Pictichromis paccagnellae – Bicolor Dottyback

Pictichromis paccagnellae – Bicolor Dottyback is a real carnivore, beware if you want to keep this species together with ornamental shrimp, they will end up as food!

Pictichromis paccagnellae – Bicolor Dottyback

The bicolor dottyback or Pictichromis paccagnellae belongs to the family Pseudochromidae. This species inhabits coral reefs around the Malay Peninsula including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. These mid-water water dwellers can be found as close to five meters from the surface and swim to a depth of approximately thirty meters.

The Bicolor Dotty is one of the most brilliant of the saltwater species commercially available. They have a slender elongated body with a bright yellow posterior and a purple anterior that leans toward a fuchsia color. Their color palette sometimes fades in captivity. This may be due to dietary deficiencies.

Dottybacks are sold in aquarium stores under a variety of names including, Royal Dottyback, Bicolor Pseudo, and Bicolor Pseudochromis.

These are an extremely hardy fish and are a good choice for the beginner saltwater aquarist. The Dottyback is classified as semi-aggressive. Its tank-mates should be chosen accordingly. They tend to exhibit territorial behavior. This tendency is more prevalent in smaller aquariums. They only reach a length of two inches as adults but don’t let their size fool you. Despite its diminutive stature it can easily hold its own with fish up to five times its size. Dottybacks tend to be bullies and should not be kept with smaller timid varieties of fish. In the wild they will aggressively defend their territory for several yards in any given direction.

Pictichromis paccagnellae - Bicolor Dottyback 1

A good choice in tank mates include; squirrels, parrots, hawkfish, angelfish, large damselfish, and other species that refused to be bullied. Tenacity aside, Dottybacks like plenty of hiding places. Hiding places tend to reduce its stress levels and are beneficial to maintaining a more even temperament. In their natural habitat they are notorious for their elusive behavior. They tend to stay hidden in cracks and crevices or in caves until it is time to feed.

These fish are not harvested for consumption. They are harvested specifically for the aquariums industry. Dottybacks have and expected lifespan of five to seven years but have been recorded to live as long as ten years in captivity.


These fish are voracious carnivores. Add them to a reef aquarium at your own risk. In the wild, their diet consist entirely of many of the smaller crustaceans commonly kept in reef tanks. They will readily devour ornamental shrimp. They will also eat nuisance invertebrates such as bristleworms. In captivity they can be fed vitamin enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and finely chopped fresh shrimp, krill, clams, mussels, crab, octopus, and squid. They will often eat pellets or granulated foods. They have also been known to nibble on marine fish food formulated for omnivores.

Breeding Bicolor Dottyback

Bicolor Dottybacks are hermaphroditic. These fish will adapt to their environment developing either male or female genitalia. Adding two like species in a tank together will result in a male-female pair. After spawning the male regularly picks up the eggs with his mouth to keep them aerated until they hatch. Spawning Bicolor Dottyback in home aquariums has become relatively commonplace among the more advanced aquarist. Amateurs should research the matter thoroughly before attempting to spawn Dottybacks.



Copyright images

John de Lange
zsispeo – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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