Rams advice and stocking ideas

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PygmyPepperJulli

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Hi TFF,

Went to the lfs the other day for some stocking for my new tank (came back with another 10 neon tetras and the 3 pepper corys they had in stock, no issues with them so far) and to get some water tested and came across some exceptionally good-looking german blue rams. One of the staff who I think was in charge of the fish area (it's actually a good chain of a box store, pet stock) saw me looking and actually persuaded me NOT to get them, which reinforces my idea that he's a pretty informative guy, and although I would never buy something without research I do like the look of those rams.

So, current tank is...
19 neon tetra
6 corydora

with plans for...
many more corys
1-3 pearl gourami
Possibly (maybe) a blue ram (or 2 or 3).

in a 55gal (Soft and around 6.5pH).

Pet store guy said issues were...
- They'll be aggressive, especially when breeding
- I would need to get a pair, hence being aggressive when breeding
- My tank wasn't big enough? (I THINK that's what he said, anyway... I'm pretty sure that isn't right)

I've read mixed opinions on the internet and this did come up in a post earlier, but I couldn't find it, so hence the re-question.
Can I keep rams? How many? What would the issues be? (I am happy if it's a no, I'll accept it if it is)

And while I'm here...
With current stocking above, what fish would you recommend as something that's got personality, or out of the ordinary, or just a favorite fish that you think would suit the setup? All welcome, but I am unfortunately probably not able to get something incredibly exotic (read black knifefish, african butterfly fish, etc.). I'm tentatively thinking about pencilfish (not the red ones, I dislike red) so if anyone has opinions on that it would be welcome :).

Just some general clarifications and questions.

PPJ
 
I can tell you my experiences with Blue Rams, which are not good.

I had 5 different rams from 4 different stores, and I couldn’t keep them alive longer than 6 months. They were all very healthy for months but, literally overnight, developed fungus on their bodies which I couldn’t treat. I put it down to my community tanks being unsuitable for rams. For one thing, I keep the water at around 23 degrees C while the rams prefer it at least 5C higher. They also need pristine water, more so than most other fish. I’d like to keep them again in the future, but only when I can keep them in a species tank.

As for PetStock, like all other chain stores, if you can find one with a knowledgeable staff, consider yourself lucky. I would be hesitant to buy any aquarium items from them though as they’re so much more expensive than other stores.
The store employee is correct when he says that they are aggressive when breeding, but their aggression is nothing compared with lake malawi cichlids'. And you don't necessarily get a pair simply by buying 1 male and 1 female. If you find a bonded pair in the store (by observing their behaviour), then you'll have a pair, otherwise you'll need to buy 4 or 5 to guarantee that at least 2 of them will pair up. When he says your tank is too small, I think he means it's too small if you have a breeding pair, and with all the other fish in it.
 
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Thanks for the response.

With the bonded pair, the employee (and I could kind of see it) said there were two pairs and one lonely one (I had my eye on the lonely one, because he was lonely and because, I'll admit, he was a pretty little guy). He basically said, a pair will be too aggressive and the lonely one shouldn't be lonely and would die of loneliness (apparently one of his colleges had sold the other half when he wasn't there).
 
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I'm not sure if a blue ram would die of loneliness, but I'll leave that to knowledgeable ram keepers to answer :confused:.
 
I've got a similar size tank (45G) with 15 rummy noses, 15 cardinals, and 5 corys.

I have had 2 blue rams (mating pair) in there for about a month now... so far, no problems. IMO they don't have that much of a personality. They do follow eachother around which is cute, but I find the corys have a lot more personality. The rams do need to be kept in mating pairs to prevent aggression.

As for the water, they are a little bit finicky. They do best in a well established tank without major changes in water parameters. Don't worry so much about keeping it at their specific params, but more about keeping everything stable. That being said, watch the temp as they usually run a bit hotter (28C or so). Also keep in mind that they don't live that long (1-3 years).

