Aquarium fish: Ram cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)
Size: 4 – 7 cm
Origin: South America
Water temperature: 26-30 ° C
Aquarium volume: 54 l
Ramireza Cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) is a popular, small, but beautifully colored and interestingly disposed aquarium fish from the cichlid family. Its appearance and behavior attracts the attention of not only aquarists. It is also called the dwarf butterfly cichlid. Scientific nomenclature of this kind went through a long, bumpy road until finally, in 1998, a larger group would accept the name Mikrogeophagus . In older aquarium literature, the species is sometimes described as Apistogramma ramirezi , Microgeophagus ramirezi or Papiliochromis ramirezi .
South America. Ramirez’s nurses are found in the Orinoco River Basin in the Llanos area of Venezuela and Colombia. Llanos is vast, covering almost 600,000. square kilometers, a grassy savanna system, very biodiverse and flooded seasonally. There are high temperatures all year round, and the dry and wet seasons are clearly marked.
Ram cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi ) -green, starting from the mouth, and in the remaining 2/3 white to white-blue. A black stripe runs in an arc from the forehead, through the eye, to the throat. There is a large, distinct black spot in the center of the torso.
The fins are colored yellow. The first rays of the dorsal fin are black. There are several breeding varieties on sale, including gold (without a black spot on the side of the torso), blue, electric (bright blue), veil (with elongated fins), tall (short-bodied), balloon (short, body resembling a balloon or ball) . Especially the latter are highly controversial, and all artificial varieties obtained are usually less resistant than the proper ones, derived from wild specimens. Adult males are slightly larger and may have more elongated first dorsal fin rays, but this is not necessarily the case.
In females below the dorsal fin, in the upper part of the black spot, small, blue scattered scales are visible, and during the breeding period, a distinct pink or red color on the abdomen. Mikrogeophagus fish move in a characteristic way, swim a short distance, stop abruptly, and swim again. The control of the body in this movement is extraordinary, and the gained momentum in no way interferes with the sudden “braking”. They actually freeze, hovering in place before moving again. This is probably instinctive and related to their adaptation to gaining food, which they seek by sifting the substrate so as to prevent it from moving as little as possible through the movement of the fins.
Their style of swimming is usually gentle and graceful, but they can also move surprisingly fast, for example when threatened or defending their territory. Like all cichlids, they have a well-developed arrangement of pharyngeal teeth for crushing and grinding food, along with grasping teeth spread over the jaws. The last rays of the pelvic, dorsal and anal fins are sharp and hard. The first rays of these fins are soft and allow for precise body positioning in the water and effortless swimming, as opposed to fast. Compared to other fish, they only have one nostril on each side, instead of two.
They suck the water in one of the nostrils, examine it for a shorter or longer period, and release it through the same channel. Ramirezas are calm and gentle fish, but it must be remembered that, like other cichlids, they will defend their territory during the breeding season . Sometimes even a small male can chase, for example, a 10 times larger scalar. However, in most cases, they direct their aggression towards the rest of the species. For this reason, more than one pair will require a well-decorated, large-sized aquarium.
Under optimal conditions, they live up to about 4 years.
Nutrition and feeding
Ramirez’s nurses are bentophagic in nature. In the natural environment, about 90% of their daily time is spent searching the substrate for food. With their mouths they take a small amount of it, chew it, swallow what is edible, and spit out the rest or throw it out through the gills. During this process, small clouds of dust hover around them.
When more ramirezek do it at the same time, the cloudiness is so great that they are barely visible on their own. Despite the above, in the aquarium they will have no problem catching food also from the water column. On a daily basis, they should receive a variety of live and frozen foods, e.g. daphnia, artemia, grindale or glazier, as well as good-quality, small foods intended typically for cichlids, slowly sinking to the bottom. Such a diet will ensure not only good condition, but also beautiful coloration.
Monotonous nutrition, based only on dry foods, contributes to the weakening of the immune system over time.
For an adult pair of cichlids, an aquarium of min. 60 cm. The reservoir, designed in the manner of a natural biotope, will be characterized by a soft, sandy surface and a decoration made of roots and branches. The aquarium should also include a few flat, smooth stones that can be used by fish as a potential breeding ground.
