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FAQs on Wrasse Behavior

Related Articles: Wrasses, Wrasses of the Cooks

Related FAQs: Wrasses 1, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse DiseasesWrasse Reproduction

Cirrhilabrus jordani  male by Hiroyuki Tanaka. 

Yellow Flank Fairy Wrasse “Hovering”... MOV       2/10/19
Good Evening Bob and Team!
As always, thank you in advance for your wise words and advice. I write to you tonight to ask about a new fish I have in my 60Gallon QT.
<Go ahead; have viewed, reviewed your video>
I noticed when acclimating the fish was kind of “floating” but not like a regular fairy wrasse, it was what looked like early signs of a swim bladder issue. Anyways, he’s eating and moving around and is able to duck into pvc at the bottom of the tank, but is swimming weirdly. I have attached a video for you to see.
I’ve read it can also be a digestive system blockage, so I dosed some magnesium to induce passing of any blockage. I am contemplating bifuran treatment to tackle any bacterial infection that may be causing the swim bladder issues.
<No... this fish was/is highly likely been damaged in collection. A punctured gas bladder ( by needling or too quick surfacing) >
Anyways, I’d like your opinion on what it looks like and what you think I should do please!
<I'd contact who sold you this fish; ask for credit or replacement. No a high percentage chance it will correct, heal>
The video is not the best, but if you look in the acclimation box, that’s him fluttering around.
Thanks Team!
<Welcome, Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow Flank Fairy Wrasse “Hovering”       2/10/19

Thank You Bob;
<Welcome Anik. I do want to state a bit of my background as it pertains here. I've been in the collection side of the marine trade for five plus decades off and on and used needling techniques; decompression protocols et al... There is always some risk in doing so to the fish livestock... poking internal organs, over pressurizing them, adding trauma...>
At some point I’ll have the guts to no longer QT these fairy wrasses but this is another instance where I’m glad I did because his DT tank mates would have definitely given him a hard time on top of these swim bladder issues.
<Too likely so>
I’ll speak to the LFS and see if I can get a credit. I hate when this happens to beautiful fish like this, and all fish really, especially because of collection...poor thing.
<"It" really is likely "no ones purposeful fault"... Mistakes happen>
Anyways, Thanks again Bob!.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow Flank Fairy Wrasse “Hovering”       2/12/19

Thanks Bob! I’ll make sure to keep the Hikari stuff in mind when I buy next. Also I’m using Vitalis...
<The fish food... not the hair product I take it. Don't know much re this brand/make>
the fish seem to like it. Read that it is pretty good but will switch to Hikari.
Bob! Also, some hesitantly and cautioned good news! I’ve had the wrasse in magnesium chloride and BiFuran for two days now, with 100% W/C daily. He’s looking wayyyy better!
<Ahh great!>
Take a look at the video. Today I only dosed the BiFuran. He’s eating frozen, NLS pellets and flakes! He’s swimming around with more purpose and stays horizontal and on more control. He even spit some water out of the hospital bucket I have him in. Crazy! I will continue with the BiFuran treatment for the full seven days and report back. Let me know what you think about the video...Hope I’m not overly excited for nothing.
Thanks Bob!
<Thank you Anik. B>
Re: Yellow Flank Fairy Wrasse “Hovering”       2/12/19

Sorry, video attached.
<Oh yes! MUCH improved. BobF>

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
; 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>

Re: mixing Thalassoma wrasses?       4/10/15

I've read they need another female present to change into a male. so if I have a single Goldbar that is female it should turn into a male?
I appreciate this info.
<Can, will change, but not as quickly or at as small a size if not in a group. B>

Wrasse aggression; beh.     9/2/2013
Hi WWM Crew:
Thanks for this wonderful website and all the help you have give me in the past.
<Ah, welcome>
I have a 75G saltwater tank with a 5-6 inch long pastel green wrasse, 2 small crown fish, 3 small blue green damsels, 1 coral beauty butterfly <angel?> fish, a four inch long panther grouper
<Will get much larger, eat your damsels, likely your clowns>

 and a 4 inch long Pinstriped Wrasse.  Recently I added a small Canary Wrasse into the mix.  Every since I added the Canary Wrasse into the tank, he had bury himself under the sand.  I only saw him swim out once but was quickly bury himself back under the sand after chased by the pastel green wrasse.  Is there anything I can do to help him come out more often.
<Really just be patient... and routine in your operating your system... Lights on/off at a regular time/schedule, feedings at same time/place... it will come out in time>
 I have not seen him eat for a week now and am very worry that he might not last long without eating.  I have tried to catch the pastel green wrasse out of the tank and rearranged my live rock, but catching the wrasse was proved to be next to impossible.  Will he eventually come out after a while?
<Ah yes; likely w/in a week mores' time>
  Please help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Pink streaked wrasse - odd behavior?   2/7/12
I have a pair of Pink Streaked Wrasse (Pseudocheilinops ataenia) in one of my tanks and have had them for about 2 months now.  They spawn daily and get 3-4 meals per day (usually Nutramar Ova, NLS pellet, and Mysis).  The past 3 days, the male has been acting a little weird though.  He (quite often actually) goes up to the glass - usually the front pane - and opens up all his fins, opens his mouth large, breaths slightly faster, and then "scratches" (kind of looks like he flips off of) the glass.  There aren't any other changes in behavior other than this.  Do you have any idea what this behavior means (or is it a symptom of something wrong)?  Thanks! :-)
<Don't think this is something "wrong"; but part of the animal's reproductive/territorial display. Not to worry. Bob Fenner>

