A popular choice for the saltwater aquarium, the Basslet (also known as a dottyback, gramma, or Anthias) is hardy, fairly well-behaved, and excellent for saltwater beginners despite its slightly territorial nature. Basslets are brightly colored fish often found in bright reds, oranges, yellows and purples, sometimes all at once. Their small size makes them ideal for smaller tanks; however they are quite territorial and still need some space. Their sleek, aerodynamic design and half-moon shaped tail make them ideal for sudden bursts of speed necessary when feeding or for defense; however, the Basslet is also a slow swimmer that will school with its own kind in the wild. In the ocean, this species will live in colonies called harems. These colonies will hover over a chosen coral head feeding, a behavior they will readily exhibit in your home aquarium. An interesting thing to note about the Basslet is that it is what is known as a “sequential hermaphrodite”. All fish are born female and develop into males as they mature, with one “supermale” leading the colony until its death.

Sub-Species for Aquariums:

Royal Gramma – One of the five varieties of Basslet to be found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Royal Gramma Basslet is highly sought for tropical tanks. It is bi-colored, one half of its body a vibrant purple and the other half a stunning yellow. It is important to note that this division occurs vertically, unlike the Skunk Basslet which is similarly colored. It prefers to live in sheltered areas; this is a shy fish that is happiest with places to hide.

Skunk Basslet – Similar to the Royal Gramma in coloring, the Skunk Basslet is vibrantly yellow in body, with a wide strip of purple running down the spine. This is a popular species of Basslet and is easy to find, however it tends to be highly aggressive and should not be kept with other Basslets or in a small tank.

Bicolor Basslet – Highly aggressive, this two toned yellow and magenta fish should not be kept with shy and timid fish in a small tank as it will bully them.

Purple Basslet – A solid and vibrant purple or magenta, this species is the least aggressive of the Basslets. Purple Basslets prefer to keep to themselves and play amongst pebbles and rocks, picking out their food.

Orange Sea-Perch – This Basslet, also known as the Wreckfish or Lyre-tail Coral fish, is a beautiful and graceful fish with colors ranging from orange to purple. A less aggressive species, it prefers the company of its own kind and can be kept with others without worry of aggressive behavior. However, it does not like sharing eating space and may steal its food and move off into a corner to enjoy its meal.


This is a small fish and as such it is suitable for smaller tanks. However, it should not be kept in a tank less than thirty gallons as it tends to be aggressive and territorial. Their small size tends to prevent Basslets from being bullies, but potential owners should be careful to research which variety of Basslet they have chosen as some species do well with others of their own kind and some do not, though they are not necessarily aggressive towards other species of similar size. They are hardy fish that adapt well to tank life. A standard reef tank with good lighting and aeration, pH of 8.1-8.4, and warm waters is appropriate for the Basslet.


Basslets are carnivores and require protein. They prefer live food, but will eat finely chopped frozen food such as shrimp or fish.

Size: 3 Inches
Freshwater/ Saltwater: Saltwater
Diet: Carnivore
Reef Compatibility: 7
Tank Mate Compatibility: 4
Lifespan: 5+ Years

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