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FAQs on Possum/Wetmorella Wrasses

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Related FAQs: Wrasses 2Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Diseases

Concerned about my possum wrasse; comp., feeding       10/2/16
<Hi there>
I would like to get some insight into the recent behavior of my yellow-banded possum wrasse. I've had him (I'm not sure if it is male or female) since November of last year and I believe him to be full-grown at about 2.5 inches. He shares a 75 gallon tank with a pink-streaked wrasse, two clownfish, a Tailspot blenny, a hi-fin goby and three green-banded gobies. When I first got him, he was initially shy but quickly became the boldest and most entertaining member of the tank. He likes to constantly be out in the open and is always eager for food. He doesn't normally mind if I have to do something that involves sticking my hand in the tank. Normally the pink-streaked wrasse is the shyer of the two by far. I haven't seen any of the shyness return until about a week ago. My significant other was working in the tank and told me he hadn't seen the wrasse. I was extremely surprised, but he ended up poking his head out of the rockwork a few minutes later. He was definitely acting extremely timid. It is probably worth mentioning that we upgraded from a 40 gallon about a month ago, but this behavior has only been going on for the past week. He seemed to adjust incredibly well to the move at first. Today, I have not seen him at all, and the entire week he has been alternating between hiding the entire day and coming out early in the morning and staying very close to the rockwork. I would say I have seen 95% more of the pink-streaked wrasse, who normally follows him like a shadow. I'm concerned because it is such a change from his typical behavior and I have also tried to entice him with food the few times I have seen him, and he seems interested but not willing to go get it. I also witnessed him going for a pellet he normally loves only to spit it out a few seconds later. I also think any aggression problems from the other fish can be ruled out because he has had the same tankmates for almost a year, I observe them very frequently, and have not seen anything out of the ordinary. The clownfish sleep at the top of the tank together, the blenny sleeps in the same hole in the rocks every night, and I don't think the gobies or the pink streaked wrasse are capable of harassing him.
He doesn't appear to be injured or have any issues with his mouth or fins.
<A useful clue/observation>
Its really hard to find any information on possum wrasse behavior changes once you have already established what their normal behavior is. I know some species of wrasse can experience personality changes when changing sexes, but I'm not sure whether he is capable of doing that. I would appreciate any insight into what is going on or how I can help him. I
really appreciate it.
Thank you,
<A somewhat educated guess; I think this Wetmorella may have sampled something that doesn't/didn't agree with it... further speculation, a Polychaete/Bristleworm. Nothing to do really other than wait, be patient...
and let this issue sort itself out. Bob Fenner>
Re: Concerned about my possum wrasse      10/2/16

Dear Bob,
Thank you for your fast response. Still no sign of him this morning. Is there anything I can do, or is it more of a waiting game at this point? I'm concerned about him not eating.
<Yes; there are always appetite stimulants to consider adding... HUFAs, Vitamins and such... Here's one: http://www.seachem.com/entice.php ; there are some frozen and live foods that I'd lace/soak as well... Cyclops, Mysis...>
Thank you for the help.
<Happy to share. Bob Fenner>
Re: Concerned about my possum wrasse     10/5/16

Hi Bob,
Last night I saw the wrasse briefly and this morning I was able to locate him in the rocks. He is staying hidden and his breathing looks kind of strange. I noticed that each time he takes a breath he is also opening his mouth slightly.
<Ahh! Again, my suspicion is raised that this fish may have picked at something, tried to eat an organism that "doesn't agree with it". Perhaps injured its mouth>
I don't know if this is useful information but your insight is greatly appreciated. I also attached a short video.
<No vid attached. If megabytes, please use YouTube or such and just send us the link>
Thank you,
<I still urge "just" patience here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Concerned about my possum wrasse        10/7/16

Hi Bob,
This morning I found the possum wrasse dead, stuck to the powerhead. I put the body in the fridge with some tank water and I am planning to do an autopsy. Do you think this is a good idea?
<Yes; worthwhile. I'd be esp. looking at stomach/gut contents>
Also, do you have any idea what their usual lifespan is?
<Mmm; smaller wrasses (animals period) live less long than larger... but at least a few years is my guess>
I had him for 11 months and I feel terrible about his death.
Thank you,
<Thank you for your follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Candy Basslet Question, comp. w/ Wetmorella       9/28/16
<Hi Cheri!>
I recently purchased a Candy Basslet (Liopropoma carmabi). I also have a Tanaka Possum Wrasse. I have noticed that the normally peaceful Tanaka seems to be very interested in the Candy Basslet, occasionally stalking the area where the Candy has his favorite hidey hole.
<Ah yes; a bit of competition, territoriality amongst these two reclusive species>
Also, once I saw him dart at the Candy when he came out. I know the "charts" say caution, but I figured given the peaceful nature of the Tanaka, that I would not have an issue. My question is, in your opinion, will this behavior on the wrasse's part subside?
<Mmm; maybe>
The tank is a 75 gallon with 100+ lbs of rock with lots of caves and overhangs.
<Well; would be less trouble with increasing size of the system; BUT if it were me/mine... as long as both fish are coming out occasionally, and you see them feed each time; I wouldn't be overly concerned here>
Thanks, again, for your help, and expertise...
<A pleasure to share, honor to aid your understanding, efforts. Bob Fenner>
Re: Candy Basslet Question      9/28/16

