Royal Gramma is an astounding saltwater fish that used to be found only in deep waters in the Caribbean. But now, many aquarists raise them in tanks. It is, without a doubt, the easiest fish to care for. Their temperaments are mellow, and they look lovely.

They will make any fish tank more colorful and playful with their stunning appearance. Their vivid colors make them stand out among other species in the aquarium. Apart from other Royal Grammas, they make excellent community tank fish. They tend to become aggressive with fishes of their own kind.

If the tank setup doesn’t have enough hiding places, they feel insecure. So, it would be best to make sure the tank they are placed in has plenty of hiding spots. These Grammas love live rock for hiding, and you would find them quite active if the tank had a glut of it.

It is quite fun to watch them roam around the tank when they are in a comfortable environment. If you are looking for a gorgeous, docile, and low-maintenance fish for your tank, Royal Gramma makes a great addition. Get to know everything about Royal Gramma, from care level to appropriate tankmates & bring one home!

All About the Species

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name Gramma Loreto
Other Common Names Fairy Basslet, Grammas, & Gramma Loreto
Family Grammatidae
Origin Florida, South America, West Atlantic Ocean
Lifespan 5 to 6 Years
Size 3 to 4 Inches
Type Saltwater Fish
Royal Gramma Species Origin
Image Credit: Map data ©2022 Google.INGI – Royal Gramma Species Origin

Summary

Royal Grammas are standard tank fish members of the Grammatidae family born to reef environments in the Caribbean. Fairy Basslet is another name they are known for. They can be bought for as low as $20 and low-maintenance fish. They are perfect pets for beginner aquarists.

Saltwater fishkeeping began with these fish. They need enormous space to live in because of their natural habitat. It would be best to keep them in a tank setup similar to their native environment. They will feel more secure and stay playful in a familiar space.

You will generally find them playing around caves and rocks rather than swimming around the tank as they are not good swimmers. People confuse them typically with False Gramma fish that look pretty similar to Royal Gramma. However, they have a noticeable difference in their fins. Royal grammas have shades on their fins, while False ones have transparent fins.

They are jumpers, so acclimating them can be a challenge. You should place them in a bucket and then acclimate them. Make sure to use a net and keep a close eye on your jumpy little friend.

Royal Gramma Saltwater Fish care guide
Royal Gramma Saltwater Fish

Appearance

This half purple and half yellow-colored saltwater basslet fish catches your eyes every time you look at the aquarium. Basslets are purple or deep violet from head to mid-body and then yellow in the rest of the body. Their brush hues make them easier to spot and gorgeous. You can notice some black markings on their body, like a small spot on the fin and line around their eyes.

Royal Grammas is one of the most common and favorite fish among aquarists because of their appearance. Their purple to yellow color transition is flawless. You will not find any outline of the colors; they just blend in the middle of the body and stand out at the edges.

You might have seen Royal Gramma in Finding Nemo. The character named Gurgle was a basslet Fish.

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Size

These are tiny fish that can become as big as 3 inches max as adults. The largest Royal Gramma found till now was 3.1 inches in size. The size is usually in the range of 0.75 to 1 inch for small fish, 1 to 1.7 inches for medium ones, and 3 inches or more for large ones.

Don’t go on their tiny size. When introduced to an unfavorable environment, these little fish can be pretty aggressive and become territorial. Therefore, keeping Royal Gramma with their favorite tankmates in a favorable setup is essential. They will stay calm, happy, and secure then.

Fairy Basslet doesn’t school but fights a lot. Also, they are excellent at playing dead, so don’t be alarmed if you see one standing still or swimming upside down.

Life Expectancy

Typically, a Royal Gramma can live up to 8 years. But, on average, they live only 5 to 6 years max. There are some royal gramma basslets that lived about ten years too.

The life expectancy will be higher when they are fed well, kept in a favorable environment, and taken care of well.

Notable Characteristics

Being one of the lowest maintenance fish, many aquarists commonly pet them. Their docile and peaceful nature makes them perfect tankmates for many water species. They can survive in wide water conditions, so they are considered hardy fish.

They spent most of the time in the caves or hiding behind a live rock. Therefore, they are usually peaceful. But when insecure, they can be aggressive. They generally ward off the intruders with a threatening open-mouth gesture. Reef aquariums are their optimal living space where they can be kept in pairs or alone.

If you want to keep them in large groups, make sure the tank has enough space for them and their own crevices for each.

