View Full Version : Sexing German Blue Rams

04-14-2008, 11:43 PM
So you've decided to buy a pair of these cuties... maybe in the hopes of breeding ... but even then they are lovely to keep as a couple as a male & female... even if they don't breed they will happily live alongside each other and stay together pretty much all of the time. We all know how things can be if you put two females or two males in a room after a while <grins> That is not to say that these characterful little guys never have a 'lovers' tiff - mine often get the hump with each other but usually make up again pretty quickly.

So your in the store and you see a tank full of these cuties... usually if you can get comfy and the store owner is not bothering you too much you can watch their behaviour and pick out a dominant male pretty quickly - even when they are young... a dominant male likes his ladies and will have picked his favorite in the tank... by observation and patience you should be able to see 2 rams that have taken a shine to each other as they will stay together quite a lot... usually this is already a good sign that it is a male and female... but you have doubts niggling in your head so to be sure here are some signs.

The female:
Will have black stripes going though her pelvic fins (this is a great one to remember as when they are very young this coloring already shows if all others fail... the stripes are usually also apparant in a stressed colorless fish)

If she is a happy little gal and shining then you can see that her shiny blue dot's cover her side black marking.

If she is a very happy little gal then her belly will show a pink hue to let those men know that she is ready for a mate.


Sorry for the horrible pic of her.. (she'll kill me if she see's this on the net) but it shows nicely all the above points

No black lines in the pelvic fins

The black marking on the side is solid black

Bigger built and the dorsal fin will be longer and spikier

Not a pink hue in sight on the stomach area


I hope this helps some peeps who are going to treat themselves to a pair of these beauties or those who have some doubts on the ones they have.

04-14-2008, 11:46 PM
Great info as usual Jess :19:
Fantastic pics too!

04-15-2008, 01:50 AM
good good wrtiteup!

04-15-2008, 02:12 AM
perfect explanation. Well done. Thanks Jess.

04-15-2008, 02:56 AM
A Very accurate, helpful and humorous article. Helped me out alot and from the looks of it I have 2 females. I only knew of the pink belly sign but none had pink bellies at the lfs only until a few days later after bringing them home.

04-15-2008, 01:03 PM
Very Helpful Information.

04-15-2008, 01:39 PM
Thanks Jess! That's great info and pics too! I have a few other related questions that I'm pretty sure you can answer. How long does it normally take for GBR to grow to an adult? And do you have pictures you could post that show the differences as they grow up? I'm having a hard time finding pics online of juvenile GBRs. I've seen fry but not a 1 or 2 month old compared to a 6 month old. I'm trying to estimate how old my fish are. Mine don't have a single spot but rather dark vertical stripes all the way along their body with one that looks a bit darker. I just assume this was juvenile markings. One other question, what accounts for their color lightening and darkening? I noticed that after a water change one of mine looked very dark and within an hour the color had lightened up. Is that a sign of stress?

04-15-2008, 01:47 PM
Well I guess I was wrong about my GBR being female. It is most definately a male. No black on the pelvic fins. No pinkish belly. Thanks for the great information. I will remember this when I look at getting a female for my male.

04-15-2008, 03:04 PM
This is perfect Jess... I'm going to print this up when it comes time to get my GBRs. This will make it much easier.... I bet it will even teach the LFS a thing or 2. Those are great pictures and the explanation was entertaining as well.

Thanks again!

ps. I promise I won't show her picture to anyone else. LOL

Lady Hobbs
04-15-2008, 04:49 PM
Awesome explanation and very easy to see the difference in them if you know what you are looking for. Nice job, GF.

04-15-2008, 06:43 PM
Woot! My fish are in a sticky... I feel honored :19: Thank you everyone for the great comments.. just glad I can give a little to this great community

Skarloeysmum - darkening is usually a sign of stress and ... the stripes also... I am not sure what is stressing them. After a waterchange it is normal.

I will post some pics of Rams at different ages tomorrow - at the young age of 6 months they already very much look like adult rams including the coloration except they are still tiny.

04-19-2008, 01:16 AM
Woot! My fish are in a sticky... I feel honored :19: Thank you everyone for the great comments.. just glad I can give a little to this great community

Skarloeysmum - darkening is usually a sign of stress and ... the stripes also... I am not sure what is stressing them. After a waterchange it is normal.

I will post some pics of Rams at different ages tomorrow - at the young age of 6 months they already very much look like adult rams including the coloration except they are still tiny.

Did you get busy hun? I was looking forward to seeing some more of your pics at different ages.

04-19-2008, 11:06 AM
Well here goes... the developement of baby rams in pictures. Please remember a lot has to do with water paramters and food...with some breeders it may take 6-7 months with others 3 months to a sexable size and coloring. These foto's are from a great breeder - Miquel in the Netherlands.

