The Royal Grandmother Fish, also known as the Fairy Basslet, is one of our favorite saltwater aquarium fish. They are easy to care for, mild in temperament and look beautiful.
Due to the stunning colors of this fish, they are extremely popular in the saltwater aquarist community. They will stand out in your tank no matter what other fish you have them with!
But with so many people flocking to buy these fish, misinformation is being spread. And no matter how simple royal grandma care is, you can mess things up if you don’t have the right information.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the Royal Grandmother Fish Basslet. How to care for them, their lifespan, compatibility and more!
The royal grandmother fish (gramma loreto) is a saltwater fish of the Grammatidae family. They are mainly found in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. This area stretches from the coast of South America to the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and ends near Bermuda.
While they cover a fairly large span in their natural habitat, fairy bass are primarily known to those in the aquarist community. The main reason for this is its extremely bright and beautiful colors.
They are pretty much the textbook fish why people get into saltwater farming in the first place!
The Royal Grandmother Fish is also extremely easy to care for due to its hardy and peaceful nature. This makes them ideal for new aquarists who might be setting up their first saltwater tank.
Royal Grandmother Fish Lifespan
The average life expectancy of the Royal Grandfather Fish is around 5-6 years. We have heard from owners who have reported shelf lives of up to 10, but these cannot be verified.
Even though these fish are quite hardy, you can still shorten their lifespan by giving them poor care. Be sure to be consistent with the parameters and quality of the water to help them live as long as possible.
The appearance of a Gramma Loreto is really where these fish stand out the most. Their vibrant colors are easily the main reason for their popularity and the reason you’ll find them in so many reef tanks around the world.
They don’t have much to do in terms of patterns, it’s really about the color with these fish. Its front half is an intense bright purple color, and its back half is bright yellow. The transition point between these two colors is quite marked, although some fish have a more gradient middle point than others.
Its ventral fins also match the purple color of the front half of its body.
On the upper front edge of its dorsal fin, you will see a black dot the size of your eye. This is more circular in some fish than others, but it’s always there.
Royal grammas also often have a dark line running from the mouth to the center of the eyes. This is not always very obvious, and darkness can vary based on a number of factors, including gender.
Their bodies are long with an average width and taper towards the back. They look like colorful torpedoes! Its dorsal fin starts at the same point down its body as its ventral fins and arches slightly towards the middle.
Author’s note: When they swim, their fins fold back a little. So much so that it’s a bit curious how they generate so much speed!
The average size of a Gramma Loreto is 3 to 4 inches long. This can vary based on genetics, quality of care, and gender.
It is also rare for this fish to reach its maximum potential size in captivity.
Grandma Fish Real Care
Caring for the Royal Grandmother Fish is not very challenging due to the stamina and hardy nature of this fish. Having said that, you still need to have a solid understanding of the basics to help them live a long and happy life.
Gramma Loreto minimum tank size is 30 gallons for one fish. This will give them enough room to swim comfortably and enjoy a variety of reefs and hideouts.
If you have two real grams, you should increase the size of this tank to around 50-60 gallons. After that, try adding another 20 gallons per fish if you intend to keep a bunch of them together.
Royal grammas are hardy fish that can thrive in a variety of water conditions. However, there is still a sweet spot where you should go. This will increase the quality of their lives and potentially lengthen their life expectancy.
Each of the aquarists we’ve heard of who have royal grammas that are past the upper limits of their lifespan have one thing in common: they are obsessed with water quality and parameters. If you want to be a great owner, you must do the same.
- Water temperature: 72°F-80°F
- pH levels: 8.1 to 8.4
- Carbonates Hardness: 8°-12°dKH
- Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025
Be sure to regularly test the water level to make sure the water is in good condition. These tests will help you catch any unwanted fluctuations before they become a problem.
What to put in your tank
Due to its peaceful and shy nature, you’ll want to make sure there are a handful of places for your royal gramma basslet to hide. If they don’t have it available, they will be prone to stress, which can have a significant impact on their health.
rockwork is essential
Since we’re dealing with a saltwater tank, that means corals, reefs, and caves are great options to help get this fish comfortable. They are likely to find a specific crevice where they spend most of their time.
It can be a lot of fun to watch them navigate whatever rocks you have in the tank. They are very cunning with their movements and can sometimes seem like they are playing hide and seek with you.
Author’s Note: If you plan to keep more than one fairy bass in the same tank, you need to make sure there is enough room for each one to call home. A large tank with a small coral feature is just as bad as a small tank full of rocks.
There is no species-specific illness or disease that you need to be aware of with royal grammas. They are very hardy and hardy fish.
