Basslets are Great Beginner Fish
Basslets are Great Beginner Fish and the following article is about it. Hardy, colorful and small, basslets make fantastic beginner fishes for the novice saltwater aquarist.
Many basslets are hardy, colorful and peaceful fishes. They are interesting to watch and commonly available. The two selected for this article are appropriate for beginners and can be kept in a small aquarium.
Taxonomically-speaking, “basslet” is really a poor name for these fishes, but that’s the way they are often sold, so that’s how they will be discussed here. Taxonomy aside, basslets are generally related to the “true basses” (Family Serranidae) like the fishes from the Family Grammatidae (the so-called Grammas and Assessors) and the Dwarf Seabasses from the genus Serranus (which actually are from the Family Serranidae).
The two fishes discussed here are from the Atlantic (although there is a Dwarf Seabass from the Eastern Pacific), and they are both quite small (under three inches). They are strikingly attractive, although somewhat secretive (make sure they have plenty of hiding spots). All are reef-compatible, and they can be quite territorial.
Chalk Bass (Serranus tortugarum)
The Chalk Bass is a tropical reef fish that inhabits rubble zones or sandy bottoms throughout the Western Atlantic from southern Florida to the Bahamas, Honduras and the Virgin Islands. Growing to no more than three inches, this is a small and hardy aquarium fish appropriate for tanks 24 gallons and larger. These fish often are found in small groups in the wild, and they can be kept as a small shoal in the aquarium, but be sure to add all individuals at the same time.
While the Chalk Bass has been known to eat small anemone shrimp, it will not bother any other invertebrates in a reef tank, including soft, leather or stony coral. Feed this fish a varied diet of mysis shrimp and meaty marine flesh. The chalk bass will readily accept prepared foods, including flakes and pellets.
This is a great beginner fish. It is attractive, extremely hardy and can be kept in a relatively small saltwater reef tank. Best of all, a single specimen costs about the same as going to the movies!
Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto)
The grammas, sometimes called fairy basslets, are very popular saltwater fishes that are absolutely appropriate for the beginning marine aquarist. They remain small (three inches or less), are reef safe and can be kept in a tank as small as 24 gallons in size. This fish is indigenous to the Western Central Atlantic from Bermuda to the Bahamas and Central America to northern South America. It lives in caves and is frequently found upside down under ledges in deep water. As such, it prefers a dim aquarium, although it may adjust to high intensity reef lighting.
The Royal Gramma is a beautiful and brightly colored fish that will be somewhat shy at first, but will come to be more visible in time (so long as it has plenty of hiding spots). Royal Grammas should be entirely peaceful with other peaceful species of fish. The one potential downside to grammas is that they are fairly territorial toward their own kind and can act quite aggressively. If you want to keep several together in the same tank, do so in an aquarium that is at least 90 gallons in size.
Like the Chalk Bass, feed this fish a varied diet of mysis shrimp and meaty marine flesh from both fish and crustaceans. It will readily accept prepared foods, including flakes and pellets. It has been known to act as a cleaner fish in some situations.
The Royal Gramma is a fantastic beginner fish if kept singly in a 30-gallon reef tank with other like-size, relatively peaceful fishes. Depending on size, Royal Grammas can be obtained for between $10 and $20.