Free Swimming 1 week old

2 and a half weeks old

1 Month Old

1 month and a half

04-19-2008, 11:08 AM
2 Months

2 and a half months

3 Months - the more dominant and larger Rams are already on color

If you move the larger more dominant Rams who are already on color... more of the smaller Rams will take over the dominant role and color up faster

Hope you guys enjoy this :19: Any questions fire away ...

04-19-2008, 11:11 AM
Fantastic post Jess and great photos as well. Thanks for the valuable info.

04-19-2008, 03:03 PM
Great write up Jess..... Article for this I say. Great great great great super write up.....

04-19-2008, 03:59 PM
Thanks guys... the rams through the ages is thanks to Skaorleysmum :19: Was her request :11:

Blue Ram
04-24-2008, 09:47 PM
Great pics and Info!!!

04-24-2008, 10:45 PM
thanks a bunch. This article helped me learn I got two girls :/ poo. Guess I gotta go to the LFS :P

04-25-2008, 03:22 AM
Thanks so much taking the time to write this up and add the pics we asked for. It really is appreciated. :)

04-27-2008, 09:01 AM
Is this applicable to Balloon Rams too? I have a 1/2 inch balloon GBR it also has black lines on its lower fins ? ? ?

Anyway , thanx for the info.

04-27-2008, 10:08 AM
I have no experience with Balloon rams but they are the same except for the body shape...so I would more than likely think it is also applicable

04-28-2008, 02:48 PM
Attached is a link to my 2 fav rams I've ever had. You can clearly see differences between the male and female.



05-08-2008, 11:01 PM
Haha, alright, this is strange.

My presumed female has the black spot with the sheen. This I noticed. She also has a relatively low 3rd dorsal spine. However, her pelvic fins have no black on them, only blue.

My presumed male has 3 noticeable black spot things, with no sheen on any. He has a high 3rd dorsal spine, noticeably high. But his pelvic fins have the black! Lol, I'm so confused.

They have yet to spawn and the presumed male seems to be a bit dominate over the presumed female.

05-09-2008, 05:32 PM
sometimes they just wont really pair together. I've had Males and Females who dont like each other.

07-02-2008, 06:44 PM
it was a great piece of info., i used it to find a mate for my male ram and today itself i have discovered that they have spawned.:c10:

07-02-2008, 06:45 PM
GREAT NEWS!!!!!!!! Congrats thumbs2: thumbs2: thumbs2:

07-03-2008, 09:12 PM
thanks fishalicious, but i'm confused about what should be my:confused: :confused: next step.the rams are in the community tank containing tetras and rainbows. so, should i removed them or leave the tank as it is?:confused

07-03-2008, 09:16 PM
If it is there first spawn it might go wrong... like with all cichlids the first few nests rarely make it but they get better and better at it :ezpi_wink1: Leave them to it the first few times... once Rams start spawning they usually regularly do so. After 3-4 times you will get a good idea if their parental insticts are good and are able to keep the eggs & fry safe from the other fish in the tank. Give them a chance to do it on their own first thumbs2:

07-04-2008, 06:37 PM
u were right fishalicious,all the eggs have dissapeared. thanks for answering me, i'll stick to ur advice.

07-04-2008, 06:52 PM
Thanks guys... the rams through the ages is thanks to Skaorleysmum :19: Was her request :11:

Thank you boththumbs2:

It's info I will use when buying mine.

I Plan to have six.
Should I introduce these in pairs?
Or can I go with Six very young and let them pair themselmves from there?

07-04-2008, 09:18 PM
May I ask why 6? At a young age they are already pretty easily sexed and if kept in a pair will always show their beautiful colors... with more than a pair you will always have some that stay pale and won't show their colors as they will be the less dominant other than the most dominant pair.

07-04-2008, 09:46 PM
Intresting thank'sthumbs2:

The aquarium is going to be reasonably large. I wanted a species fish as a focal point of a community tank. After some threads at AC :thumb: and other research I decided to go with the discus and cut down on the rest.

My understanding is the rams are good company for discus yes? and as such I thought it would fill the tank along with cardinal Tetra and Japonica shrimp or similar. (Plan to put the cardinals in first to let them grow a little before adding Discus.)
However if a group is not the right thing to get the best out of these little beauties (Rams) I am happy to cut numbers down to a single pair.
Still not receiving my tank for another month and this site is starting to get me inpatient:thumb:
I will keep researching and following this forum until I am completely confident that I have made the right choices.

I want to do it once and I want to do it right!

I have had a lot of help from this forum and plan to give a step by step picture account of my set up when it arrives through to finished artical.

