Ultimate Guide to Reef Safe Wrasses


In the following sections, you will discover detailed guidelines and information on various topics such as: the framework of these guidelines, criteria for wrasses considered reef-safe, essential care requirements, dietary needs, transport methods, quarantine processes, introducing new wrasses to your aquarium, blending different species and genera, utilizing an acclimation box, understanding protogynous hermaphroditism and sexual dichromatism, strategies for “pairing” wrasses and managing harems, insights on pricing and rarity, details on specific genera (Anampses, Cirrhilabrus, Halichoeres, Labroides, Macropharyngodon, Paracheilinus, Pseudocheilinus, Pseudocheilinops, Pseudojuloides, and Wetmorella), and a curated list of popular species available in the USA with observations on each.

About These Guidelines

As we delve into this guide, it’s important to understand that the rules are few, but the guidelines are plentiful. Some guidelines are stringent and I recommend not deviating from them, while others have been successfully modified by some aquarists. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive, unbiased set of recommendations designed to help the average hobbyist successfully maintain reef-safe wrasses. However, keep in mind that these guidelines do not guarantee success, as the careful observation and maintenance by the aquarist are paramount since we are dealing with wild creatures.

About Wrasses Which Qualify as Reef Safe

What exactly defines a “reef-safe” wrasse? This term varies among aquarists, but for clarity, we categorize wrasses into three groups: 1) Completely reef safe, 2) Mostly reef safe, and 3) Generally not reef safe. This guide focuses on the first two categories. Species not discussed here likely fall into the third category, either due to their rarity in the trade or their incompatibility with reef settings. Some wrasses in this latter category can be kept by experienced aquarists who understand the specific care they require.

Wrasses in the first category pose no threat to corals or motile invertebrates, while those in the second category are also safe for corals but might pose risks to some invertebrates. Adhering to the feeding and care guidelines can minimize these risks.

The guide will explore ten common genera of wrasses considered reef-safe: Anampses, Cirrhilabrus, Halichoeres, Labroides, Macropharyngodon, Paracheilinus, Pseudocheilinus, Pseudocheilinops, Pseudojuloides, and Wetmorella, with further details on each provided in the subsequent sections.

About the General Requirements

Maintaining wrasses requires adherence to three crucial conditions:

  • Suitable Tank Mates: Wrasses thrive in peaceful environments. Aggressive tank mates are a no-go as they can stress or harm these delicate fish. Ensure your tank fosters a serene atmosphere conducive to the well-being of reef-safe wrasses.
  • Frequent Feeding: Wrasses need to be fed multiple times daily due to their active nature and short digestive systems. They require small, frequent meals of varied, meaty foods. If this feeding schedule seems daunting, wrasses might not be the best fit for your setup.
  • Covered Tank: Absolutely essential, all tanks housing wrasses must be fully covered as they are prone to jumping. These fish, coming from deeper waters, are not accustomed to the proximity of water surfaces and will attempt to jump if given the chance. Ensure there are no gaps through which a fish can escape — if the head can fit, so can the rest of the body.

Certain genera of wrasses, such as Anampses, Halichoeres, Macropharyngodon, and Pseudojuloides, bury themselves in the sand to sleep or hide. These require a sand bed at least 1 inch deep with a grain size of 2-4mm, avoiding coarse materials like crushed coral that could cause injuries.

Before adding any species to your tank, familiarize yourself with their specific needs, including appropriate tank size and environmental requirements.

About Feeding

Wrasses should eat small, meaty foods three to four times daily. Incorporate a mix of frozen food and pellets, and consider adding nori occasionally, as some species might take an interest. Disperse food evenly across the tank to ensure every fish gets a share without overloading the system with nutrients. Using a quality skimmer is crucial in a wrasse-dominant aquarium, especially if maintaining SPS corals. Adequate feeding keeps wrasses healthy and reduces their likelihood of preying on motile invertebrates.

Feeding habits can vary by genus, with some wrasses, like those from the Cirrhilabrus and Paracheilinus genera, strictly feeding on zooplankton, while others might also feed on benthic organisms.

