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Black Ram Cichlid Care | 11 Astonoshing Fish Care Tips |

The stunning black color can add a strange view to your tank. If you like to experience the beauty of the darkness, the pretty live option is black ram cichlids. If you rear black ram, you will surely think that the darkness is not something you must reject. It is magic! 

Black Ram Cichlid

What Is Black Ram Cichlid?

Ram cichlid is small and peaceful fish species that belong to the cichlid family. You can call ram cichlid Mikrogeophagus ramrezi. Ram cichlids are native to South America. They are most common in the Amazon river. Especially, ram cichlids territory is in the Orinoco river basin in Venezuela and Colombia. Further in the wild, ram cichlids probably live in shallow streams and pools with sandy beds and more live plants. 

When we come to black ram, it is a new line-bred variety with a stunning darker appearance. Generally, black ram cichlids have an oval-shaped body with pointed tails and fins. The beautiful thing is black ram have high contrast black body coloration with iridescent blue highlights.  So, they add a great view under the dim light condition in the tank. However, they are captive breeds. Thus, selective breeding can create darker individuals with many iridescent. 

On the other hand, they have been trendy in the aquarium industry for decades due to their stunning color. Further hobbyists like to rear ram cichlid because they can reproduce small fish without worries. Also, black ram cichlids can live in a small room in your tank with happiness. Because of the peaceful nature and small space requirements, hobbyists mostly prefer to rear black ram as a part of their community tank. 

How Big Do Black Ram Cichlid Get?

Black ram is the tiny fish variety of the cichlid family. In general, black ram cichlid reaches about 2 inches long when they come up to their adult age. But in some cases, black ram reached about 2.5 inches. It is derived that if you treat your fish well, they give more than you expected from them. So, always try to look after your fish with love until the end of their life. 

Is Black Ram Cichlid Aggressive?

Ram cichlids are not like large cichlids. This black ram tiny cichlid variety is peaceful, not aggressive. That is why most hobbyists choose them for their community tanks. So, the black ram can be put into the category of non-aggressive fish species. But they are somewhat more aggressive than most other color varieties of ram cichlid. Also, like other cichlids, this black ram fish, especially males, consider their territory.

So, if you keep more male black rams in small tanks, you have to experience many quarrels. So, if you do not have enough space, it is best to keep one male black ram cichlid in your tank. On the other hand, black ram show aggressive behaviors in the breeding season, especially when they are preparing to spawn and during the spawning period. Not only that, black rams are more aggressive when they guard or protect their babies. 

Black Ram Cichlid Behaviour

Black rams are not like other large cichlids because they lack a stereotypical aggressive streak except during spawning season. So, generally, black rams are considered peaceful or non-aggressive fish species of the family Cichlidae. But when comparing other color varieties of ram cichlids, the black one is some aggressive than others. 

However, do not misunderstand the point, even though black ram, especially males, establish their territory in the tank. Still, they can live happily with other community fish species because they are more friendly than their large cousins. Normally rams, including black ram cichlids, do well on their own. But also, you can keep them in pairs.

However, they love to live as pair, and they pair up naturally. Because of that, you cannot force black ram to build relationships. Further, these fish species work together well. But as long as your fish tank has enough space, they will stay fine without any struggling. Because each male black ram needs its own territory. Also, black ram cichlids are good parents because they always protect their babies. Consequently, when they become parents, they show aggressive behaviors.  

How Long Do Black Ram Cichlids Live?

Unluckily, ram cichlids, including black ram, do not have a long lifespan. In general, they can live around 2-4 years. In captivity, most black ram cichlids have had unfortunate deaths due to improper husbandry or poor captive breeding practices. On the other hand, when you rear black rams in your aquarium, the most important thing is they are very sensitive to water conditions. 

Because you should stay on top of your water condition, it will definitely help you enhance the lifespan of your black ram. In addition to that, these tiny fish species have specific temperature requirements. So, you have to keep the temperature at the ideal level to give your fish a long life. 

One look care guide

Scientific nameMikrogeophagus ramrezi
Common nameBlack ram cichlid
Native toSouth America 
Type Freshwater 
Color Black 
Tank size20 gallons per pair 
Preferred temperature78-86 Fahrenheit 
Other water parameters PH level- 6-7.5
Water hardness- 0-10 KH
Ammonia – 0ppm 
Nitrite – 0ppm
Nitrate – <30ppm 
Growth rateNo exact growth rate 
Temperament Peaceful
Recommended tank matesBolivian rams 
Clown loaches 
Cardinal tetra 
Honey gourami 
Dwarf gourami 
Neon tetra
Kuhli loaches
Rummy nose tetra
Silver dollar 
Preferred foodBlood worms 
Brine shrimps
Mysis shrimps
Tubifex Worms 
Feeding frequency2-3 times per day
Breeding In captivity

Black Ram Cichlid Care

To care for your black ram, you should have proper knowledge about several things. You should mainly have an idea about their natural habitats because whatever fish species you rear, you will try to mimic their natural environment. It will ease your hobby, and your fish will love to live in your tank. So, let’s see the main factors one by one. 

