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FAQs on Bird Wrasses: Compatibility

Related Articles: Bird Wrasses Sociable to the Point of Exuberance! The Bird Wrasses, Genus Gomphosus by Bob Fenner

FAQs on: Bird Wrasse Identification, Bird Wrasse Behavior, Bird Wrasse Stocking/Selection, Bird Wrasse Systems, Bird Wrasse Feeding, Bird Wrasse Health, Bird Wrasse Reproduction, Related FAQs: Wrasses 1, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Diseases,


Green Bird Wrasse and Lunar Wrasse Compatibility      2/23/18
Hello Bob -
I am suspecting the answer is, "no, don't do it" for either situation I am contemplating but would greatly appreciate your expert advice.
I have a 265 gallon (excluding sump volume) FOWLR set-up. Among other fish (Annularis Angel, tangs...etc.) I have a gorgeous approximately 7 inch Lunar Wrasse in this 265 set-up. I've had him a few years, where he started off as maybe 4 inches.
I am contemplating adding a 6 inch Green Bird Wrasse to this 265 gallon set-up, however, I am hesitant thinking the Lunar might go after him due to the similar colors. The Lunar (somewhat surprisingly) has not bothered any other new few fish that I've added in the past.
Note that I also have a 220 gallon set-up where I originally thought of placing a Green Bird Wrasse but my fear there is that I have a wonderful 3 inch Molly Miller Blenny, who's done a great job taking care of any Aiptasia, but who might become a meal for a Green Bird wrasse.
Your thoughts?
<I think you'd likely be fine in either tank here w/ a Gomphosus addition.
Am out currently diving in Moorea... seeing G. varius and Thalassoma species in close approximation, including all yellow Lunares. And of course there are blennies galore if you're observant>
Thank you as always,
<I'd go ahead with this fish, male or female in either tank. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Green Bird Wrasse and Lunar Wrasse Compatibility      2/24/18

Wow, thanks Bob! So glad I reached-out. Have fun in Moorea, looks like paradise there.
<Thank you John... Will kibitz further and state, I'd put an initial phase/female in your smaller system, a male in the other... place together some time later! Cheers, BobF>

Tusk fish and bird wrasse compatibility        4/4/16
Hey guys
Hope you are all well, my question is in regards to the aggressiveness of both the bird wrasse and harlequin tusk fish, both these fish will be (hopefully) the finishing touches to my 187 gallon Fowlr tank (depending on your response of course), but I have a few small inhabitants such as 2 Picasso clowns 2 Chromis a Valentini puffer and 4 Anthias all are around 3 inches max and I was wondering how compatible these two bigger fish would be with these smaller fish that I have and of course each other considering they are both in the wrasse family, I've done my reading and I'm still not 100% so I was wondering could u give me a bit of advice on whether or not to go ahead with these fish or maybe look at something else. I'd really appreciate the help guys.
<In a system this size, shape the two larger Labrids will likely get along w/ each other... However the Clowns and Anthias may be consumed in time if they're hungry. Bob Fenner>
Re: Tusk fish and bird wrasse compatibility

Thanks for the reply Bob
Do you think keeping them well fed maybe a few good feedings a day of large krill, prawns and other meaty foods would maybe dissuade them for eating the smaller fish?
<Likely (more than 50... 70 some percent so>
<Welcome. BobF>

Green bird wrasse compatibility   9/12/12
Hi , I have a 150 gallon salt water tank.  I currently have a porcupine puffer, Naso tang, blue face angel, long nose hawk fish (small) , and a Huma Huma trigger (small/medium).     Was thinking of getting a green bird wrasse but not sure if he will be compatible.  Please let me know your thoughts.  Thank you.
<Will/would be compatible behaviorally w/ all listed, but in time, this system is going to be too crowded psychologically. Put another way, I do hope you have plans for a larger system; you're going to need it for these fishes. Bob Fenner>

Bird wrasses... incomp.    4/26/10
6 month ago I bought "paired Bird wrasses"
<Mmm, there really is no such thing>
The green male has continually harassed the female.
<Very typical... unless you have a very large system... hundreds of gallons>
I thought they would settle in, but he gives her no rest.
He is in my opinion harassing her, which I find very upsetting.
The green Meanie is always chasing her. Are they not a mated pair?
<See the Net, books, even, why not, WWM re Gomphosus>
Is he just a bully? Should I remove him from the tank?
<That or the initial phase (female) individual>
My husband thinks I should just leave it alone & they are fine.
I think all this chasing is upsetting my large Puffer, also do I have to worry about them eating my male clown fish?
<Might do so if the opportunity presents itself>
He is the smallest fish in the tank.
Thank you in advance,
<Read here:
Bob Fenner>
Re: Birdnose Wrasse and schooling fish compatibility -- 6/14/09

