How To Set Up a Ram Cichlid Tank

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butterfly ram cichlid scaled
Photo by: butterfly ram cichlid scaled

Ram cichlids are brightly colored, smaller fish, making them beautiful additions to your aquarium. Unfortunately, ram cichlids are a challenge to take care of. They only have a short lifespan of two to four years if their tank environment meets their needs. If you’re thinking about introducing ram cichlids to your tank, here’s what you need to know.

Are Ram Cichlids a Freshwater Fish?

Ram cichlids are native to South Africa. They typically live in lakes and ponds that have quieter waters with a lot of plants. These smaller cichlids only grow to about two inches long and they tend to be more peaceful than their larger counterparts. But they can get aggressive, especially during breeding season.

Can a Ram Cichlid Live in a 10-Gallon Tank?

Even though ram cichlids are small fish, experts recommend 20 gallons per fish. Ram cichlids need places to hide. If you can create some caves for them to hide in, they’ll do a lot better with your other fish. Females need flat stones to lay eggs on but breeding ram cichlids is very difficult.

Can You Keep Multiple Ram Cichlids Together?

Ram cichlids can be kept together, but you do need a large aquarium to hold the fish. It’s better if you can buy a pair of ram cichlids to introduce to your tank together, but make sure to get them from a reputable breeder who has raised them together. Other tank mates for cichlids are non-aggressive fish, such as discus or angelfish who also need the same kind of tank environment as ram cichlids.

How Do You Set Up a Ram Cichlid Tank?

Ram cichlids do need a well-kept tank with plenty of aeration, heat and light. It’s not enough just to keep the water moving, the water needs to be oxygenated for the fish. You will need some kind of aerator system, either external or internal. The water temperature needs to be on the warmer side, at least 74 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 84 degrees. The pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.5. Low-to-moderate aquarium lighting is recommended, not only for the fish, but for photosynthesis of the plants, which keeps the aquarium’s ecosystem healthy.

Most fish experts recommend a mix of gravel and sand in an aquarium with ram cichlids, but it really depends on the pH level of your water, as explained above. You’ll need to test the chemistry of the water to make sure that it fits your fish. Plan to check the tank’s nitrate, nitrite and ammonia levels every few weeks.

If you’re interested in ram cichlids, don’t rush into getting a pair without getting your tank ready for them. They’ll be happier and you’ll have less stress when you understand what responsibility you’re taking on.

About the Author
peacock cichlids fish swimming

Dustin Williams

Dustin Williams is a third generation aquarist and tropical fish fanatic. He grew up surrounded by various pets including; dogs, cats, turtles, hamsters and of course, aquarium fish. He has owned his own aquarium since Y2K and is experienced in keeping all types of freshwater tropical fish. He currently owns a 67 gallon tank with various African Cichlids and writes content for his personal aquarium website.... Learn More

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