Lantern Bass Care Guide

Scientific NameSerranus baldwini
Final Tank Size30 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
The Lantern Bass or Lantern Basslet is a small/mid sized fish with a unique personality. They act as a cross between a wrasse and hawkfish, switching between swimming around the tank keeping an eye on everyone to sitting on rocks or substrate. They are mildly aggressive towards other basslets and smaller fish but do not give many other fish issues. They are more aggressive than Chalk Basslets but less aggressive than the harlequin basslet.They are extremely hardy fish that will adjust to life in the aquarium almost immediately.

The Lantern Bass will spend its time roaming the tank while frequently returning to its home, which will be a cavern created by rocks, coral or decorations in the tank. They are fairly easy to breed in the tank but will require a larger aquarium, at least 50 gallons, to be kept in a pair or more. They are quick to eat, rarely get sick and are overall great fish for new and experienced aquarists alike. Especially aggressive wrasse like the six line should only be kept with the Lantern Bass if the tank is over 50 gallons in size. Otherwise the two fish may fight occasionally as their body shapes and behavior are somewhat similar.

Is the Lantern Bass Reef Safe?

The Lantern Bass Is mostly reef safe but they may harass smaller shrimp. Shrimp over an inch and a half or those that can defend themselves like the Coral Banded Shrimp will be fine when kept with the Lantern Bass. Anemone shrimp or sexy shrimp will be frequently become targets as will young cleaner and peppermint shrimp. Shrimp should be well established in the tank before adding the Lantern Bass to ensure their survival. Newly added shrimp are much more likely to be attacked, especially if they are not large.

Corals, clams, starfish, worms and other inverts should all be safe when kept with the Lantern Bass. The basslet may occasionally nip at flowing appendages like those on some starfish but should leave most inverts alone. They do not pick at rocks, meaning small crustaceans that harass corals and clams will not be eaten by the Lantern Bass. This makes pairing them with a tough wrasse a good idea.

Corals and anemones that frequently have fish hosting them will not be bothered by this basslet. Particularly aggressive clownfish may chase the Lantern Bass when they swim close to their anemone however they should not be any actual fighting between a hosting fish and the lantern.

The Lantern Basslets Diet

The Lantern Bass will eat just about any food added to the tank. In the wild they will mostly feed off of small shrimp and small fish. This means they will need a mostly meaty diet with some plant based foods mixed in to replicate the nutrients the shrimp bring to the Lantern Bass’s diet. This can be either herbivore flakes, pellets or gut loaded live shrimp.

A good diet for the Lantern Bass should contain:

  • High quality flake and pellet foods
  • Dried brine or mysis shrimp
  • Live gut loaded brine shrimp
  • Frozen foods
  • Finely cut meaty foods like squid or table shrimp

The Lantern Bass will typically eat either the day or the day after it is added to the aquarium. They are not shy fish and will frequently be one of if not the first fish eating each feeding time. Rotate the types of food you feed to help balance out their diet. Mixing different types of flakes and pellets together can also work. If they do not eat you can entice them using frozen brine or mysis shrimp. If they are still not eating you may need to use live feeder shrimp or freshly cut shrimp. Do not over feed the tank if they are not eating the first two days, as they can go several days without eating.

The Lantern Bass can eat a lot more than most of its tankmates as it develops a larger, more rounded body. They will eat as much as they are fed and may cause issues for smaller, slower feeding fish. Feeding the tank in multiple areas is necessary to keep non competitive eaters fed. When kept with other quick fish normal feeding methods work fine.

Lantern Bass Tank Requirements

Lantern Bass require large amounts of rock work in their aquarium. They will spend a lot of their time swimming between the rocks and will make a cave, over hang or cavern their home. While they will not be bullied without a rock structure to call their home they will be stressed out by not having a territory they can easily claim as their own. This also means you should have at least three open spaces in the rocks for your Lantern Bass to claim. Eels will use a large amount of the rocks and may not be the best tankmate for smaller aquariums.

