Pictichromis paccagnellae (AXELROD 1973) (Perciformes, Pseudochromidae)
Royal dottyback, royal
pesudochromis, bicolor dottyback,
bicolor pseudochromis, bicolor
cichlops, false gramma, etc.
Type Locality: N/A
Range: Western Pacific
Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Pseudochromis paccagnellae.
7 cm ( 2¾ inches).
Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical marine.
Difficulty: A hardy species good for beginners, but extremely territorial and aggressive, able to bully fish
many times its size. It will fight to the death with conspecifics or other similar-looking species. Generally reef
safe, but will prey on small crustaceans.
Tank Setup: Live rock piles provide the type of caves and holes this fish needs to set up a home—a home it
will defend vigorously against all comers. It is fine for a nano setup, but only if it is the only fish in the tank.
Feeding: A micropredator. It will usually eagerly accept all aquarium foods.
Description: Purple in front, yellow behind, this half-and-half fish always catches your eye. May be confused
with the slightly larger royal gramma Gramma loreto, but that fish has a dark line through the eye that the
dottyback does not.
Breeding: Has been bred in captivity, but it is unclear if there are any being commercially produced as are
several other dottybacks.
This fish has it all—looks, personality, and hardiness. It is, however, a nano-size fish with a grouper-size
attitude. Actually, it’s a bit mild for a dottyback, but that is a relative thing, since some dottybacks are
nothing short of absolute terrors. Gram for gram, dottybacks are some of the shortest-tempered marine
fish in the aquarium hobby, so that makes this species somewhat-moderated terrors. They are especially
vicious toward similar fishes, with “similar” including just about any small, elongated fish, and if it has
purple or yellow on it, forget it! They’re also not beyond nipping the fins of much larger tankmates. Careful
planning can create a fairly peaceful community, using plenty of space, plenty of rock piles, and larger,
bold tankmates whose looks or habits will not make them appear like interlopers to the dottyback.