Pseudochromis Fridmani (Orchid Dottyback)

pseudochromis fridmani

Last updated on August 2nd, 2022 at 07:05 pm

The orchid dottyback, or Pseudochromis fridmani, is a common but beautiful fish species that live in the wild and makes a stunning addition to any saltwater aquarium setup. These small, schooling fish are generally quite hardy and easy to care for; they should pose no problems to the amateur aquarist, as long as their needs are met.

The following guide will help you understand everything from the basics of how to care for your orchid dottyback to what their natural habitat is like, so you can decide if this elegant species is right for your tank!

The orchid dottyback (also called purple dragon) is a saltwater fish that belongs to the Pseudochromis genus of dottybacks and its scientific name is Pseudochromis fridmani. In contrast to other dottybacks, this fish has an interesting pattern of purple color with black spots.

Similar to other Pseudochromis, it can reach the sizes of around 3 inches but it should not be kept in aquariums smaller than 20 gallons because they need space to swim around.

Do you have an orchid dottyback and want to find out how to take care of it? This guide will give you all the information you need about pseudochromis fridmani, commonly known as the orchid dottyback. Learn about their needs and how to care for them properly, and you’ll be well on your way to helping your fish thrive!

Origin and description

pseudochromis fridmani

Pseudochromis fridmani, more commonly known as an Orchid Dottyback, is a very hardy fish that has recently seen a great rise in popularity. They are closely related to Pseudochromis steenei and Pseudochromis trilineatus.

The species name comes from their namesake, Israeli scientist Dr. Ze’ev Fridman, who is credited with discovering them on his own adventures in Israel’s Red Sea during his youth. These little fish tend to swim near sandy bottoms and seek out small crevices where they can seek shelter from predators.

It’s important for any hobbyist who owns Pseudochromis fridmani to provide them with live coral rubble. They will pick away at it and use it for shelter for themselves, along with using it for food such as copepods and amphipods.

Species profile

pseudochromis fridmani

Pseudochromis fridmani is a beautiful species of orchid dottyback. A very similar fish, Pseudochromis springeri, was once its name but was recently reclassified as a subspecies of Pseudochromis fridmani. For many hobbyists, Pseudochromis fridmani is often confused with Pseudochromis springeri because their colors and patterns are similar to each other.

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Although they look alike, Pseudochromis fridmani is much smaller than Pseudochromis springeri, reaching only 2 to 3 inches  (5 – 8 cm) in length whereas P.springeri reaches 4 to 5 inches (10 – 13 cm) long. Both have brilliant coloring and need strong water flow that is rich in nutrients like algae and protein.


The Orchid Dottyback is a popular fish for saltwater aquariums due to its beautiful coloration. They are great additions to any type of marine tank. They should be kept in tanks over 30 gallons, although they can survive in smaller tanks if provided with plenty of hiding spaces and open swimming areas. Even though these fish will tolerate many types of water conditions, they do best when kept in stable, warm tanks.

Pseudochromis fridmani size

The Orchid Dottyback can grow up to 8 cm (3 inches) in length.

Pseudochromis fridmani tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for the orchid dotty back fish is 20 – 30 gallons.

Tank set up

Pseudochromis fridmani is reef safe and will thrive in a well-maintained aquarium. The orchid dottyback prefers to have caves to hide out in and to lay their eggs. They should be kept in groups of at least 3, ideally more as these fish get very territorial and are best kept with others of their own kind.

This species will also eat ornamental shrimp so keep them with non-aggressive tank mates that won’t eat their babies. As they can grow up to 7 inches long, these fish need larger tanks than most other marine life. Having adequate surface area and circulation flow is also important for them because they don’t like stagnant water.

Do not house your orchid dottyback in an uncycled tank; they require lots of oxygenating flow due to their upright breathing habits and high metabolism rate. A large skimmer is recommended if you plan on keeping any invertebrates in your tank. Cleaner shrimp may help keep any algae at bay but if there’s too much, it could spell trouble for your dottyback population.

Your pseudochromis should do well with moderate lighting but intense light from metal halide bulbs could lead to algae problems down the road. Strong lighting can also cause undesirable stress that could lead to disease and even death of your fish population.

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Pseudochromis fridmani tank mates

This dottyback is aggressive towards others of its kind and any species small enough to fit in its mouth, including other species of pseudochromis. Species with similar coloration are especially at risk. In general, dottybacks are only compatible with other large, active fish that do not have a similar body shape. For example, dottybacks can be kept in large tanks alongside butterflyfish, but will likely fight with them more than other fish species.

Some other good tank mates are angelfish, firefish, and clownfish. When choosing a species to keep with orchid dottybacks, make sure it is too large to fit in their mouths. Even though they are omnivorous and will only occasionally eat fish small enough to be eaten whole, they can seriously hurt smaller species that do not swim away quickly enough when confronted.