As for recommendations besides rams, is your tank planted? What about the scape? Could help provide some direction for what you're after :)
 
With the temperature, that seems a bit high for some of the other occupants and I generally keep it (if it can't be perfectly in the middle for all of them) on the lower side to increase lifespan (something like that). I'll upload pics when I can, but I still haven't actually decided if it will be a biotope looking blackwater tank or an aquascaped planted. I really like the look of the blackwater (and the fish would be happy) but planted would do better with the rest of the room. I think I'll give the rams a past and just stick with three pearls instead. Are there any 'shiny' fish you could recommend? (The stripe on neons, spots on pearls, sheen on some betas etc. is very appealing to me :))
 
With the temperature, that seems a bit high for some of the other occupants and I generally keep it (if it can't be perfectly in the middle for all of them) on the lower side to increase lifespan (something like that). I'll upload pics when I can, but I still haven't actually decided if it will be a biotope looking blackwater tank or an aquascaped planted. I really like the look of the blackwater (and the fish would be happy) but planted would do better with the rest of the room. I think I'll give the rams a past and just stick with three pearls instead. Are there any 'shiny' fish you could recommend? (The stripe on neons, spots on pearls, sheen on some betas etc. is very appealing to me :))
yeah... the temp was the only thing that I was a bit hesitant about but i've heard there's quite a bit of allowance for the temp of tropical fish (think about the midday sun in south america).

As long as you don't have a bare bottom, I would recommend the kuhli loach for a unique fish. They're bottom feeders but very, very fun to watch. A very unique fish. It's not the flashiest, but makes up for it with the weird eel-like swimming it does. It loves vegetation and are pretty shy, but once they get used to the tank they're pretty easy to spot. You'll need to get a few of them as they are semi-schooling and feel safer in groups.

For something more flashy, I'd recommend rummy nose tetras. If you get a good batch and redden up their cheeks (feed brine shrimp) they are an absolute joy to watch them swim together up and down the tank. They are very tight schoolers and all swim the same direction at the same time so it's always fun to watch.

Finally, cardinal tetras are BEAUTIFUL. I'll be honest, I disregarded them for a while because in photos they look very similar to neons. However, after I got a bunch in the tank, the red/blue is absolutely gorgeous to watch. They school like neons so just a bunch together all facing different directions.

If I were you, I'd defs consider the rummy nose as they school separate from the neons/cardinals. It's pretty nice to see basically two separate schools of fish interact.
 
I've seen khuli's before but hadn't even considered them for this tank, they could be fun! As to rummy noses, they look awesome, but not sure as to the availability in my area. We'll see. Probably not cardinals, as I already have neons, but maybe for another tank.

For another option, does anyone have any experience with apistogramma agassizii? Would they work in this setup/how many? And (totally off topic) if not in this tank how about in a 10gal cube? Just thinking because they look really cool (I always though apistos were red or orange, but some of the shiny blues on the agassizii look spectacular).

And would 2f 1m pearl gourami work, or would it be better to have just one or two? (or another number, I have nearly no experience with gourami!)
 
I've seen khuli's before but hadn't even considered them for this tank, they could be fun! As to rummy noses, they look awesome, but not sure as to the availability in my area. We'll see. Probably not cardinals, as I already have neons, but maybe for another tank.

For another option, does anyone have any experience with apistogramma agassizii? Would they work in this setup/how many? And (totally off topic) if not in this tank how about in a 10gal cube? Just thinking because they look really cool (I always though apistos were red or orange, but some of the shiny blues on the agassizii look spectacular).

And would 2f 1m pearl gourami work, or would it be better to have just one or two? (or another number, I have nearly no experience with gourami!)
I haven't kept A. agassizii but I plan to! They seem like lovely fish. The 10g is probably too small, especially if it's a cube. Apistos hang out in the lower third of the tank, so having more space on the bottom (i.e. a larger tank footprint) for them is better. It's recommended that they have a tank that's at least 60x30cm.

While apistos and dwarf cichlids in general aren't known for being very aggressive, they certainly can be pushy. They wouldn't do well with the corys, depending on what type you have. If they're dwarf corys, then I think not. The apistos would be too aggressive, especially if they have eggs/fry. Larger cory species might be alright, but you should do your own research as well. The website apistogramma.com might have more information on corys and apistos together. The neons would be fine. I don't know about the gouramis, but I would be wary putting them with apistos.

Edit: oh, and I can't imagine the kuhlis would do well with apistos either, given that kuhlis are very timid fish as it is. They'd almost certainly get out-competed by apistos.

Edit 2: As for numbers, you can keep them in a pair if you want to see breeding/mating behaviors. I hear the males can get nice and flashy with a female around. But apistos are generally aggressive towards each other in groups, so if you keep more than one, it has to be a male/female pair. I think a couple apisto species are harem breeders, but I'm pretty sure agassizii isn't one of them. They also do fine alone. I plan on only keeping one in my 25gal community tank. Do note that breeding apistos can be more aggressive with tankmates in general, not just other bottom dwellers.
 
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