Red Lined Wrasse

Scientific NameHalichoeres biocellatus
Minimum Tank Size50 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

The Red Lined Wrasse is often considered one of the best wrasse additions to the tank. They are small but not too small, extremely colorful and are mild mannered fish that rarely disturb their tank mates. Telling their genders apart is quite easy and they are very hardy, even by a wrasses standard. Combine this with their extremely low price and you have a fantastic addition to just about any saltwater aquarium.

Is the Red Lined Wrasse Reef Safe?

The Red Lined Wrasse is mostly reef safe but can attack worms in the tank. They will prey on any existing flat worms or feather dusters eventually. Likewise this wrasse will hunt tube worms, pyramidellid snails and small shrimp They should not be disturbing any crabs, corals or adult shrimp. Small or newly added shrimp may be in trouble if the Red Lined Wrasse has reached its full size and maturity, but overall inverts should be safe when kept with the Red Lined Wrasse.

They are great defenders of corals and are quick to eat any parasites that are hiding on the rocks or even the corals themselves. This can lead some aquarium owners to think the Red Lined Wrasse is picking at their corals, but really they should just be taking pests off of them.

Additionally the Red Lined Wrasse will seek to take parasites and bugs off of other fish while the wrasse is still young. This can be seen as bullying but is usually not stressful for the other fish in the tank.

Red Lined Wrasse Diet

The Red Lined Wrasse is an easy to feed fish, however they will require three meals a day. They are unable to keep large amount of food in their stomachs and will often lose color and suffer from malnutrition when fed only twice a day. The exceptions to this would be in exceedingly large tanks in which they are the only copepod hunter.

As their mouths are located lower on their face they do not do the best with flakes left at the top of the tank. Instead pellets are a better option for prepared foods. Flakes can also be pushed into the water to begin sinking, making them more accessible to the Red Lined Wrasse.

A good diet for the Red Lined Wrasse consists of:

  • Frozen Mysis or brine shrimp
  • Prepared foods
  • Chopped shrimp
  • Nori or seaweed
  • Zooplankton
  • Copepods
  • Amphipods

Red Lined Wrasse are very quick when it comes to feeding and will almost never miss out on a meal. They do well with other fish who are quick eaters and can help more oblivious fish learn that it is feeding time. They are not recommended for tanks with slow eaters or anything that relies on a strong copepod population for survival. The only exception would be large tanks, exceeding two hundred gallons linked together with a refugium and a strong copepod population breeding in the refugium. Even then the pod population is likely to decline as the older pods are eaten and younger, unable to breed pods take their place.

The Red Lined Wrasse is great at picking up any foods that finds it way to the bottom of the tank or in any rocks crevices. Additionally they will eat any of the small crustaceans like copepods or amphipods that can be found crawling around on rocks or glass. They can get even the larger, strong amphipods that cling to rocks as the Red Lined Wrasse has a strong set of teeth on their bottom jaw. They use this to scrape any food off of rocks or coraline algae on the aquariums glass.

Red Lined Wrasse Tank Requirements

The main two things to check off before adding this wrasse to any aquarium is a deep enough sand bed for them to burrow into and a tight fitting lid on the tank. They do not need live rock in the tank but do appreciate the cover they help create. When kept in bare bottom tanks you can expect them to be much more stressed, leading to a decrease in activity and decreased coloration. A strong filtration system is also recommended, as they often increase how much food other fish in the tank eat due to their three meals required.

Members of the Halichoeres family are prone to burrowing, and the Red Lined Wrasse is no exception. They will often burrow up to four inches into the sand when they are scared or when going to sleep for the night. This gives them extra protection and helps them reserve energy that would otherwise be expended by swimming in place to sleep.

While they can burrow deep they will do just fine with a two inch deep sand bed. When they find the bottom of the tank the wrasse will start to dig sideways, only taking up just over an inch in depth. The problem with this sideways burrowing is the risk of disturbing rock structures.

Red Lined Wrasse Tankmates

Good Red Lined Wrasse tank mates are:

  • Clownfish
  • Tangs
  • Angelfish
  • Gobies
  • Basslets
  • Chromis
  • Butterflyfish
  • Surgeon fish

While they are usually a very mild temperament I would not keep the Red Lined Wrasse with other wrasse, even peaceful ones. They have a varied amount of aggression towards wrasse, making it an absolute gamble to keep them with wrasse. They may not show aggression for several months before finally deciding they cannot have the other wrasse in their home. I would only suggest keeping other wrasse in the same aquarium if there is a second aquarium nearby that is ready to accept any wrasse who may become subject to bullying.

Because of their sporadic aggression it is not recommended to keep very slow moving, peaceful fish that are easily bullied. While the Red Lined Wrasse does not usually try to actively bully fish they may pick on slow moving blennies or gobies like the scooter blenny.

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