CCromileptes altivelis (Valenciennes 1828), the Panther Grouper to the hobby is the Humpback Grouper to science. Western Pacific distribution. To twenty eight inches in the wild. A hardy animal with a large appetite and mouth to match. Monotypic genus. The big black dots will get smaller and increase in number as the fish grows. Below are some information about Basses (to which the polka - dot grouper belongs).
Selection: General to Specific
Look for newer arrivals with good color and outgoing or at least "curious" personalities.
Know this; that most members are best purchased as sub-adults and moved as few times as possible. Adaptability reduces with growing size and captive moves.
In the mood for travel? All specimens are wild caught. Many in traps, some barbless hook and line. Types that can be driven into hiding can be "goosed" with a wire/rod poker with finesse into a hand-net. You have to be fast.
Though identified as premiere bully-boys, the group spends most of it's time hiding, skulking and, not to be too anthropomorphic, sulking. Provide plenty of caves and other dark spots for cover. To elaborate on the note above in Acclimation; alter the particular favorite "hiding" space minimally. That is leave that shell, cave as is.
As far as captive marines go most basses are very tolerant of minimally "poor water quality". Any stable tropical temperature, mid specific gravity (1.022-1.023) is fine. I would suggest artificially supplementing the buffering capacity of the system with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or commercial preparation for the same. Rationale? The introduction and processing of so much proteinaceous foods tends to drive down alkalinity. A pinch of bicarb. every week or so will go a long way to maintaining a pH slightly above 8.0, with no deleterious effect.
Adequate and rigorous to handle large tanks and occasional large wastes.
At least two distinct rock/coral cave hide areas; low lighting.
As a generalization, the family is "one to a tank", intolerant of same species or other similar of near size. Most species gather together in pairs or aggregations only for spawning, or group predation. The notable exception are the tukas, subfamily Anthiinae, which live in great aggregations. We'll give them a seperate Section.
Agonistic displays against new-tank members, and wanna-be challengers to their alpha position is not uncommon. Such charging and wide-mouthing generally passes without serious incident. Leaving the lights on in the system for a day and night or two usually cools things down.
Though most basses as species and individuals are not overtly "mean", they are still predaceous, and will swallow any tankmate smaller than their mouth-opening.
Reproduction, Sexual Differentiation:
Simultaneous or synchronous hermaphrodites, little boys and/or girls at the same time or one then the other. For simultaneous species, taking turns during courtship to be female/male.
Pelagic young hatch out in a matter of a day or two.
Capable of great bursts of speed as catch-mechanism for prey and avoidance of predation.
Feeding/Foods/Nutrition: Types, Frequency, Amount, Wastes
Along with water quality, diet is primarily important in determining serranid health and color.
I find that authors, like Campbell in the late seventies, plug the use of live freshwater organisms as suitable food formats. I still don't. Live goldfish may be nutritionally acceptable to some, but the behavioral consequences of your livestock dashing about, equating fish-like stimuli with hunting/eating satisfaction sounds like a bad idea. Besides, feeders are expensive and inconvenient. Alternatively, I encourage the use of whole or formulated, preserved-frozen foods. Even the finickiest eater can be trained to accept these with gusto.
On that same note, if your bass doesn't eat for a while, for no or any apparent reason, don't sweat it. They have been known to go "off-feed" for days, weeks, even months.
Disease: Infectious, Parasitic, Nutritional, Genetic, Social
Except for many of the Fancy Basses/Tukas (subfamily Anthiinae), basses are relatively disease resistant and hardy.
Hey! Where are the Fairy Basslets, aka the Dottybacks? Sorry, you've fallen prey to the pseudo-bass trap; in this case the Pseudochromidae is a seperate family. As is the various grammas, royal or not, in the Basslet family Grammidae; not to mention the Pseudochromidae, Plesiopsidae...
The true basses are long-lived, color-fast if changeable, interesting in their activities, extremely interesting in their behavior; yawning, playing in bubbles. And keeping almost all of them is not difficult.
With the permission of Robert (Bob) Fenner webmaster of WetWebMedia () Photos by Mike Iannibeli
Chromileptis altivelis (Polka - dot grouper)