Dear Mr. Fenner
<Hello again Janet>
Thank you for your response. Quite right tanks details would be good ;-)
The tank is 4ft and holds 200 litres, has live rock, corals and clams in it.
<Ahh! This is actually too small for much of anything to go along with either of the two Gomphosus species... Unfortunately they are so outgoing and piscivorous when terminal phase (males) that any small schooling species will be harassed to consumed!>
I hope this helps and if you need more information please let me know.
Kind regards and many thanks
<Welcome my friend. BobF>
Re: Birdnose Wrasse and schooling fish compatibility -- 6/14/09

Dear Mr. Fenner
<Just Bob please Janet>
Thank you for your advice, it is greatly appreciated and good to know not to add any other fish that may end up being intimidated or harassed.
Kind regards
<And you, BobF>

Coris Wrasse and Bird Wrasse Compatibility 1/18/08 Hi Crew! Fish have been doing great lately so I have not had to bug you guys much till now. I have a Red Coris Wrasse I have had for about 6 months and saw a green male Bird Wrasse I like and was thinking about getting. Will these two get along? The Coris Wrasse is 4 inches or so and Bird Wrasse is 5 inches or so. Any thought will be as always more then appreciated. <Depends on the size of your tank, if 100 gallons or more, should not be any problem keeping the two together.> Thanks Crew! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Possible ich and how to proceed... Not Crypt   11/6/07 Hello, <Hi there> I have a Bird Wrasse that I believe may have ich. I have read Bob Fenner's articles, Marine Ich, Cryptocaryoniasis; Marine Aquarium Fish parasitic Diseases, and Scott Fellman's article Marine Ich: Fighting The War On Two Fronts. I would like some direction before I proceed. <Okay> First, my Wrasse has developed a "bubble" on the top portion of his beak <This is a natural developmental growth... likely> and has had labored breathing for about 2 weeks but was eating and swimming well. His eating and swimming started to slow down and he began to remain in his cave lying on the sand. He is very shy and will hide from everyone but me - until now. He has not eaten in 4 days as of today and only moved yesterday because I was cleaning. Several days ago I saw what looked like sand on him. <Not uncommon...> Today I have been able to see him better and it is definitely not sand. I can see white flecks on his body and fins. I cannot see his head very well as he is facing the back of his cave. <... do you have other fishes present? Are they showing symptoms?> I am certain that the buffeting is causing him stress. I believe at one of the BTA's is also causing him stress and quite possibly may have been stinging him. One of my BTA's moved down toward the opening of the cave. This mean that Mr. Wrasse could not enter or leave without touching the BTA. I have repositioned the rock with the BTA as well as another rock in front in an attempt to keep his tentacles from touching. I am hopeful that the BTA will not move back down. I have 90-gallon tank with two Eclipse hoods modified to fit power compacts and a SeaClone protein skimmer. Yesterday I cleaned the tank and adjusted some rocks around Mr. Wrasse's cave (there is an opening in the front and the back) because my Maroon Clown has been nonstop buffeting, covering Mr. Wrasse with sand, which is partially why I had originally thought it was sand. Moving the rocks a bit did not stop my Clown from buffeting (I didn't expect it to). I was hoping to relieve Mr. Wrasse from the amount of sand being thrown in his face. <The Maroon clown may be a big part of the problem here> As for additional inhabitants, I have a Longnose Hawkfish, a Royal Gramma, a Copperband Butterflyfish, <This last would show Crypt first... or most any protozoan infestation... ahead of the Wrasse> a sand starfish, a tube anemone, and three BTA's, several snails, hermit crabs (several quite large), and various other growing things that look to be some type of sponge (some yellow, some white/clear), and 2 somethings. <?> I don't know what they are. They came attached to a shell some time ago. They do not move. From time to time, their shells open lightly and a clear tube will come out. The are about 1/2 in length. The Copperband was the last to be added, approximately 2-3 months ago, when I has an Aiptasia infestation, which has been completely cleared up. Mr. Wrasse, Mr. Clown, and the starfish are the oldest. I have had them about 2 1/2 years. Here are my most current specs (just tested): Temp. 80; SG, 1.022-1.023; pH, 8.4-8.8; Ammonia, 0; Nitrite, 0; Nitrate, greater than 10 but less than 20; Calcium, 380. I do not know why my calcium is low. I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals and have not had a problem with low calcium until now. I have a 10-gallon quarantine tank with a sponge filter. This tank was used one time for a sick Angelfish 2 years ago. After reading the articles, it seems to me that I need to remove all of my fish into a quarantine tank. Do I need to move all the living beings with the exception of the live rock/sand or is it sufficient to move only the fish? <I would move Mr. Premnas... elsewhere myself, permanently> Also, my local LFS told me that I should use water from my existing tank to start up the quarantine tank. Is this advisable if I suspect ich? <I would NOT move this fish, nor treat it... IF any of the fish has Crypt, all do... the system does...> How long should the quarantine tank be up and running before I move inhabitants into it? I do not imagine that my 10-gallon tank will suffice, especially if I am looking to keep more than one fish and certainly if they may need to stay a month. What size tank do you suggest and what type of filtration would be advisable? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Felicia <I'd re-read the articles above... and the linked FAQs files above them. Bob Fenner>

