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FAQs on Thalassoma Wrasse Identification

Related Articles: Thalassoma Wrasses,

Related FAQs: Thalassoma Wrasses 1, Thalassoma Wrasses 2, 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,

Need an expert opinion for identification       4/29/18
Hi, first thanks again for your last reply. The silicone issue is resolved and no ill effects. So I ended up getting a wrasse from a supplier and it wasn't what I expected. I ordered a lime green (aka sunset) wrasse and got
one that at first I thought was female due to the amount of yellow. After questioning the store they told me it was a juvenile which I accepted as an answer until I came across a purple and yellow wrasse advertised on liveaquaria.com. I'm attaching photos of mine and the one advertised on live aquaria. Thoughts? The only difference may be the spots but I see those on the dorsal as well, just not as prominent.
<... the yellow white fish appears to be an initial phase/female Thalassoma lutescens (Lay & Bennett 1839), the Yellow Moon Wrasse>
I also had one other issue. I've owned a wrasse before but it wasn't interested in hermits. This one is really skilled and I was wondering what type of clean up crew can survive in a tank with pred.s?
<Will likely eat hermits, possibly snails>
I would really like to ensure the food missed in feeding is getting taken care of in the rocks but I wasn't sure what could handle that. How skilled are Nassarius snails at living?
<Fine as long as stay hidden>
Do larger wrasses typically eat serpent stars?
<Some do; yes>
Anyway, again I'm hoping you're willing to share some expert advice, writing not edible on the shells isn't working.
<I'd count on your maintenance and the gear to do the clean up here>
Thanks again!
The close-up titled download is the purple and yellow wrasse on live aquaria.
<This is a Halichoeres leucoxanthus. See WWM re both genera, species. Bob Fenner>


Re: mixing Thalassoma wrasses? Now sexing         4/9/15
Follow up question is how can you determine if the Goldbar wrasse is a male or female?
Thanks again, Calvin
<Yes; well, I can... can you? Females are blah compared to males (which they can, do turn into in time).
Some non-initial phase pix here on Fishbase:
Bob Fenner>

Fish ID question      6/15/14
I recently received this fish from a local reef club member. They
collected it in Port Aransas Tx about a year ago.
<A really neat place... though quite a walk out!>
Thalassoma bifasciatum or Halichoeres maculipinna? Or....
My guess is on the former... a juvenile; though either species should have changed after this time into an initial phase individual.>
Thanks in advance.
Robb M
Austin, Tx
<Ah welcome. Bob Fenner>

Wrasse identification     10/2/13
Hello WWM Crew,
I have attached a picture of a wrasse that is at my LFS.  They do not know what type it is as a guy brought it in who was getting out of aquarium hobby.  He didn't know what type of wrasse it was either.   I was wondering if you could identify it.  I have searched wwm archives and several other sites to I.d. this fish.  I do not want to buy a fish I know nothing about.
The fish is about 5 inches long and very active.  I was wondering if it was a Thalassoma wrasse of some type.
<Yes; the yellow band behind the pec, the color bands behind the eye...
Likely T. hebraicum>
Any help you could provide would be appreciated.  Thanks again for all you do you have made me successful at this hobby.
<Thanks for sending this along. Bob Fenner>

wrasse id, bunk Anglish, no pix       8/17/12
hi i ordered a lunar wrasse and was sent a substitution wrasse, i cant find another wrasse that looks like him anywhere, although he is not particularly good looking, he has 3 wide horizontal lines, top~yellow, middle ~ black, bottom and belly~white, when he gets excited his face gets a green tinge, any help would be great, i really am interested in knowing his type
<Uhh... please run your writing through a spell/grammar checker before sending... along w/ some well-resolved images of a few hundred Kbyte size.
Re: wrasse id    8/18/12

hi i ordered a lunar wrasse and was sent a substitution wrasse, i cant find another wrasse that looks like him anywhere, although he is not particularly good looking, he has 3 wide horizontal lines, top~yellow, middle ~ black, bottom and belly~ white, when he gets excited his face gets a green shade, any help would be great, i really am interested in knowing
his type, also will he get any better looking, my guess is a clown wrasse, but there are slight differences
<... your English ... I take it you're a non-native speaker/writer. This fish is a Thalassoma sp.... do you know where it originated (geographically)? Looks to me to be a juvenile T. amblycephalum, or T.
bifasciatum... See fishbase.org re the genus. BobF>

