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Related FAQs: Fancy Basses, Subfamily Anthiinae, Anthiines 2, Anthiine Identification, Anthiine Systems, Anthiine Selection, Anthiine Compatibility, Anthiine Behavior, Anthiine Feeding, Anthiine Disease, Anthiine Reproduction,

Related Articles: The Bass family, The Sunburst/Fathead Anthias, Red Sea Reef Slopes,
Anthiine Species Accounts:
Pseudanthias bimaculatus; the Twin or Two-Spot Fancy Bass by Bob Fenner
Pseudanthias squamipinnis; the Lyretail Fancy Bass by Bob Fenner
The Sunburst or Fathead Anthias, Serranocirrhitus latus by Bob Fenner

/The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

Fancy Sea Basses, The Anthiadinae

Part II To: Part I

Bob Fenner

Pseudanthias parvirostris Randall & Lubbock 1981, another Sunset Anthias. Indo-West Pacific: Mauritius, Maldives, Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. Also in Izu Islands and Palau. To 7.5 cm. A 5 cm. male from the Maldives by Hiroyuki Tanaka.

Pseudanthias pascalus (Jordan & Tanaka 1927), the Amethyst Anthias. Tropical Pacific. To six inches in length. Difficult to keep in captivity. Needs large systems, live-meaty foods. One in the Cooks, the other in Fiji.

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Pseudanthias pleurotaenia (Bleeker 1857), the Square-Spot Anthias. To eight inches in length. Western Pacific. One to a tank unless your system is huge (hundreds of gallons). Pictured are aquarium specimens, male and female. Can be shy at first, taking time to acclimate to captivity.
And wild specimens of P. pleurotaenia photographed off of Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
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Pseudanthias privatera Randall & Pyle 2001, To about 8 cm. Eastern Central Pacific: Cook Islands. Aq. pix.
Pseudanthias randalli Lubbock & Allen 1978, Randall's Fairy Basslet. West-Central Pacific; Marshalls, Philippines to Micronesia. To 7 cm. total length. Male and female in Mabul, Malaysia.
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Pseudanthias regalis Randall & Lubbock 1981. Eastern-Central Pacific; Marquesas. Pic taken in Nuka Hiva of a male and a male and female.
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Pseudanthias rubrizonatus (Randall 1983), the Redbar Anthias. To four inches in length. West Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean. As Anthiines go, a hardy, yet aggressive species. This one in a hobbyist's aquarium.
Pseudanthias squamipinnis (Peters 1855), the Lyretail Anthias. Red Sea to western Pacific. To four and a half inches in length. A tough, but sometimes mean aquarium species. At right: Male and females shown Aquarium and Red Sea. Below, males in N. Sulawesi, Red Sea, Fiji, Mauritius. This species is highly likely a cluster, more than one individual species.
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Pseudanthias taeniatus Klunzinger 1884, the Striped or Red Sea Anthias. A Red Sea endemic. To five inches overall length. Below, two males (with the white lateral stripe) and female shown, photographed at Sharm el Sheik. Formerly placed in the genus Anthias.
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Pseudanthias tuka (Herre & Montalban 1927), the Purple Anthias. Western Pacific. To five inches overall length. A difficult species to keep in captivity, docile, and given to feeding strikes and color loss... if it lives. Pictured: a group at right in Australia. Below are males in captivity and Bunaken, Indonesia, and a female off Australia. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/ CountrySpeciesSummary.cfm?Country=Indonesia&Genus=Pseudanthias &Species=tuka
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Pseudanthias ventralis (Randall 1979), the Longfin Anthias. Two subspecies recognized, P. v. ventralis in the western Pacific, P. v. hawaiiensis about Hawaii. Deepwater species, very common between 300-400 feet! Hardy when kept in dim lighted systems. Captive male and female shown.
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Genus Rabaulichthys; Sailfin Anthias: 3 Species

Rabaulichthys suzukii Masuda & Randall 2001. Northwest Pacific: Japan. To 6.4 cm. overall length. Found hovering over rocky bottoms, feeding on zooplankton. Aquarium photos of a female and male by Hiroyuki Tanaka.

Sacura margaritacea (Hilgendorf 1879). To more than the 13 cm. stated on fishbase. At least to fifteen cm. Southern Japan and Taiwan. 15-50 m. depth. Interzoo 08 pic. http://fishbase.org/summary/Species

Genus Serranocirrhitus; the Fathead Anthias:

Serranocirrhitus latus Watanabe 1949, the Fathead or Hawkfish Anthias. Deep bodied, and to about five inches in the wild. Shy, though hardy for the subfamily. Resides in caves by day. Need hiding spaces in captivity and peaceful tankmates. Image taken in Bunaken, Indonesia.

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Genus Trachypoma; Monotypic

Trachypoma macracanthus Gunther 1859, the Toadstool Grouper. Southwest Pacific. To eight inches in length. An "oddball" bass that occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade, as this wholesale specimen photo attests.

Natural Range

Tropical reefs in the Red Sea, Indian and Pacific. Shallows to a few hundred feet.


Three to six inches (7.5-15 cm.) total length.

Selection: General to Specific

Due to cost and variability of temperament within the group, the different species available should be investigated thoroughly before investing. Some individuals, populations, shipments, species are touted as being touchy, hardy, impossible... all are "challenging" to keep.

I am in agreement with Michael (1991) in not suggesting the necessity of group purchase and husbandry. The various Anthiines live in large aggregations with a definite pecking order that is not replicable or desirable in captive care. If you want to buy a colorful male, only buy one. Similarly, unless you have a very large tank, more than one (or two) females is unnecessary and may well lead to endless fighting and loss. If you lose your only or alpha (dominant) male, the next most dominant specimen will in time change sex to take it's place.

