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Old 03-15-2015, 08:35 AM   #1 
MikeG14
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My Bolivian Ram Journal

My Bolivian Ram Journal

I decided to share my experiences with Bolivian ram cichlids “Mikrogeophagus altispinosus” with the forum in this journal. Why post this in a betta forum? Because we all love fish, if you didn't you wouldn't be here. Everybody needs a break once in a while even from Bettas. While this journal will deal primarily with the upkeep of a my Bolivian ram community aquarium you can also expect some appearances from my bettas, Abe & Sparky as well as the set-up of my new tank, a 40 gallon breeder.


First day in the tank after a nervous night.

It's really amazing how far these two have come in just under two months.


This goes on all day...

I started this tank, a 20 gallon long back in December of 2014. It was originally planned as a divided tank for a King betta that I fell in love with at a local Petco.

I hope that he found a good home...

Things fell through due to some real life issues I had going on and I wasn't able to get my King. I needed a change of pace from bettas and really wanted to delve into the world of cichlids. I always liked Convict cichlids “Amatitlania nigrofasciata” and fell in love with this little girl at my LFS here,

So cute and only $2.99!

The tank was still quite a ways from being set up at this point but Convicts are pretty easy to find so it was no biggie that I couldn't take her home with me. I wanted to keep a single female Convict as a “wet pet” in the 20 long. Convicts are super aggressive and really should only be kept in a species tank or with larger fish. Female Convicts stay small at 3.5”, a 20 gallon long would make a nice home for one. Or would it?

Next up: The violent world of the Convict Cichlid
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Old 03-15-2015, 02:49 PM   #2 
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Here is a cute little picture of my boy Sam piling gravel on an anubias plant. After all, "Mikrogeophagus" means "small earth eater".



Convict cichlids “Amatitlania nigrofasciata”, if you are not familiar with them are a popular aquarium fish that are known mainly for their prolific breeding and extreme aggression. Pound for pound they can be some of the meanest fish out there in the hobby. I don’t know why but I just happen to love them. I really like the pair bond that develops during breeding and how they will defend their young to the death against much larger predators. Once they pair off they are super easy to breed. The old joke is that they will start breeding in the bag on the way home from the fish store. They come from Central America but now can be found in many areas of the world as a slightly invasive species. They are great fish for beginners and are very hardy. The only drawback to them is they do not make good community citizens even know they are sold as such. They aren’t very colorful at first glance with their black bars over gray but if you look closely at the fins you will see sparks of iridescent blue and yellow. The females get a nice orange belly which makes her the fairer of the species. The males, who grow much larger at 6” will develop longer fins and a even a slight hump on the head.

Back around Christmas on 2014, I started going to pet stores a night just to observe Convicts. I spent a good deal of time just watching. They would be kept in small tanks and usually the breeding pair in the tank would terrorize all the other fish in the tank. They would just start harassing other fish for no good reason. This really started to bum me out. I really would love some Convicts but couldn’t deal with having bullies in my new tank. A pair would be wonderful, I’m really not sure how I would handle the massive amount of culling that would be needed or the likely possibility that the male will turn on the female and outright kill her. The chances of getting a compatible pair of cichlids isn’t as easy as buying a single male and female. I would find out this important lesson a little down the road. Luckily, I was thinking I would be content with a single female, fat & happy in a 20 long all to herself and maybe with an armored catfish such as a clown pleco to keep her company. This turned out not to be the case.

I was at Petsmart at in January and saw the cutest lil’ black as night 1.5” female convict terrorizing two larger Cons to the point that if they didn’t jump out of the tank they would be dead by morning. The tails were eaten away the fish were as white as a ghost huddled in a corner, there was no hope for them. It was so sad. I then decided Convicts were not for me. I started looking towards dwarf cichlids and a possible community set-up as opposed to a “wet pet” for my 20 gallon long.

Enough about Convicts.

Bolivian Rams are mildly aggressive and squabble from time to time. Nobody gets hurt, they are just "territorial disputes".