That doesn’t mean they can’t get any of the common ailments that affect saltwater fish, of course, but most of them can be prevented by maintaining good water quality.
Food and Diet
The ideal diet of the Royal Grandmother Fish will contain a mix of high-protein foods and vegetables. Their natural diet as a carnivore consists mainly of various types of live plankton, but that is something that cannot be easily reproduced in a home reef aquarium.
The main basis of their diet when kept as a pet will likely come from pellets, flakes, and frozen foods. This will cover many of your basic nutritional needs in an affordable and convenient way.
In addition to this, you’ll also want to add some variety to their diet by giving them some high-protein treats a couple of times a week. Frozen or dried plankton, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, crustacean meat, or bloodworms are great options.
This food mix will provide your fish with a balanced diet, but it will also give them some enrichment. Fish enjoy treats just like people!
However, make sure you don’t overfeed your royal grandmother. Give them an average amount of food and feed them 2-4 times a day, depending on your schedule. If you notice that food is not being eaten, adjust the amount accordingly.
behavior and temperament
Royal grammas are very gentle and peaceful fish. They don’t want to cause trouble and will always seek the protection of corals, reefs and rocks as their default spot.
The only situation where you may see some aggression emerge is when it comes to your preferred home or hideout. Royal grammars see these areas as their home and if another fish starts to be too nosy, they will do what they can to discourage you.
Typically, these fish will spend a fair amount of time hiding and then coming out to catch food when it’s time to eat. They will not venture into the top or bottom third of your tank very often, preferring instead to operate as close to home as possible.
Sometimes you will see your real grandmother swimming upside down along rocks and other surfaces. While this may seem strange at first, it is completely normal. It’s their way of navigating these objects, and who are we to tell them they’re wrong!
Author’s Note: You’ll want to make sure you have a strong lid when keeping these fish. They are known to be quite prolific jumpers and will try their escape plan more than once.
Compatibility with Royal Grandfather Fish and tank mates
One thing that makes Royal Grandmother Fish care so simple is its compatibility with other fish. Their calm and patient temperament is perfect if you plan to keep them with tankmates of another species.
Angelfish, gobies, hawk, boxfish, teal chromis, and clownfish are all compatible with true grammas. The list goes on and on, so we’re not going to live through every species for sanity’s sake.
But there are some things you’ll want to avoid.
Fish that are significantly larger or more aggressive than royal grammas do not make good tank mates. If they don’t harm your fairy parakeet, they will scare them away and increase their stress levels. This will make your fish afraid to leave their homes to find food, which is a serious problem.
Some fish like this to avoid are:
- Lion fish
Any fish that like to make their homes in rocks and crevices could also cause a problem. King grammas can become feisty if they feel their territory is being invaded. Even if other fish do not mean any harm, this could be misunderstood.
You’ll also want to be mindful of your coloration when thinking about compatibility.
Fish that looks like your real grandmother can be a recipe for disaster. A perfect example of this is real dottybacks. The reason for this is simple: it could make your royal gramma basslet feel territorial (or vice versa).
compatibility with each other
Keeping the Royal Grandmother Fish together is absolutely possible as long as you have enough space. These fish can get irritable with each other if they have their eyes on the same place they call home.
The easiest way to avoid this is by following the recommended tank size guidelines we listed above. That will ensure there are plenty of hiding spots and room to swim for everyone.
Males are also more likely to pick on each other than females. This must be taken into account when planning your tank.
As long as you give them enough space and keep gender in mind, these fish are very compatible with one another.
Due to their beautiful colors and popularity, many people are interested in breeding royal grammas. If you are one of them, you are in luck!
Raising royal grammas is very simple and is something anyone can do (very little experience is needed).
You will need to have one male and one female in a standard tank. There is nothing special you need to do with their habitat to encourage breeding.
The male will build a nest over a period of one or two days. It will use rocks and various pieces of vegetation as the base of the nest.
Once this is done, the female will swim to the next one and add her eggs to the nest. This does not take long and shortly after this happens the male will fertilize them.
The eggs should not take more than a week to hatch. From there, all you have to do is feed them and help the little ones grow!
Now up to you
Interest in royal grammas isn’t going away anytime soon. They are beautiful, easy to care for, and fun to watch!
We hope this guide to royal grammar care will help you decide if this is a fish you want to keep or improve on the level of care you are giving to a fish you currently own.
With more and more fish farming techniques and improvements coming out every year, this guide is a resource that we will commit to improving as time goes on. If you have any suggestions for things we should add or improve, please let us know!