Lyretail Anthias Fish Overview, Care & Breeding Guide

The exotic fish has a beautiful body and vibrant colors. It is one of the most popular saltwater species among fish lobbyists, owing to its striking personality.

It’s the perfect fit for any marine aquarist with slight experience, especially if you want to add a little color to your tank!

So, dive right in for some quick facts before bringing it home.

What are the characteristics of Lyretail Anthias?

OriginIndo-west Pacific; Red Sea and Natal, North to Japan, South Africa to Niue; South to Australia
Scientific NamePseudanthias squamipinnis
Common NamesSea goldie, lyretail anthias, wreckfish, scalefin fairy basslet, red coral perch, rainbow, orange seaperch, orange butterfly perch, orange fairy basslet, lyretail fairy basslet, lyretail coralfish, goldie
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
AppearanceSlender, elongated body, vibrant colors, males have red or pink hue, females sport a more orange-yellow shade
SizeUp to 15 cm (6 in), male; Up to 7 cm (2.75 in)
LifespanUp to 5-6 years
TemperamentPeaceful, might get aggressive and violent towards incompatible species, might intimidate or bully smaller fish
Reef SafeYes
Tank LevelMiddle to top dwellers
Water Temperature74-79 °F (23-26 °C)
pH Level8-8.4
Water Hardness8-12 dKH
Care LevelModerate
Minimum Tank Size75 gallons for one, 150 gallons for 5, 180 gallons for 8
Tank EnvironmentPristine water conditions, open swimming space, strong current
DietCarnivorous, planktivorous
Tank MatesA group of 5-8 of its own, other reef species

What is the Natural Habitat of Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias is native to the Indo-West Pacific Ocean. It is found in the Red Sea, the eastern coast of Africa, Fiji, Indonesia, Melanesia, Japan, and southeast Australia.

The colorful fish is frequently spotted by divers at depths ranging from 30 to 100 feet (10-30 meters) and tend to congregate near branching corals on the reef.

It prefers living in proximity to coral outcrops in clear lagoons, patch reefs, and steep slopes, typically at depths of up to 35 meters.

The species is known to form large schools, often seen swimming above the reef alongside chromis dimidiata.

The species is classified as Least Concern according to the IUCN Red List Status of Threatened Species in 2015.

Which family does Lyretail Anthias belong?

This fish belongs to the Perciformes order and Serranidae family. Its binomial name is Pseudanthias squamipinnis.

Commonly, it is known by multiple names worldwide, like the following:

  • Lyretail anthias
  • Sea goldie
  • Goldie
  • Wreckfish
  • Scalefin fairy basslet
  • Scalefin anthias
  • Red coral perch
  • Rainbow
  • Orange seaperch
  • Orange butterfly perch
  • Orange fairy basslet
  • Lyretail fairy basslet
  • Lyretail coralfish
  • Purple-eye anthias
  • Blue-eye anthias

Fun Fact: All the fry of lyretail anthias are born females, and as their hierarchy allows, they can transform into a male during mating.

How does Lyretail Anthias look?

Three lyretail anthias females

If you want to know more about the physical characteristics and natural habitat of this fish, dive right in!

What is the Size of Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias, on average, can reach a length of up to 12 cm (5 in).

Specifically, the male fish grows notably larger than its female counterpart. Further, males can reach a maximum length of around 15 cm (6 in), while females typically grow up to 7 cm (2.75 in).

What is the Color of Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias have some of the brightest colors you can find in marine species. Usually, the female comes in shades ranging from a vibrant, sunburst orange to a lemony yellow.

The males flaunt purple to pink colors.

Regardless of gender, it also has an orange/red stripe across its cheek and sports a bluish-purple ring around the eyes.

This streak color varies from vivid red to deep violet, often with a touch of electric blueunderneath.

The patch streaks way back to the side of the fish’s pectoral fins. This explains why it’s also known as purple-eye anthias or blue-eye anthias.

There are multiple color variations like red, peach, deep violet, and more.

Furthermore, the coloration and patterns of the fish can vary based on its geographical location.

For instance, the lyretail anthias from Kenya typically exhibit an orange belly and a reddish body. Those from Fiji showcase a bold, all-encompassing red coloration across their bodies.

The eye-catching colors are aimed at impressing potential mates.

What are the Features of Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias has a narrow, slender elongated body, full dorsal, elongated fin rays, and long third dorsal spine.

The species derives its name from the distinctive shape of its tail fin. It resembles a U-shaped string instrument called a lyre, similar to a harp historically used in ancient Greece, Egypt, and northern Africa.

What is the difference between a male and female Lyretail Anthias?

The male fish grows much larger than its female counterparts. However, the most noticeable distinction lies in the coloration.

