Royal Gramma (Gramma Loreto): Ultimate Care Guide


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Common Name(s)Royal Gramma, Fairy Basslet
Scientific NameGramma Loreto
OriginWest Atlantic Ocean, Florida, South America
Temperature72F to 78F
Water pH8.1 – 8.4
Adult Sizeup to 3 inches
DietPlanktivore

Royal Gramma Facts

  • Royal Gramma fish are planktivores. This means that they feed on things like zooplankton, and phytoplankton.
  • Royal Grammas are reef safe, and a great choice for a reef setup.
  • Royal Grammas are shy, and they appreciate a tank that provides them with many places to hide.
  • Royal Grammas look very similar to another fish that is called a Royal Dottyback. The Royal Dottyback is aggressive, and is sometimes mistaken for a Royal Gramma.

Royal Gramma Identifications and Markings

Royal Grammas are often chosen for saltwater aquariums due to their beautiful coloration. Royal Grammas boast a hue of brilliant colors. They have a deep purple that starts at their head and gradually shifts to yellow at their tail. The color shift for a Royal Gramma is gradient, and you can see the colors running and blending together.The deep purple on their head fades to a vibrant but lighter shade of purple and then onto orange and ending in yellow at the tailfin. The transition from their deep purple color to their vibrant yellow is a gradual gradient change, opposed to the harsher line of a look alike fish, the Dottyback. Royal Grammas are fairly small fish that only grow up to 3 inches long at full maturity.

Royal Gramma (Gramma Loreto)
Royal Gramma (Gramma Loreto)

Do Royal Gramma Hide All of the Time?

Royal Gramma are described as beautiful loner fish who will not often be seen out and about. They do spend the majority of their time in hiding as they are very shy fish. Most likely, when you introduce a Royal Gramma into your home aquarium they will find a spot that they find comfortable, and they will make that their most frequently used hiding spot.

Owners of Royal Gramma have reported that they are sensitive to changes in their aquarium, and if new things are added or removed, you can expect them to hide for a while. Even though Royal Grammas hide most of the time, they can be seen swimming around mostly during feeding time.

Are Royal Gramma Aggressive?

Royal Grammas are sometimes confused with another fish that looks very similar. The Royal Gramma is not considered an aggressive species, but their look-alike, the Royal Dottyback, or Dottyback, is. You can tell the difference between these two species by looking at them. Royal Grammas have a gradual color shift from their heads to their tails while the Dottyback have a clear line that separates their colors. Make sure to find a reputable breeder, or pet store to purchase Royal Grammas from to ensure that you are getting the correct species.

It is possible for Royal Grammas to fight amongst themselves if you are keeping multiple Royal Grammas in too small of an aquarium. They will tussle over choice spots that they want to hide in, or build nests in. It is recommended to house a single Royal Gramma that you have at least a 30 gallon tank. For each additional Royal Gramma add another 30 gallons.

Royal Gramma Care

As far as saltwater fish go, Royal Grammas are a hardy and peaceful fish that are easy to care for, even for beginners to keeping saltwater tanks. They are reef safe, and they go well with most other peaceful fish in a saltwater community setup. They are not picky when it comes to housing them, but they require lots of places to hide. A single Royal Gramma can be kept in an aquarium that is at least 30 gallons, but they appreciate more room if you have the space for it. The key to the health and longevity of Royal Grammas lies with their diet and water quality. It is a good idea to establish regular water changes, and monitor their water parameters frequently. Owners of Royal Gramma recommend that you perform water checks and changes about 3 times a week to check on the parameters, and cleanliness.

Food & Diet

Royal Grammas are classified as Planktivores. This means that in the wild, they eat mostly zooplankton and phytoplankton as their main food source, as well as some crustaceans. In captivity, you can expect them to eat a variety of frozen, flaked, or pellet foods. They can also be given brine shrimp, and crustacean flesh. It is important to offer them a varied diet, as this will meet the same dietary needs that they roughly enjoy in their natural habitat.

