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South American Cichlids, Ram, Angelfish, Severums, Uaru Cichlid

SOUTH AMERICAN CICHLIDS;

Ram, Angelfish, Severum, Uaru Cichlid



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RAM CICHLIDS; German, Crown (Bolivian), Gold

Ram Cichlids, German, Ruby Crown, Bolivian, Gold
*Other common names: Blue Rams, Butterfly ram, German Blue, German Blue Ram (GBR), Ram, Butterfly cichlid, Dwarf cichlid. Ramirez's cichlid

*Size: Approximately 4 inches (10 cm.)

*Scientific Name: Microgeophagus ramirezi aka; German, Blue, Gold, Ramirez's dwarf cichlid

Microgeophagus altispinosa aka; Bolivian Ram, Crown Ram, Butterfly Ram

Family-Cichlidae

*Natural Habitat: Bolivian Ram; Mamoré and Guaporé river drainages in Bolivia and Brazil.

German/Blue/Gold Ram; The rivers of Venezuela, and Columbia

*Description : Ram Cichlids are somewhat stocky in shape. In Male Cichlids, the first few dorsal rays are longer and more pointed than others.
The ramirezi species tends to be more colorful, but not as hardy (the two fish on the left side of the picture).
The altispinosa species is slightly less colorful, however it is generally a more hardy adaptable fish (the fish on the right side of the picture).

*Recommended Tank Size and Temperament: Although many males may show typical male cichlid dominance, these fish are basically mild mannered and do best in groups with others of their own kind and in community tanks with med.-large Tetras, Discus, Angels, sometimes Gouramis and similar. I have kept them in tanks as small as 15 gallons successfully, however groups are best kept in 30 gallons or larger.

*Water Parameters: Microgeophagus ramirezi can be sensitive to poor water conditions or incorrect water parameters while the Bolivian (Crown) Rams are less sensitive in my experience. This said, I would aim for the best conditions regardless of species kept.
The Ram Cichlids do best in an Amazon River Aquarium environment which includes clean well filtered water, a stable pH (best under 7.0, although I have kept higher), warm temperatures between 79 - 83°F (26 to 28 C), some KH for stability (50 ppm plus), and despite some claims by others, Rams need some mineralization (calcium, magnesium, etc.) for correct osmoregulation (despite some claims by misinformed aquarists lack of understanding of biochemistry).
Please reference:
Aquarium Chemistry; Amazon River Environment
Aquarium Chemistry; pH
Aquarium Chemistry; KH

Products such as SeaChem Replenish can aid in adding these essential mineral ions. For natural acid buffers/tannins; products such as Pillow Moss or Indian Almond leaves aid in Aeromonas bacterial control, and provide more natural Amazon conditions performing a “slow acid buffer” function.
See product links: SeaChem Replenish & ZooMed Pillow Moss

I also recommend UV Sterilization since Rams are more sensitive than many fish to water parameters (including Redox Balance) and disease pathogens.
Please Reference: UV Sterilization; Facts & Information

*Typical food: Rams are a Omnivorous to carnivorous leaning fish. A High quality such "HBH Freshwater Flakes fish food" should be the starting place of their diet, and a flake such as "Spirulina 20" makes a good supplement too.
Along with these basic foods; live, frozen, freeze dried brine shrimp, blood worms, white worms etc. should also be part of their diet.

Please follow or jump to the end of the page for a listing & links to some of the fish foods suggested in this article:
SUGGESTED FISH FOOD RESOURCES

*Breeding: Egg Layers; Ram Cichlids (both German and Bolivian) are sexually dimorphic, as they mature revealing clear differences in females and males. At this time the males may become very active, chasing and displaying to the female Ram Cichlids. Often the female of a paired Ram Cichlid’s belly area will be a brilliant red when ready to breed.

Generally compatibility is achieved within several weeks and a male will pair with one of the females by courting her while still chasing the other females. A typical courtship consists of reciprocal lateral displays and the Ram Cichlid pair mouthing rocks in the courtship area chosen by the pair. Other Ram Cichlids will not be tolerated in the courtship/breeding area (this includes other females as my experience has been that Ram Cichlids are not Harem breeders, but this is a casual observation on my part, not a scientific study). After several days of courtship, the pair will clean and remove sand in their chosen breeding area (usually around a rock(s) in the sand).

When the eggs are laid, the female generally lays over 100, ovoid eggs, light grey eggs in a cleared circular area. The Ram Cichlid pair will take turns guarding these eggs, which they are very efficient at doing, even in the community tanks my Ram Cichlids bred in (though they were large tanks in most instances). Even after hatching, the pairs were generally good parents in caring for the “wrigglers” for the first few days before they became free swimming.

