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Advice needed: Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi Sex & Behavior


New Member
Hello people!

I'm new to this one. To the forum and Fish keeping. Especially with species named above.
I must admit - a pair of Rams I've got recently', is most interesting fish to observe so far.
Love the personalities. But as far as I am now, I also would like to understand their behavior and
I really need some hand to determine sex on one of them.

So long story short:
Recently introduced to my planted setup a pair of German Blue Rams (in my LFS sold as
Brood Stock Rams - if it makes any difference and for whatever it stands for). They were sold to
me as a pair of male and female. Now I'm not sure if the female is female, and if it is to be so, I
really need some advice to understand my pair behavior.

So.. short story long:

Keeping planted setups only 2,5 years. Fish was only for me as just an addition, as I really went into
planted thing with some succeeds and many fails and keep developing so on.

Recently decided to try out GBR. My tank is only 90L (60x40x40cm), so I thought it will be enough for
bunch of schooling fish (ember tetra), small bunch of pygmy corries and few inverts. Decided also for
a pair of RAM, to make it more attractive community tank.


I wish it would be as easy as I thought.

Now.. back to my confusion.

This is the pair of my new addition. Photos taken on the first day when I introduced this pair to my setup
(about week ago)



Went straight away on forums, as for me it was difficult to sex them. So far i have heard different opinions.
Even some links, with specific pointers, did not help to gain confidence if the smaller one is actually a female

Observations over a week so far:
1. Female (if female, I will assume she is for now) started to lose her colour. Male is chasing her.
I would not call it as a bully-thing. Looks like for very polite chasing. Not nipping fins. She tries to
resist sometimes. Both staring on each other with fins spread out. However, she is still trying to be close
to male. If male plays the game too much she find some place to hide for a time. When she comes
out - colour is back. Once male starts to chase her again - colour goes off in seconds. When it is feeding time - she comes back to full color. Really nice. But once male starts to chase - again - looses her colour no moment.
So, mainly when the lights are ON, she stays like electric blue ram - only neon spots on her.
2. Another observation is done on early mornings, when taking my breakfast, I'm just to turn ON my flash
spot light on phone and leave it on top. Then my usual plant fertilization starts and after - observation. I think
the suspected female feels safer at night time, as then she is in nice colour (in mornings). Also they both stick
more together and rubbing side by side on each other. Also noticed some lip-locking (again hoe good or bad it
is I'm not aware). Looks like she is more active when the lights are off, and more resistant to males behavior as
she stands up for herself.

So these photos were taken 2 days ago (about week after introduced in my tank)

Male, no doubts. love the male. Sometimes he turns very juicy colours on.

Female (if). This is the "I'm invisible" look, when no colours, as stated above, most of the time lights ON

And both of them

Also here is the video of behavior

And I took another video just now with feeding time. Just youtube isn't very
responsive and it takes ages to upload. I will add it as soon as it will upload.
In this video you can clearly see how well female changed the colour in feeding time

So over few different forums I had few different advises:
1. The smaller one is female, or the smaller one is actually male and might be not colouring up
as wants to be less visible to dominant male. I'm not an expert so cannot confirm either
2. Take the female back to LFS and exchange it to another one as they cannot pair (just mismatch)
3. Take another female from LFS and see if any will become as match for the male and the just re-home
2nd female
4. Exchange it to another pair, probably already paired in LFS (if possible). But I really like male, he is big, polite, looks healthy and in very nice colours.
5. No panic - just observe. If any damage starts to appear to the one chased - re-home it

As I have no clear vision and understanding of what's happening and how should I react I'm looking for some expert advice. It would be really appreciated to have one. It might be some simple explanation or suggestion,
but even if so - I'm stuck at the moment.

Thanks for your time and advice in advance


New Member
This is the second video. About the feeding time and colouring up

Sorry for peppa pig "soundtrack" :)


5 Year Member

Sexing mature Rams should be a "no brainer"
I'd say you have 2 males....small one looks like a female but no sign of pink in belly??
I find the best way to get a pair of Rams is find a shop that's about to get in some young Rams
Wait a week....then look for pairs in the corner
I'd buy 2 females(red bellies) and let the big male chose one.....then sell the other pair
Or if you have room....remove the smaller one and condition on live food....if it develops a pink belly its a girl, if not it a boy
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Active Member
5 Year Member
Hi Lauris + all..