Wrasse Question, sys.    1/28/11
Hi There!
<Howdy Amanda!>
First off, your site is terrific. I can always find an answer for my questions. Until now...I have an 80 gallon and recently our rock fell due to our very busy engineer goby. We decided since everything fell to rearrange the rock and add some new pieces. I have several wrasses; a green Coris, an eight line, a multi color, and a canary. I have heard they don't get along, but mine get along well, except occasionally the green will chase the canary for a few seconds. Anyway, we had to get the rock back in since all the corals were just in a holding bin and the temperature was beginning to be a problem. My multi color was out, but my canary and green wrasse were still buried. They typically bury right at the front but since the rock was all out I was not sure. If a rock was placed on top of where they were buried could they still unbury themselves?
<Mmm, hopefully... I'd say unless the rock was dropped directly on top, they should be okay>
I have about 3 inches of live sand on the bottom. Thank You!
<Patience here... BobF>
Re: Wrasse Question   1/28/11
Hi Bob!
<"The loving one">
Thank you for your response! The canary has appeared, but the green Coris is still MIA . I guess its wait and see.
<Ah, good. BobF>

Creole Wrasse, beh.  11/11/10
Are you able to tell me anything about the behavior of these two Creole Wrasse? I have named the image, "Caregiver," but that's my creative title. See link to article about why I chose this title.
Thank you!
<Mmm, an initial phase (female below), terminal/male above... This species is a facultative (non-obligate) "cleaner" as juveniles... not an uncommon behavior. Here the male is (re) directing the female, likely back into its "harem"... a typical reproductive arrangement amongst Labrids. Bob Fenner>


Re: Creole Wrasse 11/11/10
Thank you for replying so quickly, Bob. I guess I would have preferred that he was taking care of the Female. Well, in a way he is. I always learn so much beneath the sea!
<Ahh! As do I. Thank you for sharing your photo of Clepticus parrae, input.

Christmas wrasse, beh.   9/27/09
<Bob... please send all your writing through the spellchecker before sending it to us>
I've had my Christmas wrasse for two months perfect fish no problems, recently it has started to do a rocking movement near the substrate then flicks its tail to send the substrate every were,
<Natural behavior>
I noticed if I come to the tank he would swim in front of me doing it if I move to the side he follows me still doing this sort of dance before flicking its tail, this activity has increased now there is a large crater in the substrate & it looks like its been snowing in my tank with corals & rock covered , do I need to be worried ? he looks healthy & eats well. bob Lloyd.
<Not to worry. Bob Fenner>

Wrasse Behavior Hello WWW Crew Member! Thanks for you insight on this one. <Okay> I am pretty familiar with the habits and care of the Six-line Wrasse, Pseudocheilinus hexataenia. However, are they known for doing a "disappearing act?" <Ah, yes... temporarily or permanently... as in jumping out> This particular one is smaller, probably not quite 2 inches. His tankmates are a Foxface Rabbitfish, Tomato Clown, Azure Damsel, Royal Gramma and a Falco's Hawk. This group has lived peacefully together for about 3 months. The wrasse usually hides out in LR more than his mates but over the past couple of days, I've only spotted him twice - once swimming freely, the other time wedge in a crevice. This is the first instance of this behavior. I am concerned because I have lost 2 of this species in similar fashion….they become reclusive, never to reappear. David A. Bell <Maybe you have a predator here... Perhaps the Hawk or Clown. BTW, am glad you've written... I'd like to send you here: http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/marinelifeprofiles/ re the need for better marine livestock selection articles format/input... Particularly reef groups. Bob Fenner>

Re: Wrasse Behavior Thanks, Bob. - Will read the link info. I know the Wrasse did not jump - I'm sealed tight; no floor nuggets - but rather believe harassment. David A. Bell <Could well be... the A. frenatus likely, but the Gramma, Hawk... are candidates as well. BobF>

Re: Wrasse Behavior, Pseudocheilinus    11/11/07 I do believe he's still alive within the rockwork but could be starved if so. I will rearrange some rock today and leave the lights low. However, I'm hoping that starvation has not caused the behavior instead. I do believe that my LR has limited fauna on and within to support the wrasse. I added two new pieces of LR recently and also feed an extremely varied diet: Cyclop-Eeze, several frozen mixes, Spectrum .05 and .1 pellets, Prime, Formula 1 and 2 flakes, Spectrum flakes, fresh clams, Spirulina, Seachem shrimp, Sea Veggies, etc. I need to get the refugium up and running for more live food diversity. David A. Bell <I'd say, agree with your assertion re territorial behavior here. BobF>

4 striped wrasse cocoon, Cleaner wrasse in nocturnal "cocoon" - 7/23/07 <<interesting... don't know that I've ever heard of a Cleaner Wrasse (likely a Labroides) exuding a sleeping cocoon, though many wrasses and Parrotfishes do... And there are a bunch of organisms that might use such feeding techniques that might render your observation... And it does sound like there is a "mystery" culprit in your tank... but who? A sea cucumber? Large Polychaete worm? Bob Fenner>> i was rearranging the rockwork in the morning right after I turned the light on in my refugium... the blue 4 stripped wrasse wasn't out yet, but when I moved one of the rock he came bolting out of what was a mucus cocoon, usually I find him sleeping in the smallest crevices of the LR but I've never seen anything like this... just thought id confirm that Larabicus quadrilineatus can and do sleep in mucus cocoons. though I don't think they 'prefer') as I've been moving his 'sleeping' spot everyday for 2-4 days now (he got moved to sump after eating SPS)..bastard...anyway...good day. -Devon sorry no spell check or punctuation. <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner>

