Balloon belly Ram: Diet, Breeding, LifeSpan, Behavior & Tank Mates

Balloon Belly Ram is one of the most beautiful and fascinating fish to have in one’s aquarium. Scientifically named Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, this special breed of cichlid fish may be too difficult to look after by beginner fish keepers.

When it comes to their preferred diet, they are known for eating all types of food. It’s why they are often classified as omnivores. 


Just like some other fish, a Balloon Belly Ram needs enough space to move around within the tank. You need to have a 22 – 25 gallon tank to make the fish comfortable. 

This post will provide a comprehensive piece of information about how to breed balloon belly rams even if you’re a beginner fish keeper. You’d also learn other key things such as their lifespan, typical behavior, and tank mates. 

Balloon belly Ram: Diet, Breeding, LifeSpan, Behavior & Tank Mates

Types of Balloon Belly Ram

When choosing the type of balloon ram for your fish tank depends on how colorful you want your aquarium to look. At the moment, the most common varieties are:

  • Gold rams
  • Electric blue rams
  • German blue rams

The gold balloon ram is commonly bred due to its bright yellow color and shortened body shape. Notwithstanding, they are all colorful. Any type of balloon belly ram you eventually decide to pick would look good in your tank. 

On the other hand, you’d also have to decide if you want to breed the female, male, or both. Usually, the females are thinner and don’t appear as bright as the males.

If you decide to keep both the male and female, it’s important you know that balloon belly rams are very intelligent fish and do not like to be forcefully paired with each other. Choosing a partner happens almost naturally for them. It’s not something you have to force. 


Behaviors of Belly ram

Balloon Belly Ram is usually calm and lovely. You’d often find the fish swimming gently in the middle and bottom of the aquarium. But interestingly, balloon belly rams can become aggressive during mating season. This is why it’s important to maintain a high ratio of females to males in the fish tank. This would significantly reduce the aggressiveness. 

Moreover, bear in mind that this fish can be territorial in the aquarium. This is one of the reasons why you can’t always pair males and females in the same tank. They tend to live peacefully with their species as long as there’s enough space for everyone to claim.

Also, you don’t need to keep balloon belly rams in couples. They can live alone and still thrive as long as the water parameters are right and they are appropriately fed.  

One of the fun aspects of breeding this fish is that it recognizes its owner. Unlike other similar fish, a balloon belly ram would often swim to the top of the aquarium expecting food as you approach them. 

Balloon belly ram care

Looking after your belly ram the right way is important. From the tank setup, and water parameters to feeding, you have to carefully carry out every duty. 

Tank set-up requirements 

Although balloon belly rams are typically small, they need enough room to live healthily. Surprisingly, the size of a tank can affect the lifespan of the fish. Hence, you need an aquarium that is big enough to house it without posing any risks.

For example, if you currently have an aquarium where you breed other kinds of fish, it would be very unwise to place a balloon belly ram in it. The best thing to do is build a separate tank that is big enough to accommodate it.

If you are breeding more than one belly ram, the tank certainly has to be bigger. Nevertheless, this isn’t something you have to overthink. A professional aquarium builder would definitely recommend the ideal size of tank your fish needs. 

Water parameter

Balloon belly Ram needs to live in somewhat acidic water. The range of the water PH should be 5.5 to 7.5. Most times, new fish keepers make the mistake of keeping the fish in cold water. When the temperature falls too low, it becomes difficult for the fish to fight against disease.

This means it could start falling ill often. To keep the temperature of your aquarium a little bit warm, you need a water heater. The water has to be at least 25 degrees Celsius. 

Tank mates 

Balloon Belly Rams are mostly gentle and would accommodate tank mates. However, when putting your belly ram with other fish, ensure that they all share similar tastes with the environment. Also, don’t place them together in a tank with much larger fish.

A balloon belly ram would often hide in fear or intimidation when it lives in the same aquarium with a fish that is big and hostile.

Some of the best tank mates for this fish are Guppies, Bolivian rams, Rummy nose tetras, Kuhli loach, Platies, Clown Loaches, and Corydoras.


Balloon Belly Rams don’t have a specific food they eat. As omnivores, they eat plants, certain flies, and other tiny creatures found in their habitat. However, you don’t have to be confused about what to feed your fish.

Just get omnivore-specific food items such as pallets, flakes, rare green vegetables, and some frozen items, especially the ones recommended by an aquarist. 

More importantly, don’t overfeed your fish. Belly rams can’t consume too much food at a time. Ideally, you should feed the pet what it can consume within 3 minutes, and you are meant to feed it only once a day.  

Balloon belly ram breeding

Balloon belly ram breeding is not entirely easy, but it can be less challenging when you know exactly what to do. Occasionally, breeding doesn’t require much effort from you when a pleasant couple of belly rams are naturally connected. They would do well to begin the procedure with or without your assistance. 

To ensure that your fish mate, it’s advisable to build a different mating tank for that purpose. This would increase your chances of successfully breeding new balloon belly rams. 

Here are some more specific tips to help you pull this off: 

  • Feed the couple meals high in protein. This will get them ready for spawning.
  • The separate breeding tank must be built with a microfiber filter and different areas for the female to lay her eggs. 
  • Maintain a warm environment (about 28 to 30 degrees Celsius).
  • During mating, the female deposits her eggs while the male fertilizes them later on. Balloon belly rams typically watch over their eggs until they are fertilized. But occasionally, some Balloon belly rams may eat the eggs. It’s important you carefully observe and evacuate such types from the tank. 
  • Eggs usually hatch within three days. You have to start taking care of the babies after that. 

Lifespan of a balloon belly ram

Balloon belly rams don’t live very long. They usually have a lifespan of 24 – 48 months. It’s extremely rare to find a belly ram living beyond 2 years. This is why it’s highly important to look after the fish and ensure it’s healthy.

If the water parameter is not right, the fish may not live up to even a year. You have to prevent that from happening by following the aforementioned steps for taking care of a Balloon Belly Ram.

Read Also: Koi Fish Fins and Tails – Full Anatomy, Diseases & Treatment

Final words on Balloon Belly Ram Breeding

Balloon belly rams are beautiful and quiet fish. Your major concern should be the water condition. Due to their highly sensitive nature, belly rams find it very difficult to cope with an unconducive environment. Always maintain steady water conditions to keep your fish healthy. 

Also, Balloon belly rams are not ridiculously expensive. You won’t have to spend a ton of money purchasing any of the striking color variations.


What’s the size of a Balloon belly ram?

Balloon belly rams are small fish. They are 2 – 4 inches in size. 

How often do Balloon belly rams eat?

They can eat once a day and live fine. However, you can choose to split a day’s meal in two; feeding morning and evening. 

Can balloon belly rams live in cold water?

Cold water is very inappropriate for belly rams. They can only survive in lukewarm water. Hence, your aquarium should have a heater that keeps the water warm moderately. 

Do Balloon belly rams live up to two years?

Balloon belly rams can live up to two years, but that’s not guaranteed. Sometimes, they don’t live past 24 months. 


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