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Flasher Wrasse of the Genus Paracheilinus

Flasher Wrasse
McCoskers's Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus mccoskeri)

Flasher Wrasse, as they are commonly referred to, are some of the best candidates for the reef aquarium or fish-only aquarium. The fact that Flasher Wrasse are hardy, reef safe and relatively peaceful further bolsters their candidacy as great tank mates and additions to the marine aquarium.

Flasher Wrasse 411
There are currently 20 recognized species of Flasher Wrasse in the genus Paracheilinus which are found throughout the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans depending on the species. The number of recognized species will more than likely increase over time as technology, equipment advances, and expeditions become more fruitful allowing taxonomists greater access to more sample fish.

Flasher Wrasse earn their moniker from their "flashing" behavior which entails vibrant color displays by male wrasse while also flaring their fins. Male Flasher Wrasse exhibit these displays during mating rituals. In order for a male Flasher Wrasse to successfully attract a female during courtship, the male must be worthy of her interest and proceeds to win her favor by flashing his colors and flaring his fins. Flashing may also be observed during territorial disputes with other tankmates the wrasse views as a rival or threat.

Flasher Wrasse
Linespot Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus lineopunctatus)

Flasher Wrasse Explained
So how do Flasher Wrasse flash? Flashing is made possible by chromatophores, which are specialized skin cells, that display the visual appearance or changes in the wrasse’s coloration. Chromatophores are triggered by neurons and hormones. The color-changing flashing effect is further embellished when the wrasse flares its fins. Now it is easy to understand how the wrasses "mood" enables flashing whether it is during courtship with a female or an act of aggression or defiance when threatened by a rival while defending its territory.

Another interesting physical trait of Flasher Wrasse is their "divided" pupil which in essence functions as a double eye. This unique feature allows Flasher Wrasse to focus in on small prey items while (literally) keeping an eye out for predators. In the marine aquarium Flasher Wrasse can be observed foraging for food while swimming in and among rock structure, coral and décor. The focus and intensity of their constant visual scanning can be readily observed as the Flasher Wrasse will scrutinize every nook and cranny with their incredible eyesight.

Half-Banded Flasher Wrasse
Half-Banded Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus hemitaeniatus)

Species in the Genus Paracheilinus
LiveAquaria® offers many different Flasher Wrasse for sale on our Reef Safe Wrasse category and the Diver’s Den® WYSIWYG Store. Popular Flasher Wrasse types offered for sale include Carpenter’s Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus carpenter), McCosker’s Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus mccoskeri), Diamond Tail Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus attenuates), Bell’s Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus bellae), Linespot Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus lineopunctatus) and more. Less common and extremely coveted species like the Half-Banded Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus hemitaeniatus) and Nursalim Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus nursalim) can be purchased from Diver’s Den® WYSIWYG Store when available. Please note, both of the afore mentioned wrasse are very limited in availability. When unique fish like the Half-Banded and Nursalim Wrasse are offered for sale on the Diver’s Den® WYSIWYG Store they are snatched up almost immediately. Be sure to sign up for Diver’s Den® email alerts to be in the know so you are notified when these gems are offered for sale.

Nursalim Wrasse
Nursalim Wrasse (Paracheilinus nursalim)

Wrasse Compatibility
Flasher Wrasse are ideal candidates for the community reef aquarium. Flasher Wrasse are one of the most reef-safe fish since they will not harm corals or sessile invertebrates. The only time you will ever see a Flasher Wrasse inspecting or picking at coral is if it is hunting small worms, inverts or crustaceans like copepods.

Acclimation Box
Acclimation Box

The peaceful nature of Flasher Wrasse makes them compatible with other communal fish and wrasse. In general, Flasher Wrasse can be kept with other wrasse, including their own species and other species of Flasher Wrasse when housed in an appropriately-sized aquarium. Even though most Flasher Wrasse only max out around 3", a larger tank is required to accommodate their active and open water swimming habits. This is especially true if you want to keep multiple Flasher Wrasse species together. Other male Flasher Wrasse will encourage bright-colored flashing displays. Ideally, same species or mixed species of Flasher Wrasse should be added together at the same time or added in groups together when housed in the same aquarium. Every fish and every aquarium environment can differ so it is possible you may run into compatibility issues when mixing species or keeping the same species together. This is why a large aquarium is key. Smaller aquariums with established residents may not always accept newcomers.

If there are compatibility concerns when adding new Flasher Wrasse to an aquarium with existing Flasher Wrasse many aquarists have had success using an acclimation box. An acclimation box helps the fish get used to each other over the course of a few days. Acclimation boxes allow the fish to eye each other up while preventing "picking", "nipping" or other more severe physical attacks. After a few days when the interest and aggressive displays have subsided, the wrasse can be released into the general population. Be sure to keep a PVC tube, large shell or some sort of structure in the acclimation box for the wrasse to retreat to when needed. Keeping the aquarium lights off or subdued during acclimation is always advised to help mitigate stress.

Flasher Wrasse Care
Flasher Wrasse staple foods should include quality foods including brine shrimp, mysis shrimp and marine pellet food. Other frozen/thawed prepared marine diets will likely be accepted and appreciated. LiveAquaria recommends enriching frozen foods with supplements such as VitaChem Marine Formula a few times a week. Like all wrasse species, Flasher Wrasse are very active fish that should be fed a variety of foods at least two to three times daily to fuel their busy behavior.

Brine Shrimp Mysis Shrimp Cobalt Marine Pellets New Life Spectrum Vita-Chem Marine

Since many Flasher Wrasse sleep in the gaps and cervices of rockwork and coral structures, substrate or sand is not required. Flasher Wrasse are known to sleep in their own mucous sack or "cocoon" when the lights go out. It is felt that the mucous-like cocoon made by the wrasse helps keep its own scent enveloped to evade predation during the night and ward off parasites. Regardless of the reason, it is an interesting phenomenon to observe when Flasher Wrasse are "sleeping" in their protective bubble.

Red Sea DIY Cover
Red Sea Customizable DIY Aquarium Net Cover

LiveAquaria® STRONGLY recommends a cover or fine mesh screen top for any aquarium housing Flasher Wrasse. All wrasse are jumpers, especially, Flasher Wrasse! Nothing is worse than discovering your amazing, brightly colored flasher wrasse has become a crusty, dried up carpet critter! It is truly a heart-wrenching experience that can be avoided with a securely fitting top or lid.

Flasher Wrasse truly offer some of the best bang for the buck! Many Flasher Wrasse are affordably priced providing ample color, movement and allure with their fascinating flashing displays and interesting foraging behavior. It's no wonder Flasher Wrasse are so revered and popular with marine aquarists and hobbyists since they can be such a rewarding species of fish to keep.



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