Yellow Wrasse

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

The Yellow Wrasse is one of the easiest to spot wrasses kept in the home aquarium. Instead of having stripes, different colored sections or flaring fins, the Yellow Wrasse is noteworthy thanks to its simple, bright yellow body. Other than their blue eyes, black spot on the front of their dorsal fin and reddish tail they are entirely yellow.

They are a calm fish, causing no issues to any fish bigger than three inches. Fish under three inches in length may see some aggression, but should be in no danger from the Yellow Wrasse. Overall they are a great, easy to keep mid sized wrasse who will help keep the tank pest free.

Is the Yellow Wrasse Reef Safe?

This is up for debate but I would say they are not reef safe. They have a larger mouth than many of their relatives in the Halichoeres family and will often eat any invert that is not large. Even small Coral Banded Shrimp are in danger of being eaten, as the Yellow Wrasse can continually harass them until they lose their big, defensive claws. Shelled inverts like hermits and snails may be safe, but this is wrasse dependent. Feather dusters are also in danger as the Yellow Wrasse loves to hunt worms and pests.

The Yellow Wrasse should not be harassing inverts while young. It is only when they get larger that they get more aggressive and start hunting larger inverts. The more well fed the wrasse the less aggression inverts will see.

This does make the Yellow Wrasse great for coral tanks. Fireworms, flatworms, tubeworms, amphipods, pyramid snails and parasites on other fish are all targets of the Yellow Wrasse. They will not pull at corals or steal food from them but they will eat all the pests that are drawn to corals.

These two things combined make the Yellow Wrasse a good addition to tanks with other fish that restrict your clean up crew. While the Yellow Wrasse will not be able to get as many of the small things as shrimp and crabs can, so a protein skimmer is recommended to go along with these guys.

Yellow Wrasse Diet

Apart from hunting things in the tank, the Yellow Wrasse Diet should consist of:

  • Cut shrimp
  • Frozen mysis or brine shrimp
  • Black or Blood worms
  • Seaweed|Nori
  • Prepared foods|Pellets and flake

The Yellow Wrasse is very quick when it comes to feeding time and can out compete slower fish for food. They generally will stop eating after a certain point as they cannot hold much food in their stomachs, making them a decent partner for slow feeding fish.

The issue with wrasse is their small stomachs and active life styles. The Yellow Wrasse will want to eat no less than three times a day and will have trouble sustaining itself off two meals a day. If your tank has plenty of pests, pods or small shrimp running around the tank you may get away with two feedings. The majority of tanks will need to feed them three times to keep them healthy and colorful.

When keeping the Yellow Wrasse with other fast fish three meals a day may result in over feeding. Try to spread out the food so that you can feed the tank less per meal while still ensuring the wrasse gets a good fill of food each meal. The spread out food should reduce how much other fish get per meal, letting you feed them less food but more often. The result should be no change in over all food for the other fish while the wrasse stays happy with three meals a day.

Yellow Wrasse Tank Mates

The Yellow Wrasse is one of the easier fish to pair in the tank. They are not aggressive, are not bullied by semi aggressive fish under four inches once they are matured and will even tolerate being with other non aggressive wrasse. Even other members of the Halichoeres are fine with the Yellow Wrasse, only occasionally developing issues with each other after they are years old. Typically the older the fish the more aggressive they will be.

The main fish you should avoid would be large aggressive fish or semi aggressive fish who do not like yellow fish. This would be things like yellow anglefish, Banana Wrasse and lemon tangs. Likewise some small fish that are highly aggressive with sill bully the much larger Yellow Wrasse. Keep Damselfish, neon dottybacks and flame cardinals out of the tank.

Additionally any fish that depend on copepods, such as dragonets, should not be kept with the Yellow Wrasse. Even when well fed the wrasse will eat a large amount of copepods. Combine this with a dragonet and the pod population will be nearly wiped out, resulting in a starving dragonet.

Yellow Wrasse Tank Requirements

The Yellow Wrasse needs a sand bed of no less than one and a half inches, or two inch mounds of sand placed sporadically around the tank. These will often occur with strong powerheads and caverns created by rocks. The sand bed serves as a home for the Yellow Wrasse. At night time they will seek an open pile of sand to burrow into for the night. They do this very quickly, so catching them in the act is difficult.

If you cannot find the Yellow Wrasse do not dig around looking for them. They will only stay in the sand bed to sleep or to seek shelter when they do not feel safe. Digging them up will only stress them out further.

Sand should not be abrasive. Gravel is also not an acceptable substrate. When picking out sand try to stay under 5mm in grain size. Rough sand or gravel will scratch the Yellow Wrasse leaving them prone to sickness and stressing them out. A bare bottom tank is preferable to dangerous sand.

Younger Yellow Wrasse will only need an inch of sand to burrow in however you should be prepared for them to become adults. Adding sand to an existing tank is a huge hassle and not worth saving a little bit of money on the start up cost.

While the Yellow Wrasse is young you will need to cover any small openings in the tanks lid. They are very slender fish and can fit through small openings left by power cords or filtration tubes. Once they are bigger this is less of a concern.

Yellow Wrasse Breeding

The Yellow Wrasse is not bred in the home aquarium. Many aquarists think otherwise but this is more of a mix up than wrong information. The Yellow Coris Wrasse breeds in captivity, but they are not the same fish. Coris are two inches bigger with Even many sellers will call Yellow Wrasse coris even though they are easy to tell apart by the spots on their dorsal fin.

Unlike a lot of wrasse the Yellow Wrasse will not have dramatic color changes when becoming male. Young Yellow Wrasse, which always start as female, will show a bright yellow color. This makes it impossible to tell the difference in gender just by looking at the fish. Assume any young Yellow Wrasse is female and any older one is male. I say this because all captive wrasse will eventually become male so even if both are female one will eventually become male. Usually the older one.

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