||Below 20 ppm|
|Tank Level||Mid or bottom dweller|
Like German blue rams, electric blue rams are a bit fussy about the water quality. That’s why we only recommend this fish to experienced hobbyists.
Maintaining the water parameters as much as you can for any given fish is crucial, but it’s a bit more critical for sensitive electric blue rams.
Installing a filter that utilizes all three chemical, biological and mechanical filtration will save you a lot of elbow grease when maintaining the water quality.
Make sure you stick to a regular maintenance schedule, and don’t skip water tests. Spike in toxicants like ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate and quickly prove fatal for your fish if not treated on time.
You should perform at least 20-25% water change every week. But this rule isn’t set in stone. It depends on your stocking number and tank size. Remember, smaller tanks are more temperamental than their bigger counterparts.
Since these fish come from slow-moving waterways, they don’t prefer strong currents in the tank. If the current is too strong, your rams will have difficulty swimming against it and get tired a lot sooner.
Electric blue rams are near-equatorial fish. Thus, they should be kept at high tropical temperatures, as listed in the table above. Consistent exposure to cold water will not just fade their colors but also suppress their appetite and make them susceptible to fin rot, body fungus, and ich.
Strive to maintain the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels at 0 ppm.
Even the slightest spike in ammonia can be lethal for the rams. All it takes is one ppm to kill delicate species like electric blue rams.
Electric blue rams have a very slim chance of surviving if they ever contract the dreaded new tank syndrome. Therefore, only add the fish into the tank once it is fully cycled.
Lastly, some hobbyists have reported successfully raising blue rams in moderately hard water. However, we recommend against it. It will definitely impact the fish’s health in the long run.
Minimum Tank Size For Electric Blue Ram
The minimum tank size recommended for a single electric blue ram is 20 gallons (75 liters). However, since these fish are a bit finicky about their environment, it’s always wise to opt for a bigger tank.
Contrary to popular belief, bigger tanks are easier to maintain since they are more stable than smaller ones. The water’s quality won’t fluctuate too much and cause the fish unsolicited stress.
If you are planning on adding more than one male electric blue ram, you should at least get a 40-gallon (!51 liters) tank. This way, each male will have enough space in your tank to carve their tiny territory and guard it against god knows what!
You mustn’t get fooled by the sight of several male electric blue rams sharing a single habitat at the fish store. I’ll give you two reasons why.
First, these fish haven’t been in the tank for long enough to claim territories. Second, most of these fish are juveniles and haven’t yet developed a dominant and assertive personality.
Substrate For Electric Blue Ram
For substrate, go with sand. That’s because they spend a considerable amount of time at the base digging to find food. Sand will allow them to dig the same way they’d do in the wild.
Steer clear from anything coarse like gravel as it can inflict injuries.
When choosing sand, make sure you avoid aragonite sand that sometimes also goes by the name of cichlid sand.
Aragonite comes from pure calcium carbonate. Therefore, it will undoubtedly leach minerals into your water and increase general hardness, carbonate hardness, and pH.
And while this is great for African cichlids, remember, American cichlids prefer soft and acidic water.
Decorations For Electric Blue Ram
A ram cichlid’s habitat features plenty of plants and rocks that provide ample shelter in the wild. Therefore, you should try to emulate these features in their tank.
Ideally, the tank should have densely planted areas as well as open swimming regions.
For plants, you can choose from options like anubias, amazon sword, sagittaria, vallisneria, java fern, and cryptocorynes.
Amazon swords are my favorite because they grow pretty prolifically and large. Their broad leaves offer a convenient place for the rams to lay their eggs on.
Too many plants placed haphazardly will hinder the fish’s swimming ability.
So, place them strategically. Since rams are known to dig substrate, don’t forget to anchor the plants and decors securely.
For decors, you can add plenty of caves and rocks. These fish love hideouts such as caves. They will retreat into the caves when stressed or scared.
And if you plan to breed them in the future, add a couple of flat rocks that will serve as breeding surfaces for the fish.
Best Equipment For Electric Blue Ram
Since electric blue rams are highly susceptible to wrong water parameters, you should always be on your toes to maintain them. Don’t cut corners when buying equipment for your fish. You may save a few bucks upfront, but there’s a chance that it’ll cost your dear fish’s life at last.
Here are a couple of our tried and tested recommendations for your electric blue rams:
Marineland Penguin 200 BIO-Wheel Power Filter
- 3-stage mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration
- Patented bio-wheel technology for wet/dry biological filtration
- Five sizes are available to choose from
Boxtech Aquarium Heater 100 W
- Fully automatic control
- Made with heat-resistant milky quartz glass
- Shatter-proof and explosion-proof
Electric Blue Rams Diet
Electric blue rams are described as micro-predators! So, while they’re omnivores, they heavily lean towards a carnivore diet. However, ideally, their diet should contain both meaty and green food.
Also, these fish are not picky when it comes to what they put inside their mouth.
A balanced cichlid pellet from a credible brand is the best choice of everyday food for your electric blue rams.