Gender Identification

All Royal Grammas are born females, and they change their gender to male when schooled together. Therefore, sexual dimorphism is not possible between them. It can be daunting to identify Royal Gramma’s gender. However, a few characteristics can be determiners of their gender, such as their size and fins.

Many aquarists housing them claim that male gramma tends to grow larger than females. Also, the ventral fins of males are bigger than females. Even males tend to have more vibrant colors. 

Care for Royal Gramma

Quick Care Facts
Care Level Easy
Social Temperament Calm and shy
Diet Carnivore
Breeding Egg Layers (Breed easily in captivity)

Diet and Feeding

Royal Grammas are carnivores that enjoy eating Plankton, frozen meat, flesh, shrimps, and other meaty preparations. It is also known as a parasite eater. Fairy Basslet tends to clear other fish skin by eating parasites off their body. Likewise their size, they are comfortable eating small or tiny chunks of meat or flesh.

They are some of the easiest fish to feed. However, avoid giving them large pieces. They probably won’t eat them. Make sure to feed pellets and flake food to those kept in captivity and mix it up a little in time as they can become fussy eaters.

Feeding Royal Grammas two to four times a day is enough. They usually eat from the water column center and come out instantly from their hiding spaces when they see food. To keep them hale and hearty, you should keep them on a steady diet of Brine and Mysis shrimp.

They can remain healthy in any diet schedule as long as they are fed what they like. So, you don’t have to worry much about a fixed diet schedule.

Temperament and Social Behavior

Usually, Royal Grammas mind their own business and spend the day at their favorite hiding place. Therefore, they can be one of the calmest and peaceful fish in your tank. They are not a threat to other tankmates and are passive fish.

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They become territorial about their hiding place and can become aggressive or chase others who try to intrude in their personal space. Royal Gramma feels safe around their spots. If they get frightened by other mates, they rush and hide immediately. Therefore, they stay close to their private spaces.

When they are introduced to a new aquarium, they are more likely to jump out of it. So, keep the aquarium closed at all times to avoid mishaps.

Breeding

Royal Grammas are easy to breed in comparison to other saltwater species. However, Royal Gramma are captive bred. You can see when they start the breeding process as the male begins with making a private space. When you spot a male fish making a nest with algae and rocks, it is for breeding.

The following nest care practices are observed by Royal Gramma Males: defending the nest and eggs, upkeep, frequent debris cleanup, and regular peeking into the nest.

After the male prepares the nest, the female gramma lays around 5 to 40 eggs there. Fertilization of eggs begins after. The male fish releases sperm and completes the process. Until the eggs are hatched, they stick to the algae for five to six days. Hatching occurs when it’s dark, during the evening, or at night.

Their breeding season begins in the late spring or summer. They breed a couple of times in a month. Initially, feed them small chunks of food, and once the fry gets larger, start feeding them brine shrimp. The difference in hatching time makes baby royal grammas difficult to raise.

Common Diseases

Royal Gramma is a healthy fish that is not susceptible to many common diseases that other fish are. But a few diseases they might catch because of the poor tank maintenance can be fungal and bacterial infections and ich.

Grammas are prone to developing marine ich. Saltwater parasite Cryptocaryon irritans produce the white spots seen in freshwater. If left untreated, the condition progresses to body wasting, excessive mucus production, and respiratory discomfort. Therefore, aquarists housing Royal Gramma should keep their tank and tank water clean.

You can schedule tank cleaning or set up water filters to avoid bacterial buildup in tank water. This way, you can save time and keep your little friend healthy. Some fish keepers complain of grammas getting sick even though they keep their tanks clean.  

Tank Recommendations

Quick Tank Facts
Minimum Size (Individual) 30 Gallons (113 liters) or more
Water Temperature 72°F to 80°F / 22°-27° C
Water Hardness 8 – 12 dGH
pH Level 8.1 to 8.4
Royal Gramma Care Guide Tank Mates
Royal Gramma Care Guide Tank Mates

Ideal Tank Size

The optimal tank size for a single Royal Gramma is 30 gallons. Having their roots in the Arabian sea, they require ample space for a home-like feel. Therefore, any setup smaller than 30 gallons will not suit them. If you plan to get more than one fish, buy an approximate 100-gallon tank.

Ensure the tank is deep enough, not filled with water to the brim, and closed. Because this little jumper can jump out of the aquarium when newly introduced. Despite not requiring a lot of space to swim, Grammas Locerto is more comfortable with coral and reef structures.

