The Royal Gramma

Mother Nature provides some really lovely life forms; they come in all sorts of shapes and colours. Fish are usually the number one life form for the marine aquarist (for others is it perhaps corals?).

One fish that is an excellent addition to many aquariums, fish only or reef, is the Royal Gramma which is the common name, the proper name is Gramma loreto. In my opinion they are often better on a reef as the usually lower fish population means these systems are less ‘busy’. However, note that the fish could be ‘nippy’ with some other type tank mates such as snails and possibly feather dusters. When I had one of these it definitely added colour, and when the scene was lit by actinics alone this was considerably enhanced.

This is one of those fish that nature has painted differently at the front and back. From roughly mid-section it is yellow including the tail, and forward of this is purple/blue. There is a dark diagonal line through the eye and also a dark spot on the dorsal fin. The fish is capable of growing to about 4 inches (circa 10cm) including the tail, though it is usually smaller on purchase.

Once settled the fish is not bothered by bright light and should be seen quite regularly. It is also happy under lower light levels. However, for the fish to feel secure it is necessary for caves and crevices to be built into the rockwork, which is applicable to many fish.

A potential problem is that the fish has been known to jump; perhaps this is an escape ploy. It would seem reasonable to assume that if there are crevices and caves available for security, then jumping is less likely.

The fish defends itself by a display of aggression when it faces the opposition with its mouth wide open. The fish is not particularly aggressive normally (unlike for example many damsels) and is best kept with other small relatively non-aggressive fish, but avoid dotty-backs as trouble could occur.

Usually it is best to keep one fish, though in a larger reef aquarium with plenty of territory and hideaways it could be possible to keep two.

Where a high quality environment is maintained the fish is easy to keep (in marine terms) and resistant to disease, so a reasonably long life could be expected. When the fish is first introduced to the aquarium it could well be choosy about food and not eat a lot, which is always a worry with a new fish. However, this period should soon pass and the fish should eat almost anything, including marine flake and de-frozen foods.

Aquarists are always observant and could become worried if the Royal Gramma is seen upside down in a cave. This isn’t usually a problem indicator; perhaps it is linked to spawning behavior (I’m not aware of any proven reason).

In a suitable environment the Royal Gramma is a great fish to keep with its colours and peaceable disposition – in addition, the fish is hardy and easy to feed. So overall the fish represents a winning combination.

The link is to further information about the fish and also photographs: