How to Breed Ram Cichlids?

The Ram Cichlid is a beautiful fish that can easily become a treasure in your aquarium. They are social creatures that are best kept in pairs or even groups.

Many people have the desire to breed ram cichlids in their fish tank, which is definitely the hardest thing to do with these fish.

So, let’s take a look at what you need to know if you still want to try to breed them on your own.

Choosing a Breeding Pair

It’s very difficult to pair them up as separate, less competent people, especially after it’s very difficult to determine their sex. The dorsal fin of males is usually longer, but this is not a reliable method of establishing the fact.

Therefore, the best decision you can make is to buy ram cichlids already paired. In consequence, you will save yourself from some headaches.

Another thing you can do is to buy more than 4-6 individuals from the start, as they prefer to live in groups by default.

In this case, we allow them to choose their mate with whom they want to spawn.

It is important to note, however, that it is advisable to get younger individuals in this case, as using too old individuals is unlikely to have the desired effect.

Well-matched ram cichlid pairs are highly fertile but be careful not to use them too often for breeding.

However, if you are not satisfied with the fertility or parentage of the pair, you can try separating them. Although ram cichlids form fairly strong social bonds with each other, it is possible to force them to mate with another individual.

In such cases, however, it is important to allow a few weeks of separation before doing so.

Breeding Tank Setup for Ram Cichlids

You should get an aquarium of at least 30 gallons, which should be set up as well as possible. If you can only provide them with a smaller tank, 15-20 gallons, you should be happy with just a couple.

It is important to provide digging-friendly material for the bottom of the aquarium, such as aquarium sand, as they like to dig holes for themselves during the breeding process.

Also put in flat stones where they can lay their eggs. Breeding slates may also be suitable for this purpose.

Try to plant only the back section, to give them the space they need to move around. They are not at all bothered by a stronger light, so you can plant species with more intense light requirements, but they should have 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to promote reproduction.

However, when choosing and placing decorative elements, make sure that they are not trapped anywhere, under any circumstances, because if you spot trouble too late, it can easily kill them.

Ram Cichlids Water Parameter

Ram cichlids are more likely to reproduce if the water is soft and fairly acidic. Keeping peat moss is best for softening.

As far as acidity is concerned, a pH of 5.5 – 6.5 is most ideal. During this time, the water temperature should also be fairly warm, 82°F.

To maintain their health, it is crucial that, in addition to biological filtration as effective as possible, a minimum of two water changes per week is never neglected.

Low nitrate (No3) levels are of paramount importance in their case.

Try to avoid reaching into the water or causing any disturbance, as spawning will not occur in stressed, stressed individuals.

Ram Cichlid Spawning

If both the female and the male swim erratically, pushing, spinning and crawling towards each other, showing increased aggression, it is a sign that spawning is about to begin.

Usually, the pair either clears a rock or digs a hole in the substrate near a stone where the female will eventually lay the eggs.

However, farmed varieties will very often spawn in the social pool, sometimes in water with a total hardness of 16-17 nk, if conditions are right (live food, water quality, temperature). In such cases, eggs are most often laid not in a small pit dug into the substrate, but on a landmark, a flat stone, a built-in background or even on a large leaf of a plant.

They may be slow to spawn or may not want to start spawning at all.

It is important not to panic. Try to feed them with good quality nutrients for a few weeks, followed by a big water change.

It is also a good idea to raise the water temperature a few more degrees, gradually.

This will usually stimulate spawning.

Ram Cichlid Eggs

They can lay up to three hundred sticky eggs. They stick to anything or anywhere they are laid.

The male ram cichlid then fertilizes the eggs. If conditions are right, the eggs should hatch within 40 hours of fertilization.

Unfortunately, however, this process needs to be monitored even more closely than the others, as these fish are not exactly renowned for their parental instincts. It could also be said that their nurturing instincts are very poor, having almost completely faded during the breeding process.

One of the main reasons for this is that they reproduce continuously, almost at a crawl.

In practice, this means that the eggs are guarded, cared for and fanned by their parents for only 24-36 hours, and as time goes on, they receive less and less attention, sometimes even being pecked.

For the reasons mentioned above, it is advisable to remove the eggs from the parents within 24-26 hours of spawning and incubate them separately in soft (<8 nk), acidic water (pH 6) with heavy spraying.

The incubation time in the water at 82°F is about 55-65 hours. Swimming takes place on day four after hatching. As the freshly swum fry are small, the first larvae should be either freshly hatched salt crab larvae or small Cyclops nauplius.

Ram Cichlid Fry Care

As I have just mentioned, ram cichlids are not very good at parenting. Not only after the eggs are laid, but also after the ramizeri fry hatch.

One of the main problems is that they are unable to keep their offspring in an even row. Rather, they form a large, loose cloud that swarms around the parents. Within a day or two, this becomes almost unmanageable for the parents due to the high number of offspring and their gradually increasing independence.

With this in mind, we need to be prepared to raise the newly separated babies, as they are still very young. It is important to provide them with quality food that they can easily consume.

The first supplementary food we need to provide is live micro-worms. These tiny worms are the perfect size for baby Ram Cichlids. They make a great food source and are easy for them to consume.

The uneaten worms can live on the bottom of the tank until they are consumed, which also helps in this situation.

After a few days, the fry can consume the newly hatched brine shrimp. From this point onwards, their growth rate starts to increase significantly.

During the first period, it is advisable to feed them 3-4 times a day.

However, if you are determined to force the parents to raise their offspring themselves, it is important to use a separate aquarium that is only inhabited by the species.

Once the individuals are large enough, if you feel like it, you can try to trade or even sell some of them at your local fishmonger, as there is a steady demand for this species.

Although you won’t make a big profit, it’s good to know that as a home fish farmer you have some earning potential for your fish.


In summary, these specimens are not only showy in our aquariums, but they are not difficult to look after. They are also a very interesting challenge for the more advanced hobbyist.

And if we consider sharing them with others, we might even be able to make some money from them.

However, this requires following all the steps necessary to breed them and exercising due diligence.

Ram Cichlids   Updated: October 18, 2021
avatar Hello, my name is Fabian, and I am the Chief Editor at Aquarium Nexus. I have over 20 years of experience in keeping and breeding fish. The aquarium hobby brings me immense joy, and I take great pleasure in sharing my experiences with others.

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