Stocking Help Part II 3/14/07 Thanks for your input Chris. <Sure.>  I appreciate it. You mentioned that one of the fish I want (Possum Wrasse) is your favorite.   Do you find that your possum wrasse hides most of the time or a good amount of the time? <No, although they stick close to the rock and can be hard to see at times, but they were not particularly secretive.>  I can only put so many fish in a 53g, so I don't want to put fish in there that may be shy and hide all the time.  Just something someone mentioned to me about what they were told about Possum Wrasses. <They are a fairly active fish, although they do not spend much time out in the open.> Thanks Chris! Pam <Chris> Temminckii wrasse (cant find) Wrasse in Hiding?  2/9/07 To Whom this may concern, <Hi there Shawn, Mich with you today.>     I bought a  pair of temminckii fairy wrasse last <F>Friday (male - female). The male had some dark black spots on his sides I would have to say I think that it's do <due> to stress? <Mmm, maybe, maybe not.> I accumulated <acclimated> the fish for several hours before  I placed them in the tank they also had a dip before entering the tank.   <Mmm, no QT?> After the fish entered the tank the male went right under some live rock and stayed they for 3 days. He wouldn't move much only in circles to see what was going on the only way I could tell he was alive was that his eyes where <were> moving.  So the problem I have is that I have a sea hair <hare> and the other day he decided he wanted to go in the area that the male wrasse was in. As the sea hair <hare>  began to burry <bury> himself in that area you could see the wrasse wedged in between the hair <hare> and the live rock.  The next day the hair <hare> began to rise (I wasn't there to witness this) and since I can't find the wrasse anywhere. I lifted the rock where all of this took place and nothing !!!!!! I can't seem to find this guy anywhere and the female wrasse has been doing great this whole time. <OK.> As for my tank its 140 gal with 4 large polyp stony corals as for the fish I have 3 tangs: a Naso, a chocolate, and yellow eyed tang and inverts include 3 cleaner shrimp and one coral bandit <Banded>    water condition ph 8.4 salinity is 1.023 cal is 400 alk is 10  <W>what to do is he buried or dead. Or coral bandit <Banded> food. <Hopefully he's hiding.  Not uncommon with this family.  How are your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels?  Any peaks?  This could be an indication of a poor outcome for your fish.  Not a lot you can do, but monitor your parameters and wait and see.> Thanks <You're welcome.  -Mich> Shawn Smith <Please use your spell checker and grammar checker next time you submit a query.>

Silly Sixline Wrasse Behavior!   1/3/07 Hi... we've have had our Sixline Wrasse for about a year now, we've never had a problem with it before. We're not sure if it's a male or female.  We have a 30 gallon bio cube with a decent size piece of live rock, a Spotted Puffer, a "Nemo", a couple Sally Lightfoot crabs, Sun Polyps, which have spread beautifully onto the live rock, a Condylactis, some Zebra Hermits, and a Mandarin Goby.  We were told everything would be ok together and they have been great, but all of a sudden this evening our wrasse has been coming to the front of the tank flipping on it's sides and putting it's spikes up (constantly). We've never seen him do this before.  The water is perfect..... ammonia, ph, nitrate, nitrite, all levels of everything are on the dot.  Salinity is great, and temp. is great.  Should we be concerned with the wrasse's behavior? Thanks a lot; Jess <Well, Jess- I think it's great that you are a careful observer of the activity in your tank. This way, you are immediately aware when something seems out of whack. Nonetheless, in a situation like this, where a fish appears otherwise healthy and the environmental parameters are unchanged and steady, I'd be more apt to think that he/she is simply acting differently because of some social issues or something. Fish, like people, do have unique behaviors, and can vary from individual to individual. In the absence of signs of illness or injury, I'd simply continue to observe the fish and be prepared to take action if disease manifests itself. Chances are, this is just a passing behavior, and not a cause for too much concern. Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Red Coris Question ?   7/10/06 Hi crew hope all is going well. <Better all the time> Well I couldn't resist and bought a Red Coris Wrasse (Coris gaimard) for my aggressive tank. <A great aquarium species in the right setting> And all is good besides he is hiding in the sand. Yes I know they dig and I am perfectly fine with that. But just out of curiosity how do Coris wrasse Sp. breathe underneath the sand with out breathing in the sand?? <Good question... I suspect they continue to ventilate their gills with "buccal suction"... expanding and contracting the throat, pulling in water through the mouth, out the gill slits... Perhaps this species can/does "go anaerobic" for a period of time... Bob Fenner> Thanks for  Your time Josh Schiff

Cocoon Swallowing Wrasse   3/28/06          I have a problem with my Six-Line Wrasse.  For the two weeks that I have had him he has being doing fine in my 50 gallon tank with his Engineer and Clown Goby pals.  This morning I got up and was surprised to see that my wrasse was still hanging out in his sleeping cocoon. <Late sleeper?>   After breakfast I saw him spit out and then suck back in a small wad of his cocoon material. <Not uncommon... some consume this...>   He kept on doing this and it looked like he was choking on it because his breathing seemed a little labored.  That was a few hours ago and I can no longer see the wad of cocoon that was in his mouth.  He keeps his mouth partially open and swims kind of funny.  He will not eat now when just yesterday he had a huge appetite for the mysis that I feed him. <Perhaps it just over-ate?> sometimes he shakes and twitches and I think the wad of cocoon is still in his throat or something.  Is there anything that I can do to help him? <Mmm, just good care, maintenance>        It is now the next day and he has disappeared.  All day yesterday he was acting as I described above.  In the evening he returned to the hole where he likes to sleep and just sat there breathing heavily.  At this point I could see more cocoon material hanging out of his mouth.  I would have guessed that he spits out mucus to create the cocoon but I seems to cause him so much trouble.   Around ten thirty I could not find him anywhere and have not seen him since.  I just don't know what to do.  He didn't look very happy at all when I saw him last.      Sorry that my original query was not written well.  I didn't realize that was a requirement. <Ah, yes... all is posted... I wouldn't worry here. If your other livestock and water quality are fine... Bob Fenner>

Wanted: Clown Wrasse, Dead or Alive    3/17/06 I just have to say what a great site this is. <Thank you.> I have a question I hope you can answer. I have a 200 gallon tank with 200lbs of live rock. As far as fish, there is a Yellow tang, blue tang, (2) sailfin Tangs, snowflake eel, dogface   puffer and a dragon wrasse. I had a clown wrasse in quarantine and put him in the main system. Everything went good. So after two days I wasn't seeing the clown wrasse at all. Then a few days later it appeared out of no where. Now it  has been almost 2-3 weeks and no sighting of it at all, dead or alive. Any ideas? I heard they bury themselves in the sand but is it normal to never see it?  <Do bury themselves in sand if danger threatens and as sleeping quarters.  Not the easiest of wrasses to keep and does not do well with a crushed coral or similar substrate bottom, coral sand much better.   I'd start poking around, not normal not to see him during the daylight hours.  <James (Salty Dog)>

Spitting lunar wrasse  2/8/06 Hey Bob, <Yo> I observed something interesting in my tank this evening.  One of my fish is an adult lunar wrasse, approximately 6 inches long.  I feed chopped up fresh sea food that is just dropped into the tank and frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms.  I put the brine shrimp and bloodworms in a "worm basket" to feed.  I do not know if that is the proper name, but it is what the folks at my LFS called it.  Anyway, it is a plastic mesh cone that the food sits in to slowly dissolve in the tank.  Well, I can not just leave it suction cupped to the glass because my wrasse will rip it off the wall.  So, I hold the cone in the water for a few seconds to let some food dissolve and then I pull it out until most of it is eaten.  Then I put it back in, let some dissolve, and remove it again.  I do this until all the food is slowly dissolved.  All of that to say this: I noticed tonight that when I pull the feeder out of the water, my wrasse will come to the surface and spit water at the feeder.   <Neat> I saw him spit it as far as 3-4 inches.  It was really an interesting behavior.  I have seen this behavior demonstrated with freshwater Amazon fish, but not with reef fish.  I cannot imagine that is a typical behavior, but one this fish has learned due to my feeding technique. <And who says fishes are dumb? Bob Fenner>

Has This Wrasse Passed? - 12/12/05 Hello all: <<Howdy>> Happy Holidays to the scholars of the deep! <<Mmm, more like "students"...but thank you.>> One week ago, I acquired a H. hortulanus and introduced it into the display tank after performing the precautionary acclimation procedures. <<No quarantine eh...>> The lights were turned off upon introduction.  The wrasse immediately swam to one of my live rock stacks and has not appeared since. <<Not atypical behavior.>> I realize that these wrasses bury themselves in the substrate, but I would think that I would have seen it after one week. <<One might think so, but I have a Macropharyngodon meleagris that has stayed buried/out of sight for more than a week at a time on more than one occasion...only to pop up again and resume browsing/hunting as normal.>> I was discussing this with a fellow aquarist and he volunteered the following hypothesis that he had read in some periodical.  The theory is that since these wrasses bury themselves so deeply within the substrate, they penetrate into the anaerobic portion and consequently are consumed by the bacteria and/or waste materials in the substrate. <<Um...if this were true, would they not be extinct in the wild?  Do you not think there are anaerobic bacteria on/in a reef/the reef floor?  I don't think is your issue.>> I would appreciate your feedback, as if this is the case, then my days of purchasing Halichoeres wrasses are over. Thanks, Mitch   <<Fear not Mitch, the Halichoeres genus are quite hardy (and personable) for the most part.  If the wrasse was not doomed from the start (poor collection/transport/handling) then it could pop up soon.  Though do be aware, your specimen will grow to be a bruiser at 12 inches.  Regards, EricR>>

Scratching Wrasse- Or Hungry Hunter? Just a quick question- I purchased a Green Moon Wrasse 4 days ago. He looks happy as can be-no spots, excellent color and is eating very well. When he swims I noticed that he rubs his body at times on the sand. Is this the first sign of a parasite or normal behavior? Thanks! <Good question. Yes, rubbing and scraping on substrate and rocks can be a sign of problems, but this may not be the case with wrasses. In the Halichoeres species, in particular, you'll see them glance off of the bottom, seemingly "itching", but this is really just a "hunting" behavior; small crustaceans are dislodged from the sand during this activity. My advice is to keep a very close eye on the fish for quite a while, to see if any symptoms manifest themselves. If there appear to be no other symptoms, you can simply enjoy this unusual behavior! Regards, Scott F.> 