The problems began after the fry become free swimming, as the pairs never seemed very good at keeping other fish away from the fry and with the exception of a pair that were isolated by a client of mine, all broods were always lost to other fish at this point, or even uncovered filter intakes, so a sponge pre-filter should be employed.
I would recommend carefully siphoning the fry into a bare bottom fry tank with a seasoned Sponge Filter.
These fry are hyper sensitive to nitrogen based water parameters, and not just ammonia, but even nitrates as well. With this in mind, daily water changes or flow through filtration/cleaning systems should be employed in fry rearing tanks.
Please Reference: Aquarium Cleaning; Methods

See also these product links: *Filter Max Sponge Pre-Filters
*Hydro Sponge Premium Aquarium Sponge Filters


The fry are best fed on newly hatched foods or similar such as vinegar eels. Prepared foods that finely powdered such as or Hikari First Bites can be fed within a several days.

*Contributors Notes:
By Carl from Everything Aquatic;
My main thought as to Ram Cichlids, German Rams in particular is that although they have a reputation for being difficult to keep, I have found that poor stock and shipping is the main reason I have lost any over the many years I have professionally maintained aquariums containing Ram Cichlids.
Once past any stock or poorly shipped problems, I have kept many Ram Cichlids in loosely controlled test tanks (not all parameters were as tightly controlled as some of my tests). These controlled groups revealed several key points in the Ram Cichlids that thrived and those that did not.

Here are some key points:

• In water that is highly alkaline, the use of partial re-mineralized RO water along with products such as Bio Lif or Peat, driftwood and other stabilizers for a more acid environment. However I did NOT chase the pH with pH lowering products
Reference: Aquarium Chemistry; Use of RO Water
• Along this same line of thought I provided important positive minerals ions via products such as Wonder Shells and other re-mineralization products. This is a key point, as many fail to recognize the importance of this in fish health.
See product link: Wonder Shells for mineral ions
• I had many healthy live plants in these tanks as well. This included area for the fish to easily hide too. All the while lighting was usually moderate daylight lighting using 6500 K lights.
• Feeding was varied and included frozen foods (such as bloodworms, Omega enhanced Brine Shrimp, etc.) and Spirulina based foods.
• All the most successful tanks had a UV Sterilizer which lower disease pathogens and improved Redox balance (which in turn improved immunity). Along with mineral cations, this too is an important factor that is often missed..
References:
*How Ultra Violet Sterilization works and its importance for fish health
*Aquarium Redox Balance, potential, oxidation, reduction, fish immune system

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ANGELFISH

Angelfish, gold, marble, black, silver

*Other common names: Angelfish, Scalare

*Size: 4-6 inches in length (10- 16 cm.), they can however reach twice the height as their length in some aquariums.

*Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare.
Also there is the more often wild caught Pterophyllum altum

Family-Cichlidae

*Natural Habitat: Amazon and its main tributary rivers.

*Description : One of the most popular aquarium fish for decades, Angelfish are now bred different colored varieties and patterns. They are available in both normal finned and veil varieties, often exceeding 12 inches in height from the top of their dorsal fin to the tip of their ventral fin. The Angelfish seen in most aquariums is far from the native Angels from South America.
My experience with Angels in captivity is that with good care, they will usually live over 10 years (maybe even 15).

*Recommended Tank Size and Temperament: Angelfish tend to be less aggressive as compared to most other cichlids. Most Angels will make peaceful community inhabitants, unless they pair off and begin to breed (then they may become much more territorial and keep other fish at bay away from their nesting area).
Normally with their long fins and slow swimming movements, they rarely do damage to other fish and in fact are sometimes targets themselves by some fin nippers such as Barbs
They can be kept with all of the livebearers, however, if you want any fry to live from them, it’s recommended putting a pregnant female into a separate holding tank, or none of the fry will survive due to the angels. They love live foods, therefore fry are an excellent food source for them.

*Water Parameters: Domestic Angelfish do best in waters with these parameters based on my experience (& research):
A temperature of 75°-82° degrees F (23°-28° degrees C).
pH Stability is MUCH more important for Domestic Angels than the actual number of which anywhere from 6.4 to 7.8 can be OK. More important is KH of about 50-100 and GH of 100 plus (keeping mind that most domestic angels are NOT used to the conditions of their wild ancestors rather the usually more hard conditions of breeders, although Altum Angels prefer softer conditions and a more narrow pH Range of 6.2-7.2). It is also noteworthy that minerals such as Calcium play a more important role in their health than once thought. Please Read these References:
Aquarium Chemistry; Calcium
Aquarium Chemistry; pH
Aquarium Chemistry; GH

As with Rams in the previous section, adding products such as Bio Lif that contain Indian Almond leaves will improve health and vitality, although with Angels I do not view this as essential as with Ram Cichlids.

