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Royal Gramma (Fairy Basslet) Care Guide

Table of Contents

The Royal Gramma, also known as the fairy basslet, is one of the most well-known fish in the saltwater aquarium world. 

While they are a stunning fish, their fame may have to do with an appearance in the Finding Nemo Movie.

Royal Gramma

They are an incredible beginner saltwater fish, given the fact that they are extremely hardy, relatively low cost, can be kept in a small tank, and their unique personalities.

Want to figure out if a Royal Gramma is the right choice for you?

Or maybe you want to find out more about a Royal Gramma you already own?

Keep reading!

  • Common Names: Royal Gramma, Fairy Basslet
  • Scientific Names: Gramma Loreto
  • Size: 3 Inches
  • Reef Safe: Yes
  • Care or Experience Level: Beginner
  • Preferred Diet: Omnivore
  • Original Part of the World: Caribbean

How Much Should You Pay For Royal Gramma

Given Royal Grammas’ extreme popularity, and the fact that they have successfully been bred in captivity gives them a low price tag of around $30 in fish stores as well as popular online shops.

Royal Gramma Behavior

Royal Gramma is a relatively peaceful fish, and won’t be the cause of trouble in your tank, outside of between its own kind. You’ll often find them close to the rockwork, but not inside the rocks hiding unless they feel threatened.

Royal Gramma Appearance

Royal Grammas aren’t huge, typically getting to around 3 inches long. Despite their size, given their striking colors, they are always easy to spot behind a variety of backgrounds.

Royal Grammas’ first half of their body is a bright pink or purple, followed by a bright yellow. This change is not instant and has a slight gradient towards it giving a cool pixelated look or effect.

On top of their body coloration, Royal Grammas typically have two other markings, a stripe, and a dot. The stripe occurs from their mouth past their eye, while the dot takes place on the dorsal fin.

These two markings help in distinguishing it between the orchid dotty back.

Royal Gramma Tank Conditions

As far as tank conditions go, anywhere up from a 20g tank or so will be fine. Royal Gramma typically lives by rock with plenty of hiding spaces in the wild, so be sure to emulate this in your home tank as well for them not to be stressed.

Outside of habitat, you’ll want to keep the common tank metrics of:

  • Temperature: ~78 degrees
  • Salinity: ~1.025 specific gravity
  • Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia: ~0 ppm
  • pH: ~ 8.1-8.4

Royal Grammas are known to be jumpers, so make sure to include a lid on your tank if it’s not covered already.

Royal Gramma Diet

Royal Grammas are omnivores, meaning that they can eat both meat and plants.

We’d recommend live foods like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, or copepods.

They will also eat frozen/preserved foods.

Of course, they will also eat flake and pellet foods but this won’t really be any fish’s first choice.

As far as the frequency of feeding goes, once a day with a variety of foods is going to be the best route.

Royal Gramma Compatibility

Royal Grammas are compatible with pretty much any saltwater fish. I’d be careful pairing it with the usual troublemakers list most damselfishes.

You may experience issues with fish with similar color patterns like the mentioned Orchid Dottyback or even something like a Yellow Tang.

Royal Gramma Breeding

As we stated above, Grammas have successfully been bred in captivity.

They are cave spawners and will require a bonded pair. Given that they have no specific markings based on gender, it can be very difficult to make this pairing happen. 

For the best chance of success, we recommend adding a group of Grammas that are nearly identical in size at the same time.

Eventually, they will establish dominance and pair up, or create a harem. 

Inside their cave, look for them to start creating a nest out of algae, pebbles, and other loose objects. 

Once this is all done, the female will lay her eggs attached to the nest, and the male will fertilize the eggs, and then carry them in his mouth until they are ready.


Overall, the Royal Gramma is the perfect beginner fish. It’s cheap, hardy, and colorful with simple feeding requirements.

Expect to pay $30 for one, and make sure that the tank you place it in is at least 20-30 gallons with plenty of hiding places. 

Do you have any questions about owning a Royal Gramma?

Let us know in the comments!

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    My name’s Austin, and I created OtterAquatics to teach aquarists of all skill levels on how to succeed in the hobby.