Royal Gramma: Appearance, Lifespan, Size, Diet, Care, Tank Mates, Breeding & More

The Royal Gramma is a vibrant and eye-catching fish that will surely add a touch of royalty to any aquarium. With its stunning purple and yellow coloration, this small but mighty fish has become a must-have for many aquarists.

But what do we know about this regal-looking fish? This blog post looks closer at its appearance, lifespan, size, diet, care, tank mates, breeding, and more.

So whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or just starting in the hobby, read on to learn all about the amazing Royal Gramma.

Definition and overview of the Royal Gramma

The Royal Gramma, or the Fairy Basslet or Gramma loreto, is a small and vibrant saltwater fish native to the Caribbean. It’s stunning colors and peaceful nature have become a favorite among fishkeepers, beginners, and experts.

This hardy fish is easy to care for and a beautiful addition to any saltwater aquarium. Its appearance is characterized by a bright purple front half and a golden yellow back half, with a distinct black dot on its dorsal fin.

The Royal Gramma prefers to hide among rockwork and caves in the tank. With its compatibility with other fish species and simple breeding process, it is no wonder aquarists highly appreciate the Royal Gramma.


The Fairy basslet (Royal Gramma) is beloved by saltwater aquarium enthusiasts for its stunning coloration. The front half of the fish is a vibrant iridescent purple or violet that blends into a golden yellow towards the tail. The transition between these colors is often dotted, giving each royal gramma a unique pattern.

Additionally, the fish has a thin black line extending from its mouth to its eyes and a small black spot on its dorsal fin. These vibrant colors make the royal gramma a standout in any tank and a favorite among aquarists.

Body shape and size


These small fish have elongated bodies with an average length of 3-4 inches. Despite their small size, they have an apparent width and taper towards the back, resembling colorful torpedoes. Their dorsal fin starts at the same point as their ventral fins and bows towards the middle. These unique body features make the Royal Gramma a beautiful addition to any aquarium.

Fins and tails

Its fins are long and flowing, giving it a graceful appearance as it glides through the water. The tail, particularly, stands out with its vibrant colors and striking pattern. The fins and tail serve practical purposes. They help the Royal Gramma navigate through the water and maintain balance.

The lifespan of the Royal Gramma

They have a lifespan of up to 10 years with proper care, although the average lifespan is typically around 5 to 6 years. This means that they can be long-term companions in your underwater world.

You can ensure they live a healthy and fulfilling life by providing a suitable environment and a balanced diet. Additionally, regular water changes and monitoring of water parameters are essential to maintain their overall well-being.

Size of the Royal Gramma

Average size of adult Royal Grammas

Adult Royal Grammas typically have an average size of 3-4 inches in length, although it can vary depending on genetics, quality of care, and gender. It’s worth noting that not all Royal Grammas reach their maximum potential size in captivity.

Size requirements for tank setup

These colorful fish need ample space to swim and explore their surroundings. The optimal tank size for a single Royal Gramma is 30 gallons. This will give them enough room to swim comfortably and create their territories. If you plan on keeping more than one Royal Gramma, increasing the tank size to around 50-60 gallons is best.

It’s important to remember that these fish can become territorial, especially regarding their preferred hiding spots. So, provide enough hiding places and create a spacious and comfortable environment for your Royal Gramma to thrive in.

Diet and Feeding Habits of the Royal Gramma

Natural feeding behavior

The Royal Gramma has a natural feeding behavior that reflects its calm and peaceful nature. In its native habitat, this fish primarily feeds on various kinds of live plankton. As a result, their diet in captivity consists mainly of pellets, flakes, and frozen food.

To ensure a balanced diet, provide protein-rich treats like brine shrimp and crustacean flesh several times a week. It’s essential to avoid overfeeding and adjust the portion size accordingly.

By understanding the Royal Gramma’s natural feeding behavior and providing a suitable diet, you can help them thrive and maintain their vibrant colors.

Suitable diet for Royal Grammas

Regarding the diet of Royal Grammas, it is essential to provide them with a suitable variety of foods. In the wild, these fish mainly feed on live plankton, which can be challenging to replicate in a home aquarium.

However, they can thrive on a diet of high-quality pellets, flakes, and frozen foods. It is also beneficial to offer them some protein-rich treats, such as brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp, a few times a week. Royal Grammas are not picky eaters and will readily accept various foods. Just avoid overfeeding and maintain a balanced diet to keep them happy and healthy.

Feeding frequency and portion control

Feeding frequency and portion control play essential roles in ensuring the health and well-being of Royal Grammas. These fish are hardy and can do well with any feeding schedule.

Depending on your schedule, feeding them 2 to 4 times daily is recommended. Even if they hide, they quickly dart out to grab food when it’s time to eat. Avoid overfeeding to prevent health issues. Adjust the quantity accordingly if you notice that food is not being eaten.

You can keep your Royal Grammas happy and healthy by maintaining a regular feeding schedule and controlling portion sizes.