Re: Possible ich and how to proceed  11/06/07 Hello, Bob, <Felicia> Thank you very much for your prompt response. Much appreciated. <Welcome my friend> >As for additional inhabitants, I have a Longnose Hawkfish, a Royal Gramma, a >Copperband Butterflyfish, ><This last would show Crypt first... or most any protozoan infestation... ahead of the Wrasse> None of my other fish are showing any signs of ich or any other illness (no rapid breathing, all are eating well and swimming). These symptoms are limited (so far anyway) to Mr. Wrasse. <Is not crypt then, assuredly> This morning I found that Mr. Wrasse had wedged himself between a rock and the back wall of the tank. There appear to be more whitish areas and, of course, the rapid breathing. This will be day number two that he has not swam and day number five for not eating. Last night I dropped some finely chopped krill near him; he did not even attempt to eat. This morning I added rotifers (which he normally loves) and nothing. He is about 7 inches long. How long can a fish of his size last without eating? Any suggestions to perhaps entice him to eat? <You have moved the Maroon?> >Also, my local LFS told me that I should use water from my existing tank to >start up the quarantine tank. Is this advisable if I suspect ich? ><I would NOT move this fish, nor treat it... IF any of the fish has Crypt, all do... the system does...> ><I'd re-read the articles above... and the linked FAQs files above them. You are recommending that I not remove the fish. In "Marine Ich, Cryptocaryoniasis," you state in closing, "Isolation of fish livestock, hyposalinity and elevated temperature, administration of copper medication with testing will cure all but the most entrenched cases." <The root cause of the trouble here is the Premnas... it's likely biting the Gomphosus... the white marks are mucus...> Of course, I will reread the previously mentioned articles as well as read the linked FAQs, but I am a bit confused. Is it your thought that perhaps the Wrasse does not have ich and is simply under stress from the constant buffeting of the Clown or that perhaps he does have ich but is simply too weak and under too much stress to move? Felicia <Let me try to be more clear. The CLOWN must go... It needs to be removed from the system. BobF>

Re: Possible ich and how to proceed... Gomphosus, A. frenatus incomp.   11/06/07 Good evening, Bob, <Felicia> I regret to inform you my beloved Bird Wrasse did not survive the morning. My husband contacted me at work and gave me the bad news. I instructed him to remove the Wrasse immediately. I rinsed him off and closely inspected him. I found no signs of ich -- all white spots disappeared upon rinsing, so it was indeed sand that was upon him. I had guestimated that he was about 7 inches long and was surprised to see that he was actually 8 1/2! <Yes... turning into (likely a magnificent) male> No, I have not removed the Clown as I do not have a tank set up to do so. He is still buffeting and throwing up sand. <Is the alpha fish here. Do you understand this? Anything else of size will be attacked... stressed...> I have been watching him this evening and noticed that he is attempting to chase the other fish away from his BTA's. <Bingo> They do not seem to be impressed and do not leave - for long anyway. I have not seem him actually hit anyone, but I imagine that he may start doing so (or perhaps is and I have yet to see it). I am going to have to get a new tank set up as soon as I can and move him as I do not want the others to be terrorized and fall pray in the same way. I had no idea that my Wrasse was being terrorized to such a degree to cause his demise. Both the Wrasse and the Clown were introduced at the same time (approximately 2 1/2 years ago) and always seemed to "get along." <Ah, yes... does happen> I appreciate all your help! Felicia <Thank you for this follow-up. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Green Bird Wrasse with BTA Hi, I love the Green bird, and my kids want a pair of clowns (percula) and anemone (which would be a Bubble tip).   Would this group get along - in particular, the wrasse and BTA? - assuming an appropriate size tank with plenty of LR and LS for territory. Thanks . . . Dave <Dave, Yes they would get along.  I would recommend at least a 75 to 125 gallon tank with the proper lighting and filtration for the tank.  Good Luck. MikeB.>