Re: wrasse id     8/19/12
thank you so much, your right English is my second language,
 thank you for taking the time to answer me anyway, i was under the impression that the fish came from Florida, but they may have ordered him from anywhere, anyway, i am so excited because either way, he is going to be a very good looking fish, unlike he is now, he is a little hellion!!
very very active and nosy;)0
<Ah, good. BobF>

Wrasse Identification Help 8/12/11
Hello crew,
I'm having difficulty identifying a wrasse I captured out in a reef near where I'm currently living. I am at best guess it's in the Halichoeres family, but I can't find anything that matches exactly. Some of the specific notes I have on this is that it is very similar in build to the Hoeven's wrasse, however the coloration is very different. It has a blue laterally lined body, merged dorsal and adipose fins red in color, with a dark spot around the adipose fin area, another spot at the base of the tail, the tail which is yellow, red anal fin, and bright orange pelvic fins.
The pectoral fins are clear. I have attached a photo taken of the fish.
<I see this>
When I see these fish in the reef, they tend to stay approximately 6 to 8 feet down, unlike most of the other similar wrasses, which usually reside within a couple feet of the surface. I have yet to see a specimen of this coloration more than 3". They seem extremely territorial towards other wrasse of the same species, and occasionally an adult blue damsel, although in their natural setting they rarely are at the same depth. I captured 2 of them at the same time, however the one pictured killed the other. I normally see them picking at rocks and coral. The area I see these wrasse at is a rocky bay in Okinawa, along rock walls dropping down about 8 to 10 feet to a sandy bottom.
Christopher A Cole
<Mmm, my guess is on the genus Thalassoma... do see fishbase.org for this genus... Bob Fenner>

Re: Wrasse Identification Help -- 08/13/11
Thanks, I've actually downloaded the entire Fishbase listing for Okinawa (Ryukyus)(3697 entries) and Japan (1535 entries),
That is normally my first source for IDs when I encounter something new.
<Is one of mine... and am out on the E. coast giving talks at a fish health conference, so don't have access to my in-print ref.s>
They don't have a picture that matches,
<Well... as you are likely very aware, there are MANY variations on color and markings per some Labrid species... and even a few as-yet, undescribed species>
but there is a large number without photos. I'm curious as to why you said it was Thalassoma, vice Halichoeres.
<Thalassoma are more fusiform/tubular in overall profile... which your one photo sent looks like to me... also this genus is more prognathous than Halichoeres... whose many members are typically more laterally compressed and truncate at the head-end>
I found a Russian site identifying it as Halichoeres melanochir. I Googled it to confirm, and most pictures returned looking very similar. Again, thanks for the help.
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>

Sexing Thalassoma lutescens -- 06/26/10
Greetings Crew,
Attached pic of my 7+ inch Lime Green Wrasse (the wrasse with many common names I call it). Based on research and other opinions on the "boards" would it be safe to say mine is Male, but not yet "terminal phase" as it is lacking the blue behind the pectoral fin?
<I'd agree w/ this. Please see Jack Randall's pix here:
I've had the fish for 2.5 years in a 240, I'm planning an upgrade to 10 foot/500ish gallons in a few years. At that time would like to try adding perhaps 2 juvenile T. lutescens. Still a little confused, but my understanding is juveniles can "choose" (for lack of better word) their sex?
Would this be possible in a tank that size?
If 2 more were added would both likely be female with one "supermale"?
<Would likely be initial phase (smaller, sexually undifferentiated individuals are not collected, or at least I've never seen them collected for the trade) individuals with your becoming terminal phase (male) specimen>
I saw a pic somewhere of 2 males with 1 female as well, though I think the pic was from the ocean, not captivity.
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: sexing Thalassoma lutescens 6/26/10
Interesting...Quick follow-up...Attached is a pic of mine when I got him (er...it) at maybe 3.5 inch. This would be considered "initial phase", meaning it has a sex,
<Yes... is a female... initial phase individual>
just can't tell which, and it can still change to the other sex? or am I off?
<All such individuals, given cues, external circumstances can/will "turn into" terminal phase specimens>
Thanks again Bob,
<Welcome, BobF>

