Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pseudochromis fridmani

Image: © Joe de Vroe
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Scientific Name: Pseudochromis fridmani
Species Authority: Klausewitz, 1968
Family: Pseudochromidae
Common Name: Orchid Dottyback, Fridman's Dottyback, Fridmani Pseudochromis, König-Salomon Zwergbarsch (DE)
Distribution: Western Indian Ocean: known only from the Red Sea - Endemic to the tropical reefs of the Red Sea.
Environment: Reef-associated; marine; depth range 1 to 60 meters, usually 1 to 60 meters. Usually found in colonies on vertical rock faces or beneath overhangs (reef walls and ledges), taking refuge in small holes. They are also seen living in relatively shallow water on reef slopes from one to thirty meters deep.
Reef Safe: Yes
Minimum Tank Size: 150 liters. Popular in nano-reef setups. If more than one specimen is desired, a larger tank is recommended.
Tank Set-up: Marine aquarium with corals, plenty of live rocks / rocks, live sand. Provide multiple hiding places and ample swimming space for cruising around the middle to bottom of the tank. They may be housed in a reef, FO and/or FOWLR aquariums.
Water Region: Middle to bottom.
Lighting: Lighting typically used in reef (strong), FO (moderate) or FOWLR (moderately strong) aquarium setup.
Water Flow: Moderate to strong flow, normally found in reef tanks, fish-only and/or FOWLR community aquariums.
Size: 7 to 8 cm
Lifespan: 5 to 7 years, possibly longer
Diet: Carnivore. Orchid Dottybacks are quite easy to keep and feed. In the aquarium they should be fed a variety of meaty foods such as live, frozen, freeze-dried, and vitamin enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, bosmiden, cyclops, lobster eggs, and finely chopped krill as well as carnivore/omnivore pellets and flake foods. A varied diet is very important in preserving their beautiful coloration as well as their immediate and long term health.

In the wild, the Orchid Dottybacks naturally prey upon zooplanktons and other tiny shrimps, amphipods, copepods, and isopods - darting in and out from reef structures, where they are observed in colonies, to grab their meal and then rush back.

On top of their vibrant coloration and less aggressive nature, their propensity for eating bristleworms and small mantis shrimps has also made them a sought after species for many aquarists, especially the ones with reef tanks.
Temperament: Semi-aggressive. The Orchid Dottybacks do not share the pugnacious disposition that most others possess. They usually coexist well with other tank mates, but can be territorial with their favorite spot. They may show a bit of aggression towards fish of similar size, shape and color, but only to chase them off their claimed territories.

They may be shy when first introduced to the tank, but once acclimated, they will swim a lot in the open and will definitely spice up an aquarium with their vivid coloration as well as their peaceful and curious nature.

They can be kept as a single specimen for smaller tanks. For larger aquariums with ample hiding places a mated pair or even in a small group or colony is more ideal to replicate how they exist in the wild. When adding more than one species, they should all be introduced at the same time. Usually, adding multiple small individuals at once will likely result in a spawning harem.

Add them as one of the last species in your home aquarium.

Despite their hardy nature, they must not be kept in an aquarium with lion fish, groupers, eels and other larger predatory fish which may feed on the Orchid Dottybacks.
Care Level: Easy to Moderate.
Resilience: No reliable estimate is available.
Reproduction: Egg Layer - Protogynous Hermaphrodites. When introduced as a group of juveniles in an aquarium together, the most dominant member, usually the largest, will transform into a male. If you want to obtain a mated pair, you can start of with 2 fish of different sizes (but do observe the tails).

During mating, the male may lure a female to his small cave or rock crevice, where she will lay a cluster of sticky eggs. The eggs are in a mass that are not adhered to a substrate but held together by filamentous threads. The male will fan and guard the eggs to keep them aerated and safe.

The eggs usually hatch from 3 to 7 days and the young will be in a larval stage for the next 28 to 30 days. Initially, the larvae feed well on the rotifers and Artemia nauplii, but since this is basically a low quality food organism, improving the nutritional value by proper enrichment is vital. If provided with suitable nutritious feeds and an appropriate rearing tank environment, the growth rate of the larvae is very fast. While growth is already apparent in 2 or 3 days, the larvae double their length in a week (or up to 10 days) developing diffused red body pigmentation, giving them a pink appearance.
Gender: Orchid Dottybacks are sexually dimorphic. The main difference is in the shape of the tail. In the female the tail is perfectly round. In males the tail arches and meets at a sharp point.
Special Requirement/s: The Orchid Dottybacks are born females. An individual can shift sex and become male, but cannot shift back to female. This establishment of gender appears to develop early, allowing aquarists to easily distinguish males from females at an early stage.

Even if they form colonies in the wild and can be maintained in a group in the aquarium, more than four specimens in a 500 liter tank cannot be recommended. It is also advised not to keep more than 1 male Orchid Dottybank in the aquarium, as the males will fight to the death.

Caution should also be taken when keeping only a single Pseudochromis fridmani, as they have been observed to become very aggressive when they are alone.

Although not currently listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it has been reported that the Orchid Dottyback almost became extinct, but were resurrected because of captive breeding or aquaculture. It is therefore both ecological and ethical to purchase captive bred specimens (now widely available) instead of wild caught ones, in order to continuously lessen the fishing / collecting pressure in the wild.
Red List Status: Not Evaluated
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Specific Gravity: 1.023 to 1.030
Temperature: 24°C to 27°C
pH: 8.1 to 8.4
Angelfish (Dwarf)Groupers
Angelfish (Large)Grunts / Sweetlips
BlennyLionfish / Scorpionfish
CardinalsPuffers / Porcupines
ChromisSeahorse / Pipefish
ClownfishSharks / Rays
DartfishTangs / Surgeons
EelsWrasse (Reef Safe)
Filefish Wrasse (FO/FOWLR)
Foxface / RabbitfishCorals
With Caution
Not Compatible
Photo: Joe de Vroe
Encyclopedia of Life (
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ORA - Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums (
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All Tropical (
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Meerwasser-Lexikon (
FAMA on The Breeder's Registry ( (
Wikipedia (
Baensch Marine Atlas
The New Marine Aquarium (Michael S. Paletta)
World Atlas of Marine Fishes (Helmut Debelius & Rudie H. Kuiter)

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