What corals to keep with a bird wrasse - 1/29/04 Hello crew,  I have a 230 gallon FOWLR system which I am interested in converting into more of a reef set-up.  What I mean by this is that I would like to keep shrimp, hermit crabs and snails (to clean algae), feather dusters, and easier corals such as colt corals and the like.
<Go for it>
My problem is I currently have 3 percula clowns, 1 yellow tang, 2 blue devil damsels, 1 majestic angel, 1 emperor angel, 1 green bird wrasse and 1 clown trigger.  I know I would have to get rid of the clown trigger to keep some of the above, how about the green bird wrasse?
<Should be fine. We have them at the Monterey Bay aquarium in our Clam and Soft Coral tank. They might snack on your hermits, shrimps, and snails. So might need to look into getting a hand fish. They are great a rasping algae from glass, sand, or acrylic (your hand cleaning the tank with an algae scraper, just in case you didn't get that futile attempt at humor.>  
Would the snails and hermit crabs clean the algae?
<They would if they weren't in the Bird Wrasse's digestive tract. Heheheh! Be sure to keep up the water quality and scrape away, my friend!>
Any other corals you might suggest?
<Green star polyps (Pachyclavularia violacea) or some clove polyps (Clavularia or Anthelia) Green or Yellow tree coral (Nephthea sp.) These are similar to what we maintain in our tank with our clowns, bird wrasse and damsels and tangs. Also keep an eye on the Angels, though as they may nip at the soft corals. If they do then you may have to make a decision; add noxious soft corals or get rid of the Angels. Paul>.   Thanks

Bird Wrasse Compatibility Hey. I love your web site. You guys do a great job. <Thanks> I have a 55 gallon tank with a green bird wrasse (about  5 in.). I was wanting to get 2 percula clowns, an Atlantic blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus), and maybe a few yellow tail blue damsels. I was hoping on breeding the clowns. <I'd be willing to bet that they will not breed successfully in a tank with these inhabitants.> I heard that a bird wrasse might eat percula clowns. Is that true? <They are more into crustaceans than other fish.><<But do/will catch, consume small fishes for sure. RMF>> I was wondering if all these fish would be compatible and if this is too many fish. <For this tank, yes> I know I would eventually have to get a bigger tank for the blue tang. How big is too big for the wrasse with my size of tank? I know it's a lot of questions, but I want to plan out my tank and make sure everything is all right. Thanks so much for your time. Cayse <I would not add any large fish until you get a larger tank.  The wrasse and the tang will both reach about 1 foot in length,  I would not recommend anything smaller than 6 feet in length, they need a lot of swimming room. Best Regards, Gage>

Tang/wrasse compatibility Hi there! Hope you're having a fun time in the fish  business. I have a couple of questions for you. I have a 55 gallon tank with 2 domino damsels 1 Acanthurus nigrofuscus 1 green bird wrasse I had the damsels and the tang in the tank for about a month and are doing fine. While I was away my mom (who does a great job taking care of my fish) surprised me with a wrasse. I know nothing about them. It's about 5" and I went ahead and put him in the tank after quarantine. The tang seemed a little perturbed with him, especially when the wrasse started tearing up his prized Nori. There was quite a bit of aggression at first, but now it has quieted down some.  
<good sign>
Will the aggression come back and get worse?  <possibly, close observation will tell>
Should I have a larger tank for these individuals?
<I don't think a tang belongs in a 55/75 but many people do (based on adult size) and the green bird wrasse will hit 11" so it is not appropriate for this tank either>
I would also like to get a pair of percula or ocellaris clowns. will they be okay with the damsels?
<About the same size? Possibly, but individuals do vary, Don>
Thank you very much for your time and effort! Cayse