Wrasse concerns 10/9/05 Hi, <Hello> I'm sort of concerned about a lunar wrasse that I have. For a few weeks now, his appetite has tapered and he is lying on the bottom a little more than usual. <How big a tank, of what make-up, chemistry?> I've also noticed, for some time now, that he breathes rapidly. Is this normal for this fish? <Yes> As far as I know, he's always breathed rapidly. But with the decline in his eating and being somewhat more lethargic, I'm wondering if something is wrong. Other than that, he looks normal and healthy.  Up until just yesterday, he has been alone in the tank for several months. This after his Picasso trigger buddy jumped out of the tank to his demise. He now shares the tank with a queen angel. Thanks for any help! <... Please read re Thalassoma wrasses on WWM. Bob Fenner> 

Weird unexplained wrasse problem!  9/19/05 Hi WWM crew! <Samuel> I have used you archives many times in the past and they have never failed me, thanks for that! <Welcome> This time, i have found a few cases similar to mine but none were resolved or followed up!!! (uh-oh) I have a wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus) i think it is also called a Tailspot wrasse? <Yes, one common name> I have had it for 18 months or so and someone else had it prior to that for a year. I have never had any problems with it but recently introduced a bicolour angel straight into my tank after my quarantine tank sprung a leak after only a week of the angels quarantine. The angel is great (if a little shy and reluctant to take food amongst other fish) But my wrasse has several problems. It seems to have its mouth permanently half open and constantly head butts the front glass with its mouth (no visible damage yet!) But i have seen it quite a few times spontaneously shaking quite violently - one time for a few seconds (very distressing for me and him!) <Not good> It has also had some unusual swimming patterns - up and down up and down in the same spot. It is eating as piggishly as ever and still buries at night. There are no visible signs of disease or parasite within 4 - 5 days of the behaviour. My only thought is some internal parasite but i thought they usually affected appetite! AHH Help me please! Thanks so much crew! <Much more likely a degenerative condition born of nutritional deficiency... I would quickly start supplementing its foods by soaking in a prep. like Zoe, Selcon... Bob Fenner> Re: Weird unexplained wrasse problem!  9/20/05 Thanks Bob - great to hear from the man himself! <Mmm, am reliving the lines from "School of Rock"> I had the wrasse with weird behaviour (am sure you get many wrasses with weird behaviour every day but oh well! (:  It cleared up over the last day or two! He has stopped the unusual swimming and his mouth closed! - i think i was lucky - and i haven't seen him jerk around like a seizure since i wrote to you. <Good> But I will follow your advice and broaden diet more often anyway  (i currently feed small bits of frozen home made seafood mix - with weed, pellets, live brine, and he has 130 kg of liverock almost all to himself till i move my new additions in in 3 more weeks!) - i will try and mix it up a bit between these - i have only been feeding the frozen mix of late) With the new fish he will also get whatever i decide to feed them! Thanks Bob - my first serious problem in 2 years overcome by luck! I think i really am incredibly lucky - or maybe its just your great advice :) Thanks again <Welcome. Thanks for the follow-up, good news. Bob Fenner>

New slippery dick wrasse  9/12/05 We just picked up a juvenile slippery dick wrasse yesterday and put him in our quarantine tank (after a two hour acclimation period).  He immediately went to the bottom and was laying on his side breathing heavily but not gasping. <Not atypical... this is a very active species, that in shipping, runs out of oxygen easily> He would go upright but then slowly sag to the side again.  He eventually made his way into one of the pvc pipes where he spent the night. He is still there this morning, still on his side and still breathing rather heavily but not gasping.  Should we be worried about this behavior?  I know they like to bury themselves in the sand but had not heard about them lying on their sides like this. Thanks for your help, Sally <Need to be moved expediently, packed with oxygen (which also exerts an anesthetic effect)... in the dark... acclimated quickly... Hopefully yours will make a full recovery. Bob Fenner>

Hiding Christmas wrasse  9/5/05 Hello Everyone, <Hello>         I bought a Christmas Wrasse  on Friday. They had just gotten there shipment in an hour ago from Hawaii. When  I saw him he looked really healthy and active. I bought him and put him in  my 55gal. tank as my last fish. He swam around for about 15-20 minutes I  went away from the tank for a few minutes and when I came back he was gone. I do  have 25lbs. of live rock so there are places to hide. I have checked around the  tank and I know that he didn't jump. The tank is covered with crushed coral over  an undergravel filter. The crushed coral is about 1cm. in diameter with   lots of small shells in it.  This is the third day of hiding. I haven't  seen him since about 8pm.EST on Friday. I don't have any overly aggressive fish.  When I put him in none of the fish were really bothering him other than the  usual new tankmate curiosity. Thanks for your help <It's disturbing to hear from someone that purchases a fish without knowing all the requirements.  Wrasses like to burrow in the sand at night, not crushed coral, it's a little rough on the skin.  Please search "wrasses" on the WWM and read. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Hiding Christmas wrasse  9/7/05 I usually do lots of research on a fish before buying it. But I had a hard   time finding any information on it. I did know that it is reasonably easy to   keep and gets about 6". I completely forgot most wrasses like to bury   themselves. Mainly because I have a blue headed wrasse and he doesn't bury  himself.     Do you know if sand would work with an undergravel  filter? <No, if you have live rock the UG isn't needed.  They are also potential nitrate factories if not cleaned regularly.> I was wondering if it would clog it. I still have not seen the wrasse.  Is it normal for new additions to hide for this long? <Very possible.  Try keeping the lights off for a few days, it aids in their ability to adapt.  Also, please reply to the original message in the future so we  know where to direct the mail.  James (Salty Dog)> thanks for your help  <You're welcome>

