Appears Rams a little too timid for mid size cichlid tank

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Magnum Man

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Jun 21, 2023
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Southern MN
My new rams added to my ( was supposed to be dwarf cichlid tank ) but by accidentally getting the geophagus in with the Acaras and Bolivians, while no one is picking on the rams, there seems to be too much other chasing around going on, where they look uncomfortable, and I’ve lost a couple… if one or two hang n there, that would be great… but I was looking for a color introduction… I’m thinking I might try a couple apisto’s down the road, if the rams don’t start thriving… I think the apisto’s will hold up better to the tension created by the geo’s… again, no one is picking on them, they just don’t seem to be thriving… I was wanting that yellow / orange color element, and I see there are several apisto’s that would fit the bill…

I really like these… at maturity, they almost look like a salt water fish…


Geos are bigger fish. They aren't rougher than Apistos, but are just about the same level as their close cousins. But because of their size, everything is magnified. Chances are, if you get Apistos (the photo is a female Apistogramma in breeding colour) you'll never see them until you found corpses. You would need fish that equalled the Geos in size. Things might soon get tough for the altispinosus as well. The big fish will barge through their territories without a care in the world, and the Mikrogeophagus won't like that.
You are really overstocked by my estimates. There are just too many cool Cichlids, but they need space.

Rams, especially cultivar ones like you have, are notoriously delicate. Geos would likely not kill them directly, but the stress of being unable to hold a territory against them would be too much. You were lucky not to have disease introductions with them - they're a fish I wouldn't touch, healthwise. If I got them, they'd have their own tank forever, away from other fish.

If you had gotten Biotodomo like you thought you were getting (what kind of seller does that?) the tank would have worked better. You have a fish that can hit three times the size of a cupido now,and that totally changes the game. But even with cupido, ramirezi would be under pressure. With blue acaras, Apistogramma will be dominated and run off, and will have nowhere to go.

it's simple. You need two more tanks!
Likely the Geo’s will get moved to the 250 gallon, when it gets set up… or ??? But they are too much fish for the tank they are in currently
I love Geophagus, and think you got some great fish there. But by sending you a large, relatively common species to replace a smaller, relatively uncommon one, your seller did you no favour. That just sabotaged the planning you'd done.
When a problem fish goes into a tank (a large fish, even a peaceful one like a Geo, or those acaras) suddenly, you don't have the planned Cichlid tank anymore.
I find that Rams like to eat in a more relaxed fashion and can struggle with boisterous feeders which lots of cichlids are.
There is a Hawaiian Fish Keeper on YouTube who had a Geophagus Tapajos destroy a bunch of expensive fish in one of his tanks including a rare Zebra Pleco. Maybe they’re more likely to turn aggressive if they aren’t placed in schools.

I’ve thought about getting some Rams for my next aquarium, but I’ve heard they’re difficult to take care of.

Larger Geos are big Apistos, and Apistos are small Geos. The level of aggression isn't high, but many Geos get as big as a large man's hand, and big fish don't go well with small fish. If they share the same niche, in this case, the bottom, they'll compete for resources, and it's predictable which fish will win.
In a large tank, I would consider one cave spawner, one open spawner and one mouthbrooder, but that would be a very large tank. They would still compete for their niche, and an adult Geophagus would bulldoze a ram without an ounce of malice.

Mikrogeophagus ramirezi originate in savannah pools (the Llanos region of Colombia and Venezuela) with supersoft water and warmth - the sunlight gets to their habitat. The temperatures they prefer make them hard to combine with other species. They're mass produced, generally to live much shorter lives than they could if properly cared for. They are often disease prone and delicate, and look nothing like their beautiful wild ancestors. Most of the ones we see are linebred mutant forms.

Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, the Bolivian ram, is a bit larger, but comes from standard aquarium temperature conditions. It has two main colour forms, both found in the wild, and hasn't been nearly as played around with genetically. They're peaceful and hardy. That's the one I'd keep again.
Gold rams are hanging out in the Java fern tangle… it may be too dense for the bigger fish to claim it… still no one is directly bothering them, and one regularly ventures out, under the protection of one of the Bolivians… of course the baby Cory’s don’t much care about invisible boundaries…
Currently the Geo’s are like a rough and tumble group of brothers, they never even damage a fin, but chase each other around like professional wrestlers…
there is a a hyarchy in the acarras, but, they don’t wrestle with the Geo’s or really mess with any of the smaller fish…the biggest fish, the singular angel, only clears the center of the tank at feeding time, and all the sucky faces seem to tolerate each other… I do wish I had gotten Cupids though…

Funny thing though, there has been a 1 inch feeder guppy in the tank for about 2 weeks, that I accidentally added… it has no color, so maybe no one sees it, but it stays within 4 inches of the top, and seems to be doing at least as well, as the 2 remaining rams
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Interesting… tonight one of the gold rams went out to the middle of the tank ( the geo’s turf ) with the baby Cory’s at feeding time, and I watched it eat some micro pellets out of the sand ( they are micro geo’s after all )… so far the big geo’s haven’t chased the rams at all, they are mostly just intimidated by their boisterous behavior… I guess I’m optimistic about the 2 rams left in the tank
I once had some Satanoperca sp - 7 inch, intelligent eyed fish that I loved. I had a surplus of normani lampeyes from breeding, and hadn't caught them all out when I gave their tank to the then smaller Satanoperca (close Geophagus relatives). They lived in perfect harmony for a very long time, almost a year. Then one day I came home from work, and no lampeyes.
The Geo group aren't predators, but if they figure it out for whatever reason, hey, why not? I don't know what triggered eating the first lampeye, but once they got on a roll...
Your Cichlid tanks are new, and it takes around 2 years before they begin to show how they're working. If we screw up outrageously, we know instantly. But the quirks of these fish as they grow take time. That's a reason why people like them. The spectacle always changes for the aquarist who pays attention.

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