Fish of the week - Pseudanthias - Anthias/fairy basslets


Sir Brian The Lenient
Staff member
RC Mod
Pseudanthias Anthias or Fairy basslets

Members of the Family Serranidae (groupers), the Pseudanthias are a genus within the subfamily Anthiinae, the anthias.

Most of the genuses within the subfamily Anthiinae contain species which are ill-suited for aquarium life. This is due to many factors, including the highly evolved social order of these fish. Battles between members of a harem for status in the pecking order can be disastrous in the confines of an aquarium.

Briefly, anthias form large groups in the wild with one dominant male. Within the group are females and "mild" males (males that are not territorial). The dominant male rules the harem. All anthias are female at birth, but some transform to males. The dominant male will constantly act agressively towards the females in his harem to prevent them from transforming. As mentioned above, the females will also act agressively towards weaker females to maintain their position in the harem.

The fairy basslets contain several species that have fared best of the anthias in aquarium life, p. squamipinnis (jewel or lyretail anthias) and p. huctii (green anthias), some less-favorable choices due to feeding or territoriality include p. bartlettorum (Bartlett's anthias) and p. bicolor (Bicolor anthias). Less hardy are the p. bimaculatus (twinspot anthias), p. cooperi (Cooper's anthias).

In the wild, anthias will shoal next to Acropora and feed on the plankton that drifts by. When threatened, they will quickly hide in the acropora. They are very active fish, and in the home aquarium will require multiple feedings every day. A wide variety of food for carnivores is necessary for them to keep their bright colors.

For most species mentioned above, common wisdom is the best way to keep these fish is in a large tank , since the best way to minimize territorial disputes is to have a harem of up to 8 females and 1 male. Naturally, with this many fish in one tank there is a strain on the bioload, so a large volume of water is essential. The reason for the "harem" is to limit the battles for dominance. In a larger group, it is less likely that one fish will be continually harassed, since the agression can be spread among more recipients.

Although some have suggested only keeping one anthias in a tank (to avoid trying to find the magic number of fish to create a happy harem), others believe that anthias need their social interraction to thrive, and will exist poorly in solitary life. Some species may be an exception to this rule, so thorough research is in order.

Compatibility issues are very complex when deciding whether a fairy basslet can be kept with other anthias species or other fish. It is best to research each species for its individual care requirements, since they vary widely. Some are not compatible with agressive fish, some do poorly with fairy wrasses and others will hide until they starve if threatened in any way.