House only one species to a system. If at all possible, acquire all individuals at the same time from the same batch. I have seen all species offered in the trade maintained solitarily for extended periods of time. Solitude is not deadly to them.

Amongst a group, choose the most outgoing individual(s). Leave skulkers behind. Avoid specimens that have a poor index of fitness (that are skinny); particularly one's that are thin behind the head. As always, confirm the specimen is feeding.

Recent introductions will hide for days to weeks. Try coaxing them out with live foods and be patient.

Be leery of obviously damaged specimens of this sub-family. They rarely rally back to health. Here an injured Anthiine at SIO's Birch Aquarium.

Environmental: Conditions


It is extremely important to optimize environmental mediation in reducing stress and preventing over-aggression. Exaggerate the physical break-up of the environment. If you're attempting to house more than one specimen per system, constant vigilance is demanded.

Utilizing biological cleaners, facultative or obligate is strongly suggested. Cleaner shrimps in the genus Lysmata are frequently cited as valuable.


The group enjoys clean, consistent water quality in all areas where they are collected. They will not tolerate anything less in captivity. Optimal "reef" conditions are required.


The absence of aggressive fellow tankmates is re-emphasized. Some species are notorious jumpers. Cover all openings.


Most of the shallow water species live in areas of tremendous wave action. They appreciate the same in your care. Movement of water cannot be too vigorous to suit them. Take a look at the posters/photos offered of schools of fancy bass in the wild. Note the explosive surge of water. Some species are found at the fringe of "breaking" reefs, experiencing the full force of open ocean currents and waves.


Very interesting to watch. Active, quick to respond to any stimuli. Males challenge all apparent challengers, wrap themselves U-shape around females.


Anthiines are very easily spooked on new introduction. Keep lights low and leave an outside light on for a good day or two. Keep your hands out of the system as much as possible and entirely at the onset.

Watch other fishes for aggressive behavior toward your fancy bass. If practical, introduce them first.

Predator/Prey Relations

Fancy bass are a standard food item for almost all predatory reef organisms big enough to stalk and catch them. Larger piscivorous organisms will devour them like so many gum-drops.

Reproduction, Sexual Differentiation:

Amongst basses, the Tukas are notable for being sexually dichromic and dimorphic, having color and structural differences between males and females. The more mature individual males are larger, more colorful, and in many species sport a few elongate dorsal spines. (see photo)

Feeding/Foods/Nutrition: Types, Frequency, Amount, Wastes

Fancy sea basses feed aggressively on any fine meaty foods. In the wild, crustaceans, fish eggs and larvae. The more frequent and smaller the feedings, the better. Naturally this group is constantly on the prowl; mind that they do not get thin.

Live foods may have to be offered at first. Food supplements are well worth the effort. Will accept dry-prepared foods; cannot be sustained on them or brine shrimp alone. At right, a/the principal cause of loss of Anthiines: Starvation. Here a Pseudanthias bicolor from Hawai'i has become too thin to likely rally. Keep them feeding!

Disease: Infectious, Parasitic, Nutritional, Genetic, Social

Unfortunately this group as a whole is very susceptible to bacterial and protozoan infections, which any amount of stress seems to trigger. My experiences with fancy basses differ from work by other authors; I've found they are sensitive to acute poisoning by the most common curatives; copper compounds, malachite and formalin. Prevention and the use of biological cleaners are emphasized.

Losses from "social disease" are extremely common... With housing more than one specimen or crowding, the lowest fish on "the totem pole" are lost, with the next lowest sub-dominant individual next in line: Below are examples of a more dominant female and lower dominance one on the way out. Don't let this happen to you... Either purposely overcrowd the hardy species with just females, keep them singly, or just a few to as large a tank as possible.

Some delightful half inch juvenile Pseudanthias species hanging out in the protection of a vase sponge; while a large school of sweepers zooms past at upper left. Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia. 2014

A more dominant female Pseudanthias squamipinnis, and a doomed individual of a "last in line" dominance hierarchy.



Anthiines can make a striking, albeit challenging, addition or a nice display on their own. Read up, provide them with an adequate, peaceful environment and frequent, appropriate feeding and you will be successful in their care.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Burgess, Warren E. Salts from the seven seas. A general piece on the "butterfly perches". TFH June 1974.

Carlson, Bruce A. 1979. The Longfin bass, Anthias ventralis, Randall, 1979. FAMA 8/84.

Fenner, Robert. 1995. The fancy sea basses; subfamily Anthiinae. FAMA 6/95.

Michael, Scott W. 1991. The Fathead Anthias (Serranocirrhitus latus) Watanabe. FAMA 10/91.

Michael, Scott W. 1991. The Anthias: Jewels of the Reef. AFM 12/91.

Nelson, Joseph S. 1984. Fishes of the World. 2nd Ed. Wiley.

Pyle, Richard L. 1989. Lori's Fancy Sea Bass Pseudanthias (Mirolabrichthys) lori (Lubbock and Randall). FAMA 6/89.

Pyle, Richard L. 1989. Bartlett's' Anthias Pseudanthias bartlettorum, Randall and Lubbock. FAMA 9/89.

Pyle, Richard L. 1991. The Hawaiian deep Anthias Holanthias fuscipinnis (Jenkins). FAMA 12/91.

Randall, John E. 1983. A new fish of the genus Anthias (Perciformes: Serranidae) from the Western Pacific with notes on Anthias luzonensis. FAMA 9/83.

Randall, John E. 1989. Shen's Anthias Pseudanthias sheni Randall and Allen. FAMA 11/89.

To: Part I

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