When first added to the tank the Lantern Bass will quickly swim to the bottom of the tank and find a cavern to hide in. They will usually keep this area as their home for quite awhile and can even turn it into their permanent home. The Lantern Bass spends a lot of their time near the bottom of the tank, only swimming above the middle of the tank to feed. Once settled into the tank they will spend most of their time swimming on patrol around the front of their homes, taking short trips around the tank before returning.

Because of their small size and semi aggressive tank mates the Lantern Bass should not be kept without a tight fitting lid. These lids should have any cut outs covered. Cut outs are usually made around heaters, filtration, powerheads and overflow boxes. As the Lantern Bass is very slender early on they can fit through very small holes. Once they have settled into the tank they may chase other fish upwards, away from their claimed territory that is usually lower in the aquarium. This means fish will be likely to jump for the Lantern Bass’s entire life. They are more defensive of their homes than some other basslets.

As these fish need a lot of low caverns the tank will have plenty of dead zones. These are areas of the tank where there is little water flow and a lot of debris will collect over time. While placing filtration near these can help a lot the tank should have a sand sifting clean up crew member like a sea star, nassarius snails or hermit crabs. Dead zones can also be combated by using multiple, small power heads aimed low, keeping the debris suspended in the water column until it reaches the filtration system.

Lantern Bass Tankmates

Lantern Bass are a mixture of aggressive and peaceful. They will generally not harass any fish in the tank. Those they will harass are usually of similar body, other basslets or fish who occupy the same areas as them. Gobies are prime targets for the Lantern Bass as they slowly hop around their claimed territories. Likewise similarly behaved dottybacks will frequently fight the lantern nonstop. Very small fish are also at danger of being eaten or harassed. All tank mates should grow to be at least two inches. Fish smaller than the Lantern Bass should be well established before adding the basslet to the tank.

The Lantern Bass is commonly preyed upon in the wild by larger fish and should not be kept with predators like groupers, lion fish and triggers. Eels that can fit the bass in their mouths are also not good tank mates as the Lantern Bass spends a lot of its time idling around the caves created by live rocks.

Good tankmates are:

  • Dwarf Angelfish
  • Clownfish
  • Butterfly Fish
  • Cardinalfish
  • Chromis
  • Tangs
  • Fairy Wrasse
  • Anthias

The Lantern Bass must be introduced to the tank at the same time and around the same age to form a community or mated pair. Any Lantern Bass added after the first will not be accepted by an individual or group of basslets. If the tank is large enough they will often stay together without fighting. There is little to no risk of problems developing down the line after the basslets have become accustomed to the tank. As they age a single basslet may become the most dominant of the group, transitioning to a male only Lantern Bass. Once this happens it becomes incredibly difficult to add any fish that may have previously been ok with the basslet.

Remember that all inverts should be well established before adding the Lantern Bass to the aquarium. Small inverts will quickly be eaten. Those over an inch and a half are usually safe. Adding large shrimp is risky once the basslet is established. All crabs, including hermits, should be safe to add to the tank at any time.

Lantern Bass Gender & Breeding

The Lantern Bass is easy to pair but not as easy to breed as the Chalk Bass. They are usually hermaphroditic fish, meaning they are both male and female at all times. The only exception is when a particular basslet becomes the most dominant and transitions into a male. Any Lantern Bass purchased under three inches should still be both male and female.

These basslets are able to breed with any pairing as long as they are not both transitioned males. This should never happen in the home aquarium as two Lantern Bass cannot simultaneously be the most dominant fish of the group. Likewise adding an already male basslet to the tank would only result in fighting.

While the Lantern Bass can be seen spawning or mating in tanks as small at 50 gallons they have not been successful raised in the home aquarium. Likewise they are not sold as aqua cultured fish. This means they are not suitable for a home breeding project unless you are willing to be the first successful breeder.

While the Lantern Bass is a known pelagic breeder, as are other successfully bred basslets, they still do not show success in breeding in the home aquarium. Other, similar basslets have been bred and sold through online retailers like Live Aquaria, however they are very rare and usually out of stock, sometime of the more special ones costing over two thousand dollars.

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