About Shipping

Reef-safe wrasses can be sensitive to transport, showing particular stress during transitions. Shipping resilience often varies by genus, with younger and smaller individuals typically enduring transport better than larger, terminal males. This variability should guide your purchasing decisions.

About Quarantine

Quarantining new wrasses is a practice I strongly advocate, regardless of the vendor’s reputation. Even the most reputable sources cannot guarantee the health of their fish, making personal quarantine essential for successful integration into your tank. My preferred quarantine setup includes a 10-gallon bare-bottom tank with a hang-on-back filter containing seeded media, and a powerhead, all covered securely to prevent escapes. Quarantine lasts at least six weeks and includes treatments like Prazi-Pro once the fish are feeding well. Additional hides, like PVC pieces or a sand-filled container for sand-sleeping species, should be included to reduce stress. I avoid prophylactic treatments except when necessary and opt for proven alternatives to copper (like Chloroquine Phosphate) if treating diseases like ich.

About Adding New Wrasses to Your System

It is imperative to always use an acclimation box when introducing new wrasses to your aquarium (details on this to follow). Give any newly added wrasse ample time—up to one or two weeks—to adjust to their new environment. During this period, refrain from disturbing your tank excessively as this can cause stress and decrease your success rate. This is particularly crucial for sand-burrowing species; resist the urge to dig them up!

About Mixing Species and Genera

Combining different species or genera of wrasses is usually feasible and can be one of the delights of keeping them. Male wrasses from different species often display behaviors towards each other, offering spectacular shows. However, there’s no precise formula for successful mixing; while many combinations can coexist peacefully, some should be strictly avoided. Stay vigilant and monitor for signs of aggression, such as persistent chasing, nipping, or forcing another wrasse into hiding. Occasional brief chasing and displays of finnage and color, known as flashing, are normal and not cause for concern.

Males from different species within the same genus—or even from different genera—can generally coexist if the aquarium is sufficiently spacious. Females from any species or genus almost always integrate well.

When multiple wrasses are present, a hierarchy will form, with the most dominant male at the top. Dominance is more about species characteristics than size, and changes in the hierarchy may occur with the addition of new fish or the removal of existing ones. Over time, a less dominant male might ascend to become more dominant as he matures, but this transition depends on the previous dominant male’s willingness to relinquish his status.

There are two critical exceptions where mixing should be avoided: 1) Species from the genus Pseudocheilinus should not be mixed, as they can be particularly aggressive. It’s best to avoid keeping multiple wrasses from this genus. 2) Care should be taken when mixing species within the Macropharyngodon genus, especially two males. A larger tank increases the likelihood of successful cohabitation.

Finally, never house two dominant males of the same species together. While they may coexist temporarily, conflicts are likely to escalate. If you’re not an experienced aquarist, avoid trying to keep two males of the same species, as managing a dominant and sub-dominant male requires careful handling and extensive knowledge.

Wrasse Compatibility Chart from H. Hammond ie. The wrasse guy

About the Acclimation Box

Using an acclimation box is essential when introducing new wrasses to an aquarium with established inhabitants. Place the newcomers in the acclimation box for 2-3 days before considering their release into the main tank. This period allows you to monitor how the new and existing fish interact. Should you observe any persistent aggression that doesn’t diminish, reconsider releasing the new wrasses into the general population. In some cases, extending the acclimation period to 4-5 days may help, as it provides additional time for the fish to adjust and possibly reduce aggressive behaviors. The acclimation box serves a crucial role by allowing the fish to establish visual contact and begin forming a social hierarchy, which can significantly reduce potential conflicts once fully introduced.

For more in-depth information on this topic, refer to the full article.

Regarding acclimation boxes available on the market, I recommend choosing one with a white bottom. This feature tends to have a calming effect on the fish, as opposed to clear-bottomed boxes that might confuse them and lead to stress as they attempt to swim through what appears to be open space.

For more information, follow our full guide here.

About Protogynous Hermaphroditism & Sexual Dichromatism

Wrasses are fascinating examples of protogynous hermaphrodites; they begin life as females and may transition to males based on environmental factors such as harem dynamics and available space. This change can also occur in captivity, often triggered by the presence of other males, whether of the same or different species.

