Lyretail Anthias: A Colorful Addition to Your Saltwater Aquarium

| Updated: July 13, 2023
Male Lyretail Anthias, red and pink body with yellow tail

Do you love colorful fish? Do you enjoy watching them swim and school in your tank? Do you want to add some life and charm to your saltwater aquarium? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might want to learn about the lyretail anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis).

These fish are also known as scalefin anthias, sea goldies, or lyretail fairy basslets, and they belong to the family Serranidae, which includes groupers and sea basses. Lyretail anthias are native to the Indo-Pacific region, where they form large schools in the outer reef slopes and feed on zooplankton. They are popular among reef hobbyists because of their beauty, hardiness, and compatibility with most other reef inhabitants.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to care for lyretail anthias, including their tank size, water parameters, diet, behavior, tank mates, breeding, and common diseases.

Species Overview

Scientific Name
Pseudanthias squamipinnis
Common Names
Lyretail anthias, scalefin anthias, sea goldie, lyretail fairy basslet, orange seaperch, and others
Indo-Pacific region, from the Red Sea to Japan, Australia, and South Africa
Adult Size
Up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) for males, up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) for females
Life Expectancy
5-6 years
Minimum Tank Size
125 gallons for a group of 5-8 fish
Captive Breedable

What Do Lyretail Anthias Look Like?

One of the most striking features of lyretail anthias is their sexual dimorphism, which means that males and females look different from each other. Males have a red or pink body with a yellow tail and an elongated dorsal spine. They also have a blue or purple ring around their eyes that extends to their pectoral fins. Females have an orange or yellow body with a yellow tail and no dorsal spine. They also have the same eye ring as males. Both sexes have small scales and slender body shapes.

Lyretail anthias can also change their color depending on their mood, environment, or social status. For example, males can become more colorful when they are courting females or defending their territory. Females can become darker when they are stressed or sick. This makes them very interesting and fun to watch in your tank.

But don’t let their pretty colors fool you. Lyretail anthias are not just eye candy. They are also smart and adaptable fish that can survive in a variety of conditions. They can even change their sex from female to male if needed. How cool is that? We will explain more about this later in the article.

How Do Lyretail Anthias Behave?

Lyretail anthias are social fish that live in harems consisting of one dominant male and several females. They swim in the middle and upper levels of the water column and dart in and out of the rocks and corals. They are active during the day and hide at night.

In the wild, lyretail anthias feed on zooplankton that they catch in the water column. They have small mouths and need to eat frequently throughout the day. In captivity, they can be trained to accept prepared or frozen foods, but they still need multiple feedings per day.

Lyretail anthias are generally peaceful with other fish of similar size and temperament. However, they can be aggressive with other anthias of the same or different species, especially males. Therefore, it is best to keep only one male per tank or harem. If you want to keep more than one male, you will need a very large tank (over 200 gallons) with plenty of hiding places and territories.

Lyretail anthias are also protogynous hermaphrodites, which means that they can change their sex from female to male under certain conditions. This usually happens when there is no male in the group or when the male dies or leaves. The largest and most dominant female will then undergo a hormonal and physical transformation to become a male. This process can take several weeks or months.

Male Lyretail Anthias, red and pink body with yellow tailGroup of female Lyretail Anthias
Left: Male Lyretail Anthias – Right: Female Lyretail Anthias. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Tank Setup for A Lyretail Anthias

If you want to keep lyretail anthias in your saltwater aquarium, you will need to provide them with a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat. Here are some of the main factors that you need to consider:

Tank Size

Lyretail anthias are schooling fish that need plenty of space to swim and explore. They also need to be kept in groups of at least 5-8 fish, with one male and several females. Therefore, the minimum tank size for lyretail anthias is 125 gallons (473 L). However, the bigger the tank, the better, as it will allow you to keep more fish and reduce aggression.

