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Related FAQs: Thalassoma Wrasses, Thalassoma Wrasses 2, Thalassoma Identification, Thalassoma Behavior, Thalassoma Compatibility, Thalassoma Selection, Thalassoma Systems, Thalassoma Feeding, Thalassoma Disease, Thalassoma Reproduction, Wrasses, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Diseases,  

Related Articles: The Diversity of Wrasses, Family Labridae, Cook Islands Wrasses

/The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

 Wrasses of the Genus Thalassoma

Bob Fenner

  T. lutescens, T. bifasciatum

Thalassoma wrasses comprise several cigar-shaped, fast swimming, robust and to a degree aggressive fishes of good to okay to poor aquarium use. The larger species when shipped of size and from far away (long times in the bag) suffer especially. Most species stop growing at about six inches, though a few about double that in the wild. Like most wrasses they are good with only one male to a tank, and need soft sand to dig and sleep in.  

Thalassoma amblycephalum (Bleeker 1856), the Bluntheaded Wrasse. Indo-Pacific. To six inches in length. Occasionally imported for the aquarium trade; not always in good shape (3). Pictured below: A juvenile in S. Sulawesi, females, male in the Maldives. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=5642&genusname =Thalassoma&speciesname=amblycephalum
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Thalassoma ballieui (Vaillant & Sauvage 1875), the Blacktail Wrasse (1), a newer import from the Hawaiian Islands. To fifteen inches long. A rather plain, but hardy species for fish-only systems. Eastern central Pacific, Hawai'i and Midway Islands. Aquarium and one off of Oahu.

Thalassoma bifasciatum (Bloch 1791), the Bluehead Wrasse (2), one of the most common reef fishes of the tropical west Atlantic. Females and juveniles yellow above, white below, with some dark markings. Shown, male and female specimens in the Bahamas. Females to about five inches in length, males to near twice that. Below: juvenile/initial phase individuals in the Bahamas and Bonaire, initial phase in Bonaire and a terminal phase individual in the Bahamas.

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Thalassoma duppery (Quoy & Gaimard 1824), the Saddle Wrasse (2) is the most common reef fish in its endemic Hawaiian Islands. To ten inches in length. A juvenile, changing and two terminal (male) individuals in Hawaii. 

 
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Thalassoma genivittatum Redcheek, Blueneck Wrasse. To 8 in. Like the rest of the genus, this fish is always moving; looking for small invertebrate fare by day. Restricted to S.W. I.O. These ones in Mauritius 2016.

 

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Thalassoma grammaticum Gilbert 1890, the Sunset Wrasse (2). Eastern Pacific; Mexico to Panama, including the Galapagos. To twelve inches in length. One off of Mexico's Cabo San Lucas, another further south in the Galapagos. http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=13822&genusname=Thalassoma&specie sname=grammaticum

Thalassoma hardwicke (Bennett 1830), the Six-Barred Wrasse (3). Indo-Pacific, to eight inches. The first one in the Maldives, the second in the Cooks.

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Thalassoma hebraicum (Lacepede 1801), the Goldbar Wrasse (1), my pick of the genus. Hardy and beautiful. Indian Ocean, to nine inches in length. This one in the Seychelles.

Thalassoma jansenii (Bleeker 1856), Jansen's Wrasse. Indo-West Pacific. To eight inches. Not a great beauty but hardy by standards for the genus (2). Specimen in a tank in a Fiji wholesaler's and Australia.

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Thalassoma lucasanum (Gill 1862), the Cortez Rainbow Wrasse (2) AKA (for males) the Lollipop Wrasse. This tropical east Pacific beauty can be "hard as nails" if not beat up in collection/shipping. To six inches in length. Some very young specimens and a terminal phase individual in the Galapagos and a couple, male to the left in Baja.

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Thalassoma lunare (Linnaeus 1758), the Moon Wrasse (2), sometimes comes in great, other times... all die. Red Sea and Indian Ocean,  to the Line Islands. Length to ten inches. Can be more green or blue in overall coloration. Young have a dark spot on their caudal and mid-dorsal fins. A male off of Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia, and female in the Red Sea. 

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Thalassoma lutescens (Lay & Bennett 1839), the Yellow Moon Wrasse (2). West Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean, to ten inches. Easily confused with the more common Moon Wrasse, T. lunare. Here are images of an initial phase individual and male in the Cook Islands, and another in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas.

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Thalassoma purpureum (Forsskal 1775), the Surge Wrasse (3). Indo-Pacific, to more than one foot long. This one in the Seychelles.

Thalassoma quinquevittatum (Lay & Bennett 1839), the Red-Ribbon Wrasse (3). Indo-Pacific, to six inches. Aquarium image.

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Thalassoma rueppellii (Klunzinger 1871), Klunzinger's Wrasses (2). One of the few "klunkers" from the Red Sea. To eight inches maximum length. Formerly and often still misidentified as T. klunzingeri

Thalassoma trilobatum (Lacepede 1801), I wish was called the Three-Line Wrasse, but it's another of the Christmas Wrasses (just how many labrids are green and red anyway?)(3). To twelve inches overall length. This image taken in Hawai'i.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Anon. 1997. Sex on the brain (re the Bluehead Wrasse). TFH 4/97.

Biagi, Mark. 1998. The Bluehead Wrasse. FAMA 2/98.

Church, James Lee. 1980. The rainbow wrasse, Thalassoma lucasanum. TFH 5/80.

Stratton Richard F. 1990. The Hawaiian saddle wrasse. TFH 6/90.

Stratton, Richard F. 1991. The sunset wrasse (Thalassoma lutescens). TFH 6/91.


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