FAQs on Basslets/Gramma
Related Articles: Grammas,
Related FAQs: Grammas
1, Grammas 2, Gramma Identification, Gramma Behavior, Gramma Compatibility, Gramma Selection, Gramma Feeding, Gramma Health, Gramma Reproduction,
Royal Gramma and 20 Gallon Long
I have been out of the saltwater hobby for a few years. Sold my tanks
and equipment and gave away my books. Yes, it was dumb. I recently
purchased a 20 gallon long tank, thinking I would just go with
freshwater this time.
But after looking at all of the freshwater fish at my local LFS, I had
to go into the saltwater room. Again, dumb. I stayed away from the
larger fish, of course, but looked at the smaller fish. I had a royal
Gramma before, in a 55 FOWLR with two Ocellaris clowns. My
question is, would a royal Gramma be content in a 20 gallon tank, with
plenty of rock work, or is too small?
<Would likely work>
If it would work, I read Bob's article saying that they like subdued
lighting. What would you suggest as far as lighting for this fish?
<A few watts of LED, or a simple lamp or two of fluorescent... for the
photosynthetic life on the rock>
If it is best that I just stick with freshwater fish for this tank, I
will do so. I want my fish to be happy and healthy.
Thank you again for all you do for this hobby! It is much appreciated.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Royal Gramma, environment, behavior 12/21/11
I was so excited to find this website; sometimes I spend too much time
Anyway, I am concerned about a Royal Gramma. My tank is 40
gallons. About 2
months old. 2 Tank-bred Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Canary Wrasse, 2 PJ
Cardinals, 1 Royal Gramma, 2 Emerald Crabs, 1 Peppermint Shrimp, couple
small blue-leg hermits, and about 12 snails. The water conditions
aren't ideal. Nitrites were a bit high, but Nitrates were lower
which I found strange.
<No such thing as nitrites being a bit high, any detectable level of
nitrites is a big problem and very rough/deadly to fish.>
I have about 30 lbs of dry rock and plan on adding some live
after the New Year. Everyone was doing find until a couple days
ago by small male clown started to hid underneath an overhang near
where the shrimp has made home.
<Results of the poor water quality.>
This went on for a couple of days, I thought he might be stressed so I
did a 25% water change; he seems to be more active now.
<Proof that the water is the problem.>
However, now the Gramma, who was always territorial over his little
cove, has strayed, and last night even slept against a rock where he
usually spends no more than ten minutes at. He also would pick up
and invertebrate with a shell small enough to it in his large mouth and
carry them around until dropping
them which I found strange, and kind of cruel.
<Normal behavior from what I have seen from mine, actually tamer, my
rips their legs off first chance he gets.>
He seems to now be rubbing against rock every now and then. I
just wanted to try and catch this early, if
it's anything at all.
<The nitrites are the problem, that is a lot of life for such a new
tank of that size, more water changes until nitrites stay at 0.>
Ga Ga For Grammas (Royal Gramma Biotope System)
<Hey there! Scott F. your Crew member today!>
I am in the process of setting up a 29g reef, which has been
built, but not yet stocked pending the conclusion of my
<Good heavens- you're RESEARCHING before setting a system
up? This is really great to see/hear. So many problems can be
eliminated with a little time spent researching. Good for
I want to showcase Condylactis anemones (only one type, hopefully
the gigantea), and my wife is interested in a Royal Gramma.
<One of my all-time favorite fishes!>
That led me to focus on a
Caribbean biotope, having read Tullock's and Mr Fenner's
books, as well as Reef Invertebrates by Mr Fenner and Mr
<Excellent references all!>
I am leaning toward
the shallow side of a fore reef, with a 2x65w Coralife fixture,
an Aqua C Remora skimmer, and dual returns routed from a SCWD
that should result in a total flow rate of around 300-350gph
after accounting for head loss and the head pressure of the SCWD.
The tank has been drilled and has a 1" Durso installed.
