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FAQs about the Basses of the Genus Serranus

Related Articles: Basses of the genus Serranus,

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Serranus tortugarum in an aquarium

Epsom salt treatment with high magnesium?     3/19/14
Hi Bob and Crew, I have been a follower of WetWebMedia for many years and have always found an answer in your extensive archives to my queries, until now. I have 2 chalk bass and one of them has developed PopEye in one eye only. As I saw the other one peck it near the eye a few days ago I assume this is the cause. After searching your web site I would like to follow the advice I found there and treat my MD with 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons with Epsom salts. However, this is my query/problem, I have high magnesium levels already. Its too long a story how this came about but I am convinced it was through using Reef Crystals sea salt to set up the tank because I had high readings for parameters i.e. alkalinity and calcium ( no magnesium test at first) right from the start! Now my readings are: Alk, now a bit low 7.8dKH,
<You could raise this up... to precipitate out the Alkaline earths (Ca, Mg)....>
pH 8.2, Ca 400ppm o.k. , and Mg 1600 way too high! The Mg was 1480 a couple of days ago but I dosed 1tsp Kalkwasser to raise dKH (then 7.1) and so that must be what raised the Mg
<Not... where would the Mg come from?>

because no other additives have been used! I have been doing regular weekly 10% water changes with instant ocean to try to get things back Into sync but not sure now how to get Mg readings down?
<See above. This or massive water change outs; replacing the water with that of less Magnesium>
Back to my PopEye problem, will adding Epsom salts make the Mg situation worse? what would you suggest?
<I would treat in the med. tank regardless; Not let the high Mg bother me>
I would be very grateful for any help you can offer and thanks again for such a useful and informative site! Jenny
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re Epsom salt treatment with high magnesium?     3/20/14

Thanks Bob for speedy reply to message below, much appreciated!
I have inserted a couple more comments/questions, hope this is o.k.!
<Certainly>
Hi Bob and Crew, I have been a follower of WetWebMedia for many years and have always found an answer in your extensive archives to my queries, until now. I have 2 chalk bass and one of them has developed PopEye in one eye only. As I saw the other one peck it near the eye a few days ago I assume this is the cause. After searching your web site I would like to follow the advice I found there and treat my MD with 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons with Epsom salts. However, this is my query/problem, I have high magnesium levels already. Its too long a story how this came about but I am convinced it was through using Reef Crystals sea salt to set up the tank because I had high readings for parameters i.e. alkalinity and calcium ( no magnesium test at first) right from the start! Now my readings are: Alk, now a bit low 7.8dKH,
<You could raise this up... to precipitate out the Alkaline earths (Ca, Mg)....> <<Think this is the way I will go with water changes as well, how high would you gradually go with Alkalinity rise?>>
<<A few dKH more... it won't stay... will precipitate out with the alkaline earths>>
pH 8.2, Ca 400ppm o.k. , and Mg 1600 way too high! The Mg was 1480 a couple of days ago but I dosed 1tsp Kalkwasser to raise dKH (then 7.1) and so that must be what raised the Mg
<Not... where would the Mg come from?><< Suggested this as all I could think of but looked on ingredients and see no mention of Mg so I am now stumped as to where it has come from!! Tested with RedSea titration but wonder if correct reading now!>>
<Me too; limewater; Kalk is Calcium Hydroxide... no Mg in it>

