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FAQs on Basslets/Gramma Systems

Related Articles: Grammas

Related FAQs:  Grammas 1, Grammas 2, Gramma Identification, Gramma Behavior, Gramma Compatibility, Gramma Selection, Gramma Feeding, Gramma Health, Gramma Reproduction,

Royal Gramma, environment, behavior 12/21/11
I was so excited to find this website; sometimes I spend too much time reading.
 Anyway, I am concerned about a Royal Gramma.  My tank is 40 gallons. About 2
months old.  2 Tank-bred Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Canary Wrasse, 2 PJ Cardinals, 1 Royal Gramma, 2 Emerald Crabs, 1 Peppermint Shrimp, couple small blue-leg hermits, and about 12 snails.  The water conditions aren't ideal. Nitrites were a bit high, but Nitrates were lower which I found strange.
<No such thing as nitrites being a bit high, any detectable level of nitrites is a big problem and very rough/deadly to fish.>
  I have about 30 lbs of dry rock and plan on adding some live after the New Year.  Everyone was doing find until a couple days ago by small male clown started to hid underneath an overhang near where the shrimp has made home.
<Results of the poor water quality.>
This went on for a couple of days, I thought he might be stressed so I did a 25% water change; he seems to be more active now.
<Proof that the water is the problem.>
However, now the Gramma, who was always territorial over his little cove, has strayed, and last night even slept against a rock where he usually spends no more than ten minutes at.  He also would pick up and invertebrate with a shell small enough to it in his large mouth and carry them around until dropping
them which I found strange, and kind of cruel.
<Normal behavior from what I have seen from mine, actually tamer, my rips their legs off first chance he gets.>
He seems to now be rubbing against rock every now and then.  I just wanted to try and catch this early, if
it's anything at all. 
<The nitrites are the problem, that is a lot of life for such a new tank of that size, more water changes until nitrites stay at 0.>

Ga Ga For Grammas (Royal Gramma Biotope System)  7/7/09
Hello Crew,
<Hey there! Scott F. your Crew member today!>
I am in the process of setting up a 29g reef, which has been built, but not yet stocked pending the conclusion of my research.
<Good heavens- you're RESEARCHING before setting a system up? This is really great to see/hear. So many problems can be eliminated with a little time spent researching. Good for you!>
I want to showcase Condylactis anemones (only one type, hopefully the gigantea), and my wife is interested in a Royal Gramma.
<One of my all-time favorite fishes!>
That led me to focus on a
Caribbean biotope, having read Tullock's and Mr Fenner's books, as well as Reef Invertebrates by Mr Fenner and Mr Calfo.
<Excellent references all!>
I am leaning toward
the shallow side of a fore reef, with a 2x65w Coralife fixture, an Aqua C Remora skimmer, and dual returns routed from a SCWD that should result in a total flow rate of around 300-350gph after accounting for head loss and the head pressure of the SCWD. The tank has been drilled and has a 1" Durso installed.
<Know the man- love his standpipes!>
I have around 25lbs of well established Fiji rock (can't get Gulf rock locally), another 25lbs of well established base rock, and 40+ pounds of live sand. I anticipate about a 4" sand depth in the display, with a 20g long being used for the sump.
<Sounds good so far. If you're thinking about the whole biotope idea, do consider building up a rock overhang under which your Royal Gramma can hang out in a natural fashion This is a really interesting biotope. In fact, I'll be in the Caribbean next week, and hope to be visiting my pals the Grammas in their natural environment!.>
Other species I am considering include 3-5 peppermint shrimp, a few Astraea and turbo snails, and a pair of Atlantic cleaner shrimp (actually, Lysmata amboinensis, as I can't get the Atlantic version locally). I would want to place the anemone or anemones in first to let them settle a bit, as I anticipate them wandering a bit more at first. I only plan on keeping one Royal Gramma. I don't think a second fish is a good idea in a tank this size, unless you think there's a practical option.
<I would generally not attempt adding more than one in an aquarium of this size. Perhaps a few Neon Gobies might fit in nicely and add to the interest of this biotope, but that's about it. If this were a larger system, I'd definitely create an aggregation of Grammas, and perhaps a few other fishes>
I've looked around the site, but haven't found info on this specific setup...any advice?
<Well, Stan, I think that you are on the right track. As an obsessed by biotope geek myself, I really think that this is a great way to highlight and learn more about animals that you are interested in. Fishes and inverts in a system that attempts to replicate the natural environment will display more natural behaviors and colors, as well as possibly engage in spawning behavior. And, biotope systems are highly educational to both hobbyists and non-hobbyists alike. They are truly unique displays that can provide a new dimension of enjoyment to your hobby. Best of luck! Regards,
Scott F.>