*Typical food: Angelfish are basically carnivores however they will eat most foods offered, though they seem to prefer for worms such as black worms or bloodworms. I strongly recommend a balanced Tropical Flake as well such as Omega or HBH Tropical Flake Frenzy and as well gut loading the worms or other live foods in Spirulina 20 so as to more closely duplicate how the Angel would more naturally gain certain nutrients(or at least soaking frozen/FD foods in a soup of Spirulina) is also important.
Reference: Aquarium Fish Nutrition; Gut Loading

Please follow or jump to the end of the page for a listing & links to some of the fish foods suggested in this article:
SUGGESTED FISH FOOD RESOURCES

*Breeding: Egg Layers

*Contributors Notes: By Carl

Angel fish are one of the more rewarding fish to keep and even breed and these fish also have interesting personalities as well (typical of most Cichlids IMO). If Altum Angels are to be kept, make sure that they are acclimated VERY slowly with a drip system of acclimation as they are very sensitive to sudden pH and high ammonia changes as well (more so than most fish in my experience).
Please see this article for more about this:
Aquarium Disease Prevention; Acclimation.

Another note about Angelfish is that although not as common at the time of writing this article contribution, there is a disease that ravaged the angelfish breeding community in the 1990s, especially in the Far East that is often referred to as “Angelfish Aids” due to the lack of immune response and the way the Angels went down hill rapidly, eventually dying.
Many studies link this to the flagellate Spironucleus, but most are inclusive IMO (& I have not ruled out viral causes myself). My point in bringing this up is to know your sources as this can take out ALL your Angels if given a foothold in the tank and prevention is about all one can due (I found UV Sterilization helped considerably as per prevention, but not treatment).


SEVERUMS; Green (also known as Banded or Wild), Gold Green Severum Cichlid Size: 8- 9 inches (20- 23 cm.)

Scientific Name: Heros severus

Description: Often considered a “poor mans Discus” as they have a similar temperament and somewhat similar temperament. The most common varieties are the Gold and the Green (pictured). The Green is also sometimes called the Wild Severum

Natural Habitat: Amazon and its main tributary rivers.

Temperament: Severums tend to be less aggressive as compared to many Cichlids. Severum temperament can be compared to that of Angels, Discus and Festivums. Severums are an excellent beginner South American Cichlid due to their ease of care, manageable temperament, and low cost.

Water Parameters: Domestic Severums do best in waters with these parameters based on my experience (these were a very popular fish among my clients): A temperature of 74 - 84° F (24 - 29° C).
Although Severums come from low pH water like many of their Amazon brethren, pH stability is MUCH more important for Domestic Severums than the actual number of which anywhere from 6.4 to 7.6 can be OK (native water pH ranges from 6.0 to 6.8). More important is KH of about 50-100 and GH of 100 plus (keeping mind that most domestic Severums are NOT used to the conditions of their wild ancestors rather the usually more hard conditions of breeders). It is also noteworthy that as with Angels, Rams and Discus; minerals such as Calcium play a more important role in their health than once thought.
Please Reference:
Aquarium Chemistry; Calcium


Feeding: The Severum Cichlid is an omnivore, however as similar to Uaru Cichlids they should have “veggies” in their diet to do well, and if not provided they may eat plants in the aquarium. Feeding foods such as Spirulina Flakes or pellets are a good idea for long term Severum health. Brine shrimp and mosquito larvae are also excellent supplements to their diet as is FD Plankton, Black or Bloodworms (gut loaded are best), which can be fed live, frozen, or FD.
I have also had good results with Hikari or especially AquaMaster Ultra Premium Cichlid Food pellets fed to Severums.

Please follow or jump to the end of the page for a listing & links to some of the fish foods suggested in this article:
SUGGESTED FISH FOOD RESOURCES

*Contributors Notes: By Carl

I have found the Severums one of the easiest and more rewarding Cichlids to keep.
Their temperaments are generally mild, at least as some South American and Central American Cichlids go.
I have found these a good addition to many Discus Aquariums, as long as their is plenty of space for both, which from my experience means a tank of 75 gallons or greater.

I have also found Severums to be very hardy and more resistant to disease than their cousins the Discus and in fact I often have called these to my clients "the poor mans discus".


UARU CICHLID;

Uaru Cichlid

*Other common names: Uaru

*Size: 10 inches (26 cm.)

*Scientific Name: Uaru amphiacanthoides

Family-Cichlidae

*Natural Habitat: The Uaru Cichlid is a typical Amazon River Fish found in the Amazon-Solimoes River drainage as well as the Negro River basin. The Uaru is a popular food fish among natives, making it less often imported.

*Description : A beautiful fish in my opinion with some of the best personalities of all the Cichlids I have kept. They have a deep body with an oval disk shape. The body is a silver gray color, with a large sideways tear drop shape towards the tail which is dark brown to olive in the middle of their body and the adults have orange eyes. The young have the appearance of a leaf fish.

