Royal Gramma - Facts On The Royal Gramma

Royal Gramma

Scientific Name : Gramma loreto
Origin : Caribbean Sea
Difficulty : Easy
Minimum Size Tank : 20 Gallons
Temperament : generally peaceful
Temperature : 72 - 82°F
Reef Safe : Yes
Maximum Size : 3 Inches
: Carnivore

The royal gramma is one of five of the most popular and recognizable fishes in the hobby. The other four are the flame angel, yellow tang, blue tang and the clownfishes (Ocellaris Clownfish and Percula Clownfish). Me and this fish go way back. The year was 1998 and i was buying a baby California king snake at the local pet store. Waiting to be served, i sauntered over to their marine section and i saw three fishes that left me breathless. The blue damselfish, the flame angelfish and the royal gramma. I bought my first tank within the week and here i am 11 years later, still reefing.

Royal Gramma close up

The royal gramma is stunning. Its front half is a rich magenta while the back half is a bright yellow-orange. It has a thin dark stripe that runs from its snout through its eyes.There is also a single black spot at the front of its dorsal fin. Royal gramma's are found around the Caribbean Sea where they are quite common. They are a cheap fish, a specimen can be had for as little as $15. They are also known to be quite hardy and disease resistant. All these elements combine to make the royal gramma a great candidate for the home aquarium.

They share some similarities with the bicolor dottyback (Pseudochromis bicolor). They are both two toned and they both have magenta and yellow in the exact same areas on the body. The easiest way to tell them apart is to look at their eyes, bicolor dottybacks do not have a black streak running through them.

A Royal Gramma defending its territory against a six line wrasse


As far as temperament goes, the royal gramma is a good candidate for just about any aquarium. As long as they have established themselves in a cave or niche within the tank the are peaceful.

I've kept them with all sorts of fishes large and small and have found they get along fine with all of them. Constant intrusions into their territory will be met with hostilities however. The video i've added to the right illustrates how it defends its territory. Fins are flared, its mouth gapes wide open and chasing may occur.

Royal Gramma not happy with a red scooter blenny

Tank Size

In the wild they can reach lengths of up to 4 inches but as usual, such lengths are generally not seen in captivity. 3 inches is a more realistic figure in an aquarium.

At least a 20 gallon tank should be used for these fishes. When they're little they can be housed in aquariums as little as 10 gallons. They are a site attached fish so they don't really move around much. Expect to see them near they caves at all times.


Royal grammas are reef safe. They are strictly carnivores in the wild that pick on passing plankton and copepods.

Feed them a good mix of meaty foods like mysis shrimp, krill and even chopped bits of shrimp, oysters, squid and fish. Avoid feeding too much squid as fishes tend to develop fatty livers.

Prime Reef by Ocean Nutrition is especially noteworthy as it contains a wide variety of sea foods plus added trace minerals and vitamins.

They generally start feeding within days of introduction. Let them establish themselves in a hole or cave somewhere then try feeding.

Royal gramma building a nest

The most comprehensive guide to marine fish breeding to date


Royal grammas have successfully been bred in captivity. The males build nests out of macroalgae. When the male is ready to mate he will begin gathering bits of macroalgae and putting them in his cave. Courting postures are assumed during this period. View the video on the right to see how the male collects his nesting material.

Once the nest is built, full courting commences, fins are flared, its body starts to quiver and it arches its back. All of this is done in full view of the female. If the female accepts, she will follow him into the nest and spawning will occur.

Royal gramma larvae have been raised on rotifers (Initial food) and baby brine shrimp.


More by this Author


leigh 6 years ago

im doing a royal gramma project and this page helps!

savannah 6 years ago

like liegh said its reat for projects. if you have one, if not its still interesting!:)

PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 6 years ago Author

Thanks for the kind words you two :)

jay 6 years ago

well described! Helped a lot. One of my cromise went missing since last night, in my tank there is 2 clown fishes 1 1/2 inches each and 1 grammy and total 4 cromise but 1 seem missing, suggestions are welcome at

Grace  6 years ago

I'm working on a biome project for school,and I have to list info about fish.This blog entry was SO helpful!Thank you!

Jolean 6 years ago

I have had a Royal Grammar for about 2 wks I'd say. My 55 gallon long aquarium isn't pretty at all. Just live rock w/ the begining stages of coraline algae. He/she keeps scoping out the my Firefish Goby's territories though it has it's own. It is funny to watch, except the flicking (need cleaner shrimp). It gets macho and chaces the Damsels around, trying to attack them for being too close to it's territory. Doesn't bother the Firefish too much any more. The second day I had it it charged a Damsel an inch from a rock and Smack, Hit its nose on the rock full force. It learned I guess cause it wiggled its nose around expressing that it hurt. He seems to yawn away from it's territory, but never as a threatening gesture.

