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FAQs on Wrasse Reproduction

Related Articles: Wrasses, Wrasses of the Cooks

Related FAQs: Wrasses, Wrasses 2Wrasse Identification, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Systems, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Disease

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis male, aquarium photo by Hiroyuki Tanaka. 

Wrasses (and blennies), species sel. for science, repro.    2/26/10
Dear WWM,
I am a researcher at the University of Vienna, Austria, and we are focusing on wrasses and blennies. For our research, we need to have a stock of embryos and fry, and so we are attempting to breed them. While of course living longer is preferred, at a minimum we need the fry to live 7-9 days post fertilization, so having multiple generations and success with rearing isn't a necessity. I am wondering if you have any insights into which species of wrasses (and blennies) are the easiest to breed. Any tips (or suggestions of books) would be greatly appreciated. So far we are considering Pseudocheilinus hexataenia (6 Line Wrasse) and Meiacanthus nigrolineatus (Black Line Fang Blenny). I have been told by some breeders that they sometimes see the 6 Line Wrasse breeding (even though they haven't reared any fry), and the Oceans, Reefs, & Aquariums company has had success breeding and rearing Black Line Blennies, which is why we are looking at these two species.
Thank you for your help,
Tim Peterson
<I have read a few anecdotal accounts (hobbyist) of "spontaneous" Labrid reproduction in captivity, and have observed a few genera apparently engaged in said behavior in the wild; but as far as I'm aware there are no commercially produced species. I do agree with your choice in a small species for trial. The Meiacanthus mentioned is produced by ORA for the trade... and is also a good candidate. This or a member of the genus Ecsenius would be my choice for size, ease of care, manipulation. Will you try hormonal injection/s? Or just environmental cues to bring on gametogenesis, release? The largest hurdle in these fishes captive production is provision of nutrition. Bob Fenner>
Tim Peterson, M.S.

Re: Wrasses (and blennies)  3/1/10
Dear Bob,
Thank you for the information, it's good to know we are at least on the right track with species choice. So far we had only thought to simulate the good / correct water, light, and food conditions to get them to spawn.
I had not heard of using hormonal injections on wrasses or blennies, and would not know which to use. Would you know where this information is available?
Best regards,
<Perhaps not with these families per se, but w/in journals that deal with aquaculture and endocrinology of fishes, lower vertebrates for decades now. Do a bibliographic search; you'll see very readily, that there is a huge body of information on this topic (hormonal manipulation of fishes for culture). Bob Fenner> 

McCosker's flasher wrasse, breeding    2/2/07 Bob- First and foremost I think your book is the best on the market.   <Thank you. Much good help with it> I often refer to it when I need answers.  I also frequent La Jolla being  from Phoenix, Arizona and was delighted to hear of your affiliation with the  Scripps.   <Mmm, more of an old-timey one than with the fabulous present Birch> I go there every time we go to La Jolla. <What a location, eh!? What a view!> My question is  have you ever heard of anyone having success at breeding flasher wrasses? <Mmm, no... in fact, though they're such a vast/diverse family... with many smaller, beautiful species of interest to aquarists, I have "heard" of exceedingly few attempts at such>    I have a mated pair of McCosker