Re: Wrasse Identification help please?
<Mmm, where is the prev. corr.?>
I forgot to tell you, although he looked a little beat up, his scales any way, he's a very healthy eater! Loves his Mysis and brine, but not other chunky foods. Those he just leaves. So all I feed him now and all the rest of my huge (not reef safe wrasses- 1 Sunset, 1 lunar, 2 yellow Coris(not), 2 bluntnoses, 1 Blue headed Wrasse, 1 zigzag Wrasse, 1 Twinspot baby Wrasse, 1 pink 3 spot Wrasse, 1 Goldbar Wrasse, a few little fairy wrasses also. ) in my 150 gallon tank. I gave up on pellets, they just pollute my tank something awful. But I sure go through a lot of packages of Hikari Mysis!!
<I'll bet!>
I have a 4-5 inch Bahama Oolite sand bottom, and it's awesome some to watch such huge fish just "disappear" when they hit the bottom at night! They are a joy to have. They are so beautiful! And all but the blue headed Wrasse are just fine together. And even he is just a bit pissy at feeding time. The rest of the time, they get along very well. I'm quite impressed at what good pets the non-reef safe wrasses make. And they don't eat my soft polyp corals, like my Xenias, leather corals or my waving hands, they just taste them now and then. Must not be very tasty, they never eat much! :)
I'm hoping to find a Thalassoma duperrey next....
<Ahh... IMO should be the State fish of Hawai'i'.>
I love their coloring so much. I think the Thallasomas are my favorites of all. They remind me of Golden Retrievers! They are mellow.
Well, thank you again and again.
Hopefully he'll live a long time!
<Thank you for your enthusiastic sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Wrasse Identification help please? 05/25/09
Dear Bob, I am honored to hear from you. When ever I tell people "Bob Fenner said this is what it is......", I get no arguments! LOL!
<Heeee! Even I wouldn't go this far!>
About the thread,...... I apologize if you didn't get the whole thread! Here is a copy of Mich's (Michelle?) reply to my question. (it didn't copy well, so I had to tweak it a little to get the caps in the right places. That's why it's not an identical copy.)
<I see... am out of the country and so not keeping up with much of what is passing through/WWM... Thank you Mandy. BobF>

Thalassoma amblycephalum Sexual Dimorphism... dichromatism 3/21/07 Hi, <Hello.> What are the identifying characteristics to look for in distinguishing a male Paddlefin wrasse from a female? There is one at my LFS that has a blue head with a yellow band behind its head with a red body that has a faint white stripe that runs horizontally along its body. Is this a male or female? Someone told me that the females have this white horizontal stripe, but someone else told me that the males have white vertical lines across their bodies and that they are more colorful than the females. Can you please help me in knowing which is which. Some pics of males vs. females would be very helpful. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/thalassoma.htm...will answer your question and contains pics too. For what it's worth males are easily distinguishable and females/juvies are not imported as much. The one in the store from description alone is surely a male.> Thanks, Gary

Wrasse id I am wondering what kind of wrasse this is, can you help me? <Of all things... we're currently out at the Hawai'i house, and this is the most common fish on the reefs here... and an endemic. Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/thalassoma.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks, Codie
Wrasse ID I just sent an email earlier and I still am not sure of the wrasse that I have? It the Thalassoma dupery or the Thalassoma grammacticum or is it neither? I believe the fish has not matured yet. see attachment. <It's the former. Pls see the previous citation. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your help, Codie

