Bolivian Ram ( Microgeophagus altispinosa )
Housing and water
The Bolivian Ram (Microgeophagus altispinosa) appreciates a well decorated aquarium without any harassing tank mates. You can for instance use driftwood, rocks and densely grown plants to create suitable hiding spots. Including floating plants in the setup, e.g. Watersprite, is a really good idea. If you plan on breeding Microgeophagus altispinosa you should also include a few flat rocks to be used as breeding sites.
The Bolivian Ram hails from soft and acidic waters, but can adapt to harder and less acidic conditions in the aquarium. Making the water softer (ideally below dH 4) and more acidic will increase the chances of successful spawning, but there exist several reports of Microgeophagus altispinosa breeding in aquariums where the pH-value has been no lower than 6.8. The water temperature should be kept in the 80-83 degrees F range.
Keeping the water quality up in the aquarium is really important when breeding Bolivian Ram. Be especially careful when you start feeding the fry for the first time since this can cause a rapid spike in organic waste if you do not combine vigorous filtration with really frequent water changes. When you are not feeding fry, a 30-40% water change once a week is normally enough.
Always feeding your Bolivian Ram cichlids a varied diet is important if you want them to stay healthy. You can for instance combine a high-quality flake food with brine shrimp, bloodworms, glassworms and similar. Increasing the amount of live, meaty foods is known to increase the chance of spawning.
Breeding Bolivian Ram (Microgeophagus altispinosa)
You know that you have a pair when two cichlids begin to hover over the same rock and protect it from all the other fishes. When the actual spawning commences, the female will swim over the rock several times before starting to deposit her eggs. The male will stay nearby, protecting the breeding site from any intruders. When the female has placed about 10-20 eggs on the stone the male will fertilize them, and then promptly go back to guarding the area. The female will then deposit a new assembly of eggs, and the male will return to fertilize them as well. This behavior will go on until the female has released all hers eggs and can take almost an hour. A female Bolivian Ram can produce over hundred eggs even if it is her first spawning.
If your keep the water temperature at 83 degrees F, the eggs will need roughly three days of incubation before they hatch. The fry is normally free swimming within another three days.
You can let the eggs and fry stay with the parents because Microgeophagus altispinosa are not known to eat their own offspring. It should however be noted that the couple can be ready to breed again within two weeks, and may chase away or even kill the fry from the first batch when this happens. The fry should therefore be moved to their own aquarium long before this happens. As soon as the fry are free swimming, they do not need their parents anymore.
As mentioned earlier, it is of imperative importance to keep the water quality up when raising Bolivian Ram fry. Ideally carry out a small water change after each feeding session. Many small water changes are better than a few big ones, since large water changes can shock the fry.
A combination of microworms and crushed spirulina flakes is a suitable fist food for small Bolivian Ram fry. As they grow bigger, you can start feeding them newly hatched brine shrimp as well.
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