Lyretail Anthias – Breed Profile & Facts

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If the name of Lyretail Anthias doesn’t ring any bells, maybe Orange Basslet will. No, nothing?

How about Lyretail Fairy Basslet, Orange Seaperch, Scalefin Anthias, or Sea Goldie? Yea, this fish has quite a few names to its…name, making the situation that much more confusing.

If you’re not familiar with the Lyretail Anthias, allow me to make the introductions. Today, we will discuss the Sea Goldie to learn more about the species and explain why these fish are great for most aquatic environments.

So, let’s jump right into it!

What is a Lyretail Anthias?

This fish belongs to the Serranidae family, genus Pseudanthias, which I realize doesn’t mean much to most novice/intermediate aquarists.

To put it simply, this is a ray-finned fish that is similar in appearance to a cichlid. You can tell the Sea Goldie has a lot of predatorial characteristics, from its sharp nose to its slim body and long and shark dorsal fins.

This is an active swimmer showcasing high levels of energy and constantly looking for food in its environment. But what is a ray-finned fish?

There are 2 types of fish in terms of fin construction: ray and lobe-finned. Lob-finned fish possess a fleshy fin, growing around a single bone attached to the fish’s body.

Unlike them, ray-finned fish have multiple spiked bones sustaining their fins, providing the fish with a different appearance.

This species also ranks as a protogynous hermaphrodite. To put it bluntly, you have clear sexual dimorphism, with males and females varying in size and coloring.

Males can grow twice as large as the females, or even more sometimes, and come in shades of red and pink. Females will mostly display variations of orange and yellow.

The issue is that being a protogynous hermaphrodite, the Lyretail can change its sex from female to male. This happens for 2 primary reasons:

Increased fertility rates

It turns out that female Lyretails lose some of their reproductive prowess over the years.

So, they will lay fewer eggs more rarely than younger ones. On the other hand, males appear to increase their fertility rates as they age, producing even more milt as time passes. Which is atypical, to say the least.

In this context, the Lyretail finds value in changing its sex from female to male as the female grows older.

This way, the resulting older male will have increased fertility, allowing it to breed with younger females. This is typical behavior for protogynous hermaphrodites that will easily confuse novice hobbyists, not understanding why their females suddenly display male behavior.

And why they will even start looking like one. That’s because they have become males.

Support a harem behavior

All Lyretails are born females. This means that the female group will function based on a hierarchy. The stronger and more dominant female will occupy the highest position and turn into a male.

The male’s dominance will keep the females under control and prevent others from changing sex, creating social tensions and reproduction competition.

Lyretail reproduction is based on harems, so each male needs to have several females, preferably at least 5, around them.

If the current male dies or leaves the group for some reason, another female will take its place shortly.

Such a behavior will usually prevent the sex change in other females, which is why it’s typical only to have one male Lyretail in any given fish society.

To replicate this natural behavior, I recommend getting several females and allowing them to decide which will turn into a male. The transition shouldn’t last more than several weeks.

How Long do Lyretail Anthias Live?

Lyretails will mostly live around 5-6 years when given adequate food and with optimal care.

The latter includes factors like:

  • Temperature – Ideal between 76 to 82 °F to mimic the Lyretail’s natural environment
  • pH – 8.0 to 8.4, which is rather high compared to other tank fish
  • Salinity – 35 PPT

That being said, you will encounter a lot of erroneous information online regarding this topic. Some people would claim different lifespans, up to 10 years in some cases. However, it’s improbable for the Lyretail ever to reach that threshold. So, take all such claims with a fair amount of salt.

How Big do Lyretail Anthias Get?

The Lyretail’s size varies based on several factors, including diet, water conditions, and, most importantly, sex.

Males are vastly larger than females, capable of reaching 5-6 inches, while females will only get to half that. The male’s size will be a good indicator of its reproductive performance since the larger the male is, the more milt it can produce.

The bigger males are capable of sustaining a harem of 10 females. That being said, Lyretails live in vast groups in the wild, so it isn’t atypical to find several males within the same social group.

This will naturally create fierce competition since male Lyretails don’t have much patience for other males of the same species.

