Liopropoma Swalesi is a small deep water basslet commonly found around the waters of Indonesia. It looks like other members of the genus Liopropoma, sleek, streamlined, with a body shape that resembles an arrowhead. I rarely tops 4 inches while most specimens come at 2 to 3 inches in size.
Orange stripes line its faded purple body horizontally while its snout is a dark grey. Their dorsal and anal fins both have a single black spot.
It is commonly known as the shyest member of the Liopropoma genus. They also go by other names such as the swalesi basslet, pacific candy basslet, swale’s swissguard basslet and my personal favorite, the poor man’s candy basslet. That last description is in reference to Liopropoma Carmabi, the candy basslet.
Differentiating the two is an easy enough task. Liopropoma Carmabi lacks a black spot on the anal fin, costs ten times as much, and has colors that are very striking. So striking that they’re are the probably the most wanted fish among deep water basslet enthusiasts.
They are not a cheap fish with prices ranging from $80 to $120 per specimen. They are not imported with any regularity so finding one may pose a problem.
Unfortunately, the swalesi basslet is considered one of the harder basslets to keep due to its shy disposition. It is my hope that this guide provides all the necessary information with regards to their requirements in a marine aquarium. In a nutshell, rearing of the swalesi basslet is either going to be very easy or nearly impossible. Success depends on a number of factors that i will touch upon throughout this article.
The Swalesi Basset is a very shy, very reclusive fish. It does well with non-aggressive fishes. Small fishes and invertebrates like the sexy shrimp and neon goby will end up getting eaten.
I currently have two in a 15 gallon reef aquarium. They were introduced at the same time and while there was some mild aggression between the two, life after a week was very peaceful.
They are not as hostile towards members of the same species as other fishes normally are. Namely, members of the centropye family.
In the overview i mentioned how this fish would either be very easy or very difficult to keep in a saltwater aquarium. Their difficulty is greatly dependent on 3 things:-
* Tank size
* Availability of caves and shaded areas
* Tank mates
Swalesi basslets do better in smaller aquariums from 15 to 30 gallons. This is because in smaller aquariums they have fewer tank mates (well at least they should) and you have more control over the tank. Removal of tank mates as well as rock re-scaping can be done with a minimum of fuss. Not so in a large 150 gallon tank. If you introduce a swalesi basslet into a tank of that size, you’re not getting it out. You will probably never see it either.
They need “quiet” tanks to do well. By quiet i mean an aquarium with very little daily activity. Putting them in a small tank that is packed with fishes zipping around constantly will spell doom for them. They should be in smaller aquariums that were designed just for them or tanks with very few fishes.
The genus Liopropoma are all deep water cave basslets. As such, the rock scape in your saltwater aquarium MUST contain at least a few caves for them to take refuge in. These fishes do not do well in tanks with “open” rock scapes and will surely die in such settings.
Avoid housing them with aggressive fish, if there is any bullying they might refuse to come out of their hiding spots to feed. Which is a commonly reported case i might add. They retreat to a shaded area and refuse to come out to eat.
Since they come from deeper water, they aren’t used to lighting levels as intense as is normally seen in aquariums. Don’t worry if you don’t see them too often after introduction. Give them time to slowly adjust.
All members of the genus Liopropoma are carnivores. They actively scan the rock work in and around their shelter for small crustaceans.
They do not take dry foods. They will spit out just about every type of pellet you can offer. I’ve also tried dried krill, dried shrimp, basically dried anything and they didn’t work. Feed only frozen foods.
Offer them a wide range of meaty foods in captivity. Offer frozen foods like Krill, mysis shrimp and Prime Reef (A good blend of raw seafood) by Ocean Nutrition.
Don’t be worried if they don’t feed right away, they require up to a week to adapt to their new environment. When trying to feed them initially, turn off your pumps and put some frozen mysis shrimp into their cave. Wait 10 minutes, then turn the pumps back and look for any floating pieces of mysis, there should be none. I have found that they are very receptive to mysis shrimp, probably because they recognize the shape.
As always, i advise you to stay away from frozen brine shrimp as they are nutritionally poor. If you must feed them brine shrimp always choose a type that has been enriched but in the end you’re better off with feeding them krill or mysis shrimp.
To date there have been no successful rearing of swalesi bassleti larvae by anyone. The longest anybody has reared their larvae is 15 days. It is thought that the genus Liopropoma has bi-directional juvenile gonads. This means juveniles have the potential to become a male or a female but cannot revert back once they have sexually matured.
Spawning behavior consists of the male circling the female and nudging her up the water column until they finally spawn. Very similar to how dwarf angelfish spawn. Once the fertilized eggs are released they float up to the ocean surface. Where they presumably hatch and begin feasting on planktonic life that is ever present near the ocean surface.
While this fish may be beautiful, it certainly isn’t for everybody. It especially isn’t for you if :-
* You want a fish that you can see swimming out in the open everyday
* You have a small tank with many fishes and a high level of constant activity
* You have a tank with very little live rock or a rock scape that is too “open”