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Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara) is a deep water species found in the tropical western Atlantic Ocean and range from the West Indies to the Bahamas.

Black Cap Basslets are a peaceful, solitary species that inhabit the outer vertical reef slopes and drop offs at depths from 35 to 600 feet. Although they are occasionally collected in shallower depths, they are usually found living between 65 and 200 feet along the cliff walls and steep vertical drop offs of their range, always close to the caves and crevices where they retreat to seek cover when they feel threatened.

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)

Black Cap Basslets have a brilliant purple body with a jet black diagonal cap that begins at the mouth, goes through the eyes, and tapers to end at the tip of the dorsal fin.   There are no external differences between sexes.

Black Cap Basslets are best housed in a reef or FOWLR aquarium of at least 30 gallon capacity with a sand of crushed coral substrate and plenty of mature live rock arranged into caves, overhangs, and crevices for them to hide among.   Although they are peaceful, they are very territorial with their own kind and may fight with other basslets or similar looking blennies species unless they are housed in a tank of at least 120 gallons, preferably larger.   Suitable tank mates include Dwarf Angelfish, Clownfish, Damselfish, Boxfish, Gobies, Tangs, and Hawkfish.

Gramma melacara are considered reef safe, however, they may devour small Invertebrates, such as copepods, amphipods, and isopods. Tiny shrimp may be eaten by this species.

Because they are a deep water species, they do better in an aquarium equipped with with a chiller system and slightly subdued lighting.

Black Cap Basslets have been bred in an aquarium environment.   Adults display distinct pairing during breeding and vigorously defend their nest against intruders. The male will build a nest using algae and tiny pieces of plant matter. After a brief courtship ritual, the female will lay a mass of up to 400 small adhesive eggs on the substrate, per spawn.   After the male fertilizes the eggs, both parents will aerate and stand guard over the spawn until they hatch out.   Black Cap Basslets are sequential hermaphrodites that have the ability to change sex depending on their reproductive situation.

In their natural habitat, Black Cap Basslets are carnivores that feed on a variety of Copepods, Isopods, Amphipods, and tiny fish.   In an aquarium environment, they should be fed a variety of fresh and frozen, Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, marine fish, crustacean flesh, finely chopped fresh shrimp, etc.

Because of their deep water habitat, the Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara) is usually available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from specialty fish shops and online wholesalers, retailers, and trans shippers at approximate purchase sizes of: Small: 1” to 2”; Medium: 2″ to 3″; Large 3″ to 4″.

Prices currently range from $89.00 to $120.00 for small specimens.

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)

Black Cap Basslet (Gramma melacara)






Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Aquarium Type: Reef or FOLR
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72–78 °F, dKH 8 – 12°, pH 8.1 – 8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Max size: 4″
Color Form: Black, Purple
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Reef with Caution
Origin: Western Central Atlantic
Family: Grammidae
Lifespan: 2 to over 4 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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