Author Archives: Joshua@themandaringarden

Royal Gramma Basslet Care Guide

Gramma loreto

Minimum Tank Size30 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

The Royal Gramma Basslet can be found in the Western Atlantic Ocean making their home among colorful corals and rocks. With their rich, colorful bodies of purple and yellow their is no better hiding spot. These fish feature a bright yellow back half and purple front. On their dorsalfin there is a single black dot. Finally an orange streak runs from their mouth past their eye but not reaching their dorsal fin. These qualities combine to give the Royal Gramma Basslet a look that draws a lot of attention in the aquarium.

The basic requirements for this fish are:

  • No other purple fish
  • Plenty of rocks
  • No predatory fish

This page will focus on the behavior, feeding and breeding of the Royal Gramma Basslet. If you have any questions unanswered feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll be sure to reply.

Behavior & Aggression

These fish can almost be treated the same as a firefish at first. They are very shy and will stick to hiding in rocks when first introduced to the aquarium. They will quickly find their own home in the rockwork and claim it for themselves, only leaving their home when they feel completely safe in the tank.

Once the have settled in you can expect to see the Royal Gramma to either follow around other, more confident fish or stick to their own homes. They should not always be hiding in the rocks and will often be free swimming, bot not too far from their home.

When placed in small tanks or with other fish who like to hide in the rocks you may see some aggression from these fish. The Royal Gramma is famous for its dives, meaning it will flares its fins, open its mouth and charge other fish. They will always turn and barely touch the other fish, but it can be quite alarming to the aquarist. If you see this behavior carry on for too long you have a couple of options.

  • Rearrange the rocks to reset teritories
  • Add more rocks to create additional hiding places
  • Add a slightly bigger fish to calm the Gramma down
  • Let the fish resolve the issue themselves

More often than not the diving will not last more than a few hours. One of the outcomes would be the bullied fish will leave the Royal Gramma’s area and learn not to go back there. The other is the fish puts up resistance and the Gramma learns it cannot harass the fish. This is very common with clownfish, as the Royal Gramma Thinks it can harass the smaller male but will soon stop when the larger female shows up.

Fish that the Gramma may be aggressive to would be those of similar shape and color. The only big thing you need to watch for is the purple color. Not a whole lot of fish have this so it shouldn’t be too hard. If you do have similar colored fish it should only be in a much larger tank where they can work out their own space.

The other odd behavior they share with the firefish is sticking to the rocks they live in. The Royal Gramma will often push itself against the rocks, making it swim awkwardly or even upside-down. If you see this don’t be too alarmed. It’s just something they do in their rocks.

As these fish are shy you will need a well fitted lid with covered holes. The Royal Gramma Basslet likes to jump when scared and can aim for small holes to escape whatever it is afraid of. Be sure to cover any extra space with mesh netting or extra filter padding.

Diet & Feeding

Royal Gramma Basslet are very easy to breed in the home aquarium, meaning many new ones will be aquacultured. This makes them much more accepting of frozen foods, such as mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, blood worms and bits of frozen fish. They are also much quicker to accept prepared foods like flakes and pellet foods.

The Royal Gramma Basslet should have an easy time competing for food, darting from its area to wherever the food is. The should be fed twice a day, but can get by with a once a day feeding if need be. The Basslet is capable of getting fairly fat, meaning they can store food much better than a lot of other small fish.

While these fish are very accepting of prepared foods you should always keep rotating what you feed your fish. This helps ensure they are getting a balanced diet which helps their bodies fight against disease. An easy cycle is mysis shrimp, flakes, blood worms and pellets. You could keep only one prepared food instead of both flakes and pellets if you would like to.

Breeding & Sexing

The Royal Gramma Basslet is a Protogynous hermaphrodite, meaing they are born female and will change male when required. For the Basslet this is the most dominant fish in the group. This makes pairing the Royal Gramma Basslet very easy when they are young but more difficult as they age. For this reason if you plan to breed this fish start with a larger tank.

Even when young and opposite genders you can expect a decent amount of fighting as they look similar/are the same fish. A larger tank will reduce the stress this puts on the fish until they form a pair with each other.

Once they have paired they will only breed after the male has built a nest out of algae and small rocks. The female will then lay a clutch of eggs which the male will fertilize. The eggs will stick to the nest until they hatch. This should take under one week.

To rear the fry you will either want to remove all the fish from the tank or transfer the rock their eggs are on into an incubation tank. The new tank should have water parameters as close as possible to the tank the eggs were laid in.

Once the eggs have hatched you will need to wait at least one day before feeding. You can then feed them rotifers or copepods until they are able to eat live brine shrimp.

Firefish Care Guide

Nemateleotris magnifica

Minimum Tank Size20 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

From the Indian and Pacific Ocean, Firefish are a great fish to have in a peaceful marine tank. Caring for them is easy however they need to feel safe in the tank. They are very shy and will spend a lot of their time hidden behind any cover they can find, especially when paired with more aggressive fish. This behavior is why they are often called dartfish, as they will quickly dart into cover throughout the day. This trait, when combined with their white body and colored tail makes for a nice addition to the tank.

Behavior & Aggression

One of the biggest issue new owners will have with this fish is its shyness. When added to the tank you will almost never see the Firefish. It will likely spend the first few days hidden, only taking a few glances at the tank. Even when added as the first fish to a recent new tank of mine the fish was in hiding for the entire first day, only coming out for a short bit during the scheduled powerhead off feeding time.

Firefish will often rest or swim in place facing the current in search of food. Additionally they will keep an eye on anything that moves, running for cover if they don’t feel safe. This makes them easy to feed once they are settled into the tank, as even when the powerheads are on they will find food in the moving currents. They favor hanging around the reefs in the wild, making them favor coral areas in the tank. They will also be in contact with the bottom of the tank semi-often, so be sure to use soft substrate so that you do not damage their body.

