Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

5 Tank Mates for Bolivian Ram Cichlids (With Pictures)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

bolivian ram cichlid in aquarium

Bolivian Ram Cichlid, also known as the Bolivian Ram or Bolivian butterfly, is a calm, peaceful, and exciting fish. It is a freshwater fish from the Cichlid family, and it’s known for its striking appearance and intriguing behaviors. Its scientific name is Mikrogeophagus altispinosus.

These fish are popular among aquarium hobbyists because they are easy to care for. Because of their shy demeanor, they rarely bother other fish in your tank; therefore, they make great additions to a community fish tank. From yellow to red and silvery blue colors, Bolivian Rams definitely stand out in your tank, but which tank mates can co-exist with this fish species? Let’s take a look at the compatible breeds.

tropical fish 2 divider

The 5 Tank Mates for Bolivian Ram Cichlids

Bolivian Rams appreciate the company of other fish. They prefer to be in pairs or larger groups of four to eight fish. As a calm species, the tank mates should not threaten or compete with it for hiding places and shelter.

Here are some of the best tank mates.

1. Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon Innesi)

neon tetra
Image Credit: Kristiana Berzina, Shutterstock
Size 1.2–1.5 inches (3–4 cm)
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size 20 gallons (80 L)
Care Level Easy
Temperament Peaceful and timid

The Neon Tetra can exist with the Bolivian Ram Cichlid because it’s peaceful. This species is colorful and very easy to pet. Since they prefer to live in a shoal of fish, they enjoy co-existing and being friendly with other tank mates as long as they are not larger and aggressive.

Introducing the Neon Tetra to your Bolivian Ram will work because they will not disturb each other or attack.

2. Guppy Fish (Poecilia Reticulata)

guppy fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Piqsels
Size 0.6–2.4 inches (1.5–6 cm)
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size 5 gallons (19 L)
Care Level Easy
Temperament Peaceful

Guppies can live in a community tank with other small and passive-natured fish that will never harm each other. They’re compatible with the Bolivian Rams because they have the same temperament. Guppies are active species that swim fast in the fish tank.

As long as they are housed with non-aggressive breeds like the Bolivian Rams, they will co-exist peacefully.

3. Tiger Barb (Puntius Tetrazona)

Tiger barb
Image Credit: Grigoriev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size 2 inches (5 cm)
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size 13 gallons (50 L)
Care Level Moderate
Temperament Sometimes Aggressive

The Tiger Barb is one of the most popular breeds. It’s an active schooling fish and should be kept with a group of six species or more. If the school is under six species, the Tiger Barb can become aggressive and start nipping fins.

The Tiger Barb can live peacefully with the Bolivian Ram as long as there are several in the tank. If you don’t decrease the school, the Barb will be calm.

4. Rummy Nose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus)

Rummynose Tetra
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size 2–2.5 inches
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size 20 gallons (80 L)
Care Level Moderate
Temperament Peaceful

Rummy Nose Tetras are compatible with other peaceful breeds for community aquariums. It will get along with the Bolivian Ram because they don’t have aggressive behaviors. The size is also not threatening because the Tetras can get stressed when there are larger breeds.

These two fish have the same personality and can co-exist peacefully. In addition, they thrive well in a similar tank size of 20 gallons.

5. Platy (Poecilia)

Red Wagtail Platy
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock
Size 1.5–2.5 inches (4-6 cm)
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size 10 gallons (40 L)
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

Even though they are not shoaling or schooling fish, Platties are much happier when housed in small groups. Platy fish spend their time swimming in small groups. They are not usually aggressive and are a perfect choice as a tank mate for Bolivian Ram Cichlids.

Platties and Bolivian Rams can get along in a community aquarium because of their size and similar personalities.

tropical fish 2 divider

What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Bolivian Ram Cichlid?

When choosing a tank mate for your Bolivian Ram Cichlid, you need to consider several factors.

  • Temperament: Naturally, Bolivia Rams are calm and peaceful fish. Therefore, when introducing other species, you must select ones with the same personality. Aggressive breeds will not be suitable since they will most likely attack your Bolivian Rams.
  • Size: The size of the tank mates is also crucial. Smaller-sized fish are considered food and are more likely to be swallowed. When adding a tank mate for the Bolivian Ram, get a breed of the same size.
  • Needs and Requirements: If you are running a community aquarium with different species, you must have tank mates with the exact needs in one aquarium. This makes it easier to manage. When you have different species with different requirements, it becomes a challenge to keep them together. A good tank mate has the same nutritional and environmental requirements.

Where Do Bolivian Ram Cichlids Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

When keeping Bolivian Ram Cichlids, you need a tank of around 20–30 gallons since they need plenty of room to swim and explore. Depending on how many fish you have, you may need a larger aquarium. Overcrowding your Bolivian Rams could lead to diseases and stress.

In the aquarium, the fish live in the middle and bottom of the tank. They prefer being in open spaces as they look for hiding spots. They don’t like disturbing the substrate when looking for food; therefore, you should create several open spaces at the center of the tank to allow your fish to dart around without any issues.