If I decide to watch and wait, could the Tanaka do actual physical damage to the Candy, or would be more of a "show" of dominance?
<Some chance of damage; but not great IMEstimation>
(they are both, roughly the same length). I guess what I'm trying to ask is, am I taking a chance that the wrasse could actually kill the Candy?
<Small; but not negligible... Like Trump's chance of election. BobF>

Possum Wrasse Hiding After Para Guard Treatment    6/14/11
Hello Crew,
A few days ago I bought a yellow banded possum wrasse and a neon goby. I put them in a 15 gallon quarantine tank. Both fish ate almost right away. I know the wrasse is a timid fish,
but he was cruising around the pile of live rock in the tank and picking food off it. He also went for some live brine shrimp. Unfortunately, the next morning I noticed that the goby was covered with Ich. I gave the tank one treatment of Seachem's Para Guard, following the label's dosage instructions. Immediately afterward, the wrasse started wedging himself into the rocks in the tank.
<... rocks? Will negate, absorb the medication>
He no longer swims around and doesn't eat. That was on Sunday morning. On Monday morning, I put carbon in the filter, and of course have added no more Para Guard. This morning (Tuesday), he is still hiding. Is this due to some sensitivity to medication on the part of the possum wrasse?
<To an extent, very likely so>
My thinking is to try a hyposalinity treatment next, but of course I'd like to see the poor wrasse behaving more normally.
<I'd be reading on WWM re Labrid treatments, the use of quinine compounds instead. Am not a fan of hyposalinity as you'll find if you read my works.
Bob Fenner>
re: Possum Wrasse Hiding After Para Guard Treatment    6/16/11

Thanks for the response. Unfortunately I don't have your book yet, and the most prominent discussion of hyposalinity on WWM seems to be the article by Pete Giwojna that endorses this treatment for Crypt and other problems.
<Yes; Pete is definitely "for" hyposalinity as a treatment. I am as a preventative dip (pH-adjusted freshwater) for epizootics...>
Is there anywhere online where you discuss your reservations about hyposalinity, or can you provide an explanation of your concerns?
<I'd guess there are numerous places... would just search. My opinion (negative) is based on long experience (mainly second, other-hand) with others lack of success w/ this approach. Simply put, it rarely "works". Symptomatically, afflicted fishes may appear better, but almost always Crypt, what have you protozoan-wise, comes raging back. The process/exposure to lower density seawater of a certainty does NOT kill resting stages>
I have changed out some of the water in the treatment tank with fresh water. The wrasse is now swimming around, so he seems to be feeling better now that the Para Guard is being removed from the water.
<Mmm, yes. I consider this a good SeaChem product, but some of it is definitely toxic:
This species seems very sensitive to this medication, at least, so that's a bit of information for the database. Naturally, I'm leery about exposing this fish to any more chemicals, so I am inclined to go with hyposalinity unless there's a strong reason not to.
<I'd search, do a bit more reading... again, Quinine cpd.s are my current first treatment for these situations.>
Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>

Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse -- Eating on the QT? -- 09/02/10
<<Hello Laura 'Eric here>>
Hope all of you are doing well!
<<Speaking for myself-doing 'OK' thanks>>
Five days ago, I received the first inhabitant of my 28 gallon JBJ LED NanoCube, a Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse (Wetmorella nigropinnata).
<<Ah! A neat little fish>>
Sadly, there is very little information on the web about this small, peaceful, reclusive fish.
<<Mmm, yes-have you seen this? http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/oct2004/fish.htm >>
My fish, Ursula, is about an inch big.
The tank is fully cycled, contains 42 pounds of live rock, and three inches of live sand.
<<Very good-and key to this fish's survival. Perhaps you can add a refugium as well?>>
Knowing she would be a resident in the Nano, a cave was built into the rock structure, specifically for her use. I see she favors a donut hole in the live rock within the cave, and is almost always swimming within the cave itself, or in the back of the tank along the wall behind the live rock.
<<As is their nature-though this fish should become more 'visible' given time and a dearth of agonistic tank mates>>
I have a small refugium on the tank and added live copepods to the system on Monday.
<<All good-though ideally the refugium(indeed, the whole system) would have been seeded and left to mature for 'months' beforehand>>
I have offered her frozen food (Rod's Reef Food), Cyclop-eeze, Spectrum Small Pellets, Nutramar Ova Prawn Eggs, and flake food. She will swim among the food, within her cave (target feeding her in there), but I do not see her eat anything.
<<This can take a little time. The Cyclop-eeze (frozen, not freeze dried), Spectrum pellets, and Prawn eggs are excellent choices (not familiar with the 'Rod's Reef' fare)-do keep trying with these-but I would also like to suggest trying frozen Mysis and Glass Worms. For whatever reason, I find the latter often induces finicky feeders to eat when other foodstuffs won't. Although, the small size of your fish may be posing a problem whereas the natural live prey among the live rock/live sand comes heavily in to play>>
What I do see is her picking at the live rock, and the back wall of the tank, much like a pygmy angel does.
<<Searching out the micro fauna upon which it feeds in the wild>>
She looks fine. She does not look thin, her stomach is not concave. She is out (within her cave) almost all the time. I am worried, since I cannot see her eat the food I am offering her, that she is not eating.
<<Is likely subsisting on the natural foods available--for now. Do keep trying to feed this fish>>
Although, she might be getting something off of the live rock, or eating the copepods I added to the tank.
<<Very likely, yes>>
What should I do to ensure that she IS eating?
<<There is little you 'can' do--aside from keeping up the presentations of prepared foods. I wouldn't expect this small system to be able to 'naturally' provide for this fish's nutritional needs for the long-term--but generally, these wrasse will readily accept prepared foods with a little time so I wouldn't be overly concerned at this point>>
Any suggestions would be most welcome.
<<Keep doing what you are doing>>
Her mouth is VERY small, so I need to offer something size appropriate. Also, in time, do you feel she will venture out of the cave in the live rock and into the open?
<<I do, as long as there are no aggressive or even overly boisterous tank mates about--though not for long periods at a stretch>>
There are no inhabitants that could harass or bully her.
I run my lighting on actinic and moonlighting for the most part, as the LED full spectrum lighting is only on four hours a day right now.
<<These fish are also bothered/startled by bright lights and movement in the room in which their aquarium is located. Dimming the room lights and 'quietly' observing the tank will increase your odds of viewing this secretive little fish in the open>>
Laura Rothbaum-Garmizo and Ursula
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>> 
Re: Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse - Eating on the QT? -- 09/02/10
Hi Eric,
<<Hello Laura>>
Thank you so much for your quick (and helpful) response!
<<Ah! Was my pleasure>>
Well, I stuck with the program and the Possum Wrasse took some food this morning!!!
<<Excellent! In most cases these interesting little fish just need a few days to 'settle in' to start feeding>>
I am not quite sure WHAT she ate, because I mixed a few of the prepared foods together, but she did nibble at the mix.
<<I would experiment with the different food types and determine which the fish 'likes' and then feed a mixture of these -- feeding small amounts 'several' times a day. This, along with the natural fauna in the tank, should satisfy the nutritional requirements of your new 'pet fish' quite well>>
Not only that, but she came completely out in the open under bright lighting for the very first time.
<<This wrasse is starting to feel 'very comfortable' indeed>>
I feel a lot better.
<<All very good signs, my friend>>
Thank you again, Eric.
Laura Rothbaum-Garmizo
<<Quite welcome, Laura'¦ EricR>>

Wetmorella tanakai -- 08/02/09
I am considering the addition of a Wetmorella Tanakai wrasse to my reef aquarium.
<<An attractive little wrasse>>
Do you have any information on this species? I did a search on your website, the best source of information on the web, but found nothing.
<<It does seem there is not a lot of 'aquarium' info about (here or otherwise)'¦perhaps due to this small fish's secretive nature. Bob does have a small blurb here re another species of the genus, second tray from the bottom (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/index.htm) ...and you might also glean some info here (http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=64216&genusname=Wetmorella&speciesname=tanakai).
<<Hope this helps'¦ EricR>>

Where oh where did my first fish go? Possum Wrasse, really  6/4/07 Hello. <Hi> I did finally add a Possum Wrasse as my first fish. He's SO cute!! <Quite> As soon as I added him to my tank, he hid under the rocks. I went to take a peak, and he hid further within the rock structure so I couldn't see him at all. Haven't seen him since, and it's been 2 1/2 days now. I've searched every nook and cranny with a flash light, and can't see a sign of him. He is small, only about 1", but I'd think I'd at least see his tail or part of him. <Usually, but not necessarily, those rocks can have relatively deep holes in them.> There aren't any other fish in my tank to scare him, he's the first fish. Parameters look good. Ammonia:0 , Nitrites: 0 , Nitrates: 5, Phosphates:0, PH: 8.0 , Temp 82. <Good, although pH is a little low, 8.3 is the target.> There's one very small scarlet legged reef crab in my tank, but I've never seen him anywhere except cruising the rock work. Have never seen him on the sand. I know fish can hide when first introduced to a tank, but I'd think I'd seem at least a part of him. How deep within the rock could he hide? <Quite far.> Tried feeding the tank with brine shrimp that he was eating at the store, with a drop of garlic extreme in hopes of entice him out, but no luck. Thanks, Pam <Look around carefully, mine lived in the skimmer overflow box for a week before I found him. Also check the floor, they are quite capable jumpers. Hopefully he will turn up soon but watch for ammonia spikes incase something unfortunate happened to him.> <Chris>

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