I shot this video earlier this week. If you look closely in the very beginning you can see a rummy nose scatter eggs. Notice the stress lines on Sam and how they disappear when things get real.

http://vid95.photobucket.com/albums/l134/mtg14/Rams.mp4

Next up: 40 Gallon Breeder time!
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Old 03-15-2015, 03:56 PM   #3 
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Very nice. Someone on the local forum I frequent keeps Bolivians and once they reach full size they have the potential to be absolute stunners. Definitely on the list of fish I'd like to keep at some point. Are these hardier than the delicate ram?
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Old 03-15-2015, 06:58 PM   #4 
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Thanks Matt!
Yes, they are much hardier then their Venezuelan cousins. At first when I decided to go with dwarf cichilds, I wanted to keep German Blue Rams. I chose Bolivians because they fit my tap water perfectly. It would be a total bummer to take on German Blue Rams and have them die prematurely because I wasn't able to meet their water requirements. They require a temperature of 82-84° and a PH of < 6 and very soft, acidic water to thrive.

My "Panaqolus maccus" or Clown Pleco made a rare appearance out in the open this evening, I was able to snap a picture of this reclusive little guy. I have been seeing a little more of him lately since I got him a clay Pleco tube.



Here he is in front of his cave having a bit of cucumber for himself.

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Old 03-16-2015, 01:23 PM   #5 
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Awww! Lovely fishies! I especially like the clown pleco! wish i had big enough tank for some :)

Will be subbing on this for sure! so exciting!

Oh and Thanks to You, Sparky and Abe for teaching me to make my betta hammock safe :D
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Old 03-16-2015, 01:54 PM   #6 
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Definitely following this thread; Bolivian rams in the running for a future community tank I'm planning.

Are they most comfortable in pairs, or would it be ok to keep a single Bolivian ram?
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:13 PM   #7 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axeria View Post
Awww! Lovely fishies! I especially like the clown pleco! wish i had big enough tank for some :)

Will be subbing on this for sure! so exciting!

Oh and Thanks to You, Sparky and Abe for teaching me to make my betta hammock safe :D
Thank You Axeria!
Clown plecos are awesome! He basically has the run of the tank. The Rams and the Rummy Noses scatter when he swims by. They stay small at about 3.5" so a 20 gallon long is a really good size for them. The only drawback is that they create a lot of waste constantly munching on driftwood. A gravel vacuum twice a week is a necessity.

They are fun to feed. I think tonight zucchini is on the menu!

Abe & Sparky are glad they could help you out! :)
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:27 PM   #8 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LolaQuigs View Post
Definitely following this thread; Bolivian rams in the running for a future community tank I'm planning.

Are they most comfortable in pairs, or would it be ok to keep a single Bolivian ram?
A single Bolivian Ram would make a great center piece for a community tank. They stay on the bottom of the tank, rarely going above mid level. They would be fine with any kind of schooling fish, even a single Angel since they occupy different levels of the aquarium. I keep mine with a school of Rummy Nose tetras and of course the clown pleco. They nip at the tetras at times but are way to slow to do any damage. It's always, "swing and a miss".

If a male & female decides to pair up and breed you might have issues with the other fish in the tank, especially with bottom feeders like Corydoras. They will be seen as a threat to the eggs and dealt with accordingly.

They are difficult fish to sex, I thought I had a male and female...

More on that blunder later
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:28 PM   #9 
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Thank You Axeria!
Clown plecos are awesome! He basically has the run of the tank. The Rams and the Rummy Noses scatter when he swims by. They stay small at about 3.5" so a 20 gallon long is a really good size for them. The only drawback is that they create a lot of waste constantly munching on driftwood. A gravel vacuum twice a week is a necessity.

They are fun to feed. I think tonight zucchini is on the menu!

Abe & Sparky are glad they could help you out! :)

He sounds like quite the character! :D And thats not so big a tank! I thought they might need twice that size! I figure heavy filtration is key since they are messy fish , coupled with vacuuming ofc ^_^
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:32 PM   #10 
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Thanks for the information; I definitely don't want to deal with the aggression that comes with breeding, not to mention fry that I may not have space for, so I'm glad to hear that they won't be stressed if kept without a mate. Looking forward to future installments, particularly any tips/tricks you might have picked up for getting them to feed (I've heard this can sometimes be a challenge with Bolivian rams in community tanks).
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