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Electric Blue Rams - General Info
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Electric Blue Rams are really a blue morph of the more common "German Blue Rams" (Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi). Apparently someone thought that it would be interesting to add some more color to them and set out line breeding the blue into them. They did a good job =).
Well... like may of my other adventures, this one began with a phone call from my buddy "C" in Singapore just after the Aquarama International Ornamental Fish & Accessories Show. Here's my closest rendition of what the call was about. I double checked with "C" and he kinda agrees with my reproduction below (complete with "Singlish" - Singapore English).
C : Eh... we're missing you here at aquarama lah. The show was damn "zai" !
It is times like this that I'm thankful for having grown up in Singapore. I get the best scoop on all the latest & greatest things from over there. Majulah Singapura!
Well anyway, for weeks after aquarama I scoured the U.S. for any signs of these critters but to no avail. Then I see a thread posted by Dan V. of Houston Aquarium Warehouse on the Houston Fishbox Fish Forums that he managed to get some in. I drove over in a heartbeat and finally bagged me a few.
"C" was right... the do look like a freshwater version of the Green Chromis! Absolutely stunning! I have since got me a couple more from another local seller and have successfully spawned them. At the time that this article was written (June 2009), I'm still trying to raise my first batch of fry. Wish me luck!
Here's a male (note the super long 2nd dorsal spine):
Care for electric blue rams should be exactly the same as caring for your german blue rams. Generally warm & acidic with low to medium hardness. These are water parameters which i keep mine in.
pH : high 5s to high 6s (Mine are in 5.8)
In my experience (with normal German Blue Rams) that if kept in alkaline water (like the water here in houston pH 7.8), that they are quite significantly short lived and seem to be quite susceptible to protozoan disease such as ich. Also they seem to color up a little better when in acidic water.
It is a very common complaint that Rams are very short lived. This is true. Their normal life span is just about 2 years. So IMO, you should resist the temptation to buy the nice big and colorful ones from the store. Chances are these are older fish and probably don't have too much normal life span left. Besides that, older fish don't breed. After a certain age, they go though some sort of menopause where they'll stop spawning, which is a bummer if you are trying to breed them. So my advice is to go for the smaller ones (especially females). Sure they're dull at the moment, but most will color up nicely as they mature to breeding age, and you'll probably have them for a longer time.
Most of the rams that are available on the market are domestically bred and are quite used to eating processed foods such as flake and pellets. These guys are greedy little fellas that come up to the front of the tank to beg for food whenever you come close. They are not really picky about what they eat, so ask the seller or LFS what they are currently eating and feed them the same thing.
I typically feed my critters with flake and or pellets in the morning and with either live or frozen foods in the evening. They really love their blackworms and bloodworms. If you feed live / frozen foods, make sure you chop them up small enough for the rams to consume because they have really small mouths.
Just a note on Blackworms. If you feed them blackworms, make sure you feed them small pieces. I once had a ram try to eat a worms that was longer than his body and wasn't able to consume it fully. What ended up happening was the worm was half consumed (presumably in his belly) and the other end was sticking out of his gills!! Another ram promptly swam up to his friend and yanked the entire worm out through the gills of the first ram. I don't know if that caused any damage to his gills, but i found that one lying dead in the corner that evening with his mouth wide open and gills flared.
If you ask me, the bigger the better! It is easier to keep water parameters stable in larger tanks. Especially in tanks with low pH and poorly buffered, the additional amount of water helps to prevent sudden crashes which can kill your critters deader than dead.
But if you absolutely need keep them in a small tank, I suggest keeping them in a group of 5 or more. Being cichlids (like discus and angelfish), they like to fight among themselves to establish a hierarchy within the tank. Larger groups help to spread out the aggression and ensures that no single individual gets picked on excessively.
I successfully keep 8 individuals in a 20gal Long tank. Water changes are performed weekly (now daily because water from the main tank is being used to do WCs in the fry tanks). Make sure that there are lots of hidey holes, plants, rocks wood... anything that provides refuge from any individual that would like to hide. The decorations should be arranged in such a way such as to minimize direct line of sight between two individuals within the tank. This should help keep the aggression within the tank down. If they can't see each other, chances of fighting are less.
While they do okay in gravel tanks (both planted and unplanted), I keep them in Bare Bottomed ("BB") tanks because of the ease of cleaning and also to make sure that they don't lay eggs directly on the gravel. Because if they do, it is almost impossible to remove the eggs to raise away from the parents.
Here's a pic of my 20 gal "long".
At the time of this article (June 2009), my critters have spawn twice. I'm not sure, but I believe that these are one of the first electric blues to be born here in U.S.A. Or at least they're the first documented spawn in the U.S. When they laid eggs for me, I scoured the internet for any info that i could find and found NOTHING!! NADA! ZILTCH!! on spawning electric blues.
I expect that as long as prices remain high and as breeders try to protect their market, you won't find anyone divulging breeding secrets out any time soon.
All I will say right now is that if you keep them healthy & happy by providing a clean stable environment with sufficient foods, they should breed for you. Oddly enough, the hard part about breeding electric blue rams here in the U.S. is really getting a viable male and a viable female pair. For reasons I will not discuss (so don't ask) this seems to be particularly difficult in the U.S. and it's pretty much hit or miss.
If you want to follow along with my breeding journal, click HERE.
On the urging of my friends, I started this website by putting together the original (and quite successful) B. Macrostoma pages. Since then it has grown to include much more aquarium related information. All this time I've provided all this info and lots of free e-mail support to anyone who needed help. The advertising on this page helps out a little to offset the cost of webhosting. So if you see something that you may be interested in listed within the GoogleAds banners, then please don't hesitate to check it out.
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