Females have a coloration reminiscent of sherbet, featuring a yellowish-pink body with a bright yellow underside. Sometimes, their coloration may lean more towards yellow than pink. The eyes have subtle hints of purple.

Males, on the other hand, display a more elaborate appearance. They sport a dark purplish-red hue with striking red fins.

Additionally, males have a recognizable elongated dorsal spine and extensions on other fins.

Do Lyretail Anthias exhibit Hermaphroditism?

Yes, Lyretail anthias exhibit an interesting phenomenon known as protogynous hermaphroditism, similar to clownfish.

This means that it possesses a remarkable evolutionary capability to switch from being female to male in response to various internal and external environmental cues and conditions.

For instance, if a male is absent from a group, females have the remarkable ability to transition into males in less than a month.

If the group establishes a female harem and has no male from the beginning, the most dominant female will undergo this transition. In this case, the process typically takes about 170 to 280 days.

What is the Behavior of Lyretail Anthias in the tank?

Lyretail anthias is considered to be the social butterfly of marine aquariums. It is an incredibly active species and is always looking for food.

The male fish employs territorial displays and courtship rituals to attract and manage the harem. He also shows swift movements and frequent darting behavior.

When kept in a tank alongside other peaceful fish, this species generally coexists without issues. But it prefers to have its territory undisturbed.

However, males may get into fights with one another to have a bigger harem and protect their territory.

Sometimes, you may also observe females displaying aggression towards each other. This happens especially when there is no male present in the tank.

Further, the species may show aggression toward smaller, timid species if there’s a food shortage.

What is the Lifespan of Lyretail Anthias?

The lyretail anthias is known for its robust nature. Typically, this saltwater fish has an average lifespan of around 5 years.

In my experience, appropriate care, consistent water quality, and a balanced diet can help the fish live up to 6 years.

Occasionally, you might hear people claiming that this species can sustain for up to 10 years. But it’s highly unlikely for it to achieve this number. So, it’s advisable to approach such claims with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Author’s Note: It is one of the aggressive species of the Pseudanthias genus. Imperfect tank water conditions and food scarcity can make it slightly sensitive.

How to take care of Lyretail Anthias?

Group of lyretail anthias

If you want to keep your marine tank stocked with a bunch of lyretails, you need to first give premium care to the sensitive little ones. So, here are some essential steps you must take:

What is the Tank Size for Lyretail Anthias?

The lyretail anthias is an active swimmer and requires a huge swimming space. So, you need to provide enough space despite the physical size of the relatively small fish.

If you’re thinking about keeping a single lyretail anthias, a 75-gallon tank should suffice.

However, if you plan to keep it in groups, you’ll need a larger tank. A small group of five anthias requires a 150-gallon tank.

For an impressive school of eight, you should aim for a tank size of 180 gallons.

On the other hand, if you plan to house the fish with other peaceful species, a minimum of a 125-gallon aquarium is recommended. This will prevent your lyretails from becoming aggressive due to limited space.

What is the Water Chemistry for Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias are sensitive to water parameters. So, it is best to maintain stable conditions as it thrives best in established systems.

  • pH Levels: 8-8.4
  • Water Temperature: 74-79 °F (23-26 °C)
  • Water Hardness: 8-12 dKH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Below 20 ppm
  • Synthetic Salt Level: 26-33 ppt
  • Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025

What is the Tank Environment for Lyretail Anthias?

Now that you are aware of the water and tank requirements, it is time to replicate its natural environment. Here is how you can design an appealing aquascape to keep your fish healthy and happy.

Does Lyretail Anthias need Substrate?

The lyretail dwells on the upper and middle water columns. So, it isn’t picky about the substrate.

Some suggest using live rock in the aquarium. This contains lots of algae and invertebrates, which the lyretail may feed on. The organisms in live rock also help process ammonia, phosphates, and nitrates in your aquarium.

Which Plants are required for Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias primarily inhibit open water and don’t interact with the plants much. However, to create a natural habitat, you may add soft corals, macroalgae, gorgonians and leather corals. These fish may use the plants for shelter and as a source of food.

What is the Lighting needed for Lyretail Anthias?

This species prefers subdued lighting in the tank.

On the other hand, reef tank corals require high-intensity lighting. This is too strong and uncomfortable for your fish.

If you are keeping the fish in a reef tank, you may use regular reef lighting only if you can meet these conditions:

  • Lighting must be well-timed with good day and night settings.
  • You must also add shady areas like overhangs, caves, and crevices for all of your lyretails to take a break.

Which Décor is needed for Lyretail Anthias?

The lyretail anthias love a combination of hiding places and an open swimming room. To replicate its natural habitat, you can use patch reefs, channels, caves, and overhangs. You can also fill up your tank with rocks to offer hiding spaces and shelter.