While they will usually find enough hiding spots inside the rock structure of the tank, Firefish can dig under the rocks to create even more hiding spots for themselves. This is a slow process and isn’t usually noticeable until you see them dart into their hole. If you do not have a lot of unoccupied hiding spots in the rocks of your tank you should either add more rocks or rearrange them to create more hiding spots.

When hiding the Firefish is able to use its long dorsal fin to hold itself in place. They will also use the fin to signal other Firefish, which can often be seen when they see their reflection.

While they do interact with other Firefish, you should only have multiple fish if you either:

  • Buy them as a mated pair
  • Have a very large tank

Firefishpair somewhat similarly to clownfish. They do not like others of their own kind unless it is their partner and can get territorial with fish that look identical to them. Having multiple Firefish seeking hiding spots in a small tank is never a good idea.

Diet & Feeding

These fish are really easy to feed. They will usually be facing the current looking for prey to blow towards them. The Firefish should be fed meaty foods like mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, finely diced seafood and prepared foods. They will also hunt for any algae and zooplankton that is already in the tank.

A comfortable Firefish during feeding time.

There are two important notes to feeding Firefish.

The first is that they are not competitive eaters. Other quick fish such as wrasse can out compete the Firefish, leaving it with very little to eat. This can be solved by having multiple feeding zones, one where the free swimming fish will find and one where they shy firefish will frequently be.

The second note is their small stomachs. Firefish should be fed twice a day to stay healthy. In larger tanks they may be able to hunt enough in the tank to help sustain their diet, but relying on that is not a good idea. Most fish will pick at the tank for foods just like the Firefish will. If you use automatic feeders you may need to schedule them to do two smaller feedings, but you should watch these take place the first few times. If too little food is dispensed the quick eaters may switch over to the Firefish’s area and eat the food that was meant for them.

This video is a perfect example of how shy firefish can be in the tank. They will hide inside the rocks when they don’t feel completely secure. Hiding spots like these are how you can go weeks without seeing them.

General Information










      Saltwater Fish

      Starburst Polyp Care Guide

      Pink Starburst Polyp

      Briareum sp.

      Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
      Base SupplementsTrace Elements, Iodine
      LightingModerate to High
      Water flowModerate to High
      PlacementMiddle to Top

      Star polyps are soft corals. They have a height of one-half to one inches, and a adult head size of one-fouth to one-half inches. Star polyps are commonly seen in the colors of green and pink. Star polyps are colonial corals, meaning that as the coral grows, it will expand itself further while staying connected. Star polyps are easy to take care of as they can tolerate changes in water parameters well. Star polyps will retract into their purple mat for a while when there is a change in salinity, pH, or temperature, but they will soon pop back out again after they adapt to the change.

      Star polyps are known as “wildfire” coral, because under the right conditions they will grow rapidly fast. Star polyps will grow all over your tank: on rocks, on substrate, on the glass walls. Growing fast is a good thing to decorate your tank. However, you will eventually need to keep your eye on them to keep from from turning “invasive” in your fish tank if you do not want them everywhere.


      Star polyps are to be placed in the middle or the top of your aquarium. They require medium to high lighting to be happy and come fully out of their mat. Star polyps also should be high so that they get a large amount of water flow blowing them. Water flow is needed to keep star polyps content because water flow keeps their purple mat free of debris. If needed, you can pull algae off your star polyp’s mat, or gently clean it with a toothbrush. When their mat is clean, they are happy.

      Feeding & Supplements

      Star polyps contain plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae within their bodies. Zooxanthellae allows the star polyps to get their nutrients from the photosynthetic process. You do not need to feed algae or meat to your star polyps. However, if you feed your aquarium algae occasionally, it will certainly not harm your star polyps.

      Star polyps are great natural indicators for your tank water. If your star polyps are growing slower than usual, there is something wrong in your water parameters. When this happens, I advise you to check the pH, alkalinity, salinity, iodine and calcium in your tank as these are common causes of slow coral growth. Low calcium espeically causes slow growth because calcium is needed to make more skeleton for the star polyp to expand. Make sure your pH is 8.1-8.4, alkalinity is dKH 7-12, salinity is 1.023-1.025 sg, and your calcium is approximately 400 ppm. If these elements are in check, make sure your nitrate level is below .2 ppm, and your phosphate level is below .05 ppm, and your ammonia level is 0 ppm. As with all corals, new salt must be added to your tank because it contains trace elements that are vital to coral health and growth.


      Star polyps are a very peaceful coral. They will no bother fish or other corals. However, you should be careful when pairing star polyps with corals that can sting or be aggressive. Star polyps are easily damaged and they can start losing heads when exposed to the toxins of aggressive corals. If you have aggressive inhabitants in your aquarium such as hammer corals or anemones, you should keep them a fair distance away from your star polyps to ensure peace and safety.

      Reproduction & Breeding

      Star polyps are one of the easiest corals to grow and propagate. Naturally, star polyps will grow quickly and spread in colonies under ideal water conditions. However, if you wish to divide the coral to have many separate pieces growing at once, you may also do so easily.

      To propagate star polyps, use a sharp object such as a razor blade or X-Acto knife. You will be taking your star polyp out of your aquarium for a few minutes, which is okay for the coral. Push the blade between the rock and the coral carefully, until the purple mat is off the rock slightly. Now peel a section of the purple mat off the rock using your fingers. Cut a section of the purple mat off. The last thing to do is to use reef-safe glue to fasten the section of purple mat to a new rock. After approximately a week of de-stressing, your star polyps should pop back out and extend once again.