Types of wrasse

Types of Wrasse

There are a lot of different types of wrasse available for the saltwater aquarium. This article will cover the 75 Best types of wrasse, including their scientific name, the maximum size they grow to as adults, in both inches and centimeters, the minimum tank size required to adequately care for them in gallons and liters, their care difficulty, relative aggressiveness, diet, and whether or not they can be kept safely with corals.

Dragon wrasse

75 Best types of wrasse: care guide summary table

The table below lists the 75 best types of wrasse, with a care guide summary. If the table is wider than the screen you are viewing it on, you can scroll left and right on the table itself.

Yellow tail wrasse

Table 1: 75 Best Types of Wrasse

Type of WrasseScientifc name for type of wrasseAdult size (in.)Min. tank size (gal)Care difficultyAggressiveDietReef safe (Yes/No)Adult size (cm)Min. tank size (liters)
Adorned WrasseHalichoeres cosmetus555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13208
Banana WrasseThalassoma lutescens 12125Relatively easyYesMeaty foodsNo30473
Bird WrasseGomphosus varius11125Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsNo28473
Black Leopard WrasseMacropharyngodon negrosensis490Extremely difficultNoMeaty foodsYes10341
Blue Flasher WrasseParacheilinus cyaneus355Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Blue Throat Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus cyanogularis 490Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes10341
Bluehead Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus cyanopleura590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Bluehead WrasseThalassoma bifasciatum770Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsSomewhat18265
Bluestreak Cleaner WrasseLabroides dimidiatus5.590Difficult and challengingNoMeaty foodsYes14341
Blunthead WrasseThalassoma amblycephalum670Medium difficultySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsSomewhat15265
Carpenter’s Flasher WrasseParacheilinus carpenteri355Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Chiseltooth WrassePseudodax moluccanus10125Difficult and challengingNoMeaty foodsSomewhat25473
Darwin’s Glow Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus sp. 590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Dragon WrasseNovaculichthys taeniourus12180Medium difficultySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsNo30681
Dusky WrasseHalichoeres annularis670Difficult and challengingNoMeaty foodsYes15265
Exquisite Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus exquisitus590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Filamented Flasher WrasseParacheilinus filamentosus3.555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes9208
Fine Spotted Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus punctatus590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Formosa WrasseCoris formosa 24180Medium difficultyYesMeaty foodsNo61681
Goldbar WrasseThalassoma hebraicum9125Medium difficultyYesMeaty foodsSomewhat23473
Golden Rhomboidalis WrasseCirrhilabrus rhomboidalis4.590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes11341
Green WrasseHalichoeres chloropterus870Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsYes20265
Grey Head WrasseHalichoeres leucurus 670Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsYes15265
Hardwicke WrasseThalassoma hardwicke 890Medium difficultyYesMeaty foodsNo20341
Harlequin TuskChoerodon fasciatus10125Medium difficultySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsSomewhat25473
Hooded Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus bathyphilus 3.555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes9208
Johnson’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus johnsonii 355Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Katherine’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus katherinae490Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes10341
Labout’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus laboutei5.590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes14341
Leopard WrasseMacropharyngodon meleagris690Extremely difficultNoMeaty foodsYes15341
Lineatus Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus lineatus590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Linespot Flasher WrasseParacheilinus lineopunctatus 355Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Lunate Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus lunatus 3.555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes9208
Lyretail WrasseThalassoma lunare10125Medium difficultyYesMeaty foodsNo25473
Marble/Hortulanus WrasseHalichoeres hortulanus11125Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsYes28473
McCosker’s Flasher WrasseParacheilinus mccoskeri 355Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Melanurus WrasseHalichoeres melanurus 4.555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes11208
Lubbock’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus lubbocki3.555Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsYes9208
Mystery WrassePseudocheilinus ocellatus590Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsYes13341
Naoko’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus naokoae 490Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsYes10341
Nebulous WrasseHalichoeres nebulosus590Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Neon WrasseHalichoeres garnoti 770Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes18265
Orange-Back Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus aurantidorsalis4.590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes11341
Paddlefin WrasseThalassoma lucasanum870Medium difficultyYesMeaty foodsSomewhat20265
Pearly WrasseHalichoeres margaritaceus590Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Pink Margin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus rubrimarginatus590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Pink-Streaked WrassePseudocheilinops ataenia 2.515Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes657
Pinkface WrasseThalassoma quinquevittatum 770Relatively easyYesMeaty foodsSomewhat18265
Radiant WrasseHalichoeres iridis4.555Extremely difficultNoMeaty foodsYes11208
Red Breast WrasseCheilinus fasciatus16180Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsSomewhat41681
Red Coris WrasseCoris gaimard 15125Medium difficultySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsSomewhat38473
Red Head Solon Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus solorensis590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Red Velvet Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus rubrisquamis 490Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes10341
Red-Fin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus adornatus 355Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Red-Lined WrasseHalichoeres biocellatus455Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes10208
Redfin WrasseCirrhilabrus rubripinnis490Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes10341
Richmond’s WrasseHalichoeres richmondi7.570Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsYes19265
Rose-Band Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus roseafascia5.570Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes14265
Royal Flasher WrasseParacheilinus angulatus55Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes0208
Ruby Head Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus cf cyanopleura590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Ruby Longfin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus rubeus355Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Scarlet Pin Stripe WrassePseudocheilinus evanidus355Medium difficultySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsYes8208
Scott’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus scottorum690Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsYes15341
Sea Grass WrasseNovaculichthys macrolepidotus670Medium difficultySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsSomewhat15265
Six Line WrassePseudocheilinus hexataenia355Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsYes8208
Splendid Pintail Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus isosceles590Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13341
Two Spot WrasseCheilinus bimaculatus 670Relatively easySemi-aggressiveMeaty foodsNo15265
Two Tone WrasseHalichoeres prosopeion570Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13265
Vrolik’s Wrasse, MaleHalichoeres chrysotaenia570Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13265
Whip Fin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus filamentosus 3.555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes9208
Yellow Banded Possum WrasseWetmorella nigropinnata315Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes857
Yellow Fin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus flavidorsalis355Medium difficultyNoMeaty foodsYes8208
Yellow WrasseHalichoeres chrysus 555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes13208
Yellowfin Flasher WrasseParacheilinus flavianalis3.555Relatively easyNoMeaty foodsYes9208
Yellowtail WrasseAnampses meleagrides 9125Extremely difficultNoMeaty foodsYes23473
Care guide summary for 75 types of wrasse, including scientific name, adult fish size (inches & centimeters), minimum tank size (gallons & liters), care difficulty level, reef safe status, diet

Are wrasses hard to keep?

Most wrasses are not hard to keep. They are generally hardy and relatively easy to care for.

Six line wrasse

Easy to care for types of wrasse for a saltwater tank

Here is a table of relatively easy to care for wrasse types that are not hard to keep:

Table 2: Easy to care for types of wrasse:

Adorned WrasseGolden Rhomboidalis WrasseNeon WrasseRuby Longfin Fairy Wrasse
Banana WrasseHooded Fairy WrasseOrange-Back Fairy WrasseScott’s Fairy Wrasse
Bird WrasseJohnson’s Fairy WrassePink Margin Fairy WrasseSix Line Wrasse
Blue Flasher WrasseKatherine’s Fairy WrassePink-Streaked WrasseSplendid Pintail Fairy Wrasse
Blue Throat Fairy WrasseLabout’s Fairy WrassePinkface WrasseTwo Spot Wrasse
Bluehead Fairy WrasseLineatus Fairy WrasseRed Head Solon Fairy WrasseTwo Tone Wrasse
Bluehead WrasseLinespot Flasher WrasseRed Velvet Fairy WrasseVrolik’s Wrasse, Male
Carpenter’s Flasher WrasseLunate Fairy WrasseRed-Fin Fairy WrasseWhip Fin Fairy Wrasse
Darwin’s Glow Fairy WrasseMcCosker’s Flasher WrasseRed-Lined WrasseYellow Banded Possum Wrasse
Exquisite Fairy WrasseMelanurus WrasseRedfin WrasseYellow Wrasse
Filamented Flasher WrasseLubbock’s Fairy WrasseRose-Band Fairy WrasseYellowfin Flasher Wrasse
Fine Spotted Fairy WrasseMystery WrasseRoyal Flasher Wrasse
Golden Rhomboidalis WrasseNaoko’s Fairy WrasseRuby Head Fairy Wrasse
The wrasse types in this table are relatively easy to care for, not hard to keep, like some other species.

Which wrasses are reef safe?

Fairy wrasse

Table 3: Reef safe wrasses for a saltwater tank

Reef safe wrasse types (A-G)Reef safe wrasse types (H-N)Reef safe wrasse types (N-R)Reef safe wrasse types (R-Z)
Adorned WrasseHooded Fairy WrasseNeon WrasseRuby Longfin Fairy Wrasse
Black Leopard WrasseJohnson’s Fairy WrasseOrange-Back Fairy WrasseScarlet Pin Stripe Wrasse
Blue Flasher WrasseKatherine’s Fairy WrassePearly WrasseScott’s Fairy Wrasse
Blue Throat Fairy WrasseLabout’s Fairy WrassePink Margin Fairy WrasseSix Line Wrasse
Bluehead Fairy WrasseLeopard WrassePink-Streaked WrasseSplendid Pintail Fairy Wrasse
Bluestreak Cleaner WrasseLineatus Fairy WrasseRadiant WrasseTwo Tone Wrasse
Carpenter’s Flasher WrasseLinespot Flasher WrasseRed Head Solon Fairy WrasseVrolik’s Wrasse, Male
Darwin’s Glow Fairy WrasseLubbock’s Fairy WrasseRed Velvet Fairy WrasseWhip Fin Fairy Wrasse
Dusky WrasseLunate Fairy WrasseRed-Fin Fairy WrasseYellow Banded Possum Wrasse
Exquisite Fairy WrasseMarble/Hortulanus WrasseRed-Lined WrasseYellow Fin Fairy Wrasse
Filamented Flasher WrasseMcCosker’s Flasher WrasseRedfin WrasseYellow Wrasse
Fine Spotted Fairy WrasseMelanurus WrasseRichmond’s WrasseYellowfin Flasher Wrasse
Golden Rhomboidalis WrasseMystery WrasseRose-Band Fairy WrasseYellowtail Wrasse
Green WrasseNaoko’s Fairy WrasseRoyal Flasher Wrasse
Grey Head WrasseNebulous WrasseRuby Head Fairy Wrasse
Wrasses that are traditionally considered to be reef-safe, listed in alphabetical order by common name

17 Types of wrasse that are not reef safe or are somewhat reef-safe with caution advised

Harlequin tusk fish

Table 4: 17 Types of wrasse that may not be reef safe

Type of wrasseScientific nameMin. tank size (gallons)Reef safeAggressiveCare difficulty
Bluehead WrasseThalassoma bifasciatum70Somewhat, caution advisedSemi-aggressiveRelatively easy
Blunthead WrasseThalassoma amblycephalum70Somewhat, caution advisedSemi-aggressiveMedium difficulty
Chiseltooth WrassePseudodax moluccanus125Somewhat, caution advisedNoDifficult and challenging
Goldbar WrasseThalassoma hebraicum125Somewhat, caution advisedYesMedium difficulty
Harlequin TuskChoerodon fasciatus125Somewhat, caution advisedSemi-aggressiveMedium difficulty
Paddlefin WrasseThalassoma lucasanum70Somewhat, caution advisedYesMedium difficulty
Pinkface WrasseThalassoma quinquevittatum 70Somewhat, caution advisedYesRelatively easy
Red Breast WrasseCheilinus fasciatus180Somewhat, caution advisedNoMedium difficulty
Red Coris WrasseCoris gaimard 125Somewhat, caution advisedSemi-aggressiveMedium difficulty
Sea Grass WrasseNovaculichthys macrolepidotus70Somewhat, caution advisedSemi-aggressiveMedium difficulty
Types of wrasse that are either known not to be reef safe, or where caution is generally advised.
Red coris wrasse adult

How many gallons does a wrasse need?

Different types of wrasse will require different amounts of water. The minimum number of gallons to keep the smallest types of wrasse is 15 gallons, and the largest wrasse types require 180 gallons of aquarium water or more.

Types of wrasse for a nano aquarium (minimum 15 gallons)

Table 5: 2 Types of wrasse perfect for a nano aquarium

Type of wrasseScientific nameAdult size (in.)Care difficulty levelReef safeAggressive
Pink-Streaked WrassePseudocheilinops ataenia 2.5Relatively easyYesNo
Yellow Banded Possum WrasseWetmorella nigropinnata3Relatively easyYesNo
These small types of wrasse on need 15-gallons of water to be happy.

Types of wrasse for a 55-gallon aquarium or larger

Table 6: 24 Best types of wrasse for a 55-gallon aquarium or larger

Types of wrasse
Type of wrasseScientific nameAdult fish size (in.)Care difficultyReef safeAggressive
Adorned WrasseHalichoeres cosmetus5Relatively easyYesNo
Blue Flasher WrasseParacheilinus cyaneus3Relatively easyYesNo
Carpenter’s Flasher WrasseParacheilinus carpenteri3Relatively easyYesNo
Filamented Flasher WrasseParacheilinus filamentosus3.5Relatively easyYesNo
Hooded Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus bathyphilus 3.5Relatively easyYesNo
Johnson’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus johnsonii 3Relatively easyYesNo
Linespot Flasher WrasseParacheilinus lineopunctatus 3Relatively easyYesNo
Lunate Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus lunatus 3.5Relatively easyYesNo
McCosker’s Flasher WrasseParacheilinus mccoskeri 3Relatively easyYesNo
Melanurus WrasseHalichoeres melanurus 4.5Relatively easyYesNo
Lubbock’s Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus lubbocki3.5Relatively easyYesSemi-aggressive
Pink-Streaked WrassePseudocheilinops ataenia 2.5Relatively easyYesNo
Radiant WrasseHalichoeres iridis4.5Extremely difficultYesNo
Red-Fin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus adornatus 3Relatively easyYesNo
Red-Lined WrasseHalichoeres biocellatus4Relatively easyYesNo
Royal Flasher WrasseParacheilinus angulatusRelatively easyYesNo
Ruby Longfin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus rubeus3Relatively easyYesNo
Scarlet Pin Stripe WrassePseudocheilinus evanidus3Medium difficultyYesSemi-aggressive
Six Line WrassePseudocheilinus hexataenia3Relatively easyYesSemi-aggressive
Whip Fin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus filamentosus 3.5Relatively easyYesNo
Yellow Banded Possum WrasseWetmorella nigropinnata3Relatively easyYesNo
Yellow Fin Fairy WrasseCirrhilabrus flavidorsalis3Medium difficultyYesNo
Yellow WrasseHalichoeres chrysus 5Relatively easyYesNo
Yellowfin Flasher WrasseParacheilinus flavianalis3.5Relatively easyYesNo
The different types of wrasse listed here would be suitable for a 55-gallon tank or larger.

Do flasher wrasses need sand?

The following genera (plural for genus) need a sand bed to sleep in hide: and Anampses, Halichoeres, Macropharyngodon, and Pseudojuloides. That includes the Yellowtail, Yellow, Green, and Melanurus wrasses.

Flasher wrasse

Wrasse tank mates: best and worst

Compatibility between saltwater fish types is challenging to review, because individual experiences sometimes conflict. The general disposition and typical aggressiveness level of a species is a primary, driving force, but the behaviors of individuals within a species will sometimes be more or less aggressive than the norm.

The relative size of the fish in any aquarium, as well as the order in which they are added to the tank will also play a role in competition for food or territorial aggression.

That is why we need to take the general advice and reports we read online (including this one) with a grain of salt, and whenever possible, use data to inform our decisions.

Best wrasse tank mates

In 2022, Saltwater Aquarium Blog Newsletter Subscribers who had experience with keeping one of the most popular wrasse species, the Six Line Wrasse, were asked to indicate which fish types they were successful in keeping with the wrasse and which species they had personal experience with being incompatible with their wrasse.

wrasse tankmates

I used the tally of compatible and incompatible votes to calculate the percentage of the time the wrasse tank mate was compatible with the wrasse.

Table 7: The best wrasse tank mates, including a compatibility score

Wrasse tank mate typeCompatibility %Aquarists with successAquarists rated incompatible
Clownfish96%65-3
Tangs or Surgeonfish90%45-5
Gobies91%43-4
Angelfish91%41-4
Blennies88%38-5
Cardinalfish92%36-3
Chromis92%34-3
Damselfish93%28-2
Basslets or Grammas88%22-3
Anthias95%18-1
Dottybacks81%17-4
Rabbitfish93%13-1
Butterflyfish87%13-2
Triggerfish100%80
Dragonets89%8-1
Quantitative data supporting the relatively compatibility of the Six line wrasse with other fish types.

Worst wrasse tank mates

In general, Saltwater Aquarium Blog Newsletter subscribers had more successes than failures keeping Pseudocheilinus hexataenia with other wrasse tank mates. But here are the worst wrasse tank mates that demonstrated the lowest compatibility percentages:

Table 8: The wrasse tank mates with the worst compatibility scores

Wrass tank matesCompatibility %Aquarists with successAquarists rated incompatible
Other wrasse types62%18-11
Filefish67%6-3
Dartfish79%11-3
Eels67%2-1
Pufferfish67%2-1
Jawfish75%3-1
Lionfish75%3-1
Quantitative data supporting the fish with the lowest compatibility score with the Six-line wrasse.

The most common incompatibility was mixing one type of wrasse with another type of wrasse. Two individual wrasses were successfully kept together only 62% of the time.

Pink streaked wrasse

While it was not directly specified in the survey (the options were simply to indicate compatibility/incompatibility), dartfish and jawfish are notoriously docile fish. One would expect that the docile fish were likely pestered and harassed by a more aggressive type of wrasse.

Eels and lionfish are predators. I’d exercise caution beyond what it stated here and avoid mixing species, especially given the small sample size of the data here.

Can you have two wrasses in the same tank?

You can have two wrasses in the same tank, but it takes some planning and careful purchasing. Having two wrasses in the same tank was the number one reason for incompatibility between two fish types. Aquarium owners were successful keeping two wrasses together only 62% of the time, in a recent Saltwater Aquarium Blog Survey.

Banana wrasse with clownfish and corals in background

Here are a few guidelines that will help. If you want to keep more than one wrasse in the same tank, don’t plan to keep any of the wrasse types in the Pseudocheilinus or Macropharyngodon genus, as they are notorious for being incompatible with other wrasses. Unfortunately, that rules out the very popular Six-line wrasse, Mystery wrasse, and Leopard wrasse.

Aggression tends to be the worst between males, with more aggression between males of the same species and between males from different types of wrasse. Please keep in mind that, in captivity, it seems that the vast majority (read that as “all”, softened just a bit) of female wrasses turn male eventually, which will likely cause issues later on, so it is generally best to just keep 1 of a given wrasse type.

Which wrasses mix well together?

Here is a presentation from MACNA 2017 that goes deep on these wrasses, including which species can be safely combined in the same saltwater tank:

Hunter Hammond: A “Fairy” Inclusive Look at Keeping & Mixing Cirrhilabrus Wrasses | MACNA 2017

What to read next

Check out these other great guides:

27 Types of tangs

25 Types of saltwater angelfish

19 Types of clownfish

5 Pufferfish types

References

The Wrasse Guy

Michael, Scott W. Marine Fishes: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species. TFH Publications, Inc. 2001.

Leave a Comment