You might be wondering why you need such a large tank for these small fish. Well, there are several reasons for this. First, lyretail anthias are very active and need room to swim and school. Second, lyretail anthias are semi-aggressive and need space to establish their territories and avoid conflicts. Third, lyretail anthias are sensitive to water quality and need a large volume of water to dilute the waste and toxins. Fourth, lyretail anthias are difficult to breed and need a large tank to increase their chances of spawning.

So, if you want to keep these fish happy and healthy, you will need to invest in a large tank. Trust us, it will be worth it when you see them swimming around in their colorful glory.

Water Parameters

Lyretail anthias are sensitive to water quality and need stable and optimal water parameters to thrive. You will need to monitor and maintain the following parameters regularly:

  • Temperature: Lyretail anthias prefer a temperature range of 76-82°F (24-28°C). You will need a heater and a thermometer to keep the temperature consistent and avoid fluctuations.
  • pH: Lyretail anthias need a pH level of 8.0-8.4, which is slightly alkaline. You will need a pH test kit and a buffer to adjust the pH if needed.
  • Salinity: Lyretail anthias need a salinity level of 1.025 or 35 ppt, which is equivalent to natural seawater. You will need a hydrometer or a refractometer to measure the salinity and a salt mix to prepare the water.
  • Nitrogen Cycle: Lyretail anthias are intolerant of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, which are toxic byproducts of the nitrogen cycle. You will need a filter, a protein skimmer, and live rock to establish a biological filtration system that can break down these compounds. You will also need ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test kits to monitor their levels and perform water changes as necessary.

Keeping the water parameters in check is crucial for the health and well-being of your lyretail anthias. You should test the water regularly and make adjustments as needed. You should also perform regular water changes of 10-20% every week or two to keep the water clean and fresh.


Lyretail anthias do best in a well-decorated tank with rocks, corals, and caves that can provide hiding places and territories. They also need plenty of open space for swimming and schooling. You can use live rock, artificial rock, or a combination of both to create a natural-looking reef environment. You can also add some live corals or artificial corals that are compatible with lyretail anthias and can enhance their colors. Some examples of suitable corals are mushroom corals, leather corals, zoanthids, star polyps, and soft corals.

Decorating your tank for lyretail anthias is not only beneficial for them but also for you. You can create a beautiful and realistic reef scene that will make your tank more attractive and enjoyable to watch. You can also express your creativity and personality by choosing the colors, shapes, and arrangements of the rocks and corals.


Lyretail anthias need moderate to high lighting to mimic their natural habitat in the outer reef slopes. They also need a photoperiod of 10-12 hours of light per day to maintain their circadian rhythm. You can use LED, fluorescent, or metal halide lights to provide adequate lighting for your tank. You can also use a timer to automate the lighting schedule and create a dawn-dusk effect.

Lighting is important for lyretail anthias for several reasons. First, it helps them regulate their biological clock and behavior. Second, it stimulates their appetite and metabolism. Third, it enhances their coloration and mood. Fourth, it supports the growth and health of the corals and plants in your tank.

You should choose the right type and intensity of lighting for your tank based on the size, depth, and inhabitants of your tank. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight or excessive lighting that can cause algae growth or temperature fluctuations in your tank.

What Do Lyretail Anthias Eat?

Lyretail anthias are carnivorous fish that feed on zooplankton in the wild. In captivity, they can be fed a variety of prepared or frozen foods that are high in protein and low in fat. Some examples of suitable foods are mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, copepods, krill, plankton, bloodworms, daphnia, and marine flake food. You can also supplement their diet with some vitamins and minerals to boost their immune system and coloration.

Lyretail anthias have small mouths and stomachs and need to eat frequently throughout the day. You should feed them at least 3-4 times daily with small portions of food they can consume within a few minutes. You should also vary their diet to prevent boredom and nutritional deficiencies.

Feeding your lyretail anthias properly is essential for their health and happiness.