Jolean 6 years ago

Just bought a cleaner shrimp and a Six Line Wrass today. My Royal Grammar and Six Line Wrass keep going at it. My Royal Grammar opens it's mouth wide and the Wrass turns it's body from side to side, pointing its mouth toward my Royal Grammar's. My Royal Grammar is building a nest in the entrance of my Fire Fishes territory out of the Macro Algae. I don't know if I should get another Royal Grammar or how to tell the difference in the sex.

PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 6 years ago Author

Hi Jolean,

May i know how big the tank is? In a smaller tank i fear the six line and the gramma will keep going at it until one perishes.

If you have the space for another gramma and you're interested in having a pair, there are a few guidelines to follow. The males are typically larger than the females. Only the males create nests out of macroalgae so lets assume that yours is a male. You want to find a much smaller specimen to pair him with.

The male may initially be quite hostile to the smaller specimen so its important to have a larger tank that will allow the smaller gramma to find shelter.

jolean 6 years ago

My tank isn't that big at all. Only 55 gallons. I do not wish to breed any fishes but the nest building caught my eye. I each fish has its own territory but the Grammar scopes them all out. They chase ea. other around and then go separate ways. The Lfs owner I bought the wrass and shrimp from seems very knowledgable and said the grammar and wrass would be fine. He knows the aquarium size and quantity of LR. The reason I bought the wrass was cause I have found a bristle worm in the tank. May have others too. Who knows. The parasite problem is being managed by the shrimp.

rebecca robinson  6 years ago

cant find my royal grammar fish could it be hiding tried to move the rocks but still cant find him? any clues?

PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 6 years ago Author

Hi Rebecca, if you have removed all the rock and can't find it, its either lodged in a hole in the rock or it has likely been consumed by something.

for.saken 6 years ago

Hi Everyone, just a quick question about the royal gramma fish, does anyone know if it is just as aggressive towards shrimps IE Peppermint\Cleaner Shrimps as the royal dottyback? I've been told the dottyback is a shrimp eating machine

PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 6 years ago Author

@For.Saken - A Royal Gramma going after shrimp is rare at best. Your shrimp should be safe. How big is the tank?

Kevlin profile image

Kevlin 6 years ago

Hi Friend..

Nice and Cool Article

Like This

Chuckage:35 5 years ago

I am doing a school project and this helps

jared 5 years ago

im doing a projest on it

esther 4 years ago

thanks! i am thinking of getting a royal gramma, but i cant find much on mates for it :P .

Would you happen to know if they can be kept with 2 ocellaris clown fish and 1 blue spot jawfish....

esther 4 years ago

oh also y tank is 26 gallons

PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 4 years ago Author

Hi Esther - They should be fine with the clowns and jawfish. But they will lay claim to a small territory (cave etc) and defend it.

cool 4 years ago

i just got a royal gramma 2 weeks ago and it is hiding and the rock and wont come out.. What do i do?

29 Gal Reef 4 years ago


Has the fish come out? Mine was out first day and now he is mock charging my new wrasse. Should get over it eventually.

neil walker 4 years ago

very well described project Pirate FX, good work !!!

if i may, i want to discuss pegging corals because it is so important to drill holes in the live rock when introducing them into the tank or when rocks are rearanged.

when you get a coral get a small rock and drill a quarter inch hole in the rock introduce a quarter inch tube into the hole leaving about two or three cm's of tube visible, then break a plastic fork and put it in the tube to make a peg, using super glue gel and marine epoxy will bond that tube like rock once dry, leave in water for half an hour or so and its done. also epoxy or glue the coral to the small rock.

your final piece can now be placed in a drilled hole or an appropriate secure hold, gap on your live rock, this way you can lean corals off the side of the reef and can be placed in areas in the tank thet most meet your requirement plus its way more attractive by far than just placing corals in certain areas where they fit. remember to drill holes in your live rock next time u do a water change or something, happy pegging everyone

Pls leave ur thoughts on this idea

neil walker 4 years ago

I know it seems like ive completely changed the subject from grammar loreto to pegging corals but there is a reason for this,

gamma's love roofs and cavy areas so pegging corals near the bottom of your live rock will naturally create caves and it will be very attractive to see him under a coral instead of just in a cave, also gramma's seem to become more tollerant of other rock dwellers, dont really know why but he wont chase fire fish out of its den maybe because hes not interested in leaving his den, fish are attracted to colours too, sometimes the simplest things work. besides its just enhancing.

nathan 4 years ago

i saw one the other day in a shop in nz, it was $200 nzd!

andy do 4 years ago

i have a 144 gallons reef tank, can i keep a small group of royals or only one per tank, thank you

Azucena Barjas 3 years ago

This reseach is really helping me THANX;)

BunnyFabulous profile image

BunnyFabulous 2 years ago from Central Florida

Great info on Royal Grammas and their behavior. We really enjoy having one in our reef tank.

Gator 88 8 months ago

O was wondering how you tell if a royal grammar is a male or female ?

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