Tag Archive | "Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)"

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)

The Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Chalk Bass is found in the Western Atlantic and is widespread in Caribbean reef areas including the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, the Antilles, and Honduras.

The Chalk Basslet is a cautious, peaceful species that can be encountered alone, in pairs, and most often in small groups over a patch of coral, or an old conch shell, at recorded depths from 39 to over 1300 feet.   They are most often seen over rock rubble on silty or sandy substrates, at depths from 60 to 300 feet, feeding on zooplankton and small invertebrates and are difficult to approach.

Chalk Basslets are a social species that prefer living together in small groups where they create a heiarchery with a dominant member choosing where to swim next.

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)

The Chalk Basslet has an orange body color with a purple mid section, and vibrant electric blue vertical bands that accent the fish. Because they are a favorite prey for many predators on the reef, they utilize camouflage to protect themselves and can change colors at will.

Depending on the surrounding environment; you may find individuals with an orange body with vibrant blue stripes, a blue body with burgundy stripes, or an individual with a slash of purple down the middle of the body.

The Chalk Basslet is a hardy species that are best housed in small groups of at least 3 to 6 individuals in a FOWLR or reef aquarium of at least a 30 gallon capacity with a silty sand or finely crushed coral substrate and plenty of mature live rock for them to hide among. The larger the shoal, the better the behavior.

The Chalk Basslet is a great fish for reef tanks and are completely reef safe.  Being omnivores, they will graze around your SPS and LPS corals in their search for a meal, but they will not damage the polyps or bother sessile invertebrates.   Larger specimens have been known to attack small shrimps, especially those within the Periclimenes genus.

Housing a single basslet in a reef or community tank will result in shy, nervous, reclusive behavior.

When small groups of Serranus tortugarum are added to the aquarium at the same time, they will get along with each other as well as with other passive tankmates.   Adding an additional Chalk Basslet to an existing group could result in the newcomer being harrased to the point of starvation.

In an aquarium environment, Chalk Basslets are perfectly friendly and peaceful with tank mates of their own size, but territorial with their own species.

Because Chalk Basslets are found in the deeper waters of the Caribbean, they need caves, overhangs, an other areas in the tank with lower light levels to hide from any bright overhead lighting.   They also require a quality filtration system with a protein skimmer and possibly a chiller system to maintain water quality and temperature.

Chalk Basslets are synchronously hermaphrodic and pelagic spawners that have not been successfully bred in an aquarium environment.

In their natural environment, the Chalk Basslet feeds on plankton, crustaceans, and small invertebrates.    In an aquarium environment they do best on a varied diet of chopped meaty items such as live, frozen, or freeze dried, and vitamin enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, krill, or silver sides.  They will also readily accept carnivore and omnivore pellets. Feeding 1 to 2 times per day only what will be consumed within a few minutes is recommended. Overfeeding is often a problem with this species. They simply do not know when to quit eating.

The Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum) is popular with tropical fish keeping enthusiasts and is usually available from specialty fish shops, and online from wholesalers and retailers at purchase sizes from: Small 1″ to 2″; Medium 2″ to 3″; at prices in the $29.99 to $39.99 range.

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)

Chalk Basslet (Serranus tortugarum)






Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Aquarium Type: Reef or FOLR
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72–76 °F, dKH 8 – 12°, pH 8.1 – 8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Max size: 4″
Color Form: Blue, Orange, Purple
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Reef with Caution
Origin: Western Central Atlantic
Family: Serranidae
Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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