วันพุธที่ 17 ตุลาคม พ.ศ. 2555

Fish Data : Bolivian Ram Cichlid


Chor-Kiat Yeo

General Information

    The Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) is a widely available and very popular species of Cichlid within the aquarium trade. Beyond simply being an attractive fish species, Bolivian Rams are very tolerant of a variety of water conditions including pH, temperature and water hardness. In addition to being a hardy species, Bolivian Rams are also a peaceful species that can be house with a variety of other peaceful to semi-aggressive fish species. However, being a shy species the Bolivian Ram will not do well with more aggressive or large Cichlid species. Bolivian Rams can be kept in a pair or in a group of individuals. If kept in a group their will be some initial fighting to establish a dominant male, but this should soon subside once dominance is established and further fights will be rare.
    Although the Bolivian Ram is tolerant of a wide range of water parameters, they are intolerant of poor water conditions. Since they originate from large river systems that have plenty of water volume and turnover, they are accustomed to high quality water conditions. It is important to employ a quality filtration system with strong biological and mechanical filtration, along with partial water changes to keep nitrate levels low. Bolivian Rams live in dimly lit and heavily vegetated river bottoms, thus they will prefer an aquarium setup that mimics their natural habitat. An ideal aquarium setup will have a sandy substrate, dense vegetation, some driftwood, moderate water flow and diffused or dim lighting. Tank mates should include other smaller peaceful to semi-aggressive Cichlid species and hardy tropical community fish species. A pair of Bolivian Rams will do well in a 30 gallon aquarium, with a larger aquarium being recommended for a group of Rams or if they are housed with other fish species.

Distribution

    Richter (1989), reports M. altispinisa from the Rio Mamore around the junction the Rio Guapore, near the town of Trinidad; the river basin of the Rio Guapore at Santa Cruz. in Bolivia; the Rio Quizer near San Ramon; the depression below Todos Santos in Bolivia and at the mouth of the Igarape near Guajara-Mirim in Brazil.

Comparisons to M. ramirezi

    The Bolivian ram grows a little larger than it's Venezuelan cousin, male reaching about 10 cm (4 in.) total length, females remaining a little smaller. Aside from the size differences, male M. altispinosa are slimmer and less stocky than females, and also have extensions on the upper and Inner rays of the caudal fin. Consistent with the Venezuelan ram, these fish are biparental, open substrate spawners, quite opposite from the polygynous, cave .spawning Apistogramma


Description

    The Bolivian ram is sometimes confused with its cousin the popular common or blue ram. Unlike M. ramirezi, the larger Bolivian ram is more adaptable with respect to water parameters (temperature, pH and hardness as noted); however, both species require stable water quality and should not be introduced to new setups but only an established aquarium. This fish can live up to four years.
    The tank should be densely planted but provide some swimming space; a dark substrate and subdued lighting will intensify the pattern (stripes) and colours of this species. Males are territorial, and suitable territories can be provided by plants and bogwood or rocks. Males will defend their territories against other males of the species, but with sufficient space they seldom inflict damage to each other. Non-species tankmates are usually ignored except at feeding when the fish may "push" others like Corydoras out of the way, but without any injury.

    Sexual dimorphism is rather limited with males larger in size and showing longer extensions on both the caudal and the posterior of the dorsal fins; these characteristics are more reliable in mature fish. Examination of the ovipositor can sometimes also indicate sex with the female displaying a larger, rounder appearance to pass eggs through, while the male displays a more pointed appearance; this may only be evident when the fish is ready to spawn. The photo above on the right shows a pair (upper fish male, lower female) over a clutch of eggs. The Bolivian ram is a substrate spawner, laying the eggs in a depression in the substrate or on a flat rock or piece of wood cleaned by the female. Both parents, though primarily the female, fan the eggs and the female tends the fry while the male defends the territory.

    Observations made in the habitat suggest that this species lives in solitude (individual fish alone) apart from reproduction periods (Linke & Staeck, 1994). Single fish are therefore good cichlids for a community aquarium. More than one can be housed if the tank provides sufficient floor space for individual territories. The fish remains in the lower third of the water column, spending most of its time browsing the substrate for bits of food.

    Originally described as Crenicara altispinosa by Haseman in 1911, for a time it was considered in the genera Microgeophagus and Papiliochromis until 2003 when the Swedish ichthyologist and cichlid authority Sven Kullander placed it in Mikrogeophagus along with the closely-related species M. ramirezi; these are the only species in this genus that was established in 1968 by Meulengracht-Madsen. The genus name derives from the Greek mikr [= small], geo [= earth] and phag [= eat], literally "small eartheater." The species epithet is derived from the Latin alt [high] and spinos [spiny], referring to the elongated first ray of the dorsal fin. The valid spelling is altispinosus, not altispinosa, to agree with the gender of the genus name.