Please be patient with this novice


07-04-2008, 10:36 PM
Really looking forward to the set up thumbs2: A great idea to share it with the forum :22:

We are all always happy to help here :ezpi_wink1:

Ramirezi are great fish with Discus...they like the higher temperature as well. It is still an option to get 6 if you want...I just always feel sorry for the less dominant colorless ones.

There are lot's of other beautiful fish you could add to the stocking that also live well in the higher temps... if I can help in anyway give me a shout x

07-04-2008, 10:53 PM

Keep up the good work, I am certainly reading more than I am writing at the moment

No doubt you will here from me soon:ezpi_wink1:

08-28-2008, 01:54 AM
I still don't know if it is a male or a female heres a pic

08-28-2008, 07:40 AM
It's a female :19:

08-28-2008, 01:09 PM
How do you know that for sure??
What are the indications?

08-28-2008, 01:14 PM
How do you know that for sure??
What are the indications?

To find out, go to the first page of the thread where all is revealed :hmm3grin2orange:

08-28-2008, 03:27 PM
Thanks now I see she's a female should have looked there first oops:11:

08-28-2008, 08:47 PM

Are their different strains of German Blue rams. All three of my Males have black on their pelvic fins. Is this just because they are sill very young or do i have confused fish?

heres a pic of one of my males, hes about 1.25" and his colors are much more vivid in real life. his yellows are starting to come out now!

08-28-2008, 09:19 PM
That is a beautiful male!!! Lovely!!!

With the mass breeding some of the black on the pelvic fins on males is seen more frequently lately.... if you look though in males it is usually a very faded black / Grey whereas in females it will be jet black.

08-28-2008, 09:24 PM
could that possibly go away when he fully colors up? as he is just starting to.

08-28-2008, 09:27 PM
I doubt it... once the coloring is there it is not likely to fade away but then anything is possible..stranger things have happened :11: Keep me updated please if you have the time I would love to know ...

08-28-2008, 09:37 PM
no problem once i get my better lights on the tank this weekend ill take some better pics of them.

Im upgrading to an orbit USA compact florescent light fixture, 130 beautiful watts!

12-18-2008, 11:17 AM
Your rams look good there. I have had no luck with them. What is your ph? What are they living with?

12-23-2008, 08:26 PM
i realize this is an old thread but the info here is great. my males also have the black on their pectoral fins. but i know at least one of em is male lol

01-18-2009, 10:56 PM
Thx, now I'm sure I gots myself a ram pair.thumbs2:

01-18-2009, 11:48 PM
Oh hey bushwhacker I missed this a few weeks ago. My male has faded black on his too. Like Jess said though it is faded out where the female is very black.

02-20-2009, 11:00 PM
Hmmm, Hey Jess is it more reliable with the blue sheen not showing through the black on the males than no black on the pelvic fins?

I looked and looked and looked at the LFS the other day, and they all had black on the fins (mind you they all looked pretty stressed with all of them having bars, so the colours weren't that great) but I noticed a couple that you couldn't see the blue on where the black spot would've been (they were faded out) but they definately had black on the pelvic fins!

Actually this link that GabodAv posted show the male with really dark black on his fins too!

Want to get a couple and want to check that I get one of each! LOL

02-21-2009, 12:57 AM
Lovely rams you have.

I have found the best way to buy a pair of rams is at the same time. I find a shop with lots in and study them for a while. I would buy a pair that is already formed. It's much better that way. Saw a pair just last week-end, busily guarding a spot on a piece of bogwood in a heavily stocked lfs. Was tempted, but think if I buy rams I will get Bolivian as my water parameters suck for the Blue german rams.


03-30-2009, 09:27 PM
Well I spotted a pair at the LFS, said I'd grab them, but how the heck do you tell which ones are the pair when there is 30 rams in the tank, and by the looks only 1 male, when as soon as you put the net in the lose all colour and dart around the tank like mad things! LOL, I think the poor guy spent about 20 minutes with me going, "no it's that one in the conrner, then he'd get it in the net and then I'd see blue dots on the black dot and go, "um no I don't think that's it" so he'd wait for them to colour up again and and then chase them around again and then I'd say "no that's not it"
He was telling me that the one I thought was a male wasn't because it didn't have black on it's plevic fins. I told him I thought it was the females who had the black but he said I was wrong, he also said that the pink on the bellies doesn't mean they aren't male either!!! He also said that they were harem breeders and they do best if the male has 6 or 7 females. Said he's bred them for years and that's always worked best. Hmmmm. Think I'll stick with my 1 pair when I find them!

So in the end I gave up. Will have to keep my eye out for a tank with just a pair left! LOL

03-31-2009, 04:26 AM
Wait until there aren't as many left in the tank and the pairs will become more obvious and the fish easier to keep track of. Also, with less fish in the tank, they will be more colored and easier to sex. Pickout the dominant male in the tank and his female(s).