I just want you to get one more opinion regarding the gender..
I agree with Rod..
You most probably have got 2 males..

BTW.. Nice Tank!! And nice pics!!:):)

.. Nice pic by you too Rod!! Now I want to get Rams again!!:D


New Member

I've seen in some articles the pink belly is a clear sign, but might appear only on spawning.How true it is I have no clue. Also I've seen info where says if you have a matching pair spawning could happen as often as once per every 2-4weeks. It looks like it will be easier for me either exchange the smaller one for one with clearly visible pink belly or just add one extra and observe what will happen.
Another thing is they could be very young and not ready yet? Especially the suspected female?

Mike Wise

Staff member
5 Year Member
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Strange comments. I've seen pink bellies on both sexes before - certainly on domestic strains. The best sex indicator, other than genital papillae, are the shape and spangling in the flank spot. Do a search here on past posts re: sexing Rams. It appears that you have one of each sex to me. The term "Brood Stock" usually means that these are older fish that previously were used as brood stock. Sudden color changes aren't too unusual in cichlids. Pale usually means submission. I hope you have them in a warm tank. Ideally they should be in water around 29°C/84°F. Low temperatures (lowered metabolism) make them more susceptible to infections. I don't know what these temperatures will do to plants. If you need to keep the Rams at a lower temp, just be careful keeping the tank at optimal conditions.


New Member
Your tank looks great! Stunning! Congrats on that!

My bet is they are both males. But, u can't be sure yet.

I've got a tank with 20 four month old Rams. The biggest are about 2cm by now. Really tiny (and cute:)).
Yet they already started mating. And most of the young females do have a pink belly by now.
On most of my males, the first and or second ray of the dorsal fin is elongated, while no female has this trait.
The females usually do have bigger/rounder bellies.
I have seen dozens of rams in different shops. All the females had pink bellies. Except for domesticated variants like "electric blue" or "gold".

Do your fish "kiss"? If they do, they are probably both males.
For how long do u have them now?

I made the experience, that Rams will mate as long as they are male+female. They are not complicated in their mating. If u got a male and female, they will get along very soon.
If u have 1 male and 3 females, he will mate with one after the other. He will just mate whatever female is ready. They are not picky at all.

Advice: go back to that shop and check if any of those have pink bellies. If there are pink bellies, you know u got two males. Ask the shopkeeper if u can swap in your second male for a pink belly.

If they dont have pink bellies in the shop, give them some more time and see what happens. If nothing changes within 2-3 weeks, try to get a fish with a pink belly somewhere and see what happens.


5 Year Member
Mike maybe correct....if he is, I wouldn't bother breeding them
There are a lot of domestic strains that are so inbreed(without culling rubbish) that normal sex indentifying features get lost
Many select fish on colour alone....but quality also is about correct body shape, good fin extensions, as well as robust demenor
Personally I only ever select fish with classic features....it's not hard to select quality fish, however it does take a little knowledge and patience(lots of rubbish about)
I can't understand why anyone would select poor quality breeding stock...breeding is easy, raising fry is the hard part, so you may as well start with quality
The fish in my photo were purchased at very small size...for a very cheap price....careful selected from 100 fish...they are the best Rams I've owned(classic body shape, good finnage and correct colour)....and I've had a few over the years. Not all features were evident when I bought them....but they did develop into a great example of the specie


New Member
Thanks to all involved. Following majority of advices yesterday exchanged suspected male/female to actual female with clearly visible difference in fins and pink belly. No more chasing and lip locking games so far. Also my trusted lfs confirmed it was a male. Male is twice as big as she. If not even bigger. I hope it will not cost any trouble to her. When she was introduced to tank he did not hold back to demonstrate who is the boss in this house. Now I see no agression. Female is still a bit pale in colour but I gues it's just the matter of time. Will keep monitoring if my male will be happy now.
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Hadfield, Sunny UK
Left looks female, pectol fins (sp) are shorter, the top fin can be misleading as some breeders are managing to get the females to develop longer ones too. Male on the right, longer pectol fins (sp). I've spent so much time sexing them recently, i'm finding it a bit easier to identify them..
Also bright blue tiny spots within main spot also an indicator of a female.
Edited to add, female looks stressed.
Last edited:

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