I have found that in blue rams, the females have a tinge of pink on the belly. The males have more of an orange tinge or blue. Also the dorsal fin on the male is usually higher than the females. You can really tell them apart when they get ready to breed. Their colors become really intense and the pink in the female gets much more intense. You may also notice black vertical stripes become prominent. They will pick a spot to lay the eggs, do a little mating dance and the female will fill with eggs. Once the eggs are laid you will see one or the other. So far, my male has been the primary care taker of the eggs. The female relieves him when it is feeding time. I have yet to rear a clutch to maturity. I can never get both the eggs and the parents out of the tank. They keep trying though.
I have successfully kept rams in a 200 L tank. It is very difficult to find exotic tropicals here in Indianapolis, but I was able to find a male and female that got along well and even breed. I was not able to give the time necessary to raise ram babies but to see these fish fanning their eggs was the greatest moment of my fish keeping hobby!
Rams are my favorite tropical of all. I´ve been breeding Blue and Bold Rams for 2 years now. I have learned, it seems, all that I can from books. I love Rams so much that I continually search for new and advanced information about them. Rams are a very exciting creature. They squabble quite often, although I have only once ever seen a fight that ended in badly torn fins and such. Most fights are just bluff fights that end quickly without consequence, save for hurt feelings. Ones that last a touch longer are circumstances where a male has just been put in with another male that has already taken over the territory. Rams have been overbred in the sense that very little wild blood has been introduced into the domestic Rams of today. My strains are very large, uniform, and colorful in such ways that most cannot imagine. I continually work on bettering my strains with wild specimens and strive for the utmost perfection in my fish. Rams are fairly easy to keep but a little tougher to breed successfully. Newly free swimming fry, I´ve found, will eat newly hatched brine shrimp despite what the older cichlid books say. They are not too small to eat them. After 2-3 days of incubating, eggs will hatch. Three days later they become free swimming. Three months later they become sexually mature and their color starts coming in. Just to tell you how good my strains are, mine start coloring very well at two months. You can imagine what they look like at 3 then 4 then 5 then 6. Rams can live two to three and a half years. I know a guy that has one that is four years old, so he says. Anyway, their peak color is at about 11 months. I can go into so much more detail about so many diferent things about this little jewel, but it would take days to satisfy me. I would like to write a book on them some day.
I have had my 2 Blue Rams for about 3 months. I purchased one of the Rams even though he was blind in one eye (somebody has to take the unwanted). They are currently housed in a 225 liter hexagon with 3 Blue Gouramis (one male, two female), 2 Silver Dollars, 2 Clown Loaches and 1 Rainbow Shark. They are currently about 5 cm and really stick to themselves. They are quite beautiful when they puff out their bodies and show all their colors. I love their neon blue upper lip. I keep my pH at 6.8-7.0 and a temp of 27°C. I am using a Magnum 350 with bio wheel for filtration. The only concern I have for them is that they are always the last to eat. The Rams are very passive. They will wait at the bottom for flakes,brine or blood worms to fall, and rarely attempt to eat any algae discs or shrimp pellets. So far, a great community tank. I recommend Rams to anyone. My experience is that you get the benefits of cichlid colors without the aggression.
Rams really aren't too difficult to raise, they are TINY but still no problem. You can leave them with the parents when they are a few weeks old, or you can remove them or if they haven't hatched yet you can remove the eggs. But Rams are VERY good parents. You will need to feed them some micro food for the first few days, you can use LiquiFry or make your own. Put a lettuce leaf in a jar of water, place that into a sunny window. Within a few days the lettuce will look like something has been eating on it and the water will look kind of green this is a sign you have micro organisms in there. Just pour that into your tank they will eat them. After a few days of feed this micro stuff you can move onto BBS. Feed them 5-6 times per day. When you have them moved out alone you should do DAILY waterchanges of 10%, use a sponge filter with gentle aeration. Temp should be around 27°C. Always use a bare bottom tank for young fry. You can start to mix in some powdered fry foods into the diet. As they grow start introducing them to what you feed the parents.
In my experience Rams aren't as hard to keep as some books would say. I keep a pair in a 60 liter tank with cories, neons and even a large rainbowfish, and they have bred already. They're cichlids, so they have a few requirements. The male is territorial so other similar fish like bettas aren't recommendable - I had to remove my male betta before he mauled my Rams. However, you can keep males Rams together without much more than squabbling. They like a well established tank with driftwood and lots of plants, especially Amazon sword. Also, weekly water changes help a lot, and the tank shouldn't be overly bright; they'll be less colourful if it is.