During their transition, these wrasses become known as transitional males or sub-males. While a reversal back to female is possible in the wild, it is rare and generally not expected in captivity. Once a wrasse reaches the terminal male phase, the change is irreversible. The term “super male” is often used in the aquarium trade to describe a dominant male with particularly vibrant coloration, though it is sometimes applied more broadly to any male with above-average colors.

Sexual dichromatism is a common trait among many wrasse genera, where males are significantly more colorful than females. This color difference is not only a visual spectacle but also serves as an indicator of a female’s transition into a transitional or terminal male. However, these stages can be visually subjective and challenging to determine with certainty. Mislabeling of sex in the trade is frequent, especially since females, being less colorful, are less commonly collected than their male counterparts.

The genera known for sexual dichromatism include Anampses, Cirrhilabrus, Halichoeres, Macropharyngodon, Paracheilinus, and Pseudojuloides, while Labroides, Pseudocheilinus, Pseudocheilinops, and Wetmorella do not exhibit this trait.

About “Pairing” Wrasses and Harems

In their natural habitats, most wrasse genera form harems consisting of one dominant male and multiple females, including a few transitional males poised to challenge for dominance. This dynamic is more about the dominance of the terminal male rather than bonded pairs as seen in species like clownfish.

Replicating these social structures in captivity proves challenging. Often, all females in an aquarium setting will eventually transition to males, particularly in the presence of a dominant male, which can lead to intense competition and aggression. Due to these challenges, I now generally avoid keeping more than one specimen of a single species, except under specific, rare conditions. Attempts to maintain male/female pairs or trios from genera like Cirrhilabrus, Halichoeres, and Paracheilinus have consistently resulted in all females transitioning to males.

As an alternative, aquarists might consider keeping individual specimens of different species together. This approach, aligned with the guidelines on mixing species and genera, can lead to a harmonious display of color and behavior, with each specimen likely transitioning to male and exhibiting the best coloration. This setup also encourages frequent displays of finnage and color “flashing,” providing delightful viewing experiences. However, patience is required, especially if the specimens are juveniles or females, as the time for them to transition into males can vary significantly, depending on factors like age, maturity, and established hierarchies within the tank. The timing of these transitions can range from a few weeks to several months.

About Prices and Rarity

The cost of wrasses varies widely, ranging from just a few dollars to several thousand. Prices are primarily influenced by species, with juveniles and females generally being the most affordable and terminal males the most expensive. However, the cost of each species is determined by a combination of factors beyond just supply and demand. The logistics of collection, transit, and shipping play significant roles. Some species are found only in remote locations at considerable depths, complicating their collection. Others inhabit depths beyond the reach of traditional scuba gear, necessitating the use of a rebreather diver, which limits the number of capable collectors globally. Such wrasses are often labeled as rare in the trade—not necessarily because they are scarce in their natural habitats but due to the challenges and costs associated with collecting them. Consequently, the prices for these species can reach or exceed four figures, reflecting the skill, risk, and difficulty involved in their collection.

About Anampses

Commonly known as “Tamarin” wrasses, species within this genus are not recommended for novice aquarists. Although they can be robust once acclimated, the process is often challenging. They are particularly prone to stress during transit and frequently suffer from poor shipping outcomes, especially the males. They are also susceptible to mouth injuries post-collection. If considering a purchase from this genus, carefully inspect the specimen’s mouth for injuries and ensure it is eating prepared foods. Anampses wrasses require a sand bed for burrowing at night or when startled. They straddle the line between categories 1 and 2 for reef-safeness, with larger males leaning closer to category 2, while smaller species and females are generally considered category 1.

About Cirrhilabrus

Often referred to as the crown jewel among wrasses, the “Fairy” wrasses of this genus are beautiful, peaceful, and intelligent, typically exhibiting great personality. They are generally hardy, although like most wrasses, they are prone to stress during shipping. This concern is minimal as long as they are introduced into a compatible system. Cirrhilabrus wrasses adapt well to prepared foods and are eager feeders. Any refusal to eat should raise immediate health concerns. This genus exhibits a high degree of sexual dichromatism, with females likely transitioning to males when kept with other Cirrhilabrus, regardless of species. They do not require a sand bed as they sleep in rockwork encased in a mucus cocoon. They are solidly category 1 for reef-safeness.

About Halichoeres

This large genus includes over 75 species, though only a selection are commonly available in the trade. Many Halichoeres species fall into category 2 of reef-safeness, posing minimal risk to invertebrates if fed properly. However, larger species, typically those over 7 inches in length, may fall into category 3 as they tend to consume invertebrates. This genus readily accepts prepared foods and spends much of its time foraging among the rockwork and sand, helping control pests. A sand bed is essential for these wrasses, as they bury themselves at night or when stressed. They span categories 2 and 3 in terms of reef-safeness.

About Labroides

I’m hesitant to recommend the Labroides genus, commonly known as “cleaner” wrasses. In their natural habitat, they play a crucial role by removing dead scales and tissue from other reef fish and primarily feeding off their slime coats. However, sustaining them in captivity proves challenging since a diet of prepared foods often fails to meet their nutritional needs. In smaller systems, they may excessively harass other tank mates for cleanings, leading to stress. While there are success stories of keeping cleaner wrasses long-term, these are the exception rather than the rule, with many more attempts ending in failure. It’s generally advisable to avoid adding them to your aquarium. They are considered category 1 for reef-safeness, assuming they are true members of this genus, though misidentification is common with some wrasses sold as “cleaners.”

About Macropharyngodon

Known as “Leopard” wrasses, this genus is notably delicate and exceptionally prone to stress related to shipping and collection. Not suitable for novice aquarists, they often struggle to adapt to prepared diets. When purchasing, ensure the specimens are not only accepting but actually consuming prepared foods, as they may initially spit them out. Despite appearing healthy and eating well, they are sensitive to changes and may hide in the sand bed for extended periods after being moved to a new system. It’s crucial not to disturb them during this adjustment phase. A sand bed is essential for their well-being as they bury themselves at night or when frightened. They are category 1 in terms of reef-safeness.

About Paracheilinus

The “Flasher” wrasses are a vibrant and active genus, somewhat akin to Cirrhilabrus but smaller in size. The males are known for their dramatic “flashing” displays during territorial or courtship behaviors, where they erect their fins and intensify their coloration. This genus generally adapts well to captivity, handling shipping stress adequately if they are going to a suitable system. They are eager feeders and readily accept prepared foods. The visual distinction between males and females is significant, with females rarely collected due to their less vibrant colors. This genus does not require a sand bed, as they rest within the rockwork in a mucus cocoon. They are category 1 for reef-safeness.

About Pseudocheilinus

This genus, which includes the “Lined” wrasses like the Sixline and Fourline, and the Mystery Wrasse, is known for its aggressive behavior towards new additions once established, often making them incompatible with other wrasses. Although they might be challenging for community tanks, they excel in frag tanks or smaller systems where their pest-hunting abilities can be beneficial. Despite their confrontational nature, they tend to be shy around observers. They do not require a sand bed, as they will sleep within the rockwork in a mucus cocoon. They are category 2 in terms of reef-safeness.

About Pseudocheilinops

The Pseudocheilinops genus includes only the pink streak wrasse, P. ataenia. Unlike its close relatives in the Pseudocheilinus genus, this species is remarkably peaceful and suitable for smaller systems ranging from 20 to 30 gallons. Although sometimes shy, they do not require a sand bed, preferring to rest within the rockwork in a mucus cocoon. They are category 1 in terms of reef-safeness, making them a gentle addition to many community tanks.

About Pseudojuloides

Known as the “pencil” wrasses, this genus is delicate but can become hardy once acclimated to a stable environment. It’s crucial to confirm that they are actively eating before purchase to increase the likelihood of successful integration into your aquarium. The care required for Pseudojuloides is somewhat more demanding than that for the Macropharyngodon (leopard) genus, making it less suitable for novice aquarists. These wrasses are very active and require frequent feedings. They are generally passive and do not fare well with more aggressive wrasse species. Interestingly, transitional males in this genus are prone to reverting to females when a more dominant wrasse is present. A sand bed is essential for this genus, as they tend to bury themselves at night or when startled. They are considered category 1 for reef-safeness.

About Wetmorella

The “Possum” wrasses, belonging to the Wetmorella genus, are shy and docile, often appearing cryptic within an aquarium setting. They typically do not grow larger than three inches, making them perfect for smaller, around 30-gallon cube systems. These wrasses are slow eaters, typically grazing for pods throughout the day. It is imperative to pair them with compatible tank mates, as any bullying can quickly lead to their decline. Unlike some other genera, Wetmorella species do not require a sand bed for burrowing; instead, they prefer to sleep within the crevices of rockwork, encased in a mucus cocoon. They are categorized as reef-safe under category 1.

About Popular Species Available in the USA


  • A. caeruleopunctatus (Blue Spotted Tamarin): Occasionally available and affordable. Grows to a large size (16″), with mature adults appearing very different from the juveniles.
  • A. chrysocephalus (Red Tail Tamarin – female) / Psych-Head Tamarin (male): This is likely the most popular species of the genus, with females adapting better to captivity.
  • A. femininus (Blue-Striped Tamarin): Rarely available and stunningly beautiful, commanding a high price.
  • A. lennardi (Lennardi Wrasse): Nearly as beautiful as A. femininus, preferring cooler water and not faring well above 76°F. Long-term success is rare.
  • A. meleagrides (Yellow-tail Tamarin): Similar to the Red-Tail Tamarin but with a yellow tail.
  • A. neoguinaicus (Black-Backed Tamarin): Rarely available due to poor shipping performance. A great addition when found in good health.
  • A. twistii (Yellow-Breasted Tamarin): Often available and affordable. Generally mild but can be more aggressive than other species.