Size - Weight:    This fish grows to a length of about 3" (8 cm).

Care and feeding:    The Bolivian Ram is primarily a carnivore that can be fed a mix of meaty foods that are live or frozen; such as brine shrimp, blood worms, white worms, chopped earthworms, cyclopeeze, and artemia. Some may eat flakes and pellets, but these should not be the staple of their diet. Feed 2 to 5 small pinches of food a day in smaller amounts instead of a large quantity once a day. This will keep the water quality higher over a longer time. All fish benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.

   A minimum 20 gallon tank is suggested. They prefer slow to moderate moving water along with good efficient filtration. The aquarium should have a cover and low to moderate lighting. An environment with rocks, driftwood, and flowerpots for hiding are appreciated. They also enjoy several dense plant clusters but leave some open space for swimming. Java Fern, Anubias Nana, Amazon Swordplants, Vallisneria, Wisteria, and other acidic tolerating plants work great. As the Bolivian Ram does not like to breed in bright lighting, some floating plants will help to diffuse lighting if you are encouraging them to spawn. Granite pebbles or plants with wide leaves are good for spawning too. Java Moss is also great as it contains micro organisms such as Infusoria to provide a good beginning food for the fry.



   The Bolivian Ram is a rewarding specimen for the aquarist. They can be easy to care for if water changes are performed frequently to keep the nitrate levels low. A mature tank with a pH of acidic to neutral water is best. Keep track of nitrates. Also, oxygen levels must be maintained for best color and health. When using substrate or rocks, be sure they do not leach into the water and affect the pH. Substrates such as limestone can increase the pH level. You would not use sand that is for marine tanks, but some have suggested pool filter sand. Driftwood is a big help in keeping pH low and contributes to the "tea stained" coloring of the Amazon River. Using Java Moss helps with keeping the pH down too.

   Do water changes of 30% weekly, more or less depending on stocking numbers. If water quality is ignored, as with all cichlids, disease and death can occur. One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for 3 days.


Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom:    These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Acceptable Water Conditions:    Hardness: 6 - 14° dH
   Ph: 6.0 - 7.4
   Temp: 74 - 78° F (23 - 26° C), 77 - 82.4° F (25 - 28° C) to induce spawning.



Social Behaviors:    This is a community fish that can be kept with non-cichlid fish and other peaceful dwarf cichlids. The Bolivian Ram is 'more bark than bite' and will not do well in an aggressive tank. They are just a little more aggressive than the Ram Cichlid, but not at all aggressive by cichlid standards. Some acceptable peaceful tank mates include the Silver Dollar, Dwarf Gourami, Dwarf Rainbowfish (Neon), Synodontis catfish and plecostomus, to name a few. They do tend to eat tetras.

   They can be kept alone or in pairs. More than one male may be kept if the aquarium is large. Just buying a male and female does not necessarily mean they will pair up. It is better to get a group of juveniles and allow a pair to bond. A pair will swim close together, and at that point you can put them in their own tank.


Sexual Differences:    Males are slimmer and less stocky than females. Males have a more pointed dorsal fin and longer filaments on their lyre-shaped tail fin than the females. Unlike the Ram Cichlid, females do not have a pink belly.

Breeding/Reproduction:    

   The Bolivian Rams are open spawners. They appreciate smooth pebbles or wide leaves to spawn on, a temperature of 77 - 82.4° F (25 - 28° C), and low light. Starting out with about 6 juveniles and allowing a pair to bond, then putting them in their own tank is your best bet. The bonded pair will spend a lot of time cleaning the top of pebbles before they spawn. The female will pass over the spawning site several times, laying eggs each time while the male stands guard. The female will lay 75 to 100 gray oval eggs. Then the male will pass over them several times to externally fertilize them. The female will fan the eggs with the male guarding the area. The male will fan the eggs at times too, though the female does most of the work. (This is probably one of the reasons their genus was changed from Apistogramma to Mikrogeophagus, since the Apisto males do not care for the eggs.)

   Within about 60 hours the eggs will hatch. The parents will move the "wigglers" to a pit in a different area of the tank. In about 7 more days the fry are free swimming. The parents will continue to move the fry, by mouth, to several locations for the next few weeks.
  

If your fish are in a community tank it will be necessary to grow out the fry in their own tank so they don't get eaten. Do water changes of 30% daily in the fry tank as they are very sensitive to nitrates. Do not crowd the fry either, they will not grow out as much if there are to many in one tank.


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************************************************************** Picture Credit : http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/mikrogeophagus-altispinosus/