Royal Gramma Size & Lifespan

Royal Grammas can reach up to 3 inches in length at full maturity. If properly cared for, you can expect your Royal Grammas to live for up to 5 years. Some owners of Royal Grammas have reported them living slightly longer, but their longevity depends on the quality of care that they receive.

Tank Size & Tank Requirements

To house a single Royal Gramma, you will need a minimum of a 30 gallon tank. If you are planning on housing more Royal Grammas together, you will need an additional 30 gallons per Royal Gramma. Royal Gramma Fish require a slightly warmer water temperature of around 72F to 78F, and 8.1 to 8.4 pH. You will want to make sure to invest in a quality heater and filter to maintain water quality, as well as establish a regular cleaning routine to ensure water cleanliness. Owners of Royal Gramma recommend that you perform slight water changes of around 25% up to 3 times per week to keep their water clean enough for their Royal Gramma, as well as monitor their water parameters frequently to correct any issues before they become a problem.

Royal Gramma Tank Setup

Royal Grammas prefer to live in a tank with a reef setup. A sandy substrate works best for this, but they will do just fine with any substrate that you choose. The most important thing to consider for a Royal Gramma tank is to include many hiding places. Royal Grammas are shy fish, and they approach their world with caution. They prefer to hide most of the time, so use the decor in their tank to your advantage to provide them with many different spots to choose from.

Royal Grammas prefer low light, and a normal LED light will work for their aquarium as it will not overwhelm them. Royal Grammas appreciate sea grasses and other saltwater plants that you can add to their tank, but they love a reef setup.

How to Setup the Ideal Habitat for Royal Gramma

Setting up an ideal habitat for Royal Gramma starts with taking a look at their natural habitat. Royal Grammas can be found in the West Atlantic Ocean around coral reefs. They also love rocks and driftwood as places to hide. Make sure that you provide your Royal Gramma with many places to hide while also keeping as much open swimming space as you can.

Are Royal Gramma Reef Safe?

Royal Grammas are reef safe, and a great choice for a reef setup as they will not bother your corals, clams, and other invertebrates alone. In the wild, Royal Grammas spend a lot of their time hiding among the reefs until they come out to search for food.

Royal Gramma Breeding

If you are looking to breed Royal Gramma, then you will be happy to know that it is not difficult to breed them in captivity. The difficulty lies in obtaining a breeding pair. To get a breeding pair of Royal Grammas, you have to have a grouping of young juvenile Royal Grammas first. All Royal Gramma fry are born female. As the juveniles school together as a group the dominant fish will change its sex to male.

 When Royal Grammas are ready to spawn, you will notice the male building a nest using algae and small rocks. When the nest is finished and the female is ready, she will deposit her eggs into the nest in a grouping of 5 to 40 eggs. Once the female has finished depositing her eggs, the male will then fertilize them by releasing his sperm over them. While the eggs develop, the male will defend the nest, make sure it remains tidy, and occasionally check on the eggs. He will do this for around 5 to 6 days until they hatch.

Can Royal Gramma Breed in Captivity?

Royal Gramma are one of the easiest saltwater fish to breed in captivity as long as they are provided with the right conditions. When male Royal Grammas are ready to breed, you will be able to see them building a little nest out of rocks and algae.

How to Tell the Difference Between Royal Gramma Males and Females

Royal Grammas are all born female. As they mature, the dominant fish in the Royal Gramma grouping will change to male. This makes finding a breeding pair the hardest part. Male Royal Grammas are typically larger than the females, and have bigger ventral fins.

Royal Gramma Disease

Royal Grammas are prone to many of the same bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections as other saltwater dwelling fish. Royal Grammas eat parasites, and fungus so it is possible that they could be affected by them. They are a hardy fish whose health and longevity are directly related to how well they are cared for. Royal Grammas need clean water to thrive, and it is a good idea to establish a regular cleaning routine. They should have regular water changes, and a varied diet. There have been reports of Royal Grammas living longer than the projected 5 year lifespan mark if they are cared for properly.