There isn’t any risk with keeping it in a reef setup. So, you can also add small polyp stony (SPS) corals, large polyp stony (LPS) corals, and small corals.

What is the Filtration required for Lyretail Anthias?

To sustain your lyretail anthias for the longest, you must ensure that the water is nicely filtered and completely clean. This species is sensitive to water conditions and usually requires a highly oxygenated tank.

Test the water quality at least once a week and also check the filter and water temperature at regular intervals.

Change at least 10-25% of the water every two to four weeks or as needed. The filter media should be changed every month to ensure better living conditions.

You can also invest in a good-quality protein skimmer to stay on top of your water quality game amidst water changes.

What is the Water Flow Rate for Lyretail Anthias?

This fish remains active at all times, and in the wild, it hangs around coral drop-offs where there is a strong current.

So you need to have strong water circulation in your tank to mimic the natural habitat. You can even invest in a wavemaker for this.

Fish Care Tip: They are big-time jumpers, so make sure you have a tight-fitted lid to prevent them from getting out of the tank.

What Food does Lyretail Anthias eat?

The lyretail anthias is generally carnivorous in the wild, so you need to provide a range of meaty treats. In the wild, it acts like a planktivore that feeds primarily on passing zooplankton.

Some say it is not picky about food. Others report that it initially causes troubles during mealtime as it needs a little time to get acclimated.

If you are planning to own this fish, offer a proper diet, which includes:

  • Brine shrimps
  • Amphipods
  • Copepods
  • Rotifers
  • Mysis shrimps
  • Black worms
  • Dry flakes
  • Pellets
  • Frozen proteins
  • Planktonic foods
  • Larvae crustaceans
  • Polychaetes

It has special dietary and protein demands, which helps it showcase bright coloration and also grow better. To tend to this, feed it foods rich in carotenoids like canthaxanthin and astaxanthin, which are readily found in Cyclop-eeze.

The fish has a high metabolism and requires a constant supply of food. To prevent it from becoming aggressive, feed your pet 3-4 times a day. Otherwise, it may bully smaller and slower species, as it perceives them as competitors for food.

If this feels like too much work for you, you can install a refugium, which is an auto-feeder setup, to make your life easier.

What are the Tank Mates for Lyretail Anthias?

Lyretail anthias is peaceful by nature as long as you provide it with the right environment and diet. So, you need to be a little careful while selecting its companions.

It thrives well with a group of 4 or more of its species. So, before you add other tank mates, ensure you have a small group.

Many hobbyists prefer an all-female tank of either small juvenile lyretails or a group of female lyretails where one is larger than the other.

Some enthusiasts found their luck in keeping 1 male and a group of females in their tank. But be cautious, as it’s recommended not to add a male into the tank immediately. Otherwise, this can lead to rejection.

Further, if you add a male, remember not to keep more than one in the same tank.

The species is compatible with almost any like-tempered species. If you’re interested in building a community tank, here are some options:

Which Tank Mates to Avoid for Lyretail Anthias?

The fish can get aggressive towards smaller and more passive fish. It may also munch on invertebrates. On the other hand, large and predatory fishes can pose a threat to your anthias.

Avoid housing it in the same tank along with:

  • Dottybacks
  • Large angelfishes
  • Hawfishes
  • Large damsels
  • Saltwater snails
  • Shrimps

What are the Common Diseases for Lyretail Anthias?

When kept in good conditions, the lyretail anthias tends to be disease-resistant. But, it can get sick from a poor diet and fluctuating water conditions.

So, beware of the following ailments that may affect your pet fish:

Disease NameCausesSymptomsTreatment
Saltwater Ich/CryptProtozoan Parasitic InfectionWhite dotted spots, loss of appetite, inactivity, flashingAdd ich medication, and aquarium salts and raise the water temperature
Fin RotBacterial infectionLethargy, loss of appetite, discoloration of fins, disintegration or fraying of finsTreat with antibacterial medications, ich medications, increase water temperature, aquarium salts
Marine VelvetDinoflagellate parasitesLethargy, trouble breathing, excess slime production, dusty, brownish-gold coloration, small powdery white grains all over the body, cloudy eyes, scratchingRaise the temperature, quarantine in a separate tank, and use copper sulfate, formalin, methylene blue, or malachite green medication
HexamitaFlagellate protozoansSmall holes appear on the fish’s body, especially near the head, yellow strings of mucus, lethargy, loss of appetite, subdued face than usualMedicated fish food, anti-protozoan medications
Gill FlukesParasitic flatwormPimple-like spots or redness around the gills, loss of appetite, lethargy, low energy, breathing difficultySeparate the infected fish in the quarantine tank, use deworming medication
LymphocystisViral infectionWhite nodule growths on the fish body and finsImprove water quality and diet, visit aquatic specialists, and ensure a de-stressed environment
Anchor WormsSmall crustaceansRedness or inflammation, stingy white-green or red worm-like creatures of 25 cm, constant rubbing against objects, difficulty in breathingTreat with potassium permanganate bath, remove the worm with tweezers
Uronema MarinumParasite ciliated protozoaRapid breathing, red sores, weight loss, discolorationEuthanasia, freshwater tank bath for 2-3 minutes, separate the infected fish in tan with low salinity for 21 days
ColumnarisBacterial InfectionRed and sore body, cloudy eyes, fin and tail rot, loss of appetite, lethargy, white film on body, fungus growthsUse antibiotics, water quality enhancement, stress reduction