Re: Condy anemone/royal gramma biotope
Stocking a Royal Gramma Biotope 7/8/09

<Hey Stan>
Since you're headed that way, can you suggest a few names of likely Royal Gramma habitats in the Caribbean? I know they are prolific, but I am hoping to find some biotope pictures online, and it seems the best way to research biotopes is by looking at tourist-oriented websites, especially for deep sea diving locations.
<Excellent thought. The tourist and dive sites are a great source of biotope information and usually have great photos as well! I would look for information from The Bahamas, Venezuela, the Lesser Antilles, and other outlying parts of the Caribbean. I hope to see some in Grand Cayman and Isla Roatan, but that might be wishful thinking. They seem to be very commonly encountered in Bimini in the Bahamas, so checking out dive sites for this area could be fruitful. Check the sites for dive operators in the other areas mentioned, too, and www.fishbase.org for specific type localities and other great information!>
Also, I hear the C. gigantea species can top out at 12 inches. I anticipate not having any corals or sessile inverts in the tank, but will this anemone's size be a problem?
<In the size of aquarium that you are contemplating, this species could be a problem. I'd be more inclined to consider smaller, hardier, more abundant "Rock Anemones", such as Phymanthus or the "Corkscrew Anemones", Bartholomea species. Although it would be cheating a bit, as these species are generally not found in the same environment as the Grammas, these would probably fare better in a system of this size. To be honest, I would pass on an anemone altogether in the biotope, as they are generally not found in super close proximity to the Grammas in nature. I would be much more inclined to utilize Gorgonians, or even (artificial!) sponges and encrusting soft corals (versions of Sinularia, perhaps- although not found in the region, could make a suitable facsimile of the local corals, if desired.). Passing on the anemone would create a more faithful/functional/sustainable reproduction of the biotope, IMHO. You should consider planting some calcareous macroalgae, such as Halimeda, in the rocks.>
As the focal point of the tank, I am okay with it filling the tank...
<Umm...consider the options above.>
Lastly (though I know better), any chance of an Arrow Crab working in this size aquarium with a Royal Gramma? I am under the belief that sooner or later every snail, shrimp, or fish would be lunch at some point in a tank this size (29g). I just think they are cool, so I like to ask around.
<I, too, have always loved the Arrow Crab, but I'm a bit leery of them at the larger sizes. Although better known for eating polychaetes like bristle worms, they do tend to develop more "cosmopolitan" tastes in the confines of an aquarium, perhaps even going after more desirable life forms, such as Feather Dusters, etc. They will definitely be a threat to smaller crustaceans, such as shrimp, and could at least potentially be problematic to smaller more sessile fishes, so keep this in consideration. Although not really piscivores per se, "accidents" do happen in the aquarium. I would certainly keep a small specimen if you are inclined to have one, and keep a close eye out for potential problems in a system of this size. Best to use some of the small to medium sized shrimps instead, although not to small, as you might end up feeding your Gramma an expensive little meal! So much to consider, I know, but we just need to be mindful of the potential issues in a modest-sized system.>
Thanks again for a great site!
<My pleasure, Stan. Don't want to "rain on your parade", but I did want to give you some food for thought in regards to potential stocking issues for this aquarium. Best of luck, and keep me posted on how this system evolves!
Regards, Scott F.>

Re: Condy anemone/royal gramma biotope
Stocking a Royal Gramma Biotope (cont'd.) 7/8/09

<Hey Stan!>
Something like this, perhaps, with my tank representing a slice of the bottom of this wall. I have some synthetic Red Sea live rock that looks very similar to the red encrusting sponges found in the Caribbean. I could use that along the corner to conceal the overflow and mimic the sloping wall. Pillars of true live rock go along the bottom, inter spaced with Halimeda. I can get gorgonians pretty readily here, and there are rock anemones brought in as hitchhikers pretty often as well. I may also attach some dried sea fans to augment the gorgonians.
<Very nice...This is a great biotope to replicate. I have often though that it would work well in one of those tall, narrow aquariums (You know- the kind that end up in the garage collecting dust for eternity, or become
Final livestock plan appears as such:
1 Royal Gramma
2 Cleaner Shrimp
3-5 Peppermint Shrimp
2-3 Turbo Snails
3-5 Astrea Snails
maybe a...
<Hmm...maybe a Neon Goby or some kind of Blenny...Maybe a Jawfish, if you have deep enough sand! Keep me posted on this setup! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: Condy anemone/royal Gramma biotope
Caribbean Biotope (cont'd.)   7/23/09