Royal Gramma and Ich

Royal Grammas, like most other fish, are susceptible to Ich. Ich is a parasitic infection that shows up as blotchy white spots along the body of the fish. Fish that are affected with Ich will have a reduced appetite, and will even seem a bit lethargic. If you suspect your fish has Ich, you should quarantine it away from the others to try to stop the spread of it to other fish in your aquarium, as Ich is highly contagious to other fish. If caught early on, Ich is treatable. Some fish have been known to fight off this parasitic infection on their own, and even become resistant to it in the end. This only seems to happen in well established tanks, though. It is a good idea to quarantine any new fish for a few weeks before adding them to your home aquarium

Royal Gramma Tank Mates

There are many different species of fish that would make for great tank mates for Royal Gramma. It is important to house your Royal Gramma with other peaceful species of fish. More aggressive species will chase and stress Royal Gramma which will in turn make them sick. Do not pair them with larger, more predatory fish as they could potentially be seen as a meal for a large, hungry fish.

Angelfish, Boxfish, Gobies, and Clownfish are all great choices for tank mates for Royal Gramma as they will not bother or interfere with your Royal Gramma’s lifestyle.

Can Multiple Royal Gramma Be Kept in the Same Tank?

It is possible to keep more than one Royal Gramma in the same aquarium as long as you make sure that their needs are being met. A single Royal Gramma fish needs at least 30 gallons, with plenty of hiding space, and open space for them to swim. For every Royal Gramma you want to add additionally will also require another 30 gallons. By providing them with plenty of space you will ensure that they are not crowding one another. Crowded Royal Grammas will often tussle for choice spots in the aquarium if there is not enough room. As always with introducing new fish into a community setup, you will want to monitor their behavior for a while so that you can ensure that all the fish are getting along, and remove them if problems arise. Keep in mind that not all fish will get along with one another every time. It is possible to have issues, but if you monitor all new fish until they are well acclimated, you can correct any issues before they get out of hand.

Compatible and Incompatible Tank Mates for Royal Gramma

Royal Gramma and Clownfish

Royal Gramma and Clownfish make for excellent tank mates. Royal Grammas and Clownfish both enjoy the same water parameters, are peaceful, and are reef safe. Both fish are quite hardy, and both make great first choices for first time saltwater tank owners. Since Royal Grammas prefer to hide, they do not often disturb the busy Clownfish.

Royal Gramma and Firefish

With the right setup that includes a lot of room, Royal Grammas and Firefish could possibly coexist without many problems. Royal Grammas spend much of their time in hiding, but Firefish could potentially disturb them if there is not enough room. Owners of both of these species confirm that the key to getting these two species to coexist peacefully is by making sure that all of their own space needs are met.

Royal Gramma and Six Line Wrasse

It is not a good idea to keep Six Line Wrasse and Royal Grammas together. Six Line Wrasse are described as aggressive, and will stress out the more peaceful Royal Grammas. There have been some reports of owners keeping these two species together in a community setup, but they are not without their complications. Attempting to keep these two species together would have a higher success rate if they are offered a lot more space than they require.

Royal Gramma and Dottyback

Royal Grammas and Dottybacks are so similar that they are often mistaken for one another. Royal Grammas have a coloration that has more of a gradient to it than a harsh line that divides the colors of the fish. In Dottybacks, you can see a definite line where the colors do not run together. Both species have similar requirements for water parameters and space, but Dottybacks tend to be more aggressive than Royal Grammas. If you are looking to purchase Royal Grammas from your home aquarium, you will want to make sure that you are getting the correct species.

Where Can I Find Royal Gramma For Sale?

If you are looking to purchase Royal Gramma for your home aquarium, you will easily be able to find them for sale online from breeders, and in some pet stores. Make sure that you are purchasing your fish from a reputable source to ensure that you are getting the correct species. There is a look-alike species to Royal Gramma called the Royal Dottyback, or just Dottyback. These two species are often mistaken for one another, and there have been reports of people who thought they owned a Royal Gramma, who turned out to be a Dottyback. You can expect to pay around $25 for a juvenile.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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