Most of these common ailments can be prevented by following these steps:

  • Test water parameters every week
  • Quarantine new fish before adding it to an existing tank
  • Change water regularly as needed
  • Don’t overcrowd or overfeed the fish

How to Breed Lyretail Anthias in an Aquarium?

Breeding lyretail anthias in your tank can be an exciting journey. With proper care, attention to their unique behaviors, and the right tank conditions, you can successfully raise these beautiful fish in your home aquarium.

1. Mating Groups

Lyretail anthias form harems, with dominant males preventing other females from changing sex. One male typically leads a group of several females, and if the male leaves, another female may transition.

Thus, create a harmonious environment by housing one male and a group of 4-10 females together. This helps reduce aggression among them.

Surprisingly, females lay fewer eggs as they age, while males become more fertile. Older females may undergo a sex change to maintain reproduction capabilities.

So, try to choose the oldest male specimen and young yet sexually mature females.

2. Conditioning & Tank Prep

Begin by feeding them a diverse diet to condition them for breeding. Offer foods like baby brine shrimp, copepods, or a mix of seafood with essential vitamins.

Look for signs of readiness to mate when they start to display vibrant colors.

Larger females show clear round bellies filled with eggs. Ready-to-mate females also change color to pink and flaunt a more ornate dorsal fin.

Make sure you house the breeding group in a separate breeding tank with similar water conditions. This will protect the fry and eggs from being eaten by the other species.

Provide dim lights in the tank to encourage egg-laying.

3. Mating Ritual

During the evening, the male courts the females with a strategy called dive bombing. He dashes towards them from above, and then the male angles back upwards sharply.

Then, a female fish joins him in this while the male is still going upward. They both release eggs and sperm into the current from the apex. For this, the species is known to be pelagic spawners.

4. Incubation & Separation

The eggs hatch after about 20 hours to 3 days. Until then, the small eggs float in the water just like zooplankton, which makes them susceptible to predation in the aquarium – by the parent fish!

So, make sure you collect the eggs ASAP and re-house them in a nursery tank with similar water conditions.

You can also remove the parent group from the tank to prevent them from consuming the eggs. Use the breeding tank as a nursery tank itself.

Once the fry hatch, they can feed on their own; hence, parents are not required to stay with them.

5. Fry Development

It’s challenging to rear lyretail anthias larvae due to their primitive state when hatched owing to lack of eyes and visible mouth.

After hatching, ensure proper care for the fry. Offer protein-rich foods like baby brine shrimp and crushed pellets. Small amounts of mysis shrimp can also support their growth.

As the fry grows larger, consider transferring them from the nursery tank to the main aquarium while maintaining stable tank conditions.

How to Buy Lyretail Anthias?

  • Buy a school of juvenile female fish of around 3 inches to prevent them from turning into dominant males and being eaten.
  • Buy specimens that have clear eyes, healthy appetite, intact fins, bright and even color, and no sign of sickness.
  • Avoid specimens with sickness signs like fungus spots, heavy breathing, erratic swimming, cloudy or bulging eyes, malnourishment, bloating, or drowsiness.

A word from FishInAquarium

Lyretail anthias are extremely attractive with their unique colors and traits. If you do some research, they’re not too hard to care for. All they need is clean water, a reef-based environment, and a stable home to stay healthy, calm, and happy.

They’re especially adorable with their playful personality and, thus, are fun to watch!

If this care guide was of any help to you and answered your queries, make sure to share this with other hobbyists.

In case you face any roadblocks, reach out to us via mail, and we will be more than happy to help you!

Minnie B Miller - Professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium

About Minnie B Miller

Minnie B. Miller, a professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium, has over 8 years of expertise in fish breeding and care, gained through her roles at AquaticTX and Sea Lion Landing. Having honed her skills with various aquatic species, she is dedicated to empowering fellow enthusiasts by sharing her knowledge and experience.