Bolivian Ram: The Ultimate Care Guide – Diet, Mates & More!

If you are looking for a beautiful, colorful fish to add to your aquarium, the Bolivian Ram is the perfect choice!

Bolivian Ram – Quick Facts

In a rush? Check out the quick facts about Bolivian Ram below.

Fish Info

Scientific Name Mikrogeophagus altispinosus
Common Names Bolivian Ram, Bolivian butterfly cichlid
Family Cichlidae
Appearance Small, oval-shaped body, front of the body is yellow, which fades into a greyish color towards the rear.
Difficulty The care for bolivian ram is not difficult.
Distribution The Bolivian ram is found in the upper Rio Madeira basin in Bolivia and Brazil.
Lifespan The lifespan of the Bolivian ram is approximately 4 years.
Shoaling Bolivian rams are not shoaling fish.
Temperament Bolivian rams are generally peaceful fish but may become aggressive when breeding.
Keep in Groups of Alone or in a pair. With a large enough tank, a mixed group of six to eight Bolivian Ram cichlids could be kept together.
Tank Mates neon tetra, tiger barbs, guppies, platyfish, rummy nose tetra, angel fish, cherry barbs, corydoras catfish, dwarf gourami, emperor tetra, kuhli loaches
Diet A bolivian ram needs a diet of both animal and plant matter, including a good quality flake or pellet food, with the addition of some live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, daphnia, or mosquito larvae.
Length The average Bolivian Ram size of an adult male is around 3 inches.
Sexual Dimorphism When fully grown, males are larger, have longer fins, and have more vibrant colors than females.
Breeding Difficulty The main difficulty in breeding Bolivian Rams is that they tend to breed in specific pairs, so it is best to keep a few of them to allow them to choose which one they like.

Water/Tank Recommendations

Water Type The Bolivian ram is a freshwater fish.
Water Temperature The ideal water temperature for Bolivian Ram Cichlid is 22-27°C (72-79°F).
Water pH The ideal water pH for bolivian ram is 6.5-7.5.
Water Hardness The ideal water hardness for bolivian ram is 5-10 dH.
Tank size The minimum tank size for bolivian ram is 30 gallons, and the recommended tank size is 40 gallons.


There are a number of beautiful tropical fish out there, and the Bolivian Ram is definitely one of them. They’re a large freshwater fish that can be quite stunning in your aquarium if you know how to take care of them properly. This guide will show you all you need to know about caring for this species and why it’s so important. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be ready to go!

About Bolivian Ram

The Bolivian Ram is a peaceful and beautiful freshwater species that can add some color to your tank. Caring for these fish is not difficult as long as you have the right conditions set up for them! This genus of cichlids has been an aquarist favorite for quite some time due to their distinct appearance and relatively low-maintenance care requirements. They are found throughout South America in rivers like the Madeira River in Bolivia and Brazil. Bolivian Rams swim around with a steady rhythm while they search for food along riverbeds. Their diet usually consists of algae or other organic matter floating by!


The body of the Bolivian Ram cichlid is oval-shaped. The front half of their body is yellow, which fades to a greyish color toward the rear (the exact colors can vary from fish to fish). The fins are red and translucent. Their dorsal fin begins at the middle of their back and extends almost all the way to their caudal peduncle.

Their Length

The average Bolivian Ram size of an adult is around 3 inches.


A Bolivian Ram usually lives for approximately 4 years. Some may live longer, but there’s no way to know for sure. Like all freshwater fish, the Bolivian Ram can be affected by poor water conditions and inadequate tank maintenance.

Sexual Dimorphism

Males and females look very similar, with the exception of size. Males are larger than females, have longer fins, and have a more intense coloration. Most of the time, you’ll be able to tell which fish is male and which is female by simply comparing their sizes.


Bolivian Rams are found in rivers and streams throughout the upper Rio Madeira basin. They live close to the bottom of their habitat, where there is a lot of vegetation for them to hide in. These fish prefer warmer waters that have plenty of oxygen and some current as well. They prefer the natural flow of water rather than having a strong pump. They’re generally found in deeper waters, but they can also be seen swimming closer to the surface sometimes.

