Today's post we are going to talk about the Royal Gamma.
The Royal Gramma has been a mainstay in many reef tanks for many years. Its scientific name is Gramma loreto and it hails from the Caribbean. This fish really packs it all. They work in most saltwater aquariums due to their compact size, they are very hardy, and generally very peaceful.
Below are the main stats for the Royal Gramma:
The main attraction with the Royal Gramma is their colors. There really are few fish that really have this assortment of vibrant colors at this size. The front half of its body is purple with black strips across the eyes and the back half is yellow. They are usually a lone species in the aquarium because they are known to be aggressive to any fish that looks similiar to it and males Royal Gramma will fight among themselves. If there is a lone male in the tank, it is possible for the group to form a harem, but it is difficult to sex them.
If you are looking at trying to have a pair or harem, the best way to attempt this would be to buy 2 immature royal grammas ensuring that one is slightly bigger then the other. What hopefully will happen is the larger fish will become the male. This has also been attempted with a group of immature grammas where the top two in the pecking order are kept and paired up. The remaining royal grammas are then returned to the fish store or traded to other hobbyists.
One of the more amusing characteristics of this species is its propensity to orient itself with its belly toward any nearby hard surface, whether it happens to be the floor, wall, or ceiling of its cave. So, it’s not unusual—or any cause for alarm—to see a royal gramma specimen positioned completely upside down or on its side within its rocky refuge. While it looks odd, it's just your gramma being a gramma.
Grammas are known jumpers. Jumping is usually caused by stress and royal grammas generally are really good about handling stress. They are not as risky as say a firefish, but it would not hurt to have a cover on your tank for preventative measures.
They will eat nearly any type of food offered to them and do not get large with the max size usually being around 3". They are considered an aggressive eater often dashing in and out to grab food. You don't need to worry about it getting enough food in the tank as they compete for food well. They are more bark than bite in the aquarium. They will try to assert themselves, but will often times be settled down by other tankmates like clownfish, angelfish, and tangs. They are incompatible with other similiar looking fish like firefish or any large predatory fish that can fit them in their mouths like lionfish.
Royal Grammas are just about as reef safe as you can get. I have personally never heard of them ever bothering corals or nipping at them. They do not dig or disturb rockwork or substrates. They get along with any type of invertebrate in the aquarium. It is a perfect fish for any reef aquarium.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a royal gramma that is tank bred. This is primarily due to the availability of wild grammas near the United States and being relatively cheap to import. Grammas are abundant and cheap to purchase at any online or local fish store. Successfully breeding royal grammas is also difficult. While they are easy to get to spawn, it is difficult to rear and grow out the larvae and juveniles.
Outside of the US, there are efforts to tank breed them. One such location is Australia. In Australia, it is not uncommon for a Royal Gramma to cost as much as $120 compared to usually less than $20 in the US. Reef Keepers reported that successful breeding programs are underway with captive grammas likely to be available this year.
Let us know your experience with this fish in the comments below. We love hearing everyone's personal experience and tank stories.
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