<Know the man- love his standpipes!>
I have around 25lbs of well established Fiji rock (can't get
Gulf rock locally), another 25lbs of well established base rock,
and 40+ pounds of live sand. I anticipate about a 4" sand
depth in the display, with a 20g long being used for the
<Sounds good so far. If you're thinking about the whole
biotope idea, do consider building up a rock overhang under which
your Royal Gramma can hang out in a natural fashion This is a
really interesting biotope. In fact, I'll be in the Caribbean
next week, and hope to be visiting my pals the Grammas in their
Other species I am considering include 3-5 peppermint shrimp, a
few Astraea and turbo snails, and a pair of Atlantic cleaner
shrimp (actually, Lysmata amboinensis, as I can't get the
Atlantic version locally). I would want to place the anemone or
anemones in first to let them settle a bit, as I anticipate them
wandering a bit more at first. I only plan on keeping one Royal
Gramma. I don't think a second fish is a good idea in a tank
this size, unless you think there's a practical option.
<I would generally not attempt adding more than one in an
aquarium of this size. Perhaps a few Neon Gobies might fit in
nicely and add to the interest of this biotope, but that's
about it. If this were a larger system, I'd definitely create
an aggregation of Grammas, and perhaps a few other fishes>
I've looked around the site, but haven't found info on
this specific setup...any advice?
<Well, Stan, I think that you are on the right track. As an
obsessed by biotope geek myself, I really think that this is a
great way to highlight and learn more about animals that you are
interested in. Fishes and inverts in a system that attempts to
replicate the natural environment will display more natural
behaviors and colors, as well as possibly engage in spawning
behavior. And, biotope systems are highly educational to both
hobbyists and non-hobbyists alike. They are truly unique displays
that can provide a new dimension of enjoyment to your hobby. Best
of luck! Regards,
Re: Condy anemone/royal gramma biotope
Stocking a Royal Gramma Biotope 7/8/09
Since you're headed that way, can you suggest a few names of
likely Royal Gramma habitats in the Caribbean? I know they are
prolific, but I am hoping to find some biotope pictures online,
and it seems the best way to research biotopes is by looking at
tourist-oriented websites, especially for deep sea diving
<Excellent thought. The tourist and dive sites are a great
source of biotope information and usually have great photos as
well! I would look for information from The Bahamas, Venezuela,
the Lesser Antilles, and other outlying parts of the Caribbean. I
hope to see some in Grand Cayman and Isla Roatan, but that might
be wishful thinking. They seem to be very commonly encountered in
Bimini in the Bahamas, so checking out dive sites for this area
could be fruitful. Check the sites for dive operators in the
other areas mentioned, too, and www.fishbase.org for specific
type localities and other great information!>
Also, I hear the C. gigantea species can top out at 12 inches. I
anticipate not having any corals or sessile inverts in the tank,
but will this anemone's size be a problem?
<In the size of aquarium that you are contemplating, this
species could be a problem. I'd be more inclined to consider
smaller, hardier, more abundant "Rock Anemones", such
as Phymanthus or the "Corkscrew Anemones", Bartholomea
species. Although it would be cheating a bit, as these species
are generally not found in the same environment as the Grammas,
these would probably fare better in a system of this size. To be
honest, I would pass on an anemone altogether in the biotope, as
they are generally not found in super close proximity to the
Grammas in nature. I would be much more inclined to utilize
Gorgonians, or even (artificial!) sponges and encrusting soft
corals (versions of Sinularia, perhaps- although not found in the
region, could make a suitable facsimile of the local corals, if
desired.). Passing on the anemone would create a more
faithful/functional/sustainable reproduction of the biotope,
IMHO. You should consider planting some calcareous macroalgae,
such as Halimeda, in the rocks.>
As the focal point of the tank, I am okay with it filling the
<Umm...consider the options above.>
Lastly (though I know better), any chance of an Arrow Crab
working in this size aquarium with a Royal Gramma? I am under the
belief that sooner or later every snail, shrimp, or fish would be
lunch at some point in a tank this size (29g). I just think they
are cool, so I like to ask around.