Black Ram Cichlid Tank Size

It is recommended to 10 gallons tank per black ram. Generally, 20 gallons tank is ideal. However, if you wish to rear a very small group of black ram (2 pairs), you should have at least 40 gallons tank. But do you wish to create a community tank with other fish species, do not use above mention small type of aquarium.

In this case, you should have to for a large aquarium. Also, the 10 gallons of the breeding tank need to breed black ram cichlid. I mentioned above the general recommendations, but my point of view is, always try to go large aquarium. Because as a fish lover, providing a better environment for your fish is your responsibility. Do not challenge it!

How Many Black Ram Cichlids Should Be Kept Together?

Black ram can do well on its own. However, there is no exact number of black ram fish that you should have in a tank. It means that the decision is up to you. You can rear one or two or more black rams in your tank. But when you choose the number of fish, you should highly consider the size of your tank. If not, it will create huge trouble. Because if you do not provide enough space for this territorial fish, especially for males, your tank will become a battlefield automatically. 

If you have a small aquarium, always try to keep one male fish with females. However, you should know the minimum tank requirement. For example, if you want to rear a pair, you have to go for 20 gallons tank. Then two pairs need 40 gallons tank. So, like this, you can calculate the tank size for a particular number of fish. Further, it can be concluded that the number of black ram cichlids that keep together in your tank depends on the size of your tank. Because you should provide enough territory for them. 

Tank Setup

When you set up the tank, it is vital to know the nature and the habitats of ram cichlids. So, keep reading to understand how you set up and decorate your black cichlid tank. Generally, ram cichlids prefer to dig the substrate naturally. They find food by digging into the substrate. That is the reason for this habit. So, when you choose the appropriate substrate for your tank, you have to select a substrate that helps fish to behave normally. Therefore, the ideal one is sand. 

Further, ram cichlids live in rivers and natural pools. So, these environments are rich in live plants. Therefore, it is better to go with live plants in your tank. Surely, it will promote healthy and active black ram because this greenery ensures their safety by creating hiding spots. Live plants like Java fern and certain mosses do not require substrate for their roots. It makes your task easy. In addition to that, you can try out the below-listed plants. 

  • Anubias 
  • Amazon sword 
  • Hornwort 
  • Cryptocoryne 
  • Sagittaria 
  • Vallisneria 
  • Water wisteria 

Moreover, you can decorate your tank by using clay pots, driftwood, and rock formations. Thus, it will enhance the feel at home for your fish. Through these options, you can create enough hooding places to hide when the fish get nervous. But the special thing is, do not cover and decorate the whole tank. Thus it would be best if you left plenty of open space for black rams to swim freely. If you miss this, sure you have to face many troubles. 

When considering the filter system, as usual, it is very crucial. Because black ram cichlids do not tolerate the waste in their aquarium. On the other hand, you have to maintain minimum water flow. So, you have to select the best filter system that can do well for both of these. Try out the below options. 

  • Sponge filter 
  • AquaClear Power Filter
  • SeaChem Tidal Filter 
  • Water Quality Condition

Water condition is the most vital factor for black ram cichlids. Because they are highly sensitive to water conditions. So always try to keep the water parameters at the ideal level. Performing water changes regularly will help you to achieve this task. 


You should keep the water temperature between 78 to 86 Fahrenheit or 26 to 30 Celsius. However, the optimum level is 82+ Fahrenheit or 28+ Celsius. One of the biggest mistakes that hobbyists make is not considering the water temperature of the black ram tank. Keep it in mind! This mistake can kill your fish because black ram cannot tolerate low temperatures. Thus, the immunity of black ram cichlids decreases at low temperatures. So, it can end up in infections. 

So, you can save your fish by setting up a heater. It is better to invest in a quality heater like Cobalt or Fluval Electronic Heater. But these recommended heaters are ideal for smaller tanks. If you have a larger tank, go for another. 

Water hardness

It is better to go with 0-10 KH.  The black ram-like to live in soft water. However, if you use hard tap water, you should use a quality RO/DI system to supplement the tank. But if you do this without spending money, there are some alternatives. Alder cones and Indian almond leaves are the best options to soften your water naturally.

However, they add tannins to the tank water, and that can stain the water. But do not worry, black ram cichlids like to live in this kind of water. The ideal pH level should be between 6 to 7.5 because black rams prefer to live in acidic water.


You should keep the ammonia level at 0 ppm.


It is better to maintain nitrate level at 0 ppm.


You should control nitrate levels below 30 ppm. 

Black Ram Cichlid Breeding 

Easy reproduction in captivity is one of the factors that cause the popularity of black ram cichlids among hobbyists.  

Black Ram Cichlid Male Or Female Identification 

You can easily find female black rams and male black rams from their size, fin shape, and color. However, if you try this in the breeding season, the identification of males and females is easier. Because in the breeding season, their colors are more vibrant and shiny. 