Choose foods that are appropriate for their size, shape, and preferences. Avoid overfeeding or underfeeding them, as this can cause health problems or stress. And last but not least, remove any uneaten food after each feeding.

Who Can Live with Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias are generally peaceful with other fish of similar size and temperament. However, they can be aggressive with other anthias of the same or different species, especially males. Therefore, keeping only one male per tank or harem is best. If you want to keep more than one male, you will need a very large tank (over 200 gallons) with plenty of hiding places and territories.

Some examples of suitable tank mates for lyretail anthias are clownfish, tangs, angelfish, butterflyfish, wrasses, gobies, blennies, and dottybacks. You should avoid keeping lyretail anthias with larger, more aggressive, or predatory fish, such as lionfish, triggerfish, groupers, eels, or sharks. You should also avoid keeping lyretail anthias with fish that are similar in shape or color, such as other fairy basslets, hawkfish, or cardinalfish, as they may compete or fight with them.

Lyretail anthias are reef safe and will not harm your corals or invertebrates. However, they may eat some of the small crustaceans that live in your reef, such as amphipods, copepods, or isopods. Therefore, you may need to replenish these populations from time to time.

Some examples of suitable invertebrates for lyretail anthias are snails, crabs, shrimp, starfish, sea urchins, clams, scallops, anemones, and corals.

Choosing the right tank mates for your lyretail anthias is important for their well-being and harmony. You should select fish that are compatible with their size, temperament, and water parameters. You should also introduce new fish gradually and monitor their behavior closely. You should also provide enough space and hiding places for each fish to avoid overcrowding or aggression.

How to Breed Lyretail Anthias

Lyretail anthias are difficult to breed in captivity since they have complex social and environmental requirements. Some hobbyists have managed to succeed in breeding these fish by providing them with a large tank (over 200 gallons), pristine water parameters, a balanced diet, and a stable harem.

They spawn at dusk or dawn in the water column. The male will court one or more females by displaying his brightest colors and performing a zigzag dance. The female will then release her eggs and the male will fertilize them with his milt.

The eggs are pelagic and will drift with the current until they hatch after 24-48 hours. The larvae are planktonic and will feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton until they metamorphose into juveniles after 4-6 weeks. Juveniles are all female and will join a harem when they reach maturity.

Breeding lyretail anthias is not easy but it can be very rewarding if you manage to do it successfully. You will need to provide them with the right conditions and stimuli to trigger their spawning behavior. You will also need to collect the eggs and raise the larvae separately from the main tank. Once the eggs hatch, your work is just getting started. Patience and diligence in caring for the fry until they grow up is of utmost importance.

How to Treat Lyretail Anthias Diseases

Lyretail anthias are susceptible to common diseases affecting marine fish tanks, such as ich, velvet, marine velvet, bacterial infections, fungal infections, and parasites. You can prevent most of these diseases by maintaining good water quality, quarantining new fish before adding them to your tank and feeding your fish a varied and nutritious diet.

If you notice any signs of disease in your lyretail anthias, such as white spots, loss of color, loss of appetite, lethargy, breathing difficulties, or abnormal behavior, you should act quickly and treat them accordingly. You can use medications such as copper sulfate, formalin, or antibiotics to treat the affected fish. You should also isolate them in a separate or hospital tank to prevent the disease from spreading to other fish.

Treating your lyretail anthias diseases is important for their recovery and survival. You should follow the instructions and dosages of the medications carefully and monitor the progress of the treatment. You should also keep the water parameters in check and perform water changes as needed. You should also avoid stressing or disturbing your fish during the treatment.

Final Thoughts

Lyretail anthias are beautiful and colorful fish that can add a lot of charm and life to your saltwater aquarium. If you can provide them with a suitable tank, water parameters, diet, behavior, tank mates, breeding, and disease prevention, you will be rewarded with a stunning and lively display of these amazing fish. We hope that this article has helped you learn more about lyretail anthias and how to care for them. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. Happy reefing!

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Kayla Stewart
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