Care Requirements for the Royal Gramma

Water parameters

Maintaining optimal water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of your Royal Gramma. These fish are hardy and resilient but still require specific conditions to thrive. Ideally, the water temperature should be between 72°F and 78°F, with a pH level ranging from 8.1 to 8.4.

Maintaining a carbonate hardness (dKH) of 8-12° and a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025 is also essential. Regular water tests will help you monitor these parameters and ensure stability.

Additionally, providing your Royal Gramma with a well-established reef tank with plenty of rockwork, hiding places, and caves will help recreate its natural habitat. By closely monitoring and maintaining these water parameters, you can ensure a healthy and happy environment for your Royal Gramma.

Ideal tank setup

It’s essential to create a habitat that mimics their natural environment, with plenty of live rock and hiding places for them to feel secure. Lighting should be dim, replicating the deeper waters they are found in.

This specific fish prefers to be in an environment with extensive rock structures like reefs, coral formations, caves, and protrusions and likes low lighting.

Typically located between 2 and 60 meters deep, this swimming creature is famous for its upside-down swimming technique, commonly observed in caves and beneath ledges.

Tank Mates for the Royal Gramma

Compatible fish species

Regarding tank mates, the Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto) is compatible with various species. Angelfish, Boxfish, Filefish, Clownfish, Jawfish, Gobies, Rabbitfish, and Hawkfish are all good options. They can also coexist peacefully with corals and invertebrates.

However, it’s important to avoid aggressive or predatory fish and species that have similar coloring to the Royal Gramma, such as the Royal Dottyback. You can create a harmonious and beautiful underwater community by selecting the right tank mates.

Potential aggression issues

Potential aggression issues can arise when keeping royal grammas with other fish species. While royal grammas are known for their peaceful nature, they can become territorial if they feel their space is being invaded. Choosing tank mates that are not significantly larger or more aggressive than the royal grammas is essential.

Additionally, fish that resemble royal grammas in coloration should be avoided to prevent territorial disputes. It is recommended to provide ample hiding places and enough space in the tank to minimize aggression and promote a harmonious environment.

Aggression issues can be minimized by carefully selecting compatible tank mates and creating a suitable setup, allowing for peaceful coexistence with royal grammas.

Breeding of the Royal Gramma


Overview of the breeding process

During the breeding season in the late spring or summer, male Grammas will start by creating a nest using algae and rocks. The nest is a safe space for the female to lay eggs, ranging from 5 to 40.

The male then fertilizes the eggs, and they stick to the algae for around five to six days before hatching.

Breeding Royal Grammas is relatively easier than other saltwater species, and it can be an exciting experience to observe the growth and development of these tiny fries.

Setting up a breeding environment

Setting up a suitable breeding environment for Royal Grammas is crucial if you wish to breed these beautiful fish successfully. These fish are known to reproduce in captivity, but the process requires specific conditions to ensure the best chances of success.

One important aspect is providing a separate breeding tank where the pair of Grammas can establish their territory. This tank should have suitable hiding spots, such as caves or PVC pipes, where the female can lay her eggs. Additionally, mimicking their natural habitat’s natural lighting and water conditions is essential.

Maintaining stable water parameters, such as temperature and pH levels, is vital for the health and well-being of the breeding pair.

Creating a comfortable and natural environment can increase the likelihood of successful breeding and witness the joy of the new Royal Gramma fry.

Common Issues and Solutions for the Royal Gramma

Disease prevention and treatment

Disease prevention and treatment are essential aspects of caring for Royal Grammas. Although hardy and resilient, these fish can still be prone to diseases without proper care.

Maintaining good water quality is crucial in preventing diseases. It is essential to perform regular water changes, ensure a well-functioning filter, and test water parameters.

Additionally, quarantining new fish before introducing them to the tank can help prevent the spread of diseases. If a disease does occur, prompt treatment is necessary. Various medications and treatments are available for specific diseases, but it is always best to consult a veterinarian or an expert for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Taking the necessary preventive measures and providing timely treatment will help ensure the health and well-being of your Royal Grammas.

Behavioral issues and remedies

While the Royal Gramma is generally a calm and peaceful fish, there can be behavioral issues to watch out for. One common issue is territorial aggression, especially regarding their preferred hiding places in the aquarium. If another fish infringes on their territory, the Royal Gramma may become defensive and try to discourage them. To remedy this, provide plenty of hiding spots and caves for each fish to have space.

Another behavior to note is their tendency to swim upside down along rocks and surfaces, which might seem odd but is entirely normal.

Lastly, due to their jumping abilities, it’s crucial to have a secure lid on the tank to prevent any escapades.

Appreciation for the beauty and uniqueness of Royal Grammas

Royal Grammas are truly stunning fish that add a captivating beauty to any aquarium. They are a sight to behold with their vibrant purple and yellow coloration.

Their unique body shape, size, and graceful movements make them a true delight to observe.

Their peaceful and mellow temperament sets Royal Grammas apart, making them a great addition to any community tank. Their hardy nature and easy-care requirements make them a perfect choice for beginners.

Whether you are an experienced aquarist or just starting, you can’t help but appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of these remarkable fish.