because no other additives have been used! I have been doing regular weekly 10% water changes with instant ocean to try to get things back Into sync but not sure now how to get Mg readings down?
<See above. This or massive water change outs; replacing the water with that of less Magnesium>
Back to my PopEye problem, will adding Epsom salts make the Mg situation worse? what would you suggest?
<I would treat in the med. tank regardless; Not let the high Mg bother me><< Do you mean main display here?
I couldn't catch the fish without tearing down the tank as he is small and many crooks and crannies in the reef! I read in archives its safe to dose Epsom salts at 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons, some say per 5 gallons, in main Display, do you still agree with this? Which dose should I use with my high Mg? Thanks so much for your help!>>
<<IF necessary in the main tank; yes. Trapping the Serranus, draining the tank down and removing most decor to remove it to isolation... may well be too stressful>>
I would be very grateful for any help you can offer and thanks again for such a useful and informative site! Jenny
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Epsom salt treatment with high magnesium (update)
... Plus move to Popeye, Epsom f's     3/23/14
Hello again Bob, thought you might like to know that the one dose (1 tablespoon per 10 gallons) of Epsom salts to my main Display has had the desired effect and my little chalk bass is making an amazing recovery from his, very bad PopEye (caused by the other little chalk bass)!
<Ah, good>
I am very grateful! As for the Magnesium problem, I have to admit I made a mistake testing! I used Redsea's test for the first time and my only excuse is that the diagrammatical instructions had a very small *5 printed outside the box which I didn't see, meaning I was 4 drops short of one of the chemical components used! My reading now is 1400 not 1500. Still high I know but not as scary! I am following your instructions to make this 3 times the calcium reading.
Once again thanks for your help and I will continue to use your brilliant archives as before. Jenny
<Thank you for this valuable follow-up. BobF> 

Quick question, Serranus incomp.    7/19/13
Hello!
<John>
Would a Lantern Bass be a danger to my two Peppermint Shrimps and my small Emerald Crab, and the five Hermit Crabs that I'm thinking about getting?
Thank you.
<Mostly the Lysmata; yes. Bob Fenner>

My tank... Sm SW allelopathy, fish mis-stkg. 12/30/09
Hi Crew,
I have a 24 gallon Aquapod (been up for a year) with a glass top and recently put 96w T5's on it (based on Crews suggestion). 48w daylight and 48 actinics.
I used to have 65w PC daylights. I have two Candycane colonies and about 15 heads of branching hammers, different colors. The tank has a hob skimmer, crushed coral bottom, snails and who knows what else.
Glass keeps fairly clean for over a week. Hair algae growing on the back wall and a bit on the rocks that I clean of once every couple months.
My branching hammers have been doing ok but with actinics they look like they have lights on inside. I also have a wall hammer that seems to be shrinking. I am hoping the light change will help.
<Mmm, unlikely here... likely allelopathy will keep favouring the
Caulastrea. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above>
I also changed the position of the hammer so that it is almost on its side plus an angle from front to back. It is about at mid tank. Should it be lower? Would it grow better if I did not have the skimmer?
<No and no>
My Royal Gramma (1 year) bashed his head into something and it looked real bad. But now 2 weeks later you can't even tell.
I just let nature take its course.
<Mmm; no, not in an unnatural setting of your own devising>
I also have a Chalk Bass that I got at the same time as the Gramma. The Gramma is boss but at feeding time the chalk becomes aggressive and makes sure he gets his fair share.
<Too small a world for both here>
But for about 10 days now the chalk is sitting at the bottom very listless. He does swim a bit during feeding but just for a bite or two.
<See WWM re Serranus sp. and Grammatids>
This morning I did see him swimming before feeding but then he went back to the bottom.
I do not see anything to indicate a physical problem from the outside. I am hopeful for recovery since it has been so long in this state.
<? Would you 'recover' from living in a closet... with another similarly sized animal?>
I would have expected him to be dead after a couple days like this. If you have any ideas let me know.
Thanks,
Sam
<... read. Bob Fenner>
re: My tank 12/30/09
OK, Mr. Fenner I will find those fish a better home.
Thanks
<A good plan Samuel. Cheers, BobF>

