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fairy basslet or Gramma loreto
belongs to the family Serranidae.
These deep water dwellers are native to the West Atlantic and the
Caribbean Sea. They frequent steep reef slopes ranging from depths of
15 to 230 feet. When threatened they will instinctively seek the
shelter of the reef interior for protection. It is not uncommon to see
them swimming upside down when they feel at ease in their environment.
This is a durnal species. They will be active during the day and
retreat to the reef at dusk.
The fairy basset has a slender torpedo-shaped body. Their brilliant
three toned color palette makes them a popular choice for saltwater
aquarists. These fish have a royal purple anterior which fades into a
small reddish or fuchsia band mid-body. The anterior region and tail
fins are bright yellow. This is a smaller species reaching an adult
length of approximately 4 inches. They have an average life expectancy
of 3-5 years. The fairly basslet is commonly called a royal gramma
because of its purple coloring. It is also referred to as a bicolor
This species is rated easy to moderate care level. They are perfect
for amateur aquarists. This is a docile
to timid creature and should
not be housed with larger or more aggressive species. They are middle
to lower tanks swimmers in aquariums and will require abundant hiding
places. An insufficient number of hiding places may cause them to
become territorial over their preferred spot. They are considered
non-territorial with unrelated species. They do however exhibit
territorial behavior toward other grammas. Keep only one gramma species
per tank unless you have a large enough aquarium for them to establish
territorial boundaries. They are good candidates for reef aquariums but
have a propensity to view smaller crustaceans such as hermit crabs and
mollusks like turbo snails as a source of nutrition.
In nature this is a
shoaling species which should be distinguished
from a schooling species. Schooling fish are generally of equal size,
lack an established social order and travel in the same direction much
like a herd of cattle. Shoaling fish tend to be of varying size, have a
hierarchy based on size and dominance and do not move in unison with
each other. Both rely on safety in numbers. Basslets shoal by the
thousands in their native habitat.
carnivorous. In the wild they are known to
feed on the parasites infesting other species. In captivity they easily
acclimate to common variety marine food. They will readily accept flake
foods but a more diversified diet is recommended in order to maintain
their vigor and vivid coloration. A diet supplemented with vitamin
enriched brine shrimp, frozen marine food formulated for carnivores, or
chopped crustaceans such as uncooked shrimp from your local grocer will
keep them healthy and happy. Plenty of live rock is also recommended.
Not only does this give them adequate hiding places, it also provides
an additional source of nutrition. The minuscule crustaceans that live
in living rock are a natural source of protein.
It is becoming more and
more common to find commercially tank
raised basslets for sale. A tank raised marine species is always
preferable to a fish caught from the wild. Tank raised species do not
have to undergo the transition into a captive environment. They are
also more disease resistant, having prior exposure to the escalated
bacterial levels common to a more confined surroundings. And they do
not further deplete the oceans of one of their most valued resources.
Harem fish function in a communal setting
with an established hierarchal structure. Basslet harems consist of one
male and multiple females. A second less dominate male may peacefully
coexist within the harem if given enough room to prevent territorial
issues. The closer the female is in proximity to the dominant male, the
higher she is in the pecking order.
basslets are protogynous hermaphrodites. They are all born
as females. If a group consisting of only females is introduced to an
aquarium the largest most dominate female will undergo a morphological
change in gender. The death of the harem’s male will also
hormonal transformation. This is nature’s way of propagating
species. There will always be a male present in the harem to insure
future generations. Basslets are also sexually dimorphic. Males are
much more colorful and larger than females. Females have shorter pelvic
fins and lack the dual coloring of males.
These fish commonly breed in home aquariums. A high protein diet
will help induce the spawning cycle. They are accustomed to breeding in
the cracks and crevices of tropical reefs. They must be provided a
similar environment for breeding purposes. A cave-like structure or
hollow aquarium décor will be adequate.
The male’s color palette will darken when he is ready to mate
his harem. We will perform a courtship dance prior to spawning.
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