Anthias Care

By Dieter Karner from Loosdorf, Austria (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Introduction to Anthias Care

So you’ve decided to take on the challenge of raising Anthias in your reef, have you? Don’t be too worried; Anthias care is actually pretty simple when you get the hang of. They are, most definitely, a one of a kind fish. You know those underwater pictures of gorgeous clouds of fish sparkling in the marine waters? Yeah, those are probably Anthias.

It’s hard to truly put a label on Anthias. They’re hauntingly beautiful, but at the same time notorious divas to each others. Their stunning cotton-candy colors of reds and pinks are only surpassed by their frequently dumbfounding behavior. Still, it’s hard to argue against raising them. Just one glimpse of a ruby shoal darting through a reef is absolutely mind-boggling.

So, really, what are they? Anthias are members of the Serranidae family, which, as you may know, is (strangely) the grouper family. While there are dozens of different and unique species of Anthias, the most common types that you’re bound to see include the Lyretail, Redcheek, and Yellow Stripe varieties.

Hailing from the Mediterranean & Australia, they’re well accustomed to warmer marine waters, much like the kind in your reef. Thanks to that, they’re generally considered to be tough creatures. They aren’t quite as easy as, say, a Mandarin Goby to neglect.

Still, though, they have their own quirks and preferences, and you have to take the time to respect that if you want them to thrive in your tank. Luckily, it’s not as hard as you may think.


By Brian Gratwicke [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Brian Gratwicke [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Introduction into your Tank

So, you’ve chosen a group of plump, healthy looking Anthias, and you’re jonesing to get them in your display tank. What do you do? Do you need to quarantine them? Target feed them? Bubble wrap them? Thankfully, no. no, and definitely no.

Anthias are pretty hardy fish compared to some of the more temperamental species out there. That being said, there are a few points you’ll need to have squared away before hand. First of all, Anthias shoals are structured with a pecking order. Like in many animals, both males and females are on a totem pole of importance to the colony.

The more “alpha” males are remarkably territorial. When a dominant male gets bothered by a subordinate male, sparks will fly. Depending on their aggressiveness, the alpha will harass the subordinate, sometimes until the point of death.

That’s why it’s so important to avoid overcrowding your tank with males. In fact, you should shoot for a male to female ratio of about 1:6. For every male Anthias you have, you should have six or so females. That’ll help to keep aggression in check.

Oddly enough, you might actually end up with more male fish than you started with. That’s right; Anthias are actually sequential hermaphrodites, or have the ability to change sex at will. Besides being a cool party trick, that allows them to replace dead alpha males easily or balance out the number of female to male fish. That’s why it’s important not to go too crazy with the sex disparity.

As far as your tank goes, the bigger the better. For one, a bigger tank allows for more overall territory. That means less harassment and less fights among themselves. For another, Anthias crave flowy, spacious waters. Their natural inclination is to take up space. That’s why you tend to see large shoals of them, not just individuals.

Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your tank has plenty of open, oxygenated water with a solid current. It causes them less stress and helps them adapt to tank life. Other than that, it’s relatively straightforward to introduce them into your display tank, Just be sure to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re playing nice with each other and the other inhabitants.

If you do happen to see an Anthias hiding away from the shoal or meekly meandering through the reef, those are signs of having been bullied. Give them extra attention, pronto. Even, perhaps, isolate them temporarily until they are back to normal.


Anthias Feeding

Tiger-Pods-tigriopus-californicus-copepodsI can’t stress this enough: Proper feeding is critical to proper Anthias care. More than anything else, how you feed your Anthias can literally make or break them, Luckily, live copepods have exactly what it takes to cut down on the hassle.

Anthias, like many other reef dwelling fish, are frequent eaters. They pretty much live to eat. They’re always eating, and eating, and eating. It only makes sense that a large shoal of Anthias could easily go through more food than you have available That’s why it’s so important to have a sustainable food source, like copepods.

Live copepods, more specifically Tiger Pods, are perhaps the best choice when it comes to food. There aren’t a whole lot of other options that really compare to pods, thanks to their speedy reproduction. As I said, a large shoal of Anthias could decimate a bottle of dried food. You need a food source that constantly reproduces, and fast. Live Tiger Pods should be your go-to.

Not only are they living, breathing, and reproducing, but they provide more complete nutrition to your Anthias. While many flake and pellet foods are weird, dried compounds of planktonic creatures, pods have a whole, complete nutritional profile, complete with all the vitamins that contribute to the most vibrant color in fish.

As an added bonus, copepods are detritivores, which means that they love to snack on the scum and algae that floats around in your tank. Dried and dead food makes your tank cloudier and mixes in some pollutants every time you add a little more in. Pods do the exact opposite. The choice is pretty clear.

If you choose to manually feed your Anthias with live copepods from your refugium, be sure to do it often. If you can, three or even for times a day is the sweet spot for max growth and vitality.
Wrapping Up

Final Thoughts on Anthias Care

Anthias are great fish for beginner/intermediate aquarists to try out and Anthias care is quite simple once you get the hang of it. Just the right mix of hardiness and beauty, they’re not too tough (or easy) to take care of. Our favorite part? The wide assortment of colors and breeds. No two Anthias shoals are alike. Yours will be unique. Treat it like it. You won’t regret it.

Jett Murdock
Jett Murdock

Jett Murdock is the resident reef writer here at When he isn’t writing about all things reef related, he freelances over at He’s a seasoned writer with 3+ years of experience writing everything from product descriptions to essays.

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