Chalk bass pop-eye 12/21/2009
Hi,
<Hello there>
I've viewed the transcripts from previous senders and would like to ask a similar question. Normally I would just read, learn, and treat; but this situation seems to be a bit unique. I have a well established 150g tank.
All levels are in range and all other fish are doing great. This is a fish/ coral tank, but started 3 months ago as just a fish tank with some live rock (the 3 months was in addition to the 5 weeks of complete cycling).
About a month and a half ago I purchased three chalk bass.
<Neat to see these three Serranus interacting here>
The larger of the three developed what looked like an embolism in his right eye, became slightly discolored (brownish), and stayed to himself; otherwise, seemed to be eating and swimming ok. As the next week progressed, the others seemed to alienate themselves from him and I was afraid that it may be something contagious or age related. Either way, I removed him from the tank. Having no QT I disposed of him. I now have another chalk bass with a bulging eye, but seems ok otherwise. He swims a little crooked, but I have assumed that is because of the inability to see correctly from the bulging eye. Are chalk bass more susceptible to this type of disfigurement?
<Mmm, not any more than "average"... I suspect these fish may have had some decompression (from capture) issue>
Does this usually correct itself and should I take any special precautions?
<Does generally self-correct, at least to degree, over time (weeks to months). Sometimes is worthwhile removing the affected fish, administering Epsom Salt/MgSO4, per WWM relatings... If as I am guessing these fish weren't properly "brought up", then no treatment will be of use, only time can/will tell. This is a tough genus... I would just be patient here. Bob Fenner>
Scott

I bought a new fish and can't identify it. 4/5/09
Hello,
I went to the local salt water store today and bought a new fish. The guy at the store didn't have any idea what kind of fish it was. I was hoping you could help me out.
<Mmm, from the shape of the eye, the fins and their placement, fusiform body... appears to be a Bass, a Serranid... My best guess is Serranus baldwini. See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/serranus.htm
And fishbase.org, the Net...
Bob Fenner>

Re: I bought a new fish and can't identify it. 04/05/09
Thank you very much for the information. I looked up the pictures and the body shape and fins and head are the same but the markings are different on his body. I think I may have over paid for him since the guy at the LFS couldn't positively identify him. I appreciate your help! I bought your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and I refer to it often. Thanks again.
Chris From Buffalo NY
<Ahh, please do send another image as this fish grows a bit. We'll figure it out. BobF>


Chalk bass, sel. stkg.
12/24/07 Hey crew! <Mike> I have a 55 gallon reef with around 60 lbs of rock that I was thinking about adding some chalk bass to. <Some?> At current I have 2 Ocellaris clowns, 2 green chromis, a Scopas tang <Needs more room> and a scooter blenny. Do you think that one, or even two would be pushing the limits? <Two too likely... Serranus spp. are territorial...> It is a show style tank so it is 4 feet long and 20 inches deep and offers a good amount of space to swim with plenty of rockwork for cover, though I more concerned about the biological limitations. your thoughts? Thanks Mike <Think a four foot by one foot bottom is pushing it too much psychologically here. One specimen is all I'd place. Bob Fenner>

Mixing Basslet Species - 1/6/06 I am considering adding Basslets to my current set-up. My aquarium is a 75 gallon reef with 80lbs of live rock, live sand and numerous blue-legged hermits and algae-eating snails. The only fish are a Royal Gramma, a Velvet Damsel, a Maroon Clown, and a Spotted Mandarin. I also have several mushroom corals. The set-up has been running for 9 months and all is well. I am considering adding a group of Basslets; 2 Chalk Basslets and 1 Orange-back Basslet. I actually have a few questions: Would 3 new fish result in overcrowding? <Shouldn't> I assume it may be safer to add a group,<Yes> as the current fish are pretty aggressive to newcomers-I tried adding 2 green chromis recently which were treated pretty roughly until I removed them. As far as compatibility goes can I mix the Chalk Basslets with the Orange-back or should I stick with just 1 species--I like them both. <As long as that Velvet Damsel is in the tank, there is always going to be some aggression toward newcomers.> Are either species compatible with the Royal Gramma? Will the Basslets be too aggressive for the Mandarin? <Basslets seem to get along OK with others in the family. Shouldn't bother the Mandarin but again, with that damsel?????> Thank You! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Fish Jumped (6/13/05) Hi there!! Great site! So far, your help has been more than appreciated! <Glad to be a part of this helpful venture. Steve Allen with you tonight.> There is my question. I had a Chalk Basslet, very active fish, great health, lots of personality and never afraid, no matter what happens! A few days ago, I left the glass cover opened for a few hours (my mistake, I know!) and the Chalk jumped out... <Sorry to hear. I've found a couple of missing fish dried up behind my tank months later myself.> I was wondering what could have made him jump out?? <Impossible to say. Spooked by something. Just happened to jump. Many possibilities.> Water quality is good, ammonia/nitrites: 0, nitrates: ranging from 10 to 20 ppm (little high...), sg: 1.025, temp.: +/-78F, water changes: every week, 5-7%... other fishes: ocellaris clown, royal Gramma (really peaceful, even with the chalk), yellowhead jawfish, 2 cleaner shrimps, 1 coral banded shrimp, lots of small inverts, soft and LPS corals... <All sounds fine.> I heard (or read, can't remember) that chalks don't jump out... <Any fish can jump. There is no such thing as a fish that "never" jumps, though some are certainly much more prone to do so than others.> Any idea of the reasons why he "committed suicide"?? <Again, absolutely no way to know. I'd say that anyone who has an open-top tank will eventually lose a fish.> Thank you very much!! If you need more details about my aquarium, please kept me know! Thanks!! Ivan <Consider using a piece of that plastic egg-crate stuff from Home Depot to keep fish in while allowing good ventilation and access for feeding.>