Re: Help??? Dear Jason, Thanks so much for the helpful info. <<absolutely my pleasure.>> Just to clarify -- are you saying that my Rock wrasse (which I'm hoping he's really that! -- he doesn't look like the picture on your website. . . he's got about 4-5 horizontal rows of different colors -- pink, green, yellow???)really isn't happy in the tank? <<well ok, looking at wrasses that match that description... can't seem to find one, did you search through the WWM Wrasse pages to see if you can find a match? Likely this one has had the wrong name applied - and if this is the case, then my previous statement about this fish not liking tropical temperatures would be moot. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wrasses.htm >> Speaking of cool water, we recently did increase our temperature to 79 degrees when our local store told us that we were keeping the tank too cold at 74. <<74 is cool, but anywhere in the range of 72 - 80F should be good.>> Could this increase in heat be the reason he is changing colors sometimes? <<Yes, perhaps, good to take this adjustment slowly - a degree or two each 24 hours.>> How do you know if he's "happy" or not? <<Is it eating? Interacting with other fish, decor, rocks - looking at you - or is it completely clamped up in a corner by a heater never coming out to eat or see its surroundings. These are generalities of course, but it should the fish should be out, about, and eating - color changes mean all kinds of things - mood, etc. Perhaps make your way to a public aquarium if you can so you can see the same in a different surrounding.>> Could it really be him growing into adulthood because he is getting larger and larger by the day -- growing very fast. <<always a possibility >> (Please excuse my stupidity. . I'm VERY new to this!) <<not stupid at all, a very valid question.>> I gather that you agree to leave the Clown alone and see what happens. Until then don't add more fish? <<yes>> However, he's getting increasingly better each day -- once the white spots are gone for good can I assume he is well? <<not really a safe assumption, is why you need to leave and watch for a couple of weeks - make certain.>> At what point is it safe to introduce another fish? <<personally, I never introduce more than one animal in a month unless they are tiny. I just like to take it slow and see what happens, give everything time to adjust.>> One more question (sorry if I'm overwhelming you) would you recommend a fresh water dip for any new fish before you introduce them into the family tank? <<not overwhelmed yet. as long as you pH adjust the freshwater, yes.>> Thanks so much! I'm so glad I found your website! It's a great source of knowledge! :) <<Glad you enjoy the website, although it's not actually mine, I just hang out here. Cheers, J -- >>
Re: Help???
Oh My Gosh! This is so exciting! I researched the wrasse family on the wetwebsite and found a picture of the one that I have! She is a Thalassoma Lucasanum (rainbow wrasse)! This is the neat part. . . I found a picture of the female and that is definitely what I have, BUT, I found a picture of the MALE and he looks like what my female looks like when she changes color!!!!! I did further research and found out that the female rainbow wrasse is able to change sexes during her lifetime! This must be what is happening! <What a planet!> This is so cool! Thanks so much for your help!!! :) <Be chatting and diving. Bob Fenner>