When adding other tank mates, you must ensure the Bolivian Ram’s chosen habitat does not threaten them. If the other breeds tend to get aggressive because of space, they may become problematic and are not well suited to be tank mates.

butterfly cichlid
Image Credit: Kullerkeks, Pixabay

Water Parameters

The Bolivian Ram Cichlid originated from South America in the Amazon River Basin. In their natural habitat, they are found mainly in Bolivia and inhabit freshwater bodies throughout Brazil. They are tolerant, hardy breeds and easily adapt to different water conditions. To provide your Bolivian Ram with the best conditions, it’s best to mimic their natural environment. This includes the decorations you add to the aquarium.

These fish are used to living in habitats with plenty of submerged roots and branches that act as shade. Therefore, you should also provide shade in the fish tank. In the wild, Cichlids live in slow-moving water. You need to add a filter that offers a perfect balance between maintaining minimal water flow and filtration.

The freshwater bodies they inhabit in the wild are typically warm and acidic. The ideal pH levels in the aquarium should be 6.0–7.5. You can use litmus paper to check these levels and ensure they don’t change. Your aquarium should have a water temperature of 72 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (22–26 Celcius).

The water hardness should be 0 to 10 dKH. In addition, Bolivian Rams are sensitive to the level of nitrates. Therefore, before you add the fish to your tank, ensure the nitrate level is as low as possible.


Bolivian Ram Cichlids are typically small and can grow around 3 inches long when fully grown. They display sexual dimorphism. Males tend to be bigger than females, with pointed dorsal fins and longer filaments along the tail than their counterparts. Because of that, males can get slightly larger and grow up to 3.5 inches (8.8 cm). Females often stay closer to 2.5 inches (6.3 cm).

butterfly ram cichild
Image Credit: dasistwer, Pixabay

Aggressive Behaviors

In general, Bolivian Ram Cichlids are calm and non-aggressive breeds. Compared to their other Cichlid cousins, they are tamer. The family of Cichlids is known for its aggressive behaviors and as a bully in the aquarium. However, the Bolivian Ram’s idea of aggression presents as a bark instead of a bite. During breeding, Bolivian Rams can show aggression. They only exhibit these aggressive behaviors to fish that come close to the breeding area.

Conflicts sometimes arise inside the fish school, but it’s usually harmless. Male Bolivian Rams initiate fights to prove their place in the hierarchy or when they are trying to claim a new or higher position. Since they don’t engage in fierce conflicts, you’ll often spot them hiding behind the plants. The fish have a peculiar swimming style when looking for food. They look graceful and swim quickly when trying to evade predators in the fish tank.

divider: bubbles

The 3 Benefits of Having Tank Mates for Bolivian Ram Cichlid in Your Aquarium

If you have a Bolivian Ram Cichlid, you can introduce the compatible breeds for various reasons. You can enjoy the following benefits as long as they are comfortable living together.

1. Breeding

If you are considering breeding, you can introduce other Bolivian Rams to your aquarium. You’ll need to confirm the gender of each of them so that the breeding can be successful. Once they start breeding, you can move the parents to separate tanks because they can become aggressive.

2. Companionship

Some fish enjoy living in schools. Therefore, housing them with the Bolivian Rams and other species provides them companionship. In addition, most fish are very intelligent and active; they can suffer from boredom when not engaged. Having other fish around keeps them content.

a pair of Bolivian ram cichlids in the aquarium
Image Credit: DMITRII STARTCEV, Shutterstock

3. Aesthetics

Adding different fish to your aquarium brings color to your home or office. Most pet fish, including the Bolivian Ram, have striking and beautiful colors. Having them together in one fish tank will bring life into your home. You’ll enjoy watching them swim, which is also a perfect stress reliever.

What Type of Food Should You Feed Your Bolivian Ram Cichlid?

Bolivian Rams are easy to feed because they are not fussy eaters. They are omnivores and will eat everything you provide them. Their diet mainly comprises small invertebrates, seeds, riverbed detritus, and other plant matter in the wild. In the aquarium, you’ll spot them sifting through the substrate, looking for food. They can also eat the plant material in the fish tank.

Because they love staying in the bottom and the middle of the aquarium, you can feed them fish pellets such as Wardley Pond Pellets and flakes such as TetraMin Tropical Flakes. Pellets sink in the tank more than flakes; hence, the portion should be increased. You can supplement their diet with chopped earthworms, bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, white worms, tubifex, and blanched vegetables.

The worms and shrimps can either be frozen or live. Bolivian Rams are hearty feeders, and you can feed them small portions throughout the day. Feed them two to three times to ensure they get the necessary nutrients. Also, you should avoid overfeeding your fish. Adding a lot of food to the tank can lead to weight problems.

In addition, the food, especially the worms, should be broken into smaller pieces to make it easier for your fish to eat. When a lot of food is left uneaten, it rots and increases the ammonia levels in the water, leading to disease and infection.

tropical fish 2 divider


Bolivian Ram Cichlids are an excellent choice for your aquarium. They are a suitable species for beginners due to their peaceful nature. They are relatively calm and can get along with peaceful fish breeds in community aquariums. Therefore, when introducing any new species, it’s best to confirm they are not aggressive.

Cichlids prefer to live in the middle or bottom part of the aquarium. When feeding them, it’s best to choose foods such as pellets that sink to the bottom to keep them healthy. Unlike other breeds in the Cichlid family, they don’t carry any aggressive behaviors except during breeding. If you are starting out as a hobbyist for a community aquarium, the Bolivian Ram Cichlid is a perfect choice.

Featured Image Credit: chonlasub woravichan, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database