Yellow Wrasse - 05/23/05 Hey, <Hey!> Yesterday I purchased a cleaner wrasse <Yikes! Take it back if you can...destined to starve to death.> and a yellow wrasse for my 90 gallon reef tank. The cleaner wrasse was real busy with the other fishes, and it eats about anything I feed with great pleasure. However, the yellow wrasse is a different story. As soon as I introduced him into the tank, he burst into the thick sand bed. I was worried that it died, but today it came out wondering for half an hour then disappeared. It missed out the feeding time. Is this fish hunting for food in the sand? Or does it just like to sleep all day long? Is there anyway to feed this fish or do I have to wait until it comes out of the sand? <If this is a Halichoeres chrysus this behavior is normal. The wrasse will eventually settle in and be seen more...and become a very capable bristle worm predator. These fish are actually quite personable and very hardy feeders...once acclimated to your tank. Try tempting it to feed with thawed frozen Mysis shrimp and/or glass worms (mosquito larvae).> Thank You <Regards, Eric R.>

Wrasse Behavior - Jumping, Freaking And Hiding (Oh My!) - 05/23/05 Hello crew, <Evening> I'm very worried about my adult male Paracheilinus lineopunctatus. <Gorgeous fish> I've kept him for about 5 months now and up until recently he was a very active happy seeming fish. About one month ago he started jumping, or trying to.  <Yep...all too common...a "high-strung" fish. My flashers use to literally "ping around" in the light hood like pin-balls if the lights suddenly went off due to a power outage.> I have the top 100% covered because I read these guys jump. <Mmm...not sealed I hope...possibly covered with egg-crate or similar?.> Problem is, when he hits the canopy it scares the crap out of him and he hides for days only to timidly re-emerge and start taking food again. Then after he starts getting bold and swimming above the rock again he'll try to jump. I feel really bad for him and I kinda wish I'd never have gotten him. I imagine him on the reef jumping at will and I feel terrible robbing him of that. <I wouldn't worry about this last item. According to FishBase this specie is generally found at 12-40 meter depth. A long haul to the surface for a "recreational" jump <G>.> Many things I could correlate this behavior with but no clue as to a cause. 1. It seemed to coincide with his adulthood. He started getting his full adult coloration and size before he started jumping. 2. I added more light (3x18w NO --> 2x18w NO + 2 55w PC) about a month before this behavior started. he was fine for that month though. 3. I added a 1w 470nm moonlight about 6 weeks before. All water chemistry parameters test fine (0 NO3, PO4, Ca~370, dKH~8.5, SG~1.0255@78degrees F, temp~80 degrees F) Any experience with soothing crazy jumpers? Anything at all I could do to make my fish more happy? <Make sure another fish is not harassing your wrasse. But even if this is not the case, my experience has been that sooner or later these fish will jump. These fish can be kept, but as you're experiencing, they require some special considerations. One is a peaceful environment in which to live (extremely important in the unnatural confines of an aquarium), another is some type of grate directly on top of the tank openings.> Thank you so much, Andy <Regards, Eric R.>

4 line red sea cleaner wrasse Hi Bob, I just thought I'd let you know, I have just bought one of these little guys. He is about 2@ long, and appears to be settling in fine. <Ah, good> I had some discussion with you about these little guys some time back ..... and now I have taken your advice and got one. I'll let you know how I get on, and how he fares, and if all is well I will start the "campaign" along with you against the importation of the true pacific cleaner wrasses (obligates). So far I am delighted with my new introduction. Thanks, Regards, Matt <Sounds good... If there is a god that is a Labroides, you and I may make into a piscatorial "heaven" yet! Bob Fenner>

More on 4 line red sea cleaner wrasse Hi Bob, Can you please expand on this question from yesterday (Feb 6?) I've been following your advice not to buy cleaner wrasses (Labroides,) but I'd like to get a/some cleaner fish. I've been having trouble finding Gobiosoma oceanops.  <Look on the Net, better LFS... they're tank bred in good numbers, available all year long if folks in the trade will order them> I've seen a 4 line wrasse from Hawaii for sale. Are these the same as the Red Sea version? <Think we're talking about Larabicus... not a Pseudocheilinus... that Four line's found in the central W. Pac...> Are they good/recommended cleaners? It sounds from your answer like you endorse these, any more information you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks, Brian Battles <Sorry for the confusion, and please do read over the brief introduction to these species listed on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Wrasse Impasse? (Missing Canary Wrasse) I recently bought a Canary Wrasse (4 days ago to be exact). I haven't seen him much, I am aware of wrasse behavior for the most part, but I think he has been hiding a little too long. I don't think he has been out much more than 2-3 hours since I brought him home. Should I be worried yet? I have a Neon Dottyback that seems to be a bit of a brat, a Longnose Hawk, and a Lyretail Anthias, This beautiful fish is new as well and seem to be doing well. Is it time to worry ???? Thank you, KJ <Well, KJ- I would not worry just yet. As you are aware, these guys are very adept at hiding in the sand or rockwork until they are ready to come out and be sociable! One of my favorite fishes! Even though the fish is in hiding, the fish can find food to eat in the rocks and sand. Halichoeres species wrasses can be a bit secretive, but will eventually spend lots of time out in the open where you can see their interesting behavior. I'd give him/her a little more time. If more than a week goes by without seeing the fish, then I'd start to get concerned. Although the Neon Dottyback can be a bit of a troublemaker, I'll bet that he is not harassing the clever and tough wrasse. These guys can hold their own! Hang in there, keep observing, and do be prepared to take action (removing a the fish if it is in distress, etc.) if it is required. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>  