Caring for Bolivian Ram

One of the best things about caring for a Bolivian Ram is that it’s not too difficult, as long as you have very good water quality.


The Bolivian Ram is an omnivore. In the wild, they have a varied diet and eat things such as algae and plankton. However, this shouldn’t be your only source in captivity. They do enjoy some flakes or pellets to complete their diet. They are also known to feed on live worms, insects (such as brine shrimp), and small crustaceans. You can provide your fish with insect larvae that you breed yourself or frozen foods such as bloodworms.

How Often & How Much to Feed Them

Feeding Bolivian Ram cichlids should be done at least twice a day. You’ll want to make sure that you are providing them with enough food for each feeding without overfeeding them. It is best to feed them a varied diet of flakes, pellets, and live foods such as brine shrimp or worms. This will ensure that your fish get all the nutrients they need in their meals.

Possible Diseases

Bolivian Ram Cichlids are susceptible to all of the common freshwater fish diseases, including Ich. Ich is a highly contagious disease that causes white spots all over the body. The severity of this condition can vary. Some species respond well to treatments and recover quickly, while others may die within days if not treated right away. The best way to prevent disease in your Bolivian Rams is by maintaining water quality and providing them with a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals.

Tank Setup

Bolivian Rams can be kept in a variety of tank setups. However, a natural habitat is best if you want to keep them happy and healthy. The fish are found in shallow waters with lots of vegetation throughout the area. In the wild, they tend to stick closely to the bottom portion of the riverbed, where there’s plenty of plant life for cover. To recreate this environment as closely as possible, we recommend dropping some plants into your aquarium. The most common types used by owners include Hornwort or Java moss. Both will do well and provide ample hiding spots for these shy creatures when needed. This also helps create shading from strong light if necessary! Beyond adding plants, it’s important to use a soft, sandy substrate instead of gravel at the bottom of their tank (more coarse substrates cause issues with gills). These fish will ingest the substrate and sift through it to extract any edible food, then spits the substrate out again. Lastly, make sure you have some driftwood lying around for shelter too.

Aquarium Size

The minimum tank size for bolivian ram cichlids is 30 gallons, and the recommended tank size is 40 gallons. Smaller tanks are not ideal since these fish need space to swim around and explore their environment. Larger aquariums can also be used if you plan on keeping more than a few of them together.

Note: Always go with the larger aquarium size if you can, as there will be a noticeable increase in aggression when they mature. Fish kept in cramped and small spaces are more likely to start fights, so give your fish some room!

Water Conditions

Bolivian Rams are usually quite tolerant of various ranges in each category, so you don’t need to be too concerned with getting the exact numbers right. However, keeping your tank at or around the recommended levels can help keep your fish stress-free and healthy.


The ideal water pH for Bolivian rams is 6.5 to 7.5. It may be tempting to let your tank stray a bit farther from the recommended level, but this can stress out your fish and cause health issues.


The recommended water temperature for Bolivian Ram is between 22 and 27°C (72 to 79°F). It’s important that you keep your tank within this range in order to ensure the health of your fish. In captivity, this species can be prone to experiencing warmer water temperatures. It’s important to make adjustments so that your fish can stay within the recommended temperature range.

Note: If you’re having trouble maintaining the right water temperature, invest in a high-quality heater to avoid any problems. The last thing you’d want is your fish to get sick due to faulty equipment!


Bolivian Rams prefer a water hardness of 5 to 10 dH. The aquarium can mimic this by adding hard water conditioners or softening agents, such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

Note: Keep an eye on your fish when you adjust the pH level of their tank. The chemical properties that lower or raise the acidity can adversely affect sensitive fish.

Adding driftwood, rocks, and plants to their tank can also influence the hardness of the water. Keep this in mind while setting up your tank.


