Cherry Dottyback (Pholidochromis cerasina)

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Cherry Dottyback
Pholidochromis cerasina
Cherry Dottyback (Pholidochromis cerasina)
Name Cherry Dottyback
Name Lat. Pholidochromis cerasina
Family Dottybacks
Family lat. Pseudochromidae
Order Ovalentarias
Order lat. Ovalentaria inc. sed.
Origin Western Pacific
Habitat Coral reefs
Diet Carnivore
pH 8.1-8.4
Hardness 8-10 °KH
Behavior Semi-aggressive
Keeping Individual, pair
Reef Compatible Yes
Care Level Moderate
Life Span N/A
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 7 cm
Temperature 22-27 °C
Salinity 33-36 ‰
Aquarium ~ 200 l
US Units
Size 3"
Temperature 72-81 °F
Salinity 1.020-1.025 sg
Aquarium ~ 50 gal

Distribution and habitat

The range of Pholidochromis cerasina is in the western Pacific Ocean from Sulawesi to the Philippines. They live in crevices and caves in free-standing rock and coral outcrops surrounded by sandy soils.


They require a well structured aquarium with a reef structure of rocks and branching coral sticks, with small caves and crevices that provide hiding and retreat opportunities, as well as fine-grained sand areas.

Only lime-rich, heavy metal-free substrates may be used as substrate. To ensure water quality, filters, skimmers and heaters are necessary, as well as pumps to simulate tides, swells and bottom currents. It is recommended that live stones be used to set up the aquarium. The bacteria living in the porous stones act as a biological filter. The lighting must correspond to the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals

Salinity: 33-36 ‰ pH value: 8.1-8.4
Carbonate hardness: 8-10 °KH Nitrate content: 2-8 mg/l
phosphate content: 0.01-0.1 mg/l nitrite content: 0.0-0.05 mg/l

For salinity, an average value should be aimed for, which may only vary slightly by +/- 0.5 ‰. Ammonia and ammonium must not be measurable. Special attention must be paid to consistently good water quality and water values.


They are ambush hunters that prefer to eat planktonic small crustaceans. The food change usually succeeds without problems. The food supply should consist of a combination of live and frozen food, such as artemia, mysis, shrimp and krill, with chopped fish, mussel and shrimp meat or a commercially available frozen food mixture enriched with vitamins. Dry food (flakes, granules) is rarely accepted

It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day. Regular and varied feeding promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

They are shy and usually live hidden. They are territorial within the species and even when pairs are formed, each animal often occupies its own territory, which is vigorously defended. The dominant, usually somewhat larger animal always has male status. To avoid territorial fights, they should be introduced into the aquarium at the same time. Group keeping is only possible in a larger aquarium with many hiding places. Towards other fishes they behave mostly peacefully.

Sex dimorphism

They are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means that most males develop from functional females. The females are white-gray colored and have no red spots on the body and fins.

Reproduction and breeding

The male lures the female into his cave to lay eggs. The spawning clump is guarded and cared for by the male until the fry hatch after about 1 week. Special food, such as brachionus (rotifers), is needed for breeding.


They hardly swim in the open water, but stay close to their hiding place, to which they retreat in a flash when in danger. As reef dwellers, they should not be kept in a fish-only aquarium.

If different species are kept together, care should be taken to ensure that the fish match each other in terms of water quality and temperature requirements and social behavior, and that the setup meets the needs of all species kept together. New fish to be introduced must be acclimated slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BAENSCH & DEBELIUS (2006): Meerwasser Atlas Bd. 1, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF