All About the Saltwater Wrasse for Aquariums

Saltwater wrasses are some of the most interesting fish in the oceans. They can be found in any number of color combinations and can add another dimension to a saltwater aquarium. Consider this information on wrasses commonly found in saltwater aquariums before you decide to add one to yours.

  • 01 of 10

    (Black/Green) Bird Wrasse (Gomphosus varius)

    Male Green Bird Wrasse
    Keoki Stender

    The Bird Wrasse (Gomphosus varius) is a hardy fish which adapts rather well to aquarium life. Only one male (Green Bird) should be kept in an aquarium. A male-female pair should be added to the aquarium at the same time, introducing the female (Black Bird) first.

    The Bird Wrasses all start out as females (Black Birds) at birth. In the wild, you will find small groups of Black Bird Wrasses with only one Green Bird (male) wrasse. If something happens to the male, one or two of the females will...MORE start to change into males. It takes several months for the female to complete the change into a male.

  • 02 of 10

    Black and White Wrasse (Coris flavovittata)

    Black & White Wrasse (Subadult Phase)
    Keoki and Yuko Stender

    The Black and White Wrasse (Coris flavovittata) is a carnivore that possesses two prominent teeth in the front of each jaw that are used for feeding on its favorite prey -- snails, hermit crabs, crabs, shrimps, mollusks, and sea urchins. It will eat nuisance bristle worms, but other beneficial worms as well, including decorative tube species.

  • 03 of 10

    Dragon Wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus)

    Dragon Wrasse
    Keoki Stender

    The Dragon Wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus) is called the "Rockmover Wrasse" because it is notorious for turning over and moving rocks and corals around to look for food. This can cause damage to desirable organisms, and rock formations to become unstable, which may result in toppling rocks to damage the tank's structure.

  • 04 of 10

    Eight-Lined Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus octotaenia)

    Eightline Wrasse
    Keoki Stender

    The Eight-Lined Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus octotaenia) is very shy at first, but once it gets used to being in an aquarium it becomes ​bolder and will take food out of your hand. The Eight-Lined Wrasse likes to hide, so be sure to give it plenty of cover.

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  • 05 of 10

    Elegant Wrasse (Coris venusta)

    The Elegant Wrasse (Coris venusta) is a carnivore and will eat small crustaceans and inverts. Be sure to be careful putting any of these animals in with this Wrasse or they may become a snack. They will eat shrimp, fish and other tank fed foods and are a fairly easy Wrasse to care for in an aquarium.

  • 06 of 10

    Four Lined Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia)

    Four-Line Wrasse
    Keoki Stender

    The Four Lined Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia) has a bright blue colored body with four longitudinal bands on the upper part of the body that are bright blue, outlined by fine black lines and an orange color between them.

  • 07 of 10
    Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse
    Keoki Stender

    Because the Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse's (Labroides phthirophagus) diet is mainly derived from its symbiotic relationship with other fish by eating parasites, it has been reported that this Wrasse does not do well in captivity. It is extremely difficult to get this fish to eat any other types of foods, and once the parasite food population is gone it results in poor health, and most likely death for the Wrasse.

    However, we have found that, if this wrasse is offered the proper food (Mysis Shrimp...MORE to begin with, then moving on to small bits of other seafood and meaty fare) and a healthy environment, that this wrasse will do quite well in a marine aquarium of at least 50 gallons in size.

  • 08 of 10

    Ornate Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus)

    Ornate Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus)
    Keoki Stender

    The Ornate Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus) is a carnivore. Its main diet consists of small crustaceans and invertebrates. In captivity, it will feed on meaty fares such as fresh or frozen seafoods, dried, frozen or live brine and mysid shrimp, live grass shrimp, as well as flake foods. It is recommended that they feed several times a day.

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  • 09 of 10

    Saddleback Wrasse (Thalassoma duperrey)

    Male Saddle Wrasse
    Keoki Stender

    The Saddleback Wrasse (Thalassoma duperrey) is a beautiful fish with its vibrant blue and green colors and the brownish-orange saddle bar marking around the body behind the head, which gives it its name the Saddleback Wrasse. When viewed closely you can also see short, vertical, purple-red bars on its body.

  • 10 of 10

    Yellowtail Coris Wrasse (Coris gaimard)

    Adult Female Yellowtail Coris Wrasse
    Keoki Stender

    The Yellowtail Coris Wrasse (Coris gaimard) Should be fed a hardy diet of suitably bite-sized pieces of meaty foods that includes fresh or frozen seafoods, live or frozen brine and mysid shrimp, live grass or ghost shrimp, live black worms, and flake food.