Six Line Wrasse

The popular and (sometimes) pugnacious six line wrasse

Pseudocheilinus hexataenia, commonly known as Six Line Wrasse or Six Stripe Wrasse, is one of the most popular saltwater fish you can find in stores and online. They are one of the top 20 most commonly imported saltwater fish. One look at them and it isn’t hard to see why they are so popular. Whether they are blue with orange stripes or orange with blue stripes, I’m not quite sure, but the bottom line is that they are very attractive fish.

My favorite thing is watching their eyes–their eyes dart around and remind me of a chameleon that way.

The six line wrasse is generally inexpensive and is widely available. They are perpetual motion machines and will zoom around the tank without a care in the world.

No reason to fear if you have corals in your tank, bite six line wrasse is considered reef safe. They should leave your corals alone.

Ideal habitat

The Six Line Wrasse originates in the Central and Indo-West Pacific Ocean, and the Red Sea as well. These fish can also be found in the northern part of New South Wales, the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef and areas around the northwestern Australia.

Indo-Pacific biogeographic region map-en

Six Line Wrasses are hardy fish that are relatively easy to keep in a saltwater aquarium. A relatively small fish, they tend to stay under 3 inches long, which means you can keep them in a tank that is 20-30 gallons in volume.

While the SLW is a naturally bold fish, they do best when kept with a moderate amount of live rock. They will dart in and out of the aquascape for protection and will scour the rock looking for a tasty morsel to eat.

Six-line wrasse

Feeding the Six Line Wrasse

The six line wrasse is a carnivorous fish, spending most of their time picking at live rocks in search for small parasites and crustaceans.

Most individuals will  accept standard saltwater fish food, like flakes, pellets or tablets, but what they would appreciate most is frozen food and even small live food.

These are very active fish. If possible, try to feed them 2-3 times a day.

Behavior and tank mates

Compatibility is one of the biggest issues with keeping the six line wrasse, because they can be aggressive and have a tendency to pester other fish. They can stress out a shy fish so much they may succumb to parasites or even die.

Smaller and shy fish like gobies, fairy wrasses, firefish, grammas or leopard wrasses won’t make good tank mates, as they run the risk of constantly being harassed by the six line wrasse. Also, slow swimmers like mandarins, seahorses and pipefish are very likely to starve in their presence.

Six Line Wrasses are considered reef-safe and would leave corals and most invertebrates alone. They might even act as cleaner fish and peck parasites or algae off larger fish, rocks or plants. They are even able to keep pyramidellid snail population in control.

It is always better to introduce Six Lined Wrasses last to the tank, as newly arrived wrasses tend to be more peaceful that those already inhabiting and defending the tank.

Six Line Wrasse - Pseudocheilinus hexataenia

Pros and cons

These fish are extremely popular, but like any good decision, there are some pros and cons you should consider before adding them to your tank.

Pros

  • Beautiful
  • Inexpensive
  • Hardy
  • Will eat parasitic pyramid snails and bristle worms
  • Can be kept in reasonably small tanks (about 20-30 gallons or so)

Cons

  • Can be aggressive fish
  • May out-compete shy fish for food

Conclusions

It is no surprise that the six line wrasse is one of the most popular saltwater aquarium fish. Have you keep this fish? If so, share your experiences below. Thanks!

Comments

  1. I have one in a 40 long and he is a very enjoyable addition. Him and a dottyback needed a couple days to decide who owned which end of the tank but get along fine. Also not a flatworm or bristleworm (or pod for that matter) to be found in that tank!

  2. Author

    Thanks Matt (Muttley), glad to hear it. Sounds like he/she is living up to the reputation as avid invert hunter.Also glad to see it is getting along, now, with a dotty back (another notoriously pugnacious group of fishes).

  3. My six line wrasse is a peaceful one, he’s in a 5ft tank

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