I highly doubt there was only one male in the tank. The males have black on the pelvic fins and both fish can have a pinkish belly. The guy was right. The females belly gets much pinker during breeding.

So after 20 minutes of telling the guy no thats the wrong fish you left empty handed? :ssuprised:

04-01-2009, 02:23 AM
I did leave empty handed:ssuprised: , it was right on closing time, and they don't let you take any fish back, so I wanted to make sure I got the one I wanted. I will go back and get one though.

Hmmm. It was Jess's post as the start of this thread that said that the males didn't have the black on the fins, and since this fish only had faint black on the plevic fins and I couldn't see any of the sparkly blue bits inside the black dot and no pink belly that's what made me think he was a he! LOL.

The rest of them all had sparkly blue in their black dots. I will go back though, study the tank a bit more (get there well before closing time!) and I won't walk away empty handed a second time:hmm3grin2orange:

04-01-2009, 03:18 AM
Oh youre right, I got confused. When the fish's colors are flushed the males can have blue spots in the blotch, too. Those pics are of adults in breeding color I believe; they certainly are much more difficult to tell at the store.

02-05-2010, 02:25 AM
I have a very happy German Blue in my aquarium but I would like to find a mate for it. I have looked at the sexing tips but a can find traits that are listed for both male and female. The second ray on the dorsal fin is definitively longer and the posterior dorsal fin is more pointed, but the ventral fins have dark gray/black on them and the black dots on the side have the blue sheene on them, that is, when he/she is not irritated with us. Are the any absolutes to IDing them? Please help...

06-23-2010, 11:51 PM
:11: Great write up, but still not easy to identify male/female. Looks easy in the photos though.:19:

Wild Turkey
06-24-2010, 12:04 AM
:11: Great write up, but still not easy to identify male/female. Looks easy in the photos though.:19:

Yes, she sure makes it seem easy doesnt she?! :hmm3grin2orange:

Come back anytime Jess!

08-22-2010, 07:03 AM
well i had a pair pair up and breed, had 3 and one ended up dying early. The two that lived were male and female and paired up and raised a batch to free swimming but lost them. soon after the female died :( had them for about 8 months. This isn't going to help sex them but it IS some info you might want to consider. Not all GBR's are all the same. some share traits of both male and female and can be eather and some markings change or develope with age.

I got 5 more new ones and some i have also don't have traits commonly seen in any GBR pics I've seen. My original male for instance when i first got him was well colored up, had a bright pink belly, and no tall second dorsal fin. As he aged he lost ALL signs of his purple belly after about 2-3 months. A few weeks before he spawned for the first time he actually grew his dorsal fin out by about 25% and his second spike grew so much in size it's about an 1/2 longer than the rest and flows down over most of his dorsal fin! his Caudal fins got long and flowing and he has VERY black strips on them that are wide( the black strip is about 1/3 of his fin area). He also has a 3rd dominant black spot/stripe. The second black spiked dorsal fin turns into a stripe that runs halfway down his back between the big black spot and his eye stripe. finally he has a round black spot on his forehead. Those are black markings i don't see too often on rams in general. I also have a new female that never really developed much color and hardly any markings. Her fins are all clear, she has no eye stripe nor black spot but has blue speckles sporadically on her body. she has dull faded tiger stripes going down the hole length of her side. i would say she is a juvenile but shes 2 inches. She could be a hybrid or have recessive color genes. I bought her cause i figured nobody would with her low color, and she looks destincly different than other rams so i like her cause she's distinct and probably also cause shes not juiced up with hormones.

In summery if you own enough rams you can start to pick up that markings are hard to go by alone to choose sex-as they differ from fish to fish. I would say the best bet is to pick up about 6. this will guarantee you get a male and female and they can select there own mates. also everyone should be aware that rams are commonly juiced up and are well known for spontaneously dying even with low ph and numerous water changes. by securing around 6 it will guarantee a pair and, hopefully 2, and even WHEN some die you will still have at least one pair that can successfully rear fry. These parents are usually the strongest/healthiest fish and will have hardier fry. I've noticed that locally bred GBR have a LOT higher mortality rate than store bought.

09-08-2011, 05:01 PM
To be honest with you both of my GBR have the black stripes on pelvic fins but i can tell the female is the female by the pink belly and the blue sheen.

10-20-2013, 10:10 PM
Brilliant write up Fishalicious's
just getting back into fish keeping and this is the best info on blue dutch ram's
thank heaven for google leading me here :-)

11-19-2013, 11:23 AM
Will 2 females lay eggs without a male in the tank?

03-28-2014, 02:27 AM
Pretty sure I have 3 males, bc they have no black on the pelvic fins. But if anyone could confirm I would appreciate it.