Banana Wrasse Care Guide

Banana Wrasse
Picture credit to Zsispeo on Flickr
Scientific NameThalassoma lutescens
Minimum Tank Size125 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

The Banana Wrasse is one of the bigger wrasse kept in the aquarium. They will frequently come in over a foot long and have an aggressive personality. While they do not actively harass other fish, they do not let more meek fish stand in their way while exploring the tank. Small new editions to the tank are likely to be harassed if not outright eaten. If you plan on picking up this fish make sure they are the last edition to the tank.

They originate from the Indo-Pacific ocean and enjoy living in lagoons and shallow reefs. The Banana Wrasse is not reef safe. They may pick at corals, are aggressive swimmers who can knock over non encrusted corals and will eat just about any invert in the tank. Even larger shelled inverts can be hit against the rocks until there are edible pieces for the banana wrasse. Do not consider them if you want to have any invert in the tank.

Despite the title of the video this is a Banana Wrasse, not the Moon Wrasse.

All of the aggression aside, these are beautiful fish that are easy to care for. The Banana Wrasse is relatively cheap for their size and are a very hardy fish. Their aggressive nature makes them very active feeders, often being the first fish to start eating. As a wrasse they will need to be fed at least three times a day. More on this in the feeding section.

Is the Banana Wrasse Reef Safe?

As stated above the Banana Wrasse is not reef safe. They are highly aggressive towards all inverts and will eat just about anything in a shell. They can pick at corals and knock corals down without much effort. The only corals they could be kept with are established corals that are firmly mounted in place. Keeping them with soft or young coral is a complete gamble.

The good news is they will not be as likely to pick at corals when fed three or more times a day.

Banana Wrasse
Photo credit to Dr. Scott Mills on flickr

Feeding the Banana Wrasse

So why is there so much emphasis on feeding this wrasse three or more times a day? Despite their large size they are still wrasse. Wrasse are extremely active fish and have a short digestive track. This means they will eat frequently but not large amounts, leaving them hungry a few hours after each meal. When they are hungry the Banana Wrasse will start hunting for anything they can eat, including pods and small bits of food held onto by corals. Even if they do not eat any part of the coral, taking food from them will stress and starve the coral.

A Banana Wrasses diet should include

  • Frozen Mysis Shrimp
  • Chopped silverside
  • Cut table shrimp
  • Prepared foods, both flake and pellet

The important thing when feeding fish is to vary their diet. Even the most voracious eaters will get sick if they are only fed the same thing for years. Simply swapping between two or three prepared foods can be enough of a variety, but you should try to mix in some fresher, meaty foods like mysis shrimp or enriched brine shrimp every now and then. They are not picky eaters, so swapping out their foods should not be difficult what so ever.

When feeding a tank with the Banana Wrasse you need to observe how they interact with other fish. If the Banana Wrasse is dominating the tank and making others afraid to eat near them you should feed multiple places at the same time. Food on both sides of the tank, as well as floating and singing food at the the same time will make it impossible for the Banana Wrasse to deny the other fish food.

You can try to offer the Banana Wrasse nori/seaweed but I have never seen them eat it. Other wrasse will accept it. In the wild they will feed on crabs, sea stars, urchins and shrimp. They will also hunt worms and prey on small fish, fry and eggs.

Banana Wrasse Tank Requirements

Wrasse are constantly swimming across the entire tank and with the Banana Wrasse being so big they will need a long tank with open space. 125 gallons is the minimum size these wrasse should be allowed, with longer tanks being more important than tall ones. They enjoy lots of rocks they can hide behind. These rocks should go about half way up the tank, leaving plenty of open space above the rocks. This creates the free swimming zone for larger fish.

Wrasse will live anywhere between three and 100 feet below the oceans surface. They are not used to being close to the waters surface and will swim vertically as much as horizontally when they are not used to the tank. This makes them frequent jumpers, even when they are not scared. Thankfully they are large fish and cannot escape through small holes. Any holes that they can fit through should be covered. Even if the hole is only small enough for their head they can get through so it is better to be safe than sorry and just cover every hole you have. Commonly missed holes in the tank are cutouts around the filters tubes and powerheads power cords.

Banana Wrasse Tank Mates

The Banana Wrasse has a few qualifiers for tank mates. Tank Mates to avoid:

  • Yellow Fish
  • Small, peaceful fish
  • Slow swimming fish
  • Slow eating fish

The ideal tank mate would be a semi aggressive fish who will not be bullied and can easily feed along side the Banana Wrasse. Yellow fish should always be avoided, even if they do not resemble a wrasse. Female Banana Wrasse are entirely yellow, so a male will chase around any yellow fish they see.

Other wrasse should be avoided, as these guys are not peaceful and will chase and bump into other wrasse. Even large 300 gallon tanks are not enough space to guarantee two wrasse types when the Banana is involved.

As the Banana Wrasse is so aggressive you will likely want to add them to the tank last. New fish will have an extremely difficult time getting settled around this wrasse.

Inverts will not survive with the Banana Wrasse. They will often eat anything even clams, bristle worms and feather dusters. This can be a good thing to keep pests out of the tank, but it will limit what you can put in your aquarium.

Breeding & Gender

Finding the Banana Wrasses gender is very easy. Males will have the blue stripe behind their face/gills and the green lines around their body. Females will be entirely yellow with light green lines.

Wrasse begin their lives as female, changing to male as they age and when they are not being dominated by another male. Banana Wrasse kept in the aquarium will always become male sooner or later, even when kept with other male wrasse. This makes it extremely difficult to have two of them in the same tank.

At the time of this writing they have not been bred in the home aquarium. Their breeding process has the two swim upwards to the waters surface, releasing both eggs and sperm as they quickly turn back into the water.

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