What do Lyretail Anthias Eat?

Lyretail Anthias qualify as carnivorous fish, but there are a few dietary specifics that distinguish them from most tank species. If you’ve never had a Lyretail before, you might be caught off guard by some of its feeding behaviors.

The main aspect to notice here is Lyretail’s extremely active personality. This fish will swim around its environment relentlessly, spending a lot of energy in the process.

This is due to its accelerated metabolism, causing it to search for food pretty much throughout the day. As a result, the Lyretail requires 2-3-4 meals per day, preferably moderately sized, to prevent overfeeding.

With regard to their feeding pattern, the Lyretail displays another rather atypical behavior. The fish shows more feral feeding patterns than other tank fish because it prefers getting its food from the environment.

Lyretails feed on zooplankton and copepods in the wild, getting most of their meals from reefs and live rocks. This is the main reason why the ideal Lyretail setting relies on reef structures and live rocks capable of housing a rich microfauna.

The main problem here is that Lyretails aren’t fond of pellets and flakes, so you will have difficulties feeding them regular fish foods. I suggest sticking to live food options and trying your luck with various fish food alternatives to see what sticks.

Also, prioritize fish food products specifically designed for planktivore fish.

When it comes to the Lyretails’ feeding pattern, there are several special mentions I’d like to highlight:

  • The risk of digestive problems – Lyretails requires more frequent feeding every day compared to other fish species. Some people feed them 4 times per day, providing small and nutritious meals, mostly protein-based. Such a high feeding frequency can easily lead to overfeeding, especially given that Lyretails also consume food from their environment. So, you should always assess the Lyretails’ meal frequency and size properly since overfeeding is known to cause digestive problems in fish.
  • The risk of fouling the environment – The more the Lyretails eat, the more poop they will produce. The situation grows in severity according to how many fish you have. A healthy 10-fish harem, or larger, will produce a lot of poop, so regular tank maintenance is vital. Have a good filtering system and provide Lyretails with regular maintenance and water changes to keep the environment healthy and clean.
  • The risk of food competition – It’s difficult to tell how much food your Lyretails get from their environment and how much they require from you. If you don’t feed your Lyretails enough, they might experience food scarcity which is bound to degenerate into food-related violence.

My advice would be the following:

Feed your Lyretails 2-3 times per day and observe their feeding pattern. If they consume the food too fast, consider adding another meal several hours later.

Don’t increase the meal size to prevent digestive problems or overfeeding. If they have a lot of food residues left, either decrease the feeding frequency or cut the portions down a bit.

What Tank Size do Lyretail Anthias Need?

This is another atypical requirement for Lyretails compared to other fish species. Lyretails require a lot of space, more than it would be normal for a fish of their size.

You see, Lyretails only grow up to 5 inches. However, despite that, one Lyretail requires at least 70 gallons of water.

A harem of 5 needs at least 150 gallons, which is already preposterous when comparing them with similar-sized fish.

There are several reasons for these abnormal space requirements:

  • Social behavior – You either have one Lyretail or a serious group of at least 10 individuals. For instance, you can make it work with 5-6, but it would be suboptimal, the same as only having one. It simply makes for a waste of space since there’s no point in having a 100-gallon tank for 2 several-inch-long fish. I recommend having at least 5 to provide the only male of the pack with a decent harem. This will achieve 2 things: keep the group more stable and improve the tank’s esthetics since it won’t look so empty anymore.
  • Environmental layout – In the wild, Lyretails like to swim around corals and near reefs, so their aquarium habitat should emulate those conditions. The ideal Lyretail setting should provide the fish with a pretty decent reef structure, corals, or a live rock system for food purposes. And to make the fish feel more comfortable in their enclosed environment. A 5-fish group will require a lot of space, much of which will consist of these mammoth structures. So, be ready to invest.
  • The need for swimming space – Lyretails are extremely active fish used to swim a lot in search of food and thanks to their natural everyday interactions. So, you also need to provide them with sufficient swimming space, more than any other tank fish species deserves. Combine this with their necessary layout of rocks and reef structures, and you can see why the space is always a problem with these fish.

The good news is that once you’ve built your Lyretails’ environment, they will adapt to it fast.