You can then supplement their diet occasionally with the following food:
- Small crustaceans
- Baby brine shrimp
- Mosquito larvae
- Blood worms
- Mysis shrimp
When you first bring the rams home, the fish lose their appetite due to the stress of moving in. If that’s the case, you should lure the fish into eating by providing delicious snacks like mosquito larvae.
And once the fish gains back its appetite, you can start introducing food like pellets and flakes.
However, note that if your ram develops a taste for frozen and live food, you will have difficulty feeding them dry food.
As for feeding frequency, you can give 3-4 small meals throughout the day. Give a portion they can finish within 30-40 seconds. This feeding style reportedly helps to curb aggression.
Here’s a detailed article on how often to feed cichlids and what not to feed. Give it a read if you’re interested.
Breeding Electric Blue Rams
Electric blue rams form monogamous pairs. And both males and females make doting parents. However, due to the low fertility rate and poor brood care, raising the fry into adulthood is quite challenging.
As with all the ram morphs created purely for the aquarium trade, these fish are plagued with heightened sensitivity and compromised fertility.
Your best chance of breeding electric blue rams would be to purchase a group of juveniles and wait for them to form monogamous pairs. These fish mature sexually quite fast – at around 4-6 months. Thus, you don’t have to wait too long.
As for the answer to how often electric blue rams breed depends on the fish’s experience level, age, and size. However, on average, they can breed as frequently as once every month.
Ideal Breeding Environment For Electric Blue Rams
Once you notice a breeding pair has been formed, it’s best to move them to a separate breeding tank. This way, the other tank mates don’t have to bear the brunt of their aggression.
Add several breeding slates for the fish to breed on. You should cover the tank’s bottom with dig-friendly substrate as the pair will dig several pits in the breeding process.
Use a sponge filter in the tank, so it doesn’t suck in the small fry later.
To encourage breeding, you can increase the tank’s temperature to 82°F (28°C). The water should be soft and acidic – with a pH range somewhere around 5.5-6.5.
These fish don’t prefer breeding under bright lights. Therefore, use a timer to control the lights and add a few plants to provide shade.
Malnourished cichlids will yield unhealthy fry. In some instances, the eggs won’t ever hatch at all because of organ failure. Therefore, feed the pair protein-rich food like brine shrimp and worms.
And lastly, perform a relatively big water change as the final cue for breeding.
The Breeding Process
When the breeding tube in both male and female becomes visible, know that breeding is imminent. Before spawning, the pair will meticulously search a spot (a flat surface) and clean it.
They do quite an excellent job of cleaning the flat surface. They will also dig several pits adjacent to the selected spot.
Twirling and nudging are two tell-tale signs that the eggs are on their way. You can sometimes also see the male darting away or sliding his body against the female’s body.
When ready to lay the eggs, the female will hover around the designated spot. She will also often rub her underside against it.
After a few tries, she will lay adhesive eggs on the flat surface. These eggs are extremely small – usually just 0.9 to 1.5 mm in length. The clutch size can range from 150 to 300 eggs, but it boils down to the matriarch’s health, size, and experience level.
Every time the female lays the eggs, the male will release his milt over them. This entire process can last a good couple of hours.
Once the eggs are fertilized, both parents will diligently fan them, so they don’t develop fungus and guard them against any potential predator.
In the process, they will often eat unfertilized eggs, so they don’t attract any pathogens.
The eggs will hatch within 2-4 days. If the water temperature clocks in at the upper limit of the recommended range, the eggs will hatch soon. However, don’t increase the temperature suddenly or unnaturally.
Caring For The Fry
After hatching, the fry will depend on the yolk sac for the first couple of days for nutrition. The parents will often move the wigglers from pit to pit for safety reasons.
The younglings become free-swimming after around 5-7 days. Even then, the parents will allow them to forage independently.
At this stage, you can give them baby brine shrimp, pulverized flake food, aufwuch, and microworms.
It’s not unusual for novice parents to lose their first few batches. But you need not worry as an established couple will breed every month. After a couple of tries, they will get the hang of it.
However, if you are really enthusiastic about the young fry, you can artificially incubate them in an egg tumbler.
Electric Blue Ram Diseases
Like all aquarium fish, electric blue rams are susceptible to some common fish ailments that mainly stem from a dirty habitat, lack of oxygenation, and a poor diet. Since these fish are man-made variants, they have a somewhat fickle immune system than their wild cousins.
Ich is a common disease in electric blue rams. It manifests as tiny white dots across the fish’s body. And what’s dangerous is that it can transmit without a host. Ich is often associated with polluted water. Thus, always make a point to say on top of water parameters.
If you want to read up on how we effectively treat ich at Urban Fishkeeping, you might want to check out this article.
Lastly, bacterial infections, turbidity, skin flukes, and parasitic infestations are some more health conditions that can bring your electric blue cichlid down.
Parting Words: Electric Blue Ram Care Guide
Electric blue rams can be a handful in the wrong hands as these man-made morphs are quite delicate to handle.
However, if you have a fair bit of experience and are willing to commit to their care, they’ll bless your tank with the most brilliant shades of blue possible.
Since these cichlids aren’t easily bred, the ones easily available to buy are treated with hormones to grow them fast. So be careful where you buy your fish from.