Fish Keep Biting the Hand That Feeds... Sorry to pester you guys. I have been trying to find an answer to my question but when I put in fish bites or fish attacks I get all kinds of things that don't pertain to my question. I'll get right to it. I have had good luck with my fish until recently. I added a neat piece of live rock about 2 months ago, since then my fish are going crazy. They've all been together for over a year with no additions other than a Chocolate Chip star which they seem not to mind. But the second I added this rock my blue damsel got all defensive about it.  < Could be defending an area for mating reasons, but in new tanks I seriously doubt it. However, it could be defending a food source, and if you don't have much algae in your tank than this is very likely. >  He has had chunks taken out of him by other fish fighting him for it. I put him in the QT tank and when I brought him back up I had rearranged all the rocks. He found it again and it attacking everything, including the magnet when we clean, our hands when we clean, etc. Then tonight I went to feed the starfish, he was on the bottom on the sand and I wanted to give him some shrimp, so I put my hand in to pick him up and my Paddlefin Wrasse bit me. It hurt and bled quite a bit. That's never happened before. Any idea why my fish are going crazy?  < It may be a lack of food, or a lack of natural settings in your tank. They are defending an area heavily because it is the only nice place in the tank. > The Wrasse doesn't care about the live rock the damsel is so enamored of so he wasn't defending that. Have you heard of wrasses attacking their meal tickets? I know Thalassoma wrasses are pretty aggressive but Paddlefins are supposed to be pretty calm I thought.  < Actually I love wrasses. But no, I have no idea why this would happen. Sounds a little odd. >  Now I'm scared to put my hand back in the tank! I have heard of triggers biting, but our damsel tries to bite (just bumps into your hand) and now the wrasse! It sounds like I have my hands in the tank all the time, which is not the case and I usually wear long gloves when I'm cleaning it out but tonight I was in a hurry. Thanks so much for your time and your wonderful insight!  < Well, not much I can say except I would consider adding a few more pieces of nice live rock. I think that will help. > Amy < Blundell > 

- Sixline Cocoon - Hi, thanks for the great website. Today I woke to observe something very strange to me. A 6-line wrasse I just added to the tank has a jelly like bubble surrounding it. The fish has his nose pointing out. The bubble has consistency and small whitish specs on it (these may be stuff from the water caught) in it. Any idea? <Yes, it's a mucus cocoon, similar to those made by many wrasses and Parrotfishes when they sleep. Is normal and nothing to worry about.> I don't know what to do. <Nothing to do except not worry about it - is normal.> It is almost egg shape in size. <Cheers, J -- > -

Sex Changing Wrasse - Hello to all at WWM: About three months ago a bought a FEMALE Thalassoma lucasanum, (AKA Rainbow Wrasse, Paddlefish Wrasse, Cortez  margarita Wrasse). However, now almost 3 months later, it has changed to the  male coloration, maybe into an actual male. I did not know these fish would or  even can change from the female coloration to the male coloration.  Just curious if anyone at the Crew has heard or seen of such a thing. <There are many wrasses as well as several other groups of fish that have this remarkable ability. It ensures the continuation of the species. What a planet!> Either way I like both color forms. By the way, Scott Michael's Marine Fishes pocket guide  has great photos of this fish on page 319. As always, thanks for all your time and effort. Gene <Cheers, J -- >

Wrasse Behavior Question Hi:) A quick question about the eight line flasher wrasse.  If I order a male and a female can they be introduced together to the same tank without aggressive behavior?  In other words do they always get along or could one pick on the other?  Thanks for your time....... Janey <Hi Janey.  In any captive system, certainly the smaller ones (100 gallons or less) there is a chance that ANY fish can be tormented by another.  But, however, male and female wrasses can pair up.  I have kept a small harem of flasher wrasses myself.  In 150 gallons, one male and 5 females were peaceful. I'm not sure how large your system is, but I'd arrange the ratio similarly.   Thanks, Ryan> Should my wrasse be this lazy? Hello, << Hi there. >> I've been reading your FAQ's but have not read of any wrasses acting like mine.  We had a bristle worm problem so bought a arrow crab 7 a wrasse.  The arrow crab lasted about 4 days & was history.  The wrasse, from the time we brought him home, lays on the bottom of the tank, most of the time, then swims for about 10-15 sec. then returns to the bottom. << Hmmm. >> We have had him about 10 days & now & today he is hardly swimming at all.  We have small rocks on the bottom to the tank (50 gal), covered with one bag of living sand.  Would he be able to bury himself in this? << Yep, no problem. >> There are also some other critters along with the Bristleworms that are very fast & seem to have 2 swords for tails.  Will the wrasse alone be able to handle this? << Well I don't know if they are bad or not.  I would say, sure the wrasse can take care of it.  I wouldn't just go adding more wrasse or something else. >>  We also have a small red banded shrimp, a red crab, 3 clowns, 5 green Chromis & 2 gold (yellow?) Chromis and a living rock that seems to do nothing.  I feed them a frozen cube assortment of 4 different kinds in the am & marine flakes in pm.  I've never noticed the wrasse buried, but I don't watch him I the night.  At 4 am when the lights come on (off at 8 am then on again from 2 pm-8pm), he's not buried. Is there something I should be doing differently?  I tried Paragon II for the bristle worms at first & killed the green crabs, anemone, 1st banded shrimp, 2 clowns, 4 green Chromis & coral beauty angel. << Wrasse like all other fish just like having good water quality.  Meaty foods and good quality live rock are also important.  Wrasse are typically insectivores and feed off of small inverts living on the rocks. >> Please help.  We set our aquarium in Dec & never introduced fish until Feb. << Not sure why you said your live rock isn't doing anything, but maybe that could be changed. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Hiding wrasse. I got what I think is a blue sided fairy wrasse a week ago. He's about 3" long. He never comes out and stays hidden all day. << May be normal, may not be. >> I removed the most aggressive blue devil of the three I have in my 150 tank. That does not seem to have helped.  the wrasse does not have any nipped or torn fins though. I have chased him out of his hiding spot a few times, but he just goes to another and hides. << I wouldn't do that.  I think if you add extra stress to the fish then he is even more likely to hide. >> The tank also has a large sailfin tang, raccoon butterfly, small Picasso trigger and a large black Hawaiian trigger. None of the other fish seem to bother it or care about it, but he stays hidden.  I never see him out. Is this normal for some period of time?  How long? Will he eventually come out? Will he starve? What can I do? << Well a couple things come to mind.  If this is a 20 gal aquarium, then it is way overstocked.  If this is a 1000 gal then he shouldn't feel crowded at all.  So looking at your tank and assessing the population can help.  I would also say that many wrasse can stay hidden for several days before they feel comfortable enough (or hungry enough) to come out. >> Should I try and catch and return him to the store? << If you have a healthy system then no.  Otherwise you aren't going to help the situation.  I would offer meaty foods, but other than that I think you will have to take your chances. >> Thank you for you help in this. Brendgol Majewski <<  Blundell >>