Best Water Parameters for Lyretail Anthias

Lyretails require pretty much impeccable water conditions to remain healthy, stable, and comfortable in the long run.

They will remain healthy and active for years to come with adequate care, experiencing longer lifespans and fewer health issues than those kept in poor conditions.

The ideal temperature for Lyretails revolves around 76 to 82 F, which falls in the tropical category. It’s only fitting, seeing how they mostly inhabit coral systems, reefs, and lagoons with warmer waters near the surface.

PH is best kept at values around 8.0-8.4, while salinity levels should go beyond 35 PPT. Regarding other water parameters, it’s all the usual.

Ammonia and nitrites should remain at 0 as much as possible. To ensure the system’s stability, consider monitoring water parameters at all times, especially ammonia levels.

Do Lyretails Need a Filter?

Yes, they do. You either need a large and powerful filtration system or 2 filters mounted at opposite sides of the tank. Whatever you do, don’t set the flow rate too high since you will risk damaging the reef structures.

The filter should produce a flowrate equal to approximately 5 times the tank’s total water volume.

The problem is that this flowrate will automatically produce strong water currents in one area of the tank, and you don’t want that.

I recommend using 2 filtration systems and ensuring a well-rounded filtration effect (chemical, mechanical, and biological).

Do Lyretails Need a Heater?

Yes, and whatever applies to the filtering system applies to the heating one. You can’t have one tank heater for a 150-gallon environment.

The heater won’t be able to heat up the water uniformly, producing too hot and too cold areas relative to the heater’s position. I suggest using 2 pieces instead, even 3 depending on the tank’s size.

Just make sure the temperature is stable to prevent overheating or dangerous temperature fluctuations since these will cause Lyretails to experience stress. They might even experience temperature shock in some cases.

I would suggest establishing the aquatic habitat in terms of water conditions, including temperature, before adding the fish. This will allow them to accommodate an already established system that’s stable and optimal in terms of environmental parameters.

And invest in a filter with a grid-like protection system to prevent your fish from burning themselves. They are extremely curious and active creatures and won’t shy away from tasting your heater up-close and personal.

Can Lyretail Anthias Live with Other Fish?

Yes, they can, given certain circumstances. Lyretails like to keep to themselves and live in larger and active groups, but they don’t mind the presence of peaceful fish, provided there’s enough space for everyone.

Some compatible fish species include tilefish, gobies, wrasses, damselfish, blennies, dwarf angelfish, and several others.

When it comes to pairing Lyretails with other fish species, consider 3 vital aspects:

  • Feeding pattern – Make sure you avoid food competition, especially since you will be feeding your Lyretails several times per day. You need a good logistics system to make sure all fish eat well and limit food-related aggression as much as possible.
  • Enough space – Lyretails are not fond of crowded environments, which bring out the worst in them. Both males and females will grow stressed and aggressive when kept in overcrowded conditions. So, always have enough room to accommodate all fish species.
  • Compatible personalities – Don’t pair Lyretail fish with aggressive species. While Lyretails themselves aren’t that peaceful, to begin with, sharing their space with aggressive fish will only throw fuel to the fire. Only rely on peaceful and friendly tank mates as much as possible.

Are Lyretail Anthias Hardy?

Yes, but it generally depends on their environment, food, water parameters, and tank mates. Lyretails are no different from other fish.

They are also prone to fish stress due to overcrowding and poor water conditions and experience digestive problems due to overfeeding or improper water temperatures.

So, keep your Lyretails’ environment clean and stable and they won’t experience health problems as often.

Are Lyretail Anthias Prone to Diseases?

Not necessarily.

They can fall victim to the same conditions that plague most salt and freshwater fish, but they don’t have species-related health problems to consider.


Lyretail Anthias are beautiful, adaptable, and rather demanding fish that require clean and healthy water parameters and a stable environment.

They also thrive in a specific environmental setting, so providing them with a reef-based structure is key to their health.

To be honest, there are quite a handful of aspects that recommend this species as unique in the aquarium world.

I recommend taking your time and gathering as much information about this fish before deciding whether it suits your vision and purposes.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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