Pseudochromis fridmani breeding

pseudochromis fridmani

The orchid dottyback is a very unique species of Pseudochromis. Males will develop an orangish color, as well as a breeding tubercle on their noses. Females are typically olive-green and do not develop breeding tubercles.

However, if females begin to show an orange coloration with a small bump on their nose, it means they have been bred and are ready to release eggs into a male’s care. In order for successful mating, each individual must be of a similar size: both males and females can reach up to three inches in length.

In addition, both genders should be less than five years old; older fish may take longer to breed due to their worn-out breeding organs. With all that said, however, individuals can still mate successfully even when some of these conditions aren’t met!

Are Pseudochromis fridmani aggressive or peaceful?

This species of dottyback is generally peaceful, but they will defend their territory aggressively if need be. They are normally only aggressive toward other fish that might threaten their environment or young. These fish should not be kept with large and boisterous tank mates.

However, unlike many aggressive fish, Orchid Dottybacks aren’t overly territorial. In a large aquarium and when kept with peaceful tank mates, these guys won’t be very territorial at all.

Pseudochromis fridmani care

pseudochromis fridmani

This fish is easy to take care of. It doesn’t require special water parameters. Provide a good filtration system, and change 25-30% of the water twice a week. The Orchid Dottyback needs plenty of hiding places so it can feel secure in its environment.

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Make sure you place enough rock structures, caves, and plants in your aquarium so that your Orchid Dottyback has places to hide from its predators if it feels threatened. If you have other aggressive fish in your aquarium, try adding as many hiding spots as possible for an orchid dottyback.

What do Pseudochromis fridmani eat?

Orchid dottybacks are carnivores that eat live foods in their natural habitat, which includes crustaceans and worms. In captivity, provide them with a high-quality meaty diet consisting of Mysis shrimp and live blackworms. Avoid feeding your dottyback any artificial food or flakes.

It’s very important to establish good eating habits from day one so they don’t grow picky later on. Try mixing different types of frozen foods together to create an enticing smorgasbord for your dottyback. You can also try soaking a clump of krill into some dried seaweed to form a ball before dropping it into its aquarium tank.

These fish are aggressive eaters and will eat any meaty or fleshy foods you offer them. Orchid dottybacks have a tendency to become obese, so be careful what you feed them. Try to keep their diet balanced by offering a variety of foods including frozen brine shrimp, krill, silversides, and enriched flake foods. Also, try to give them some vegetable matter in their diet as well. They will take frozen bloodworms but may not take live ones.

Water parameters

pseudochromis fridmani

Orchid dottybacks are in need of an aquarium that can be lightly brackish and ideally with a tight-fitting lid. The aquarium should have a sandy substrate to allow for burying. Your orchid dottyback should be housed in groups of three or more and placed with non-aggressive tank mates.

Water temperature should be between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit, pH of 6.8 to 7.2, and specific gravity of 1.005-1.018 is ideal for these saltwater tropical fish. Feed your orchid dottyback live and frozen food such as Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, worms, small crustaceans, and flakes as well as seaweed.

These beautiful dottybacks do best when fed two times per day. Do not keep them with large aggressive fish as they will be nipped at during feeding time by their larger tank mates. It’s important to add more calcium carbonate into your water during spawning season so females will build egg nests properly around decorations.

Pseudochromis fridmani lifespan

Pseudochromis fridmani have a lifespan of 5 to 7 years, but they can live for up to 10 years if well cared for in captivity.

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Parasites and diseases

This dottyback is resistant to most infections and parasites that afflict other marine fish. However, it is known to host marine ich, which can be treated with copper-based medications. Some Pseudochromis have also been known to host a parasite of whiptail catfish.

If left untreated, these parasites will eat away at the skin of your dottyback. Unfortunately, there are no preventative measures for either disease; once you’ve contracted them, treatment is your only recourse. Copper medication will work for parasitic infestations; however, you’ll need to treat all fish in your tank in order to kill any larvae or adult parasites before they infect more fish or pass along their eggs as free food pellets drift about.


While Pseudochromis fridmani is generally considered reef safe, they may be susceptible to predation by larger fish or mammals. You should provide plenty of hiding places and feed it smaller foods such as brine shrimp or finely chopped Mysis shrimp. Never use raw seafood like fresh fish fillets or clams as these may introduce parasites into your tank. Be careful with live rock too since all kinds of diseases can be spread that way.

Some common predators are puffers, tangs, triggers, wrasses, and even large angels. Large angelfish will feed on baby fish in general so keep a good eye on all your orchid dottybacks. If you’re not sure if an animal can eat your orchid dottyback or any other fish for that matter, do some research to ensure its safety before adding it to your tank.

Do Pseudochromis fridmani make good pets?

Yes. Pseudochromis fridmani make great pets in a large aquarium as long as they are given sufficient space. At one to two inches in length when fully grown, adult male orchid dottybacks can be territorial with each other and will need to be kept in a group of six or more. Females grow larger than males and should be housed separately from them.