<I, too, have always loved the Arrow Crab, but I'm a bit
leery of them at the larger sizes. Although better known for
eating polychaetes like bristle worms, they do tend to develop
more "cosmopolitan" tastes in the confines of an
aquarium, perhaps even going after more desirable life forms,
such as Feather Dusters, etc. They will definitely be a threat to
smaller crustaceans, such as shrimp, and could at least
potentially be problematic to smaller more sessile fishes, so
keep this in consideration. Although not really piscivores per
se, "accidents" do happen in the aquarium. I would
certainly keep a small specimen if you are inclined to have one,
and keep a close eye out for potential problems in a system of
this size. Best to use some of the small to medium sized shrimps
instead, although not to small, as you might end up feeding your
Gramma an expensive little meal! So much to consider, I know, but
we just need to be mindful of the potential issues in a
Thanks again for a great site!
<My pleasure, Stan. Don't want to "rain on your
parade", but I did want to give you some food for thought in
regards to potential stocking issues for this aquarium. Best of
luck, and keep me posted on how this system evolves!
Regards, Scott F.>
Re: Condy anemone/royal gramma biotope
Stocking a Royal Gramma Biotope (cont'd.) 7/8/09
Something like this, perhaps, with my tank representing a slice
of the bottom of this wall. I have some synthetic Red Sea live
rock that looks very similar to the red encrusting sponges found
in the Caribbean. I could use that along the corner to conceal
the overflow and mimic the sloping wall. Pillars of true live
rock go along the bottom, inter spaced with Halimeda. I can get
gorgonians pretty readily here, and there are rock anemones
brought in as hitchhikers pretty often as well. I may also attach
some dried sea fans to augment the gorgonians.
<Very nice...This is a great biotope to replicate. I have
often though that it would work well in one of those tall, narrow
aquariums (You know- the kind that end up in the garage
collecting dust for eternity, or become
Final livestock plan appears as such:
1 Royal Gramma
2 Cleaner Shrimp
3-5 Peppermint Shrimp
2-3 Turbo Snails
3-5 Astrea Snails
<Hmm...maybe a Neon Goby or some kind of Blenny...Maybe a
Jawfish, if you have deep enough sand! Keep me posted on this
setup! Regards, Scott F.>
Re: Condy anemone/royal Gramma
Caribbean Biotope (cont'd.) 7/23/09
I found this on the web...great report that has actual counts of
coral specimens, along with their locations and the
fish/invertebrates found with them.
<Very cool to find this kind of information on the web. There
is a wealth of useful biotope information out there for the
hobbyist willing to take a serious look!>
Here's another report dealing with anemones in the Keys
specifically...Also, a really good website, with movies and pics
of Caribbean biotopes (help planning your dives?) can be
<Neat..in fact, Michelle L. and I just returned from a
Caribbean dive trip, and we noticed Condylactis anemones on reefs
in Belize and Cozumel..I was surprised, quite frankly, to see
Interestingly, I noted that there are fairly low appearances of
Cleaner/Banded Shrimp, suggesting that multiple specimens in a
29g tank is not representative of their natural habitat (unless
they are pairing). This holds true for Arrow Crabs as well,
although they are already known to fight each other in
<Absolutely. Although once again, on the reefs I did see these
creatures residing in surprisingly close proximity to each other.
This would be completely crazy to attempt in an aquarium, IMO.
One of the coolest things I saw was in Cozumel- a
"family" of 3 Arrow Crabs- two adults and a little guy-
all on a small patch of rock. It was really cool to see.>
Sure is a lot of stony coral...I will be using some "branch
rock" around the slope and along the bottom to replicate the
pieces that would normally fall off and deposit along fore reef
slopes due to storm damage. The Acropora count was around 50-60%
of the coral counted in some areas, with algal growth accounting
for most of the rest...
<I was surprised to see so much macroalgae, such as Dictyota
and some turf algaes, covering the reefs...far more predominantly
For my setup, I will be trying to replicate a small slope that
might be found along a fore reef wall, a ledge, if you will.
Also, here's a super website that has lots of pics, and some
movies, of various locations in the Caribbean.
<Hmm...not seeing it. I'm very excited to see your concept
Best of luck- and keep me in the loop! Regards, Scott F.>
Adding a Black Cap Basslet to a 24 Gal Nano Cube
Love the website and help that you provide to fish hobbyist of all
experience levels! I have been reading a lot of forum posts and have
learned a lot regarding which fish would suit my needs best.
<Thank yo for the kind words.>
This is my first marine tank and am very excited. I have a 24 gallon
nano cube with about 23 lbs of live rock and 20 lbs of live sand. I
A mated pair of False clowns.
1 green chromis
1 long fin cardinal
1 skunk cleaner shrimp
1 red fire shrimp
12 snail and hermit combo
<Very crowded for a 24 gallon tank, the Chromis is ill suited for a
tank this small, as they are open swimmers. 24 gallons is also a bit
too small for a pair of clowns.>
All have been getting along great after I took out a royal gramma that
seemed to harass the other tenants. Also, I strongly felt that the
gramma took out a cleaner shrimp. I was told that the gramma was a
docile fish that would not eat ornamental shrimp therefore the gramma
was one of the earlier entries into my tank.
<They generally will not, however in cramped quarters, 'all bets
I am now planning to add a black cap Basslet and have it has my last
addition before possible corals.
<Not a good idea.>
Will the addition of the black cap Basslet disrupt the harmony in my
I know that they are very similar to the royal gramma, and some have
said that they CAN be more aggressive.
<They are behaviorally the same as a Royal Gramma.>
I seem to have plenty of room for the black cap Basslet and have plenty
of live rock for the Basslet to roam.
<Not in a 24 gallon with that many fish in it already.>
My current fish all swim in the water column and the black cap would
look great in the caves. My main concern, will the black cap become
aggressive again, since he was the last addition, or will I run into
the same problem I had with the royal gramma?
<You will have the same problem.>
I am also running the Oceanic protein skimmer since it is the only one
that will fit my tank. I know its not the best skimmer, but it's
better than nothing!
So I guess my question is 2 fold: Will the addition of the black cap
Basslet overstock my fish and will the addition of the Basslet disrupt
the my tank?
<You are already overstocked, and yes a Basslet will disrupt your
Any input you have will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
<I would recommend getting rid of the Chromis and not adding
anything else..read here:
How Do I Keep My Royal Gramma From Jumping Out? - 01/11/06
Happy new year to all. <<And to you>> I purchased a Royal
Gramma <<Wonderful little fish!>> for my lightly stocked
55gal. (Lightly stocked being two Ocellaris Clowns, a Flame Angel and a
2 in. Yellow Tang <<Mmm...>>... and now the
Gramma). I'm not concerned at all about him being
bullied because when I purchased him from the LFS he would hardly come
out of hiding, <<This doesn't keep a fish from being
"bullied.">> problem because he was in a tank all
alone, and it was the same deal in my QT. Now that he's
in my display, (55 gal. CORNER bow front) he's out all the time.
<<Super!>> He'll either be staring at me normal, or on
his side or facing down, you know .. just typical Gramma
stuff. He started eating right away and nobody in the tank
has paid him any attention, and he's always out hanging out, being
a fish (well except the flame angel will stare him down and that's
only when the Gramma gets near "his" live rock). <<All
sounds good/normal thus far.>> I've got plenty of hiding
places provided by 30 lbs of live rock. My concern is that if he does
by chance get spooked he'll go flying out of the back corner of the
tank which is not covered. Do you think that I should worry
about it at all, <<I've kept these great little fish for
years and never has one taken "the
leap." Doesn't mean it couldn't happen
though.>> and if so do you have any suggestions of how I could
cover that back corner? <<A piece of "eggcrate" plastic
light diffuser from the hardware/home store placed over the opening
should give you the comfort you seek.>> Thanks for the input..
Have a Nice day. -Heather <<You're welcome...Regards,