Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi)

Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi)

Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi)

The Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi) is a deep water species that is found in the Western Central Atlantic and ranges from the Bahamas to the South Caribbean, and Central America to northern coast of South America.

The Bicolor Basslet is a shy, reclusive, carnivore that lives in the deep crevices, caves, and rocky ledges along the steep seaward slopes and outer walls of the deep seaward reefs of their range at depths between 150 to over 498 feet where they feed on zooplankton, tiny fish, and small invertebrates.

The Bicolor Basslet is very territorial and seldom strays far from the recesses of their cave or ledge; only venturing out to defend their territory or to search for food.

Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi).mp4

Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi).mp4

The Bicolor Basslet has an elongated compressed body with a large eye, a short snout, and a relatively large turned down mouth at the lower front. The dorsal, pectoral, anal, and slightly forked caudal fins are rounded, and the pointed pelvic fins reach past the base of the anal fin.

About one third of the Bicolor Basslet is a dark purplish color that is darker at the head and gradually blends into a bright yellow towards the rear.   The large eye has a black iris, with a fine yellow orange line surrounded by a wider dark blue line around it.   The front third of the dorsal fin is the purplish color of the head and the rest of the dorsal, including the anal, pectoral, pelvic, and caudal fins are a light, to almost translucent yellow.

The Bicolor Basslet is best housed as a single species or in pairs in a dimly lit aquarium of at least 20 gallon capacity, with a finely crushed coral or sandy substrate and plenty or mature live rock arranged into caves, crevices, and ledges for them to hide among.   Although they will ignore corals and most invertebrates in a reef tank, they will eat tiny invertebrates if they can fit them into their mouth.

The Bicolor Basslet one species that will never become social with other tankmates and will always remain close to their hiding areas. Although peaceful tankmates like Chromis or Dartfish can be housed with them in a FOWLR tank, they will mostly hide and come out from their caves or crannies only to eat.   Even then, their shyness may cause them to starve to death if their tankmates become aggressive.   Do not introduce fish of similar shape and color into their tank regardless of temperament.   Peaceful tankmates, if any, are a must.

Because the Bicolor Basslet is collected by submersibles at the same approximate depths as Banded Basslets, they require pristine water quality and a dimly lit tank with an aquarium chiller to maintain their optimal 67⁰F temperature requirements.

Until recently, the Bicolor Basslet was never bred in an aquarium environt, however, in 2012 Todd Gardner reported the successful breeding of this species. His successful spawns were from small clutches of one to five eggs at a time with a one month long larval period.

Bicolor Basslet Larvae (Lipogramma klayi)

Bicolor Basslet Larvae (Lipogramma klayi)

This suggests that breeding Lipogramma klayi on a commercial scale could be challenging.

In their natural deep water habitat, Bicolor Basslets feed primarily on zooplankton and tiny microorganisms. In an aquarium environment, they will accept small micron sized foods like baby brine shrimp, LRS Reef Frenzy Nano, PE Calanus, Brightwell Aquatics Zooplanktos, high quality Hikari Frozen Foods, or crushed up dried carnivore flakes.   A varied diet of fresh or frozen finely chopped marine fish, crustacean flesh, clams, and other meaty marine foods will also be eagerly accepted.   Feeding small portions 3 to 5 times per day is highly recommended.

Although this deep water species is rarely seen in the trade, the Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi) is occasionally available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts online from a select few specialty rare fish retailers and wholesalers at prices at around $799.99 on a back order basis with a 1 month lead time.

Like the Golden Basslet (Liopropoma abberans), Lipogramma klayi has to be carefully collected and decompressed from very deep water in Curacao, making the price for the past five years hover between $1,000 and $2,000.   Only recently has the Curacao Aquarium Submarine been able to collect this species in high enough quantities to reduce the price to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts to under a thousand dollars.

Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi).mp4

Bicolor Basslet (Lipogramma klayi).mp4






Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Aquarium Type: Reef or FOLR
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 68°F, dKH 8 – 12°, pH 8.0 – 8.5, sg 1.020-1.026
Max size: 2″
Color Form: Purple, Yellow
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Reef with Caution
Origin: Western Central Atlantic: Bahamas, and Central America to northern South America.
Family: Grammatidae
Lifespan: 3 – 4 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate/Expert

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