Tag Archive | "False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)"

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

The False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Gramma Dotty, Bicolor Dottyback, or Royal Dottyback is found in the Western Pacific Ocean from Indonesia (Java and Sulawesi) to Vanuatu; Palau in Micronesia.

The False Gramma is a semi aggressive, solitary species that is found singly or in small loosely scattered groups around coral and rubble rock in the shallow coastal waters and the deeper outer reef dropoffs of their range at depths to well over 60 feet.

Despite its small size, the False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae) is much more territorial and aggressive than the more peaceful Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto) which it is sometimes mistaken for.

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

The False Gramma is colored a bright purple over the front portion of the body that is abruptly separated at mid point by a straight line into a bright yellow behind.

Unlike the Royal Gramma Basslet, Pictichromis paccagnellae lacks the black spot on the front of the dorsal, the dark line through the eye, and has clear fins. Females have a noticeably more slender elongated body than males.

Despite their combative nature, their small adult size (2.5 to 3 in) makes the False Gramma is a great beginner fish and is well suited for small nano reef systems.

The False Gramma is best housed in a FOWLR or reef aquarium of at least 30 gallon capacity with a crushed coral or sandy substrate, and plenty of mature live rock arranged into extensive rockwork caves, overhangs, and crevices for them to stake out territories and hide among. Although they are relatively peaceful towards tankmates of similar size and temperament, they are extremely protective of their territories and are super aggressive to interlopers.   The False Gramma is not intimidated by other fish and will defend its territory against fish two to three times its size

Although the False Gramma is considered reef safe and totally ignores corals and most sessile invertebrates, it will attack and eat ornamental shrimp and is a predator of nuisance bristleworms.   They are belligerent enough to be housed with larger fish such as Tangs and larger Clownfish, but smaller, more docile reef species are liable to be attacked and bullied by this fish.

Unless Bicolor Dottybacks are being kept in formed pairs or in a very large tank with plenty of live rock, it is better to house them singly, however, small groups can be kept in a large enough tank with enough cracks and crevices for each fish to have its own territory.   Although this dottyback will defend its territory against fish several times its size, they should never be kept with aggressive fish large enough to eat them.

Not much is known about the reproductive habits of Pictichromis paccagnellae.

In their natural habitat, False Gramma feed on zooplankton, ectoparasites, small crustaceans, and small pieces of fish flesh.   In an aquarium environment, they should be feed a varied diet of fresh or frozen meaty fare, including brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and quality frozen omnivore preparations.   Over time they can be trained to eat flake and pellet foods.

The False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae) is a good beginner species that is normally available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from specialty fish shops, and online from wholesalers and retailers at an approximate purchase size of 1″ to 2-1/2″ and a cost of $21.99 to $30.00.

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

False Gramma (Pictichromis paccagnellae)






Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Aquarium Type: Reef or FOLR
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72–78 °F, dKH 8 – 12°, pH 8.1 – 8.5, sg 1.020-1.025
Max size: 2.8″
Color Form: Purple, Yellow
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Reef with Caution
Origin: Indo-Pacific
Family: Pseudochromidae
Lifespan: 5+ years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

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