Thrown in the dried leaves will add an even more natural feeling, provide additional shelter and a valuable source of food for the fry, they will also release the desired humic compounds into the water. The aquarium can contain durable plants that grow attached to decorations, such as Microzoria, Anubias, Cryptocorynes or mosses, although these species do not occur in their biotope. If we do not care about the natural reproduction of the biotope, they will also be happy to hide in pots or pieces of PVC pipes. Ramirez nurses require efficient filtration, with little water movement. They are very sensitive to poor water conditions, rapid changes in parameters, and therefore susceptible to diseases.
Nitrates and ammonia should be kept to an absolute minimum. Fish kept in poor conditions may have head, lateral line and so-called erosions. holes in the head. In stores, you can often notice symptoms of diseases such as fish pox (white dots). Substitutions should be regular, but small, around 10-20%.
They should never be introduced into a new or biologically unstable aquarium. Wild fish are demanding, they need soft water with a low pH. Farmed specimens, i.e. those sold in stores, are less tough than wild specimens, although they can tolerate harder and more alkaline water. Contrary to popular opinion, due to their requirements, they are not recommended for typical general tanks, where they may have difficulties obtaining food while feeding.
This does not mean, however, that they must be kept alone. Suitable companions are small, gentle tetras swimming in the higher parts of the water. The presence of a small shoal will be a signal that there is no danger and will give them more courage and courage. In their natural habitats, there are, for example, Red- mouthed ( ), Red neon ( ), Prystelka ( Pristella maxillaris ), Red dye ( Hyphessobrycon sweglesi ), Zbrojniki ( Hypancistrus inspector – L102) and Kirydoras delphoras ( Corydoras delphory ). As a companionship, avoid territorial, aggressive fish (most cichlids), as well as those with different environmental requirements.
Ramirez’s nurses do not need any additional incentives for breeding. Water parameters, keeping clean and a rich and varied diet are key. However, eggs can be difficult, because they are susceptible to mold and need very clean and soft water to hatch. It is best to breed them in a separate, properly prepared, breeding aquarium, with a sandy substrate, decorations (stones, roots, pots) and plants. The spawning water should be soft 1-5dGH with a pH below 7 and a temperature of approx.
27-29 ° C. Unfortunately, fish that are widely available from breeding farms may have fertility problems, and the brood is usually of poor quality. Therefore, it is best to choose specimens from well-known, proven breeders for breeding. For breeding purposes, it is recommended to purchase a group of young fish and allow the pair to form naturally. Courtship is initiated by the male presenting his body, stretches the fins and gill covers, hits with the sides of the body or with the tail, swims facing parallel to the female.
The female may reciprocate some of these behaviors or remain completely indifferent. During this period, the fish acquire intense coloration. Courtship escalation occurs when the male prepares potential spawning grounds, or he may dig into the basin of a pit. The female only watches it at first, but joins the male with time, but her commitment is not as great as his. When her interest grows and she is more focused on cleaning a site, it may be a sign that spawning is about to take place.
Probably the decisive voice in choosing a place is the female. After this choice, the female begins to lay eggs in small numbers, and then gives way to the male who fertilizes them. This process is repeated many times. Up to 500 eggs can be laid during the entire spawning period, but usually less than 100-300 eggs. The eggs are small, approx.
0.9 – 1.5 mm, and sticky, amber in color. Both parents take care of the roe and the fry alternately, swing and protect the eggs. Unlike the Apistogramma species , where the roles are clearly divided, the female looks after the eggs and the male defends the nearby territory. At a temperature of approx. 29 ° C, hatching takes place after approx.
40 hours. The parents help the larvae to free themselves from the egg covers, and after a few days they transfer the larvae to a previously prepared cavity in the substrate. After about 5 days, the fry begin to swim freely, but always in close proximity to their parents. If any fish move too far, the parent picks it up with its mouth and carries it back to the group. Often times, a young, inexperienced pair will lose the first few broods or eat their eggs, and this is perfectly normal.
After about 2-3 weeks, the parents lose interest and stop taking care of the fry. Adult fish may wear off every month. In the first period of life, the larvae feed from their yolk sac. When they begin to swim freely, start feeding small foods, e.g. micro nematodes or freshly hatched brine shrimp larvae.
After another 2-3 days, they will be able to receive Artemia larvae. The fry will become stained after about 4-6 weeks. After 5-6 months, the fish reach sexual maturity and can start breeding on their own.