Chalk Bass Care and Breeding Guide

Chalk Bass Care and Breeding Guide

It is one aquarium fish that is often overlooked by most aquarists although it has lots to offer to the hobby. The good news is that the fish has got good behavior and will make a great addition to an aquarium. The fish is native to the Western Atlantic as well as the Caribbean and likes to spend most of its time near the bottom of the ocean just near the reefs. The Chalk Bass has been found at depths of 400 meters but it is most commonly found at just 90 meters deep. It is also referred to as the Serranus tortugarum.

It is a peaceful aquarium fish that will get along with other less aggressive tank mates thus making it a good community fish. At times though when the fish is overgrown it can easily eat smaller invertebrates like the Bamboo shrimp but will only do this when there is no other easy to get food offered.

Appearance of Chalk Bass

It has a body shape that looks like that of a torpedo with impressive patterns of orange and light blue colors. The definite appearance of the fish is not well defined because it will show varied coloration owing to the lighting it is exposed to. It has got a pigmentation that changes which is an adaptation meant to help it camouflage against would be predators. Sometimes the fish will appear vibrant blue yet sometimes they will appear as turquoise. The dorsal fin of the fish shows burgundy or black stripes.

Native wild habitat

The Chalk Bass originates in the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea and prefers to live just amongst rubbles found at the bottom of the ocean. The native geographical range of the fish includes the Caribbean, South Florida, Bahamas, and Honduras. Although it there are records that show that the fish has been found at depths of up to 400 meters in most instances it is usually found at depths of just 90 meters and below. A marine water adapted fish will require housing in a saltwater tank for it to survive.

The fish thrives in tropical waters where temperatures are not known to go amazingly too low. That said the ideal temperature for keeping the fish in captivity should be between 72 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

In their wild habitat the fish likes to hide amongst corals to avoid being seen by predators and therefore having a well planted aquarium is advised. It is usually found on reef-sand interface and sometimes it can be found hiding inside of empty conch shells and shell rubbles.

General care and tank requirement

The chalk bass is a tropical Caribbean inhabitant and it will be best for aquarists to try to provide it conditions that are almost similar with that of the wild. It is best to keep the environment safe for the fish by housing it with other peaceful tank mates that will not harass it. Please not that if it is constantly harassed it has a tendency to jump out of the tank in order to escape.

To get more information and tips about suitable care for the fish please read these tips below:

  • The minimum tank size ideal for housing the fish should be at least 30 gallons
  • Ensure that provide sufficient hiding places for the fish where it can hide in when it feels threatened. You can place rocks and have some plants grown in the tank to offer such hiding places for the fish.
  • It is a community fish that can be housed with other more peaceful fish that will not harass it.
  • Ensure that the tank has got an aquarium lid that will help to prevent it from jumping out as it has a tendency to jump out of tanks.
  • The ideal tank temperature for the fish needs to be set to between 72 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ensure regular water changes that will make the fish thrive.
  • It is a marine water fish and therefore the water in the tank need to be salty for it to be able to survive there.


The fish is a carnivore that it is capable of eating invertebrates especially if it has grown big enough to consume such. Feeding it is not a big deal as it will readily feed on almost any food that it is offered.

Here below are some great foods that it can fed while being kept in captivity:

  • Adult brine shrimp or mysis shrimp
  • Pigment enhancing foods should also be given to the fish to help maintain its amazing coloration
  • Pellet food or frozen food can be offered as well.
  • It can also be offered chopped mollusks, crustacean flesh and flake foods.
  • They can also be offered squid and krill and ensure that the diet contains high levels of protein to help them get perfectly nourished.


Due to the bizarre nature of the breeding of the fish breeding them in captivity can be a herculean task for you. It is interesting to note that chalk bass is a hermaphrodite; this means that each fish has got a testes and ovaries as well. During spawning, each fish will take turns acting as a female and male. The fish are known to simply scatter their eggs in the mid sections of the water when it is time for spawning. In the wild, the eggs are known to drift with plankton finally settling on reefs where they then hatch.


The Chalk Bass is known to be a very peaceful fish preferring to live near coral reefs where it hides most of the time. The fish live in groups in the wild where they usually hover around cave or rocks where they feed in planktons and other small crustaceans. Due to the peaceful nature of the fish and its tendency to easily run away from aggressive fish it is best to house them with less aggressive fish.

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