Royal Grammas are territorial, therefore having a spacious tank will give each enough space to mark their territories. If you are a beginner aquarist, you should consider the number of fishes, decorations, accessories size while purchasing the tank. Do the calculation before buying the fish tank.

Tank Setup, Décor, and Plants

It is essential to have live rock in a royal gramma tank. You want to create the deep-water outcrop they prefer in the wild. It is also important to provide comfortable hiding places for them.

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This Grammatidae Family fish loves tank decor and accessories. You can install dull lighting to match their natural environment in the wild habitat.  Make sure you install as many beautiful plants and Decor as possible.

Be sure to place some substrate at the bottom of the tank. This will make it easier to attach other Decor and plants. On top of the substrate, put some pebbles, small rocks, or sand. Then place the plants carefully and avoid pacing any near the filters.

You can place plants like Seagrass, Red Grape Algae, Halimeda, and Red Bush Gracilaria in the royal grammas tank.

Water Parameters

Your royal grammas should be kept in a warm environment since they are tropical species. The ideal temperature range for them is 72-78°F (22-25.5°C). In order to maintain a proper level of salinity, you should also keep the specific gravity between 1.020 and 1.025.

They prefer a water PH range between 8.1-8.4 and 8-12 DH hardness. Maintaining proper water parameters will make them feel at home and keep them healthy. An unfavorable living environment makes them aggressive and fussy eaters that impact their health.

The more familiar the environment, the more your fish will thrive at your place. Make a comfortable home away from home for them, and they will live much longer.

Compatible Tankmates

A peaceful saltwater fish, the Royal Gramma makes a terrific addition to any aquarium. The following species are generally fine with the saltwater basslets:

  • Angel Fish
  • Clownfishes
  • Corals
  • Boxfishes
  • Invertebrates
  • Blue-green Chromis
  • Gobies
  • Filefishes
  • Hawkfishes
  • Rabbitfishes
  • Squirrel Fishes

In general, they can live peacefully with a wide variety of species as long as they meet four key criteria:

  • It is imperative that other fish species do not attack.
  • Specifically, the bright purple color should not appear similar to the Royal Gramma.
  • There is no point in poking around Gramma’s hiding place.
  • Fish that can eat them.

An aquarium full of large, aggressive fish might freeze the royal gramma in its cave. Therefore, you should avoid those species at all costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are Royal Grammas Aggressive?

A.Royal Gramma is a calm and shy fish that loves to remain in its own place. But, if the territorial line is crossed, they can become aggressive. They fight for their hiding spots and even chase the mate that intrudes in its personal space.

Q. Can Royal Grammas and Dottyback be kept together?

A. Dottyback are aggressive fish and tend to eat even bigger fish than them. Therefore, it is not recommended to keep them together in a tank. They can be threatening to Royal Gramma as they are peaceful, tiny, and docile.

Q. Is Fairy Basslet Reef Safe?

A. There is no doubt that the Fairy Basslet is reef-safe. They will not eat your corals, clams, and other invertebrates since they are adapted to live in saltwater tanks.

Q. Do Royal Grammas breed in captivity?

A. The answer is yes! While there are some challenges involved in breeding Royal Grammas, due to their behavior, they are not as difficult to breed as some other saltwater fish are.

Q. What are incompatible tankmates for Grammas Locetro?

A. You should avoid keeping your Royal Gramma with species like Damselfish, Dwarf lionfish, Assessors, Dottybacks, and Snowflake eels.

Q. Why do Royal Grammasplay dead?

A. Royal Grammas like to give support to their stomach against hard items. So, you will usually spot them in unusual positions, and sometimes upside down too. Many aquarists get worried and think they might be dead, but they are just hanging and playing dead.

Final Remarks

Royal Gramma fish are characterized by their bright jewel-toned colors. This fish is especially popular because of its hardiness and docility. If you are a novice to saltwater aquariums, these fish are an excellent choice, as they require less maintenance and don’t fall ill frequently.

The Royal Gramma’s gorgeous color scheme only accentuates its beauty. This fish is an excellent addition to any aquarium, whether you are an experienced owner or just starting out.

About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

  • BSc Honors in Wildlife and Fisheries in 2011 (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of zoochlorella supplementation on the growth and health of fish.

Writing Experience

Miss Crosby is a Freelance blogger; many of her articles are posted online on various blogs. She has also written a few short articles for "Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine" in the past. She is a regular contributor to FishParenting.com. Her education, first-hand experience with fishkeeping, and in-depth knowledge in aquaculture make her one of the most competent writers in the industry.

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