Sexing is difficult with the only sure way is during spawning the genital papilla is visible, pointed in the male and blunt and rounded in the female, although mature males may develop a fatty hump behind the head. It’s best to buy a group of at least 6 and let them pair off naturally.

*Recommended Tank Size and Temperament: Generally a mild tempered Cichlid, the Uaru is also one to stand up to more aggressive Cichlids such as Jack Dempsey’s, Green Terrors, etc., yet I have also kept Uaru Cichlids with Severums, Discus, even Rams (in larger tanks of 100 gallons or more with many plants/rocks) as generally the Uaru cichlid is not aggressive except when breeding.

*Water Parameters: Although a typical Amazon Basin fish in habitat water parameters, what is best in the closed confines of an aquarium may differ somewhat, especially domestic raised Uaru. The Uaru is less difficult to keep than a Ram cichlid, but more demanding of good water quality than a Severum.
As with Rams, Angels, Discus, etc. a pHof 6.5-to as high as 7.5 as well as a KH of 50-100 will maintain a healthy Uaru aquarium. Temperatures between 78-84 F (26- 29 C) usually are best for Uaru Cichlids.

As with other South American Cichlids, Uarus need some mineralization (calcium, magnesium, etc.) for correct osmoregulation.
Natural water softening products such as Frog Moss, Peat Pellet, Bio Lif can balance out the added minerals (GH) providing more natural Amazon conditions.
Reference: Aquarium Chemistry

*Typical food: The Uaru Cichlid is an omnivore, however they MUST have “veggies” in their diet to do well, and do best in a planted aquarium for this reason for which they readily dine on Anacharis (Elodea), however they will not generally eat Java Fern or Moss as well as hornwort.
Feeding foods such as Spirulina Flakes and Cichlid pellets (such as the ultra premium Aqua Master brand) is important.
To this diet Black or Bloodworms (gut loaded are best), which can be fed live, frozen, or FD (in order of quality of nutrition). Brine shrimp and mosquito larvae are also excellent supplements to their diet as is FD Plankton.
Reference: Aquarium Fish Nutrition; Gut Loading

Please follow or jump to the end of the page for a listing & links to some of the fish foods suggested in this article:
SUGGESTED FISH FOOD RESOURCES

*Breeding: If you are successful at breeding Uaru Cichlids, the newly hatched fry generally feed off their parents slime coat for the first few days, after that Micro worms Spirulina Flakes powdered between your fingers make a good first diet. Make sure you remove the fry from the parents after a few days though.

*Contributors Notes:

DISCUS

*Other common names: Here

*Size: 6 to 9 inches at adulthood.

*Scientific Name: Symphysodon

Family-Cichlid

*Natural Habitat: The Discus is found in Amazon rivers and flood plains.

*Description : Here

Sexing is difficult with the only sure way is during spawning the genital papilla is visible, pointed in the male and blunt and rounded in the female, although mature males may develop a fatty hump behind the head. It’s best to buy a group of at least 6 and let them pair off naturally.

*Recommended Tank Size and Temperament: Here

*Water Parameters: Here
As with Rams, Angels, Discus, etc. a pH of 6.5-to as high as 7.5 as well as a KH of 50-100 will maintain a healthy aquarium. Temperatures between 78-84 F (26- 29 C) usually are best for Uaru Cichlids.
Reference: Aquarium Chemistry

As with other South American Cichlids, Uarus need some mineralization (calcium, magnesium, etc.) for correct osmoregulation.
Products such as Pillow Moss (Frog Moss), Indian Almond Leaves, Peat, etc. which balance out the added minerals (GH) and will help provide more natural Amazon conditions.

*Typical food: The Uaru Cichlid is an omnivore, however they MUST have “veggies” in their diet to do well, and do best in a planted aquarium for this reason for which they readily dine on Anacharis (Elodea), however they will not generally eat Java Fern or Moss as well as hornwort. Feeding foods such as Spirulina Flakes or pellets are a MUST. To this diet Black or Bloodworms (gut loaded are best), which can be fed live, frozen, or FD (in order of quality of nutrition). Brine shrimp and mosquito larvae are also excellent supplements to their diet as is FD Plankton.

*Breeding: If you are successful at breeding Uaru Cichlids, the newly hatched fry generally feed off their parents slime coat for the first few days, after that Micro worms Spirulina Flakes powdered between your fingers make a good first diet. Make sure you remove the fry from the parents after a few days though.

*Contributors Notes:



SUGGESTED FISH FOOD RESOURCES

*HBH Fish Foods
*Spirulina 20 Highly Digestible Fish Food Flakes
*Rain One FD Blood Worms, Brine Shrimp, more
*Aqua Master Ultra Premium Cichlid Food, specifically designed ingredients for South American Cichlids which is needed for more brilliant color
*Hikari First Bites specifically formulated to provide any newborn fish fry the exacting nutritional balance

     
 

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