Species NameLabridae
Common NameWrasse
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan5 to 7 years (depends on species)
Adult Size2 to 16 inches (depending on species)
DietCarnivorous (primarily)
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons (varies based on species)
Temperature72-78°F (22-26°C)
Water ConditionsdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025

About the Wrasse

Wrasses are a diverse family of marine fish belonging to the Labridae family. Comprising over 600 species, wrasses are popular in the aquarium trade due to their striking colors, captivating behavior, and overall resilience. They inhabit a wide range of marine environments, from shallow tidal pools to deeper offshore reefs. One notable characteristic of many wrasses is their tendency to bury in the sand when threatened or during nighttime.

Different wrasse species exhibit a vast array of colors and patterns, with some even undergoing significant color changes as they transition from juvenile to adult.

Wrasse Lifespan

Typically, wrasses live between 5 to 7 years in captivity, although this can vary significantly between species and based on the conditions in which they are kept. In the wild, several factors influence their lifespan, such as predation and habitat conditions. In captivity, a balanced diet, proper tank conditions, and regular health checks can ensure a long, healthy life.


The appearance of wrasses can vary significantly, but most are elongated and slightly compressed laterally. They are celebrated for their vibrant colorations, which can range from deep blues and greens to bright yellows, reds, and purples. Many species also exhibit different color patterns and markings depending on their life stage and gender. This variability in appearance is one of the reasons they’re such a favorite among marine aquarium enthusiasts.

Average Size

Depending on the species, wrasses can range from a petite 2 inches to a substantial 16 inches in length when fully grown. With such a vast array of species within the Labridae family, it’s crucial to research the specific wrasse species you’re interested in to ensure you can cater to its size requirements as it matures.

Wrasse Care

Tank Size

For the smaller wrasse species, a minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended, but larger species will require more spacious accommodations. Given their active nature and territorial behavior, it’s essential to provide ample space for them to roam, establish territories, and express natural behaviors.

How To Set Up Their Tank

Wrasses benefit from a tank setup that mimics their natural habitat. Incorporate live rocks and a sandy substrate, as many species like to bury themselves in the sand. Provide hiding spots and caves, ensuring they have places to retreat and feel secure. If you have a cleaner wrasse, consider adding cleaning stations where they can perform their unique role of removing parasites from other fish.

Lighting Requirements

Wrasses aren’t particularly demanding when it comes to lighting, but if housed with coral or other photosynthetic organisms, ensure the lighting meets the requirements of those inhabitants.


A pH level between 8.1 and 8.4 is suitable for most wrasses. Monitoring and maintaining consistent pH levels will contribute to their overall well-being.


A consistent temperature between 72°F and 78°F (22°C to 26°C) is ideal for wrasses. Any sudden fluctuations should be avoided, as it can stress the fish.

Water Parameters

A water hardness (dKH) of 8-12 is recommended, and the specific gravity should remain between 1.020 and 1.025. Regular water changes, combined with the use of high-quality marine salts, can aid in maintaining these parameters.

Disease Potential

Wrasses, like all marine fish, are susceptible to common aquatic diseases such as marine ich or external parasites. Quarantine new additions and maintain excellent water quality to reduce disease potential. Additionally, a proper diet can help in boosting their immunity.

Food & Diet

Wrasses are primarily carnivorous, feeding on a mix of small invertebrates, crustaceans, and fish. In captivity, they should be offered a varied diet that includes high-quality marine pellets, frozen shrimp, and other protein-rich foods. Some wrasses also act as cleaners, removing parasites from other fish, but this should not be their primary food source.

Behavior and Temperament

Wrasses are generally active, displaying a mix of territorial and curious behaviors. Some species, like cleaner wrasses, have a symbiotic relationship with larger fish, offering cleaning services in exchange for food. Most wrasses are peaceful but can display aggression towards their own kind or similar-looking fish.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for wrasses, it’s crucial to consider size and temperament. Larger, aggressive fish may bully or consume smaller wrasses. Conversely, larger wrasse species may harass or eat smaller tank mates. In general, wrasses coexist well with similarly-sized peaceful or semi-aggressive fish.


Breeding wrasses in captivity is a challenging endeavor. Most wrasses have a complex life cycle, including a planktonic larval stage that requires specific conditions to survive. Furthermore, some species exhibit protogynous hermaphroditism, where they transition from female to male under certain conditions. As of now, successful captive breeding of most wrasse species remains a rare accomplishment.

Wrasse FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)