Wrasse Identification Hi, I have been eyeing a wrasse at the LFS for the last few weeks and decided to finally pick it up. Because it kind of just laid around I wasn't sure of its health especially as I hadn't seen one like this before. <Likely a Thalassoma lutescens: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/thalassoma.htm > Most wrasses I have had/have are energetic swimmers. <Mmm, many species spend a considerable amount of time sitting about on or in the substrate> But, I attributed this to its housing at the LFS, which was a small cube. It was labeled generically as Green Halichoeres Wrasse. But, he was unusual so picked him up after seeing him digging and apparently healthy after a few weeks, though still not swimming much. I got him home and acclimated him. After releasing him, he just fluttered to the bottom (44 gal corner, with 2 small Chromis). I had brought water to the LFS before buying for a test and everything was nominal (8.3ph, 1.022 salinity, 0 ammonia, nitrates, nitrites). It's a well established tank that I recently moved some fish out of and to another tank. He "rested" upside down for hours, but his eyes showed he was awake and aware as they were looking around constantly. I had seen this somewhat before with wrasses being paranoid or scared and usually digging in for a while. Later at night he hid behind some rocks, then finally came out and swam close to the bottom for few minutes and then used his head as a shovel and dug a hole for the night. This took about 10 minutes, then he finally did that squirming I'm used to for wrasses to get the rest of his body under the sand. This following morning (got him yesterday) he was back behind some the rock wall lying down, but again his eyes were alert and was respiring normally. He doesn't move, at all, quite unlike other wrasses. I am hoping with identification, maybe you can shed some light on his name and habits so I can see where I stand with this new fish. He is your standard wrasses shape, closer to a dragon wrasse in shape with less ornamental fins, bright green though. In addition he has enormous canines similar to my Harlequin Tusk. I have attached 4 pics from when I was acclimating him (I figured this would have been the only chance to photograph him standing still, apparently I was wrong). Thanks as always. Scott <Use the scientific name... your search tools... Bob Fenner>
Re: Wrasse Identification
Thanks for the quick reply. I looked at the Thalassoma lutescens, but the one I have looks nothing like the aforementioned fish (Green Moon wrasse). The Thalassoma lutescens looks very similar to my lunar wrasse, but this one has a completely different mouth. It has huge canines and cannot close its mouth with them as they are so pronounced, much like my Harlequin Tusk. Is there any other species you might think it could be that I may be able to research? I looked at your wrasse pages and nothing looks similar. Thanks again, Scott <... the genus Thalassoma wrasses do have "large canines"... did you look at the pix on fishbase.org, Google images of this species? Take a look again please... at the pix you sent us. Bob Fenner>

- Lunare Wrasse Problems - Hi- I recently got some saltwater fish for my saltwater fish tank. It's a 40 gallon tank. I had 2 clownfish, and a Firefish. They were all living together for about a week. I just got a lunare wrasse. When I bought it in the store, they told me it was a marble wrasse, but I looked it up on the internet, and the picture for the marble wrasse did not look like my fish, but the lunare wrasse picture does. My fish has a long, green body, with pink swirls on the face and yellow on the tail, which I think looked like the lunare wrasse. If you could verify that for me, that would be appreciated. <There are a couple of wrasses that bear this facial coloration. Would suggest you look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/thalassoma.htm > My main concern however, is that the wrasse apparently killed my Firefish. They were fine last night when I first put the wrasse into the tank, and this morning they were fine too. I went home on my lunch break, and discovered that the wrasse had the Firefish in its mouth, and it was dead. <Circumstantial evidence - quite possible the poor Firefish was already dead before the wrasse decided to snack on it.> Now, I was told when I bought the wrasse, that it was a peaceful fish, and would not harm the other fish. <Mmm... well, it's true to some extent, but they are territorial and given to fairly boisterous behavior which other fish can find distressing. Not necessarily mean like a queen trigger.> I really don't think that the Firefish died on its own though, because it seemed to be doing fine. <Can happen.> I just called the store where I bought the wrasse, and they said that it was very unusual that the wrasse would kill another fish, even if they are much smaller than it, and that wrasses are generally peaceful fish. <Generally. Is like the line from the young girl, Newt, in the movie Aliens, "The mostly come at night... mostly."> The only thing I can think of is that the Firefish had a long spike on top of it's head that would move up and down, I wonder if that could have provoked the wrasse. <Doubt it.> Please let me know what I should do. I don't really want to take the wrasse back to the store because I like it, and hope that this was a one time thing that happened, but I don't want it to harm my clownfish, and any other fish that I will get. <Well... if you truly like this fish, you need to consider your future plans as this tank is too small for its long term needs.> Please tell me as soon as possible what to do here. Your response will be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot. <Cheers, J -- >

USW - Unidentified Swimming Wrasse 12/10/05 Hi Bob, <Bob is out diving just like you were, and I bet he's taking pictures too. Today you get Adam helping you out.> I wonder if you can help me to identify the wrasse on the attached photo? The picture is a video capture taken in about 30 feet of water off Pacific Harbour, Fiji. As you can probably see there were a small group living with damselfish round a small coral head on a wreck. <Very nice picture, your wrasse looks to be a Thalassoma lunare, most folks just refer to it as the Lunare Wrasse.> Many thanks
<Adam J.>

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