Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Fairy Basslet

Gramma loreto

The Fairy Basslet, also known as the Royal Gramma, are small, vibrantly colored fish. Their bodies are split into two colors, light purple to deep violet starting at the head, fading mid-body to a golden yellow to the tail, with a small black spot on their dorsal fin that steaks through the eye. Fairy Basslet live in groups of 10 to 100 individuals. Dominance hierarchies are arranged by size, with the largest fish at each coral head being dominant. Adults average 2-3” in length.

Range & Habitat

Native to the reef environments of the tropical western Atlantic Ocean & throughout the Caribbean Sea. They can be found under ledges, or close to recesses in corals, sometimes swimming upside down.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Population trend is currently unknown. Due to this species being widely distributed in the western Atlantic Ocean within reef structure and caves, the species is classified as least concern.
Threats: there are no significant threats, however, they are frequently preyed upon via the invasive lionfish.


Consists of small crustaceans, suspended plankton, ectoparasites of other fish, and zooplankton

Life Span

In the Wild: 5+ years
In Human Care: 5+ years

Fun Facts about the Fairy Basslet

  • Males created nests within small holes and crevices within corals in order to win the affection over females. Males continue to care for their nests by guarding, detritus cleaning and maintenance.
  • The Fairy Brasslet start their life cycle  off as female and will change to a male when there is an opening to head up a harem of females.
  • This species is nonindigenous and have been introduced in parts of Florida, along the coast from Jacksonville to Key West. It is still unknown how the species was introduced, either via aquarium release, or the natural expansion of the species’ range.


Fraser, T. & Gilmore, G. 2015. Gramma loreto. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: Gramma loreto (Fairy Basslet) ( Downloaded on 27 May 2021. 

Schofield, P.J., 2021, Gramma loreto Poey, 1868: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,

Revision Date: 5/24/2019, Peer Review Date: 2/3/2015, Access Date: 5/27/2021

Updated June 13, 2023
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