Butterfly Cichlid

Dwarf cichlids enrich the lower living area of the aquarium. A particularly colorful species is the butterfly cichlid, which has lost none of its attractiveness since it was first introduced over 60 years ago. Here you can find out which requirements should be met in order for this pretty aquarium fish to work.


  • Name: Butterfly cichlid, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
  • System: Cichlids
  • Size: 5-7 cm
  • Origin: northern South America
  • Posture: medium
  • Aquarium size: from 54 liters (60 cm)
  • pH value: 6.5-8
  • Water temperature: 24-28 ° C

Interesting Facts About the Butterfly Cichlid

Scientific name

Ramirezi microgeophagus

Other names

Microgeophagus ramirezi, Papiliochromis ramirezi, Apistogramma ramirezi


  • Class: Actinopterygii (ray fins)
  • Order: Perciformes (perch-like) or cichliformes (cichlid-like) – the scientists currently disagree
  • on this
  • Family: Cichlidae (cichlids)
  • Genus: microgeophagus
  • Species: Mikrogeophagus ramirezi (butterfly cichlid)


Butterfly cichlids reach a maximum length of 5 cm (females) or 7 cm (males).


The head of the males is fully colored orange, the area behind the gills and on the front breast is yellow, merging into blue towards the rear. On the middle of the body and at the base of the dorsal fin there are large black spots, a black, wide band extends vertically over the head and through the eye. The cultivated form “Electric blue” is particularly attractive because it is blue all over the body. Gold-colored cultivated forms are also often offered.


These cichlids are found relatively far in the middle and upper Rio Orinoco in northern South America (Venezuela and Colombia).

Gender differences

The sexes are not always easy to distinguish. Usually, the colors of the males are stronger and the front spines of the dorsal fin are significantly longer. In many offspring and offers in the trade, the colors are very similar, and also the dorsal fin spines of the males are no longer. If the belly is reddish or purple in color, this is a clear sign that it is a female. These can also be fuller than the males.


Butterfly cichlids are open breeders. A suitable spot, preferably a flat stone, a pottery shard or a piece of slate, is first cleaned by both parents. After spawning, they also take turns looking after and guarding the eggs, larvae, and young ones, one speaks of a parent family. In an aquarium larger than 60 cm, a couple and a few guppies or zebrafish are used as “enemy factors” (nothing happens to them). In addition to the spawning area, there should be some plants and a small internal filter. The fry, which swims freely after about a week, can immediately eat newly hatched Artemia nauplii.

Life expectancy

The butterfly cichlid is about 3 years old.

Interesting Facts


In nature, only live food is eaten. Most of the offspring offered, however, often also accept granules, tabs, and fodder flakes as long as they sink to the bottom. Here you should ask the dealer what he is feeding and start slowly getting the fish used to other types of food.

Group size

How many pairs you can keep in an aquarium depends on its size. A base area of around 40 x 40 cm should be available for each pair. These areas can be demarcated by roots or stones. The males fight small disputes at the territorial boundaries, but these always end without consequences.

Aquarium size

An aquarium of 54 liters (60 x 30 x 30 cm) is enough for a single pair and a few by-fish in the upper water layers, such as a few smaller tetra or danios. But these colorful aquarium inhabitants also feel very comfortable in larger aquariums.

Pool equipment

Some plants provide some protection in case the female wants to withdraw. About half of the aquarium should be free swimming space, roots and stones can complement the facility. The substrate should not be too light.

Socialize butterfly cichlids

The socialization with all peaceful, approximately the same size fish is possible without any problems. The upper water layers in particular can be revitalized as a result, because butterfly cichlids are almost always in the lower third.

Required water values

The temperature should be between 24 and 26 ° C, the pH value between 6.0 and 7.5.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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