Harlequin Tusk & Bird Wrasse Hi Bob, <<JasonC here, greetings.>> I've got a coral tank with clams in it. Beautifully decorated in a 4 feet tank.  <<Good deal>>  Now I've fallen in love with the Harlequin Tusk and Green Bird Wrasse. <<understandable, both just absolute lookers... the Choerodon fasciata being one of my personal favorites.>> Checked around and been getting contradictory views on whether I can put them in my coral tank. Some say YES and some say NO WAY.  <<'Could' and 'should' being two different answers.>> Have a friend who has a HT in his coral tank for a year and he has not been biting off any of his precious corals. Well behaved indeed much like what you wrote in your site.  <<Well behaved for a fish who doesn't eat corals in the wild...>> I'm confuse if I can have them in my tank or otherwise. Kindly advise and thanks. Steve <<Well, the quick answer is no... it's not wise, mostly because the choice of tankmates in a "reef" system tend more towards the small scale and docile behavior. Even though either of these fish would be the passive member of a fish only system, they would be the most boisterous member of a reef system. Both grow to over a foot, and take up every bit of that space which means you would need to upgrade that tank sometime in the future if you wanted to keep the fish for any time. In addition, both are strong, fast swimmers and their darting can be disconcerting to less motile tank members. This same speed can make it hard to compete for food if you're not a Tusk or Bird Wrasse but instead living with one. Likewise, their taste for certain invertebrates is not good news for small bivalves, worms, copepods, and various shrimp that one might want to keep/encourage in a reef system. Would a tusk sample a Tridacnid? Probably not if well acclimated to daily feedings, but would that same tusk flip over a frag or two looking for food? For a certainty, it will happen. So are either of these fish a good choice for a coral and clam tank? No. Could you build a mixed system of photosynthetic gorgonians and a tusk fish? That could work well. Hope that helps... Cheers, J -- >>
Harlequin Tusk & Bird Wrasse
Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I've got a coral tank with clams in it. Beautifully decorated in a 4 feet tank. Now I've fallen in love with the Harlequin Tusk and Green Bird Wrasse.  <both magnificent fishes... neither are remotely responsible to put in a reef tank> Checked around and been getting contradictory views on whether I can put them in my coral tank. Some say YES and some say NO WAY.  <no way doesn't begin to describe how bad the choice is. They do not eat coral at all. But their endless search and curiosity for crustaceans (shrimp, crabs... desirable in the reef at times) amplified by their large adult size (both approaching a foot) lends them to wreak havoc by randomly flipping coral over and off of the rockscape. I would regard their addition as unlikely to succeed in most tanks and irresponsible especially if one has LPS corals (brain, bubble, torch, elegant, etc> Have a friend who has a HT in his coral tank for a year and he has not been biting off any of his precious corals.  <that's because they don't ever eat coral... just crustaceans in the wild... and his tusk is almost certainly still young/too small to toss larger heads of coral to look underneath yet (its under 6"... perhaps 4" or less?)> Well behaved indeed much like what you wrote in your site. <yep... with other fishes in general> I'm confused... if I can have them in my tank or otherwise. Kindly advise and thanks. Steve <best regards, Anthony>

The Green Bird Wrasse that ate Detroit! Hi! Bob, I have a 12" green bird wrasse.  <Wow, this is a big Gomphosus!> I would really hate to part with him when I set up my new tanks. Would he eat small fish? <Yes, this and most anything else he can get his (this is a male) small mouth/beak on!> Also he is a very aggressive eater. Do you think he will make my majestic and Blueface angels nervous? He seems to leave corals alone. <Place him last... after the Angels have been in place for a month or two. Bob Fenner> Thanks again and have a great day.

Green bird wrasse in a reef? Dear Robert My name is Edgar, I live in Mexico and currently I have a 110 gal reef tank with several soft and hard corals, mushrooms, Zoanthids, feather dusters, 2 anemones (E. quadricolor), snails and shrimps (2 S. hispidus. 2 L amboinensis and 3 L wurdemanni) . I also have a yellow surgeon and a couple of P. biaculeatus as well as one Salarias fasciata.. I wonder whether a green wrasse could be a good addition to my set up. <Hmm, I wouldn't try it with your shrimps... too likely they'd end up meals> I know they get big, but I also have several friends which can keep him/her when he/she reaches adulthood. I know these fish can eat bristleworms, but I don't know whether they can (and will) eat my Featherdusters or will bother some of my corals. Could you please give me some advice? <Certainly my friend. I would look to other smaller wrasse species if it were my system. Gomphosus varius is too rambunctious and a big eater for your tank and its current occupants. Bob Fenner> Thanks Edgar
Re: Green bird wrasse in a reef?
Hi Robert Thanks a lot for your fast answer, I'll follow your advice and get a small wrasse for my tank. Edgar <I'd look to the genera Cirrhilabrus, Paracheilinus... Bob Fenner>

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