I'm relatively new to the dwarf cichlid world only bout a year. The pH you speak up is more in the area of my East African then the Apistos. Off the very top of my head the highest pH wise would have to be something like a cacatuoides or Borellii but, they are not usually up around 8 at all.
As for Rams being fragile. Hmm mine aren't and you are talking about dwarf "Cichlids" so as far as always getting along with others. There is no guarantee of that. Hope this helps a little. Should bring out some of those who know a lot more.