As a public aquarium curator, over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with animals of all stripes.  I know you aren’t supposed to play favorites, but I can’t help but gravitate towards some of my favorite species, one of which is the Chalk Bass (Serranus tortugarum).

This easy-to-acquire-but-not-often-seen fish is native to the Western Atlantic, including southern Florida and the Caribbean, along the reefs.  This diminutive species stays small, growing up to 8 cm. (3 in.) but can be a great addition to any marine setup.  Tanks from 20 gallons up to several hundred gallons can be appropriate for this species, if you are sure to provide for its needs.

The beautiful chalk bass has a lovely dark pink coloration, with bright blue stripes.  Choosing a variety of foods, including those with naturally-occurring pigments like astaxanthin, will help your chalk bass to maintain superb colors. Several small daily feedings of frozen and prepared foods, such as mysis shrimp or flake food, should be offered.  Chalk bass especially seem to like live brine shrimp, which is a good source of enrichment as well.

It’s important to note that chalk bass are typically shy when first acclimated to a new home, and you should take care to provide several areas in the tank for hiding.  Natural items like gastropod shells and artificial items like plastic corals or plants are typically favored for hiding places.  Once comfortable with their new surroundings and tankmates, they will settle in quickly.  I’ve found chalk bass to be very personable and curious with a great temperament.  Give the beautiful chalk bass a try because you may find that this species will quickly become your favorite, too!

Jennifer Rawlings