Hey Scott,
<Hey there!>
I found this on the web...great report that has actual counts of coral specimens, along with their locations and the fish/invertebrates found with them.
<Very cool to find this kind of information on the web. There is a wealth of useful biotope information out there for the hobbyist willing to take a serious look!>
Here's another report dealing with anemones in the Keys specifically...Also, a really good website, with movies and pics of Caribbean biotopes (help planning your dives?) can be found
<Neat..in fact, Michelle L. and I just returned from a Caribbean dive trip, and we noticed Condylactis anemones on reefs in Belize and Cozumel..I was surprised, quite frankly, to see them there.>
Interestingly, I noted that there are fairly low appearances of Cleaner/Banded Shrimp, suggesting that multiple specimens in a 29g tank is not representative of their natural habitat (unless they are pairing). This holds true for Arrow Crabs as well, although they are already known to fight each other in aquariums.
<Absolutely. Although once again, on the reefs I did see these creatures residing in surprisingly close proximity to each other. This would be completely crazy to attempt in an aquarium, IMO. One of the coolest things I saw was in Cozumel- a "family" of 3 Arrow Crabs- two adults and a little guy- all on a small patch of rock. It was really cool to see.>
Sure is a lot of stony coral...I will be using some "branch rock" around the slope and along the bottom to replicate the pieces that would normally fall off and deposit along fore reef slopes due to storm damage. The Acropora count was around 50-60% of the coral counted in some areas, with algal growth accounting for most of the rest...
<I was surprised to see so much macroalgae, such as Dictyota and some turf algaes, covering the reefs...far more predominantly than corallines.>
For my setup, I will be trying to replicate a small slope that might be found along a fore reef wall, a ledge, if you will.
<Nice idea.>
Also, here's a super website that has lots of pics, and some movies, of various locations in the Caribbean.
<Hmm...not seeing it. I'm very excited to see your concept coming together.
Best of luck- and keep me in the loop! Regards, Scott F.>

Adding a Black Cap Basslet to a 24 Gal Nano Cube 6/25/2009
Hey Guys,
<Hello Jonathan.>
Love the website and help that you provide to fish hobbyist of all experience levels! I have been reading a lot of forum posts and have learned a lot regarding which fish would suit my needs best.
<Thank yo for the kind words.>
This is my first marine tank and am very excited. I have a 24 gallon nano cube with about 23 lbs of live rock and 20 lbs of live sand. I currently have:
A mated pair of False clowns.
1 green chromis
1 long fin cardinal
1 skunk cleaner shrimp
1 red fire shrimp
12 snail and hermit combo
<Very crowded for a 24 gallon tank, the Chromis is ill suited for a tank this small, as they are open swimmers. 24 gallons is also a bit too small for a pair of clowns.>
All have been getting along great after I took out a royal gramma that seemed to harass the other tenants. Also, I strongly felt that the gramma took out a cleaner shrimp. I was told that the gramma was a docile fish that would not eat ornamental shrimp therefore the gramma was one of the earlier entries into my tank.
<They generally will not, however in cramped quarters, 'all bets are off'.>
I am now planning to add a black cap Basslet and have it has my last addition before possible corals.
<Not a good idea.>
Will the addition of the black cap Basslet disrupt the harmony in my tank?
I know that they are very similar to the royal gramma, and some have said that they CAN be more aggressive.
<They are behaviorally the same as a Royal Gramma.>
I seem to have plenty of room for the black cap Basslet and have plenty of live rock for the Basslet to roam.
<Not in a 24 gallon with that many fish in it already.>
My current fish all swim in the water column and the black cap would look great in the caves. My main concern, will the black cap become aggressive again, since he was the last addition, or will I run into the same problem I had with the royal gramma?
<You will have the same problem.>
I am also running the Oceanic protein skimmer since it is the only one that will fit my tank. I know its not the best skimmer, but it's better than nothing!
So I guess my question is 2 fold: Will the addition of the black cap Basslet overstock my fish and will the addition of the Basslet disrupt the my tank?
<You are already overstocked, and yes a Basslet will disrupt your tank further.>
Any input you have will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
<I would recommend getting rid of the Chromis and not adding anything else..read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm >

How Do I Keep My Royal Gramma From Jumping Out? - 01/11/06 Happy new year to all. <<And to you>> I purchased a Royal Gramma <<Wonderful little fish!>> for my lightly stocked 55gal. (Lightly stocked being two Ocellaris Clowns, a Flame Angel and a 2 in. Yellow Tang <<Mmm...>>... and now the Gramma).  I'm not concerned at all about him being bullied because when I purchased him from the LFS he would hardly come out of hiding, <<This doesn't keep a fish from being "bullied.">> problem because he was in a tank all alone, and it was the same deal in my QT.  Now that he's in my display, (55 gal. CORNER bow front) he's out all the time. <<Super!>> He'll either be staring at me normal, or on his side or facing down, you know .. just typical Gramma stuff.  He started eating right away and nobody in the tank has paid him any attention, and he's always out hanging out, being a fish (well except the flame angel will stare him down and that's only when the Gramma gets near "his" live rock). <<All sounds good/normal thus far.>> I've got plenty of hiding places provided by 30 lbs of live rock. My concern is that if he does by chance get spooked he'll go flying out of the back corner of the tank which is not covered.  Do you think that I should worry about it at all, <<I've kept these great little fish for years and never has one taken "the leap."  Doesn't mean it couldn't happen though.>> and if so do you have any suggestions of how I could cover that back corner? <<A piece of "eggcrate" plastic light diffuser from the hardware/home store placed over the opening should give you the comfort you seek.>> Thanks for the input.. Have a Nice day. -Heather <<You're welcome...Regards, EricR>>

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