  • Generally, male fish is larger than the female black ram
  • Also, the male black ram cichlid has a slimmer profile 
  • The male fish’s forehead is rounder in shape while the slope of the female’s forehead comes down to a point 
  • The pectoral fins of male fish are twice as long, and tips extend to the caudal fin. But female one is shorter
  • When they fill with the eggs, they have a rounder abdomen

Identify Pregnant Black Ram Cichlid  

Generally, female black ram cichlids do not get pregnant because they are egg-laying fish species. But when females mature, their abdomen can be rounded when it fills with eggs.  

Black Ram Cichlid Breeding

Black ram cichlids can breed in community tanks. At the right time, they find out a corner of your community tank to protect themselves. But you can increase the chance of the success of the breeding process by separating the pair into breeding tanks. As I mentioned above, do not force them to pair as your wish. Thus, black ram cichlids pair out naturally. So, it is better to isolate the pairs that built up naturally. 

Setting Up A Breeding Tank For Black Ram Cichlids

Step 1: It is better to have at least 10 gallons or a 40L tank. 

Step 2: Install a sponge filter for the breeding tank. It will avoid the fry getting sucked into the intake. 

Step 3: Also, you should go for quality automatic timers for the tank lights. Because irregular day/night schedules can confuse your breeding pair, it can affect breeding success. 

Step 4: It is better to set up plenty of covers. It will give a secure feeling to your fish.

Step 5: Do not forget to put several flat rocks in the tank. It will be the best place to attach their eggs.

Step 6: Java fern or java moss is the best addition to your tank because it is a food source for frying.

Step 7: After setting up the breeding tank, put your breeding pair in it. Then give time to settle in this tank comfortably. 

Step 8: Increase the water temperature gradually up to 85 Fahrenheit by 1-2 degrees by each day.

Then feed parents with a highly nutritious diet of live foods such as live brine shrimps. These practices encourage the breeding process. When they are ready to spawn, the pair will start to follow each other around the tank. The female fish lay eggs, and the males fertilize them soon. After that, the parent fish will look after their eggs until they hatch. However, eggs take about 3-5 days to hatch. However, the fry takes a few days to swim freely, and then male fish take care of the fry until the babies are strong enough to look after themselves. So, in this stage, you can separate the female black ram cichlid. 

How many babies do black ram cichlid have?

Generally, female black ram cichlid lay 150-250 eggs at once. But this can be varied with many conditions such as health and tank conditions.

black ram cichlid fry care

As a first step, you can feed baby black ram cichlid on baby brine shrimps. Java fern and java moss are also good food sources for your black ram cichlid fry. 

Feeding Behaviour Of Black Ram Cichlid 

Black ram cichlids are omnivores. So, they accept both animal and plant matters. Once you add new black ram cichlid to your tank, they may be striking the foods. At this moment, give them enough time to settle in the new place. Then try to feed them. 

What Does Black Ram Cichlid Eat? 

You can try out many foods. Now, there are omnivore-specific commercial foods on the market. They are fine. Omega One Freshwater Flakes and Fluval Vegetarian flakes are the best choices. On the other hand, you can go with live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. Do not forget to add quality protein sources to your diet. Some of them are mentioned below. 

  • Bloodworms 
  • Brine shrimps
  • Mysis shrimps
  • Cyclops 
  • Tubifex Worms 

Also, you can add vegetables to the diet. But before providing, make sure to boil them properly and cut them into tiny pieces. 

How often should you feed

Generally, it is better to feed them 2 or 3 times per day with a balanced diet. 

When should you feed? 

If you can feed them at the same times in the day continuously, it is good. Normally feed your black ram cichlid in the morning and evening. 

How long they can go without food

The time that can black ram cichlid live without providing food depends on the availability of foods in the tank. However, they are omnivores, and they accept plant matters. Generally, black ram cichlid houses in planted aquariums and can survive a few days without providing food. But it highly attacks the health of your fish. So, do not think about it anymore. 

What fish can live with black ram cichlid?

The black ram cichlid is considered a peaceful fish species. So, they can live non-aggressive community fish species friendly. But you should give them enough space to live without struggles. 

Before you add tankmates, you should be highly concerned about their tank requirements, temperament, and mouth size. On the other hand, you should avoid large and aggressive fish varieties such as black ram cichlid’s tankmates. Also, do not add the fish that can swell your ram cichlids like African leaf fish. 

How big do dragon gobies get?

According to the reports, the maximum size of Dragon gobies could reach up to 24 inches. It is considerable length when considering other goby species. 

Can black ram cichlid live in a pond?

Yes, black ram cichlids can live in ponds with little water flow. Because in the wild, rams live in natural rivers and ponds. But you should set up the preferable environment with ideal water conditions because black ram cichlids are very sensitive to water parameters.

Credit to : fincasters
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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.