- Chalk Bass Compatibility - Hi there! I've been looking through your FAQs and info, and as far as I can understand, chalk basses are from the same family as royal grammas... <Yes, both basses [Serranidae] although in different genera.> <<Mmm, actually Grammas are in a separate family, Grammatidae... but these families are not very distally related. RMF>> I have a well-established 32 gal reef tank with a chalk bass, green Chromis, ocellaris clown, firefish and a few inverts (shrimp, hermit, etc...) They are all really peaceful and seem to do greatly together. I also have LPS and soft corals... My question is, will it be OK if I put a Royal Gramma with these guys? <I'd recommend against it only because your tank is full, livestock wise... the fish would likely get along given more space but I think this will put your tank over the edge both socially and biologically.> Will there be any territoriality/species problems with my bass? (I love this guy!! so bright and beautiful colors, and lots of personality ;) Thanks a lot!!! Ivan <Cheers, J -- >

- Chalk Bass in Groups? - Dearest Crew: I am looking into the Chalk Bass (Serranus tortugarum) for my 55 gallon. My current setup is as follows: 1-False Percula Clown - (Amphiprion ocellaris) 1-Orchid Dottyback - (Pseudochromis fridmani) 1-Blenny (Salarias fasciatus or S. ceramensis) 4-mushrooms on 2 rocks 1-small polyp rock 3-small leathers According to a marine fishes book I have, this fish is an excellent choice for the peaceful tank, and are best kept in groups. Now, my questions: First, do you believe this fish is best kept in groups? <Will do well either way.> Second, is three (3) considered a group? <Sure.> Third, can I fit three in my setup? <Three might be a crowd.> Fourth, if not, would one alone fare okay? <I think so... one would probably be better in your setup.> Thanks, Rich <Cheers, J -- >

The Mysterious Chalk Bass Hi. I'm a great fan of your site but after leafing through it for quite some time I noticed that there wasn't much written about the chalk Basslet. I've read that it can be kept in very small aquariums and I'm curious to know whether it would be compatible in my 25g fish/invert tank. <Would be better, more suitably placed in something larger, I'd say a forty gallon minimum> I've already got a pair of a. perculas, a neon goby and some small hermits/snails. I plan to add the Basslet and two skunk cleaner shrimp. Could everyone get along? <The shrimp might be consumed during a molting incident by the bass> Also, the pictures I have seen of this fish vary greatly...is the bright blue color more common or the pale pink with light blue stripes? I'd love to learn more about this fish, esp. from the experts. Many many thanks. <This and other Serranus are quite variable in color... and changeable depending on circumstances (psychological/social as well as water quality, nutrition...), best to pick out one that is initially about what you like and "keep it happy". Bob Fenner>

