Richmond’s Wrasse Care Guide

Scientific NameHalichoeres richmondi
Minimum Tank Size90 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

Richmond’s Wrasse is essentially a giant version of the Melanurus Wrasse with different colors. They are mostly peaceful fish with fantastic colors and a lot of personality. Their peaceful, almost skittish personality usually sticks with them into adult hood, making the large wrasse amusing to watch around other big fish.

While females are a light green with orange stripe, the prized colorful male Richmond’s Wrasse will have a brown body with bright cyan stripes running from their mouth to tail fin. The ends of their fins are blue, giving the wrasse a highlighted look.

Due to their large size there are some drawbacks when adding this wrasse to a mature tank. For new tanks there will not be many issues if the tank is set up with the wrasse in mind.

Is Richmond’s Wrasse Reef Safe?

This wrasse is somewhat reef safe while young and with extreme caution after maturing. As males can get 8 inches long, the Richmond’s Wrasse is fairly large and can easily eat many smaller inverts. Any type of worm should not be kept with them and smaller shrimp should be avoided as well.

While the Richmond’s Wrasse is still a juvenile they should not harm any shrimp or crab that is over one inch. As they grow worms will be in increasingly more danger. Feather duster worms and flat worms should not be kept with Richmond’s Wrasse as they will certainly be eaten at some point in time.

Additionally this wrasse is not as gentle when picking pests off corals. Softer corals could be harmed or even torn, however they will not directly eat corals. Still this act can be devastating to many coral displays, making the Richmond’s Wrasse a poor choice for those who keep anything but hard corals.

Their strong bites and large size do make quick work of pests that find their way into the home aquarium. While hitchhiking crabs can cause a lot of issues in most tanks the Richmond’s Wrasse should make short work of them, eating any under sized invert they find. A great trait for aquarists who want only what they add to be in their tank.

Richmond’s Wrasse Diet

The Richmond’s Wrasse is quick to eat and will accept most foods offered to the aquarium. Despite being carnivorous they will eat chunks of seaweed that other fish have torn off, but will not eat seaweed directly. A balanced diet for the Richmond’s Wrasse would include:

  • Frozen Mysis Shrimp
  • Vitamin Enriched Brine Shrimp
  • Cut Table Shrimp
  • Prepared foods
  • Seaweed
  • Chopped Squid
  • Blood worms
  • Black Worms

Unlike most wrasse the Richmond’s Wrasse has its mouth at the bottom of their face and does well with quick sinking food. That being said they will do well with any foods other than food floating on the waters surface. Sinking pellets or wet flakes are good options when it comes to prepared foods. Any food that finds its way to the bottom of the tank or that gets stuck on the rocks will be quickly found by this wrasse.

Keeping the Richmond’s Wrasse well fed is not too difficult. Most wrasse will have trouble keeping food and need three or four meals a day. This wrasse should be fed Three Times a day but is less prone to malnutrition when fed only twice a day.

When adding another feeding time to an existing tank it is important to distribute how much food was previously fed over each meal plus the new food. This makes it easier to feed the Richmond’s Wrasse three times a day without over feeding the tank. Wrasse are quick eaters and should not have trouble competing for food. Only aggressive fish who chase away the wrasse would cause issues during feeding time.

If the Richmond’s Wrasse is not eating you can try offering live baby brine shrimp to the tank. These free swimming shrimp are quick to get the attention of fish, especially wrasse who are used to hunting small inverts on any surface. If you are keeping a large amount of baby brine shrimp to feed over time you should feed the shrimp more nutritious foods. These nutrients are passed on to the fish who eat them.

Richmond’s Wrasse Tank Requirements

The Richmond’s Wrasse brings a few troublesome requirements along with them. They are members of the Halichoeres family and will burrow under the sand at night. Due to their large size at least three inches of sand should be available in the tank. For large tanks this can be a massive amount of sand which is not cheap. If the wrasse is seen swimming at night and refuses to burrow there is either not enough space, not enough sand or they are generally stressed.

If the wrasse is not found do not dig around in the sand to find them. They do not bury themselves when sick and digging them up will cause a severe amount of stress.

Introducing the Richmond’s Wrasse into a mature tank with a deep sand bed can also cause issues. Sand that does not have anything in the tank to aerate it, such as nassarius snails and various cucumbers, can have a lot of toxins held inside the sand. When the Richmond’s Wrasse dives into the sand they can release these toxins into the tank, spiking the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in the tank. While the beneficial bacteria in the tank will generally eat these toxins and convert them into less harmful materials, such sudden spikes are far too strong for the bacteria. Water changes should be common to avoid any sickness.

Additionally the Richmond’s Wrasse digs sideways and often under rocks when burrowing. This can cause rocks to shift, causing all sorts of issues in the tank. Corals or rocks can fall and fish can get trapped. Securing rocks together with adhesive or zip ties is essential when something in the tank is able to shift the rocks around.

The Richmond’s Wrasse is generally sold over an inch in length and is less of an escape hazard than other wrasse. They will also develop a much taller body and cannot fit through a lot of the more common holes in the tank. Things like overflow boxes and cut outs in the lid should be covered when they are young. Once they grow older and larger there is very little risk of jumping out through any mid sized holes.

Richmond’s Wrasse Tank Mates

Even though they are large the Richmond’s Wrasse is not aggressive. They will even be fine with other wrasse in most cases. If you happen to have a more aggressive one or smaller tank then you should avoid a second Richmond’s Wrasse or similarly colored wrasse like the Melanurus. Generally good tank mates are:

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

The Richmond’s Wrasse can chase other fish away when they are looking for a spot to sleep. Other than that they are far more likely to be bullied than harass other fish themselves. Aggressive fish should be avoided. Smaller semi aggressive fish will do fine with this wrasse.

Fish who create burrows, like jawfish or a paired watchman goby and pistol shrimp should also be avoided. The Richmond’s Wrasse burrows quickly and without much care for existing burrows. They can easily destroy a burrow that another fish has been working on for days. If this happens the jawfish/pistol shrimp may stop making burrows all together.

Unlike other wrasse that need to be kept with caution around eels, the Richmond’s Wrasse is far too big to be threatened by small or mid sized eels. Additionally they do not spend too much time inside the rock work and do not sleep inside the rocks, making them much less vulnerable to eels. Combine this with the eels habit of eating clean up crew members and the Richmond’s becomes an attractive option for those who keep eels and need more pest control.

Richmond’s Wrasse Gender

This wrasse is fairly easy to sex as they have a dramatic color change as they mature and shift into a male. Females and juveniles will have a thin pale green body with orange stripes. They are nearly identical to Melanurus Wrasse while young.

As the Richmond’s Wrasse ages and shifts into a male it begins to develop its larger forehead and darker colors. These colors are a brown base with cyan stripes. They will have a few green areas around their head and fins. These colors will become more saturated as the wrasse matures and may fade when they become stressed.

Richmond’s Wrasse start their lives as a female. In the wild they will change to a transitional male, which is a male that is much more passive and has subdued colors, when surrounded by both male and female wrasse. As they age and become more competitive the transitional male may become a super male, which is a complete transformation into the bright colors the Richmond’s Wrasse is known for. They will compete with other super males when mating and may chase one another out of the group of wrasse.

In the home aquarium the Richmond’s Wrasse will always change to a male, only slightly slowing down the process around other males. Even paired and spawning females will change to male. If you plan on keeping more than one Richmond’s Wrasse in an aquarium you should have a second aquarium ready to accept a wrasse. As they age the once paired fish may begin fighting.

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