Bolivian rams certainly do eat algae, which is massively helpful to your clean up process if you have an algae problem in your freshwater aquarium. They are not picky eaters either, and enjoy a balanced omnivore diet, enjoying shrimp, pellets, flakes, and vegetables, but eating anything that will fit in their mouths, for the most part.
Typically, bolivian rams will search the substrate of your tank for more food and will eat algae along with plant matter if they are not being fed enough, and sometimes even if they are!
Why Do Bolivian Rams Eat Algae?
The Bolivian ram cichlid is a notoriously greedy fish. Even when you measure out the correct healthy portion sizes for your fish, bolivian rams will still be searching for more. Due to them eating almost anything as well, this can be good and bad.
It can be good as they eat algae and other harmful bacteria that can damage your aquarium and community, and it can be bad because they can end up stealing other community members' food. Not only this, but overfeeding will result in more bio waste and therefore will result in a dirtier tank, where diseases are spread more quickly.
If you notice your bolivian ram is eating algae a lot, it could be down to them lacking certain nutrients that are derived from plant matter. Bolivian ram cichlids need a balanced diet, being omnivores, and if they are missing certain nutrients from their diet, they will simply find alternative sources elsewhere.
Not only are algae and vegetables healthy for your ram, but it actually helps brighten up their coloration, making them even more beautiful.
If you see your ram eating more algae than usual, observe your tank and make sure none of your bolivian ram's tank mates are stealing any of their food.
What Type of Algae Do Bolivian Rams Eat?
Bolivian rams are certainly not picky when it comes to their diet, which is why it may come as no surprise that they will eat pretty much all types of algae they can get in their mouths!
They prefer eating brine shrimp and sinking pellets, but will certainly eat algae too. Some common types of algae that bolivian rams are known to eat are hair algae, brown algae, black beard algae, and detritus algae.
Are Bolivian Rams Tank Cleaners?
Despite eating algae, bolivian rams are not considered to be tank cleaners, nor are they considered to be freshwater algae eaters. There is a difference between a tank cleaner and a bottom feeder. Bolivian rams are bottom feeders, which means that they prefer digging around the bottom of the tank for food such as algae, rather than the tank walls or on live plants.
Tank cleaners will also remove excess ammonia build-up by clearing the debris caused by it, unfortunately, bolivian rams do not do this. In fact, their excess eating will likely lead to ammonia levels increasing. So, no, they are not tank cleaners.
Do Bolivian Rams Eat Plants?
Fortunately, most bolivian rams will not uproot or destroy planted tanks for a bit of food, they have more respect than that! They will dig up substrates on occasion to make the most of leftovers, but this is good as it will mean your tank is cleaner. Usually, you can see them sifting through the sand using their gills.
If you see your bolivian ram biting off pieces of your plants, this is not their intention at all. They should be fed a balanced diet that consists of blended pellets with plant matter infused in them and if you see your rams eating plants it is because you are not feeding them properly. Feeding them vegetables like zucchini (courgette) and cucumber but boiling them is also a good option.
What Else Do Bolivian Rams Eat?
In the wild, bolivian rams reside in the tropical freshwaters of South America, where they eat shrimp, worms, and plant matter, which they find by sifting through the bottom of the water bed. They are not considered to be scavengers, but they will eat almost anything within reason! Additionally, their large mouths can certainly fit in shrimp and snails.
To create a healthy and balanced diet for your bolivian ram cichlids, you should feed your fish the following:
- Frozen tubifex
- Brine shrimp
- Any other types of shrimp
- Sinking wafers and pellets
- Algae wafers
If you do not have an algae problem in your tank and are staying on top of things, you can still feed your bolivian rams algae in the form of algae flakes. This way, they can still receive some of the nutrients they would normally get from eating live algae.
Important: a diet consisting of only algae will create an unhealthy imbalance in their diet, so make sure your rams are are still consuming a balanced diet.
What is a Healthy Bolivian Ram Diet?
No matter how much you feed your bolivian rams, they will continue to eat food by sifting through your substrate and other areas of the aquarium. However, when you feed them yourself, they need a balanced diet that consists of the following foods. Some are already mentioned above, but these six will give your rams a good cross-section of different foods for the best balanced diet:
- Brine shrimp
- Shrimp pellets
- Baby ghost shrimp
It is important to note that you should not feed them all of these foods in one sitting, you will need to vary their diet by feeding them some of the above each day, making sure that their food intake is different and varied from day to day. If there is no natural build-up of algae in your tank, then you can feed them algae wafers to supplement the lack of algae in their diet.
Here is a Bolivian Ram Food/Feeding Plan
From Monday to Friday, you should feed them a mixture of shrimp pellets with a boiled vegetable, and on Saturday you can treat them to some tubifex, bloodworms, or even brine shrimp. Sunday's can consist of algae wafers or some boiled vegetables.
Many hobbyists advise keeping bolivian rams off the meaty foods for at least one day a week when it comes to omnivores, although, it is not completely necessary.
Bolivian rams are certainly one of the most hungry freshwater fish out there, and will literally eat anything they makes sense to them. They are hardy fish and are more than capable of eating algae, which is great as it will keep your tank clean. Just don't rely solely on them for this. They are not known as tank cleaners and will not spend all day ridding your tank of algae and bacteria.
The most important takeaway from this is that bolivian rams should be fed a healthy and balanced diet, algae can certainly be a part of it, but make sure that your bolivian ram is being fed the correct foods the rest of the time.