What to Consider When Selecting Ram Cichlid Tank Mates - "Ram cichlid" by jhartshorn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
What to Consider When Selecting Ram Cichlid Tank Mates - "Ram cichlid" by jhartshorn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

When creating a thriving aquarium for ram cichlids, selecting suitable tank mates is a crucial consideration. Choosing compatible fish species ensures a peaceful and balanced ecosystem, promoting the well-being and natural behaviors of the ram cichlids. Alongside proper tank setup, including appropriate decorations, substrate, and plants, selecting the right ram cichlid tank mates plays a significant role in creating a harmonious aquatic environment. By carefully considering factors such as water parameters, temperament, and size compatibility, aquarists can create a captivating and vibrant tank that showcases the beauty of ram cichlids and their compatible companions.


When selecting ram cichlid tank mates, it is important to consider their compatibility in terms of water parameters, temperament, and size. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  1. Water Parameters: It is advisable to choose tank mates that have similar water requirements. Avoid pairing them with species that prefer vastly different water parameters, as it can cause stress and health issues for both the rams and their tank mates.
  2. Temperament: Rams are generally peaceful cichlids, but they can be territorial during breeding or if they feel threatened. Therefore, it is crucial to choose peaceful fish species that won’t harass or outcompete the rams for resources. Avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species that could harm the ram cichlids or induce stress.
  3. Size: Rams are relatively small cichlids, so it is essential to select tank mates that are of similar or smaller size. Larger fish may intimidate or prey upon rams, leading to stress and potential harm. Opt for small to medium-sized fish that can coexist peacefully with the rams.
  4. Swimming Levels: Rams usually inhabit the middle and bottom levels of the aquarium. Consider choosing tank mates that occupy different levels to utilize the entire tank space effectively. This will help reduce competition for territory and minimize conflicts.
  5. Species Compatibility: Some suitable tank mates for rams include small tetras (e.g., neon tetras, ember tetras), peaceful rasboras, corydoras catfish, and small peaceful bottom-dwelling species like otocinclus catfish. Additionally, some peaceful livebearers such as guppies and platies may also work well.
  6. Avoid Fast-Moving Fish: Rams have long, flowing fins that can make them susceptible to fin-nipping. Avoid fast-moving or fin-nipping species such as some barbs, danios, or some types of tetras that could damage the rams’ delicate fins.

Always research the specific species you plan to keep and observe their behavior to ensure compatibility. Additionally, provide ample hiding spots and visual barriers with decorations and plants to create territories and reduce aggression among tank mates.

Good Ram Cichlid Tank Mates

Good tank mates for the different ram cichlids include peaceful community fish that can tolerate the same water parameters. Here are some popular options:

  1. Small Tetras: Neon tetras, cardinal tetras, ember tetras, and glowlight tetras are all excellent choices. They are peaceful, small in size, and their vibrant colors provide a beautiful contrast to the rams.
  2. Rasboras: Different kinds of rasboras, for example harlequin rasboras, are generally peaceful schooling fish that coexist well with rams. They are active swimmers and add movement to the middle and upper levels of the aquarium.
  3. Corydoras catfish: Corydoras catfish, such as the pygmy corydoras or panda corydoras, are small, peaceful bottom-dwelling fish that can help keep the substrate clean. They are also compatible with ram cihclids and share similar water requirements.
  4. Otocinclus catfish: Otocinclus, commonly known as otos, are small algae-eating catfish that are peaceful and great for controlling algae growth. They are compatible with rams and prefer the same water conditions.
  5. Guppies and platies: Some varieties of guppies and platies can coexist peacefully with rams.
  6. Gouramis: Some gouramis, for example dwarf gouramis, are relatively peaceful and can be suitable tank mates for rams. However, it is essential to monitor their behavior and provide adequate hiding spots as they may occasionally display territorial tendencies.

Remember to always introduce tank mates to the aquarium gradually and monitor their interactions closely. If any aggression or compatibility issues arise, be prepared to provide alternative arrangements or rehome problematic fish to ensure the well-being of all tank inhabitants.

What to Consider When Selecting Ram Cichlid Tank Mates - "Ram cichlid" by jhartshorn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
What to Consider When Selecting Ram Cichlid Tank Mates – “Ram cichlid” by jhartshorn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an aquarium for ram cichlids involves creating a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat. Here are some guidelines for setting up the tank:

  1. Tank Size: Rams are relatively small cichlids, but they still require adequate space. A 20-gallon (80 liters) tank or larger is recommended to provide enough swimming and territory space for a pair or small group of rams.
  2. Substrate: Rams prefer soft substrates such as fine sand or smooth gravel. A light-colored substrate can help bring out the vibrant colors of the fish and create a natural-looking setup. However, so can a dark substrate. Avoid sharp or rough substrates that can damage their delicate barbels.
  3. Decorations and Hiding Spots: Rams appreciate a well-decorated aquarium with plenty of hiding spots. Use a combination of driftwood, rocks, caves, and plants to create natural hiding places and territories. Provide flat rocks or flat pieces of driftwood for potential spawning sites.
  4. Plants: Rams are found in habitats with dense vegetation, so plants play an essential role in their aquarium setup. Opt for hardy plants such as Amazon swords, Java ferns, Anubias, and Vallisneria. These plants provide cover, create territories, and help maintain water quality. Floating plants like frogbit or water lettuce can also be added to diffuse lighting and create shaded areas.
  5. Lighting: Rams appreciate moderate lighting conditions. Choose a lighting system that provides a balance of light intensity and duration. Avoid excessive brightness or direct intense lighting, which may cause stress.
  6. Filtration and Water Flow: Ensure efficient filtration to maintain water quality and provide gentle water movement. Rams are not accustomed to strong currents, so use a filter with adjustable flow or baffle the outlet to reduce water flow if necessary.
  7. Water Temperature: Rams are tropical fish and prefer a water temperature range of 77-82°F (25-28°C). Use a reliable aquarium heater and thermometer to maintain a stable temperature.

When setting up the aquarium, allow it to cycle for a few weeks before adding the rams. This will establish beneficial bacteria and ensure a stable and healthy environment. Regular water changes and maintenance are crucial to keep the tank clean and the water parameters within the desired range.

Lastly, observe the behavior of the rams and make adjustments to the setup as needed. Providing a well-designed and suitable environment will promote the well-being and natural behaviors of your ram cichlids.


In conclusion, creating an ideal setup for a ram cichlid aquarium involves careful consideration of various factors. Providing suitable ram cichlid tank mates is crucial to ensure a harmonious and stress-free environment for the rams. Choosing peaceful species that share similar water parameters and avoiding aggressive or fin-nipping fish is essential for the well-being of both the rams and their tank mates.

When setting up the aquarium, selecting a spacious tank, soft substrate, and appropriate decorations is key. Creating hiding spots, utilizing driftwood, rocks, and live plants help establish territories and mimic the natural habitat of the ram cichlids. Maintaining water conditions within the desired range, including pH, temperature, and water flow, is vital for their health and comfort.

By incorporating compatible tank mates and providing a well-designed environment, aquarists can observe the rams’ vibrant colors, peaceful behaviors, and potentially witness their breeding activities. A thoughtfully curated ram cichlid tank, complete with suitable tank mates, enhances the overall beauty and dynamics of the aquarium, creating an engaging and captivating aquatic display.