  • C. adornatus (Adorned Fairy): Generally available, not too expensive but often aggressive towards other Cirrhilabrus.
  • C. aurantidorsalis (Orange-Backed Fairy): Features very saturated colors. Not too expensive but can experience color fading in captivity.
  • C. balteatus (Girdled Fairy): Moderately priced and somewhat rare in the trade. Mostly peaceful.
  • C. bathiphilus (Hooded Fairy): Expensive and beautiful, available in three regional variants. Can become somewhat aggressive.
  • C. beauperryi (Beau’s Fairy): Somewhat rare and prone to color fading. Generally peaceful.
  • C. claire (Clair’s Fairy): Extremely expensive and rare, known only from the Cook Islands with a variant in Tahiti. Peaceful.
  • C. condei (Conde’s Fairy): Often available and inexpensive but usually very aggressive.
  • C. cyanopleura (Blue-Sided Fairy): Larger species with significant regional color variation. Generally peaceful.
  • C. earlei (Earl’s Fairy): Very expensive and rarely available due to remote collection sites. Peaceful.
  • C. exquisitus (Exquisite Fairy): Commonly available and affordable with wide color variation. Peaceful.
  • C. filamentosus (Whip-Fin Fairy): Affordable and commonly available but one of the more aggressive in the genus.
  • C. flavidorsalis (Yellow-fin Fairy): Small and affordable, generally not overly aggressive.
  • C. isosceles (Pintail Fairy): Once rare, now more regularly available from the northern Philippines. Moderately expensive and very peaceful.
  • C. joanallenae (Joan’s Fairy): Sometimes available and affordable, can be aggressive.
  • C. johnsoni (Johnson’s Fairy): Sometimes available and expensive due to remote collection areas. Known for fantastic displays when flashing. Peaceful.
  • C. jordani (Flame Wrasse): Vibrant coloration in both males and females, somewhat aggressive when well established.
  • C. katherinae (Katherine’s Fairy): Rarely available and somewhat expensive, sharing traits with C. balteatus.
  • C. katoi (Kato’s Fairy): Recently discovered in the northern Philippines and now moderately available. Moderately expensive and aggressive.
  • C. laboutei (Labout’s Fairy): Occasionally available, expensive, and beautiful. Peaceful when young, can become aggressive with maturity.
  • C. lineatus (Lineatus Fairy): Occasionally available and expensive. Peaceful except with C. rubrimarginatus.
  • C. lubbocki (Lubbock’s Fairy): Often available and affordable. While generally not overly aggressive, it stands its ground well.
  • C. lunatus (Lunate Fairy): Rarely available and expensive, often shy. Several regional variants exist.
  • C. luteovittatus (Velvet Multicolor Fairy): Larger species that can adapt to bright lighting. Usually peaceful.
  • C. marjorie (Marjorie’s Fairy): Small and somewhat expensive. Generally not overly aggressive.
  • C. melanomarginatus (Black Fin Fairy): Sometimes available, somewhat expensive. Very close to C. scottorum and nearly as aggressive.
  • C. nahackyi (Nahacky’s Fairy): Somewhat rare and expensive. Can be somewhat aggressive.
  • C. naokoae (Naoko’s Fairy): Occasionally available and rather expensive. Can be quite aggressive.
  • C. punctatus (Fine-Spotted Fairy): Somewhat rare and prone to color fading. Usually peaceful.
  • C. pylei (Pyle’s Fairy): Often available and moderately priced. Almost always aggressive with other Cirrhilabrus.
  • C. rhomboidalis (Golden Rhomboid Fairy): Occasionally available and expensive. Stunningly beautiful and generally peaceful.
  • C. roseafascia (Rose-Banded Fairy): Sometimes available and somewhat expensive. Very aggressive with other Cirrhilabrus.
  • C. rubrimarginatus (Pink Margin Fairy): Occasionally available and somewhat expensive. Peaceful except with C. lineatus.
  • C. rubripinnis (Red-fin Fairy): Often available and affordable. Mildly aggressive.
  • C. rubrisquamis (Red Velvet Fairy): Often available and somewhat expensive. Aggressive, best kept without other passive/peaceful wrasses.
  • C. rubriventralis (Long-fin Fairy): Often available and affordable. Sometimes aggressive.
  • C. scottorum (Scott’s Fairy): Occasionally available and somewhat expensive. Most aggressive of the genus.
  • C. solorensis (Red-Headed Solon Fairy): Commonly available and inexpensive. Generally aggressive.
  • C. temminckii (Temminck’s Fairy): Sometimes available and somewhat inexpensive. Moderately aggressive.
  • C. tonozukai (Tonozukai’s Fairy): Similar body shape to C. filamentosus but different in color. Sometimes available and not too expensive. More peaceful than C. filamentosus.


  • H. biocellatus (Red-Lined Wrasse): Commonly available and inexpensive. Small and mild in temperament. A top choice for reef tanks.
  • H. claudia (Christmas Wrasse): Often available and inexpensive. Very peaceful and usually does not bother invertebrates. Often confused with H. ornatissimus.
  • H. chloropterus (Green Coris Wrasse): Misleading common name; turns drab olive green-gray as it matures. Can become feisty with a diet that includes many motile inverts.
  • H. chrysus (Canary Wrasse): Commonly available and inexpensive. Very peaceful and rarely bothers invertebrates. Males develop sunset-like stripes on the face with maturity.
  • H. cosmetus (Adorned Wrasse): Sporadically available and affordable. Small and mild in temperament.
  • H. iridis (Radiant Wrasse): Commonly available and rather inexpensive. Features sharp contrast in color.
  • H. lecoxanthus (Yellow and Purple Wrasse): Usually available and inexpensive. Similar behavior to H. chrysus but with a white to pale purple belly.
  • H. marginatus (Dusky Wrasse): Usually available and affordable. Larger species suitable for some reefs. Somewhat mild but may target motile inverts as an adult.
  • H. melanurus (Melanurus Wrasse): Usually available and relatively inexpensive. May occasionally target snails and/or crabs.
  • H. melasmapomus (Earmuff Wrasse): Occasionally available and somewhat expensive. Mostly mild in temperament.
  • H. ornatissimus (Ornate Wrasse): Commonly available and inexpensive. Larger and can become somewhat mean once mature. Loves motile inverts.
  • H. richmondi (Richmond’s Wrasse): Sometimes available, somewhat affordable. Similar to melanurus but with a different head shape and predominantly blue/green coloration.
  • H. rubricephalus (Red-Head Wrasse): Occasionally available, expensive. Gorgeous but delicate. The characteristic red head is prone to fading without a conspecific female.
  • H. trispilus (Three-Spot Wrasse): Sometimes available, somewhat affordable. Similar behavior to melanurus.


