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Dottyback - Royal/Bicolor (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

Dottyback - Royal/Bicolor (Pictichromis paccagnellae)

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The False gramma is a beautiful species, dazzling even among this family. The front half of the body is vivid magenta-purple, the rear bright yellow. Growing to a maximum size of 7cm/2.8”, it would seem an ideal species for the smaller aquarium, but there is a slight matter of temperament.

Size for size this is one of the most territorial marine fish around and its tank mates need to be chosen with care. It should be kept with tough, larger species as it can cause chaos in a tank stocked with the usual mild-mannered small reef tank favourites. It also tends to attack shrimps, although it is less problematic than P. porphyreus in this respect. As a sole pet in a nano reef system, or with those larger companions, it makes a stunning inhabitant.

It’s worth knowing how to tell the False gramma from the Royal gramma, (Gramma loreto). Side by side, you would never mistake these fish for each other, but you might in isolation. It’s an important identification to be able to make, as the Royal is a much more peaceable species than the False.

There is one very easy difference: where the two colours meet on the flanks of the fish there is a well-defined boundary between purple and yellow in the False gramma, whereas the Royal gramma has a less sharp transition from one colour to the next, with a scattering of yellow scales extending into the purple area and vice versa.

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