You’ll want a strong filtration system for the tank since Bolivian Rams have a high bioload. They produce a lot of waste throughout the day and can cause algae problems if you don’t take measures to keep their numbers down. We recommend using an external filter that is powerful enough to handle their needs (you don’t want ammonia levels going through the roof). Make sure it has some sort of water flow system as well so they aren’t kept in stagnant water.

Aquarium Plants

Plants are an excellent addition to the tank because they provide a little bit of color and help with water quality. You can go with live plants or some plastic ones that you place in the aquarium. When it comes to live plants, keep in mind that these fish do like to dig around from time to time. Thus, stick with hardy species! Floating plants work well for this fish as well.

Behavior and Compatibility

Bolivian Rams are peaceful and get along with most fish that can tolerate the same water conditions. They are a perfect choice for community tanks, but they do best when kept in groups of six to eight of their own kind. These fish can become aggressive towards each other in a smaller tank, so if you want to keep more than a mixed pair, make sure your tank is big enough for them to all have their own space! When kept with other peaceful species of similar size, the Bolivian Ram tends to do well. This fish is usually only aggressive towards other members of their species, and only while mating.

How Many to Keep Together

We recommend keeping at least 2 Bolivian Rams together, as these fish like to pair bond for life. Larger groups are fine too, so if you have room, consider keeping more! These fish enjoy having a group of buddies, just like many other species out there. The only thing you’ll have to watch out for is aggression when they’re breeding. You should keep them in pairs whenever possible so that fighting doesn’t break out.


Bolivian Rams are peaceful but can become aggressive when breeding. These fish will fight with other males that have a similar color pattern. However, they’re usually fine with most other species of similarly-sized freshwater fish. Bolivian Rams will shy away from large or aggressive fish. They can also become stressed around overly active species, as they prefer a bit of peace and quiet. It’s recommended that you keep these fish with peaceful, non-aggressive fish of a similar size. They will get stressed and experience health problems if they are kept with larger creatures.

Tank Mates

Bolivian Rams are often kept with other peaceful species that share similar water requirements. One of the most popular tank mate choices for this fish is the Neon Tetra. The two species complement each other’s colors very well, and they like to spend time together in the same parts of the aquarium. Other good tank mates for Bolivian Ram Cichlids include:


Bolivian Rams are easy to breed and can be bred in a standard aquarium tank. However, you may want to set up an additional breeding tank if possible, given their propensity for spawning in pairs or groups. These fish exhibit strong parental care, so they will do a lot of the work for the most part. The female will lay rows of eggs on a solid surface (driftwood, the aquarium glass, etc), which the male will then fertilize. Sometimes, the parents will eat the eggs, but don’t worry as they will eventually figure out what they are supposed to do!

Are Bolivian Ram Fish a Good Choice For Your Tank?

The Bolivian Ram is a fantastic freshwater fish that can be suited to any tank setup. Due to their small size and generally peaceful temperament, they’re an excellent choice for beginners looking to add color to their tank without worrying about aggression. However, like every other species out there, some care guidelines must be followed if you want your fish to thrive! Always treat these as semi-aggressive fish (especially when breeding) and adhere to the recommended water conditions.


The Bolivian Ram is a very beautiful and eye-catching fish. This species has many different patterns, which can make for an interesting tank. These fish are also quite easy to care for, making them good options for aquarists of all experience levels. They’re not too challenging, but they aren’t dull either! They do well in most standard freshwater aquarium conditions and will rarely suffer from health problems if you keep them in a healthy environment.


There are no significant drawbacks to owning a Bolivian Ram. They’re great fish that do well in most conditions and with other tank mates. All you have to watch out for is the possibility of aggression when they’re mating or protecting eggs. If you don’t want to deal with this kind of behavior, it is best to keep them in a species-only tank. This will lower the likelihood of harm and damage to your other aquarium inhabitants.


Bolivian Ram fish are a very pretty freshwater species that is quite easy to keep. Their beauty, ease of care, and low aggression makes them an excellent choice for aquarists of any experience level. This list goes on and on with how much we like this species! They’re one of our favorite fish to recommend to other people in the aquarium scene. So if you think they might be right for you too, give them a chance!

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