Wrasse anxiety 6/14/04 HI Bob <Hi Joe, Adam at your service today!> I want a wrasse for my reef tank. However I have some reservations. My tank is a 90 gal. I started off with 3 yellow tail damsels then added a blue and Kole tang, a cinnamon clown and a small scooter blenny. The damsels have never bothered anyone but themselves but I am wary about them and the wrasse. <Probably no worries depending on the wrasse.  Those that get large and aggressive may simply eat the damsels when they get large enough.  Fairy and Flasher wrasses are probably more at risk of being harassed by your clown than harassing other fish.  Smaller wrasses like the four and six line and some smaller Coris sp. and Halichoeres sp. are hit or miss, but are significant 'pod predators, which may limit food for your scooter.> my second concern is my hood. I have a suspended halide system over my tank. I did keep the canopy on which extends 7" above the water line. but these guys are jumpers and I don't want to lose one that way. what do you think?? <Some wrasses are jumpers, but not nearly as bad as Jawfishes and Firefishes.  I would say your risk of loss is fairly low with your canopy in place.  Remember also that these are gross generalizations.  Wrasses vary greatly in size and temperament.  Do research your specific choice before purchase.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Six Line Wrasse - MIA? >Hi, I bought a six line wrasse 5 days ago. It was doing great, very active. I heard they bury themselves but for how long??  >>Nightly, they tuck themselves in.  >I haven't seen it in 2 days. Should I be concerned? Kris >>I would definitely start searching for it, you may have a crispy critter somewhere. You might also want to keep the lights off for a day, see if he's hiding because he's feeling a bit shy. Marina 

Where'd it go? >I swept through the sand gently, nothing. I only have a "Nemo", humbug damsel, domino damsel, feather duster, 1 decent size live rock, 1 live rock with little mushrooms on it (which I bought 5 days ago and they still haven't opened). >>Uh oh, it's quite possible that either ONE of those damsels (you've got two of the more, nay, MOST, aggressive species I've ever worked with) may very well have driven the wrasse right out of the tank. Care MUST be taken when establishing and stocking these systems, least aggressive fish must be established first, and some fish simply cannot be housed together at all. >And one dying black spiny urchin. >>I have a feeling you're going far too quickly with your stocking of this system.  >Almost all of its spines are down but haven't fallen off, I've had it also 5 days.  >>You are DEFINITELY pushing things too fast. You've got to test your water (with GOOD test kits) for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and salinity. You've got to wait at least a month between adding fish (and I still have no idea of the size of this tank), and that's AFTER a 30 day quarantine to avoid diseases. There's much to go over, so I'm going to point you towards the bulk of our site.  >Should I assume it's dead??  >>No, only if the spines are falling off. I have a feeling you should do a very large water change here. You may also benefit the animals by adding some Bio-Spira according to directions. Then, STOP adding fish until everything's settled down, and NO more inverts. >It's got about 15 long spines still standing. But, has not moved. Kris >>They do this, but it doesn't sound good. There's too much information I don't have to help you any further. For an idea on what we need, follow the "tips on asking questions" or "tips on FAQs" link on site. Marina

Is it Possible?? Night Night!  >Hey guys, hope you got my pictures and enjoyed them. I have a quick question for ya. Is it normal for wrasses to bury themselves at night?  >>Um, yes. Part and parcel of BEING a wrasse, my friend. This is the part where I quip, "You'd better watch your wrasse!"  >My lunar wrasse does it and was just curious what's going on.  >>It's called tucking in for bed.  >You guys should have a hotline lol, you help a lot in this strange yet intriguing hobby. Well thanks for your time. Jeffery 

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