Mikrogeophagus altispinosus

Common Names: Altispinosus, Bolivian ram, hifin ram. (Note than hifin morphs of M. ramierezi are also called hifin rams.) In the same way that all Pelvicachromis species are often called “kribs” (a name based on an earlier name for the original species in the hobby, P.

Type Locality: RÍo MamorÉ, below mouth of RÍo GuaporÉ, San Joaquin, Bolivia

Range: South America: Amazon River Basin, in the GuaporÉ River drainage in Brazil and Bolivia, and in the MamorÉ River drainage in Bolivia

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Crenicara altispinosa. You may also see it referred to as Papiliochromis altispinosus or misspelled as Microgeophagus altispinosus. The genus was erected for the two ram species, separating them from the genus Apistogramma.

Size: 8 cm (3 inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical freshwater. Fairly adaptable to various hardness and pH values. Does not require the very warm, soft, acidic water needed by M. ramirezi; normal tropical aquarium parameters are fine.

Difficulty: A fairly hardy aquarium species, much more suitable for a typical community tank than the “other ram,” the more well known M. ramirezi. Like its congener, the Bolivian ram requires high water quality, however, and good filtration with frequent water chang

Tank Setup: A planted tank with caves, driftwood, or artificial hideaways is perfect. Tankmates should be peaceful and large enough not to be seen as food. Spawning typically takes place on a flat rock or other substrate.

Feeding: A sandsifting omnivore. Will take almost any aquarium food. Live foods are a special treat and excellent for conditioning breeders.

Breeding: Not difficult to breed. It is best to allow pairs to develop within a group of juveniles. Like many other rainforest dwarf cichlids, this fish can often raise a brood in a community aquarium without excessive loss of fry and without the parents battering their tankmates. A dedicated breeding aquarium of 20 gallons or so is, of course, optimum for maximum yield. Free-swimming fry are able to take baby brine shrimp immediately.

Fish Description

Less intense than but similar in color to M. ramirezi, it has a pleasing pattern of gold belly on an iridescent bluish body with red highlights on the fins, a thin dark bar down the face through the eye, and a dark splotch in the middle of the body.


This is an underappreciated species in the aquarium hobby. Its smaller congener is much better known and more widely available, which is unfortunate, since the Bolivian ram is not as finicky when it comes to temperature and water chemistry. It is definitely worth looking for this species if you want a colorful, peaceful dwarf cichlid for a planted community. Or, if you have had trouble maintaining rams and would like something similar that is not as demanding, the Bolivian ram may be just the thing for you!