University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
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Basslet Information

Basslet fish belong to the family Grammatidae.  These saltwater fish are sometimes referred to as dottybacks, grammas or Anthias.  They are native to the western Atlantic Ocean, but they have also been spotted in other places like Indonesia.  This is a small species of fish that reaches no more than 4 inches at most in length.  They are carnivorous and need protein from shrimp, fish, small crustaceans and even parasitic organisms they will eat off of larger species.  They themselves have many predators on the reef such as eels and groupers.  Basslets have a sleek aerodynamic design with a moon shaped tail.  They are very brightly colored with reds, oranges, yellows or purples.  Some species are even bicolored while others will contain all four colors at once. 

These fish are usually slow, but can summon up bursts of speed either for feeding or defending themselves.  When not out in the open, they prefer to hide in caves or under ledges.  These are generally well-behaved fish in tanks, and in the wild they can be seen schooling with other basslets.  However, they do still hold a territory and space they will guard against other fish.  Both parents guard their spawn on site.  Interestingly enough, basslets are sequential hermaphrodites.  They are all born female and can turn into males as they mature.  There is usually a superior male that leads the colony until death.  Basslets have a lifespan of at least five years. 

Aquarists love the striking appearance of basslets.  A few aquarium favorites include fairy basslets, skunk basslets, purple basslets and orange-sea perch.  The fairy basslet is also called the royal gramma.  Fairy basslets are a bicolored species with a vibrant purple front and yellow back.  A small black spot can be noted on their dorsal fins.  Sometimes they can be spotted swimming upside-down underneath ledges.  According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), fairy basslets are of least concern in regards to endangered status.  Basslet fish in general seem to require no major conservation efforts at this time.

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