The Royal gramma is a great beginner saltwater fishThe Royal gramma basslet, Gramma loreto, is a great beginner fish for the new saltwater aquarium. I have had a Royal gramma in every reef tank set up since I started in this great hobby, because they are perfectly sized, beautifully colored, hardy, tolerant of the conditions within a saltwater tank and spend their time out in the open, rather than in crevices, hiding. They are a cave-spawning saltwater fish and tend to reproduce in harems–one male royal gramma tends to spawn with several female Royal grammas in a next that the male makes, in a cave, from macroalage–or any similar material that is available to them. The eggs are laid over several nights, so hatching of the eggs, similarly, takes place over multiple days–making them slightly challenging fish to breed and also making them ideal candidates for a larval snagger, since the larvae generally hatch at night and can be collected with a larval snagger without a significant amount of human intervention.
Even though I noted earlier that the Royal gramma, gramma loreto, is a harem spawner, it is generally best kept as a single fish, in the home aquarium, because aggression is highly likely between fish of the same species. I have witnessed this first-hand.
A couple of years ago, I had purchased three individual Royal gramma specimens from a local fish store, with an intention to try and breed these magnificent fish, but the piscine trio did not last long.
Two of the fish seemed to get along fine–but they ganged up on the third fish–and when the third fish was no more–the two remaining royal gramma specimens, who seemed to get along fine while the third fish was in the mix, soon turned on each other.
I know this is not exhaustive research into the conspecific aggression seen within these species, but I have read enough accounts encouraging the addition of a single royal gramma specimen, per aquarium, to extrapolate my own personal experience and justify the old rule of thumb.
From a care and husbandry perspective, the royal gramma does not appear to have very specific or troubling requirements. They eat almost anything. In my experience, they tend to prefer meaty, frozen or live foods over prepared flake or pellet foods, but they will consume prepared foods on occasion. Their mouths seem to be surprisingly large compared with the size of their bodies and they are capable of consuming fairly large bits of food when they are motivated to do so.
The royal gramma is compatible with all corals and most other fish species–as long as that fish species is not the royal dottyback.
In a reef aquarium with sufficient structure, the Royal gramma will spend its time suspended in the water vertically, with its belly along a preferred wall of the aquarium or reef aquascape. Their bold purple and yellow colors will stand out, in any reef–and their general boldness will make them a staple in any reef tank and are part of what makes them a great beginner fish for any reef tank.
For more information about breeding the royal gramma, I recommend you check out The Complete Illustrated Breeder’s Guide to Marine Aquarium Fishes.