Marine Aquarium Fish Genus Profile: Wrasses of the Genus Halichoeres
Introduction to the genus Halichoeres
There are over 80 fascinating species of Halichoeres wrasse. Most species fall into the 4” to 6” size range requiring larger aquariums to accommodate their active swimming and foraging behaviors. Halichoeres wrasses are typically not known to bother stony corals or soft corals. However, larger adult species may eventually attempt to dine on any ornamental shrimp or crabs. If you think a crustacean may be safe because it is larger in size or too big to fit in the mouth of a wrasse, think again! Many wrasses have learned the art of “bashing”, meaning, the wrasse will grab a crustacean with its mouth and bash it against rock or coral in order to break it up and consume the smaller remnants.
Do Halichoeres wrasses eliminate pests in aquariums?
Most species of Halichoeres wrasse can provide the helpful service of eradicating pests in the aquarium. Tridacna clams can benefit from the presence of Halichoeres wrasses in the aquarium since Halichoeres wrasses are not known to nip at the clam’s mantle. Should you notice any species of Halichoeres giving a clam an inspection or nipping at the shell or near the underside of the clam, the wrasse is more than likely picking off harmful Pyramid Snails. Pyramid Snails are parasites that pierce the clam’s mantle or flesh and then proceed to suck nutrients out of the clam. Therefore, an infestation of Pyramid Snails can be harmful and even detrimental to a clam. Halichoeres wrasses can help keep these small snail pests at bay.
Many Halichoeres wrasses will also help with other marine aquarium pests like polychaetes. Unfortunately, the wrasses do not know “good” polychaetes from “bad” polychaetes. Halichoeres wrasses may eliminate smaller nuisance Fire worms and Bristle worms. However, they may also eat or pick at smaller ornamental fan worms or feather duster worms. Halichoeres wrasses may also eat echinoderms (good and bad) and smaller coral-eating nudibranchs. The same goes for snails. Halichoeres wrasses will not differentiate between parasitic snails like the aforementioned Pyramid Snails and beneficial algae-eating snails or Stomatella Snails. Small hermit crabs are often plucked from their shells and subsequently bashed by Halichoeres wrasses.
Popular Species of Halichoeres Wrasses
Melanurus Wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus)
Yellow & Purple Wrasse (Halichoeres leucoxanthus)
Radiant Wrasse (Halichoeres iridis)
Husbandry for Halichoeres
The genus Halichoeres showcases diverse and hardy species with only a few exceptions. Most Halichoeres wrasses readily adapt to aquarium life while offering a myriad of colors, movement and activity. The sharp eyesight of these wrasse combined with independent eye movement makes them masters at seeking out small crustaceans and invertebrates to prey upon. Diet should include enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, small krill and other prepared marine carnivore foods and quality marine pellet food. Since all wrasses are jumpers, protect your finned friends with an aquarium cover or lid.