To Hamlet or Basslet, That is the Question <Hi, MikeD here> I am very interested in these 2 fish. <Very nice animals> The reason being is I love the predatory natured fish, like groupers and the like. I crossed groupers off the list because I have a 75g tank, and they get too large for that, and I have some smaller fish they'd probably eat. <Very wise choice based on logical reasoning. Well done! I am wondering what your thoughts on the Indigo Hamlet and Tobacco Basslet <Two of my favorite "mini-groupers> are, in concerns to the compatibility with the fish I currently have. Right now I have a pair of ocellaris clownfish, the smaller of the two being about 2", the larger being about 3". I also have a yellow watchman goby, and a coral beauty angel, who is approximately 3.5". Will any of my existing fish be at high risk of being eaten if I add the hamlet or tobacco bass, or both??<No problem with adding either OR both fish if you so desire. I have a pair of Hamlets in my 125 gal. small predator tank, a black and an Indigo> I read that they eat small fish, but just how small are we talking?<We're taking baby guppy sized up through about 1" maximum for prey fishes.> I had a marine betta in the past who never even looked at any of those fish as food.<Another of my favorites, although far more secretive than most people realize> I thank you in advance. <Good luck and let us know what you decide and how they do?> Joe

Eastern Atlantic Bass papers Please Sir I want any reprints or papers about Serranus hepatus S.scriba S.cabrilla <Mmm, only what is posted on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Re: Chalk Bass (Serranus tortugarum) WWM Crew, <Howdy Bob... it's, uhh, Bob> I'm thinking about purchasing a Chalk Bass but I've not been able to find a lot of useful information on their fit in aquariums. Michaels give it a 5 for aquarium suitability and for the most part it looks like a hardy species. Your site's FAQ's provide little info other than it is a favorite of some. I'm guessing that it is not a widely held fish. How would this fish do in a "peaceful" FO 75g tank? <A very good choice> It's mates would be some type of Dwarf Angel (probably a Flame or a Coral Beauty), 3 Bar Gobies, a Regal Tang, a pair of Percula Clowns, a Six-line Wrasse, 2 small Pajama Cardinals and a Bartlett's Anthias. Bob Jones <Serranus spp. are favorites of mainly U.S. east coast markets due to their proximity to the tropical West Atlantic. I agree with your searching thus far re their placement, usefulness. Shy like many small basses, but not "mean". Bob Fenner>

Wrasse question Hi Bob, great site! (Just discovered it today) <Ah, good... spread the word> My LFS has a wrasse that I don't see listed on your site - a Tobacco Wrasse. <Hmm, a new common name to me... and FishBase... are you sure you don't mean a Tobacco Bass, aka Tobaccofish? (Serranus tabacarius?)... this is pictured on the WWM site... and is "relatively" reef safe...> Is this (as the LFS claims) a reef-safe fish? Which species is he in? <Family? Serranidae, the true Basses, Groupers> What about mature size in a 70 gallon tank 1/4 full of live rock? <Perhaps four inches, maybe five> Any other advice about a go/no-go on this wrasse? If it matters, the other fish in the tank are a Hippo Tang, a Royal Gramma, a Foxface, and an unknown (pinkish, fairly docile, mature) Damsel. Inverts are an orange bristle star (he likes to be hand fed fresh shrimp), pagoda, trumpet, branching hammer corals, and various polyps and mushrooms. Thanks! Matt <Should get along with all. Take a look again at the image of this fish on the WWM site... is this the fish? Bob Fenner>
Re: wrasse question
Bob, you were much closer than the LFS on the identity of the "wrasse"! It looks exactly like the WWM picture of Serranus annularis, or Orangeback Bass. Not a tabacarius. So... reef safe? Ok with Hippo tang, Foxface, etc? Good fish? Thanks again, Matt <A very good fish, actually entire genus... and "reef safe" as long as you don't have small crustaceans, fishes that can fit in their mouths... at least for Basses, they stay/are small. Bob Fenner>>

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