Rams have a stunning coloration, especially adult males. They have silver-gold bodies with yellow in the chest and throat and red markings in the eyes and fins with iridescent blue spots all over. They also have black markings, including a vertical stripe through the eye, and a spot on the dorsal fin and on the back. Females have some coloration, but it is usually lighter and subdued except when breeding as she will develop a violet blush on her belly.
"Rams" are some of the most popular and suitable cichlids for community aquariums. The genus Mikrogeophagus has two species, M. altispinosus and M. ramirezi, both of which can be found in the aquarium trade often. They stay fairly small and are peaceful unless they are breeding, making them suitable for many community aquariums with smaller or more docile tankmates like tetras, danios, rainbows, rasboras and many others.
Rams will spawn in the substrate, usually leaving their eggs on rocks or driftwood. They will protect the nesting area and fry aggressively. It is best to try and keep a pair, if possible. They tend to stay toward the bottom of the tank, seeking cover in plants, driftwood, or rock caves.
Feed them a variety of foods including flake, small pellet, and meaty frozen foods. If you would like to breed them, feed them a high protein diet including small frozen foods. Rams are sensitive to water quality, so be sure you keep up with maintenance and try to keep the parameters pristine. M. ramirezi is found in softer water with a lower acidic pH (under 6.0) while M. altispinosus can be kept in more neutral conditions. Neither handle fluctuations in water quality or temperature or poor water quality well and can be vulnerable to disease and parasites if not kept properly.