  • M. bipartitus (Blue Star Leopard Wrasse): Usually available and moderately priced. One of the more popular and hardy species of the genus.
  • M. choati (Choat’s Wrasse): The crown jewel of the leopard wrasses but also the most delicate and toughest to keep. Rarely available and very expensive.
  • M. geoffroy (Potter’s Wrasse): Sometimes available, moderately priced. Extremely delicate with about a 50/50 chance of success.
  • M. kuiteri (Kuiter’s Wrasse): Rarely available, somewhat expensive. Delicate shipper but quite hardy once established.
  • M. meleagris (Leopard Wrasse): Usually available, moderately priced. One of the more popular and hardy species of the genus.
  • M. negrosensis (Black-Spotted Leopard Wrasse): Sometimes available, moderately priced.
  • M. ornatus (Ornate Leopard Wrasse): Usually available, moderately priced. Males easily distinguishable from females.


  • P. angulatus (Royal Flasher): Occasionally available, somewhat affordable. Similar behavior and appearance to P. filamentosus but with a straight dorsal fin.
  • P. attenuatus (Diamond Tail Flasher): Sometimes available, somewhat expensive. Found near Kenya.
  • P. carpenteri (Carpenter’s Flasher): Usually available, moderately priced. Known as the “Pink Flasher” due to the coloration of its anal fin.
  • P. cyaneus (Blue Flasher): Commonly available and inexpensive. Distinguishable by its swept tail.
  • P. filamentosus (Filamented Flasher): Commonly available and affordable. Noted for its many dorsal fin filaments and swept tail.
  • P. flavianalis (Yellow-Fin Flasher): Usually available and inexpensive. Noted for its yellow anal fin.
  • P. lineopunctatus (Line-Spot Flasher): Commonly available and inexpensive. Distinguishable by its flat tail.
  • P. mccoskeri (McCosker’s Flasher): Commonly available and inexpensive. Noted for its red anal fin.
  • P. octotaenia (Eight-lined Flasher): Occasionally available, somewhat expensive. Larger and feistier than most in the genus.
  • P. rubricaudalis (Red-Tail Flasher): Sometimes available, expensive. Noted for its red tail and dorsal fin.


  • P. ataenia (Pink-Streaked Wrasse): Sometimes available and affordable. Very passive and suitable for peaceful community tanks.


  • P. evanidus (Pin-Striped Wrasse): Sometimes available and affordable. The most shy of the genus.
  • P. hexataenia (Sixline Wrasse): Commonly available and inexpensive. Known for its assertiveness.
  • P. ocellatus (Mystery Wrasse): Often available, somewhat expensive. Prone to targeting shrimp.
  • P. octotaenia (Eightline Wrasse): Sometimes available and affordable. May target shrimp and crabs.
  • P. tetrataenia (Fourline Wrasse): Often available, affordable. Similar to a sixline in both coloration and behavior.


  • P. atavai (Polynesian Pencil): Rarely available and very expensive. Both males and females are striking but different in appearance.
  • P. cerasinus (Small Tail Pencil): Hawaiian endemic and the most popular species of the genus. Males are green with black/blue accents; females are mostly pink.
  • P. kaleidos (Kaleido’s Pencil): Occasionally available, generally affordable. Similar in appearance to P. cerasinus but with slightly different markings.
  • P. severnsi (Royal Pencil): Colorful but challenging to establish. Best purchased locally and confirmed to be eating.


  • W. albofasciata (White Banded Possum Wrasse): Commonly available and inexpensive. Somewhat shy and peaceful.
  • W. nigropinnata (Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse): Commonly available and inexpensive. Somewhat shy and peaceful.
  • W. tanakai (Tanaka’s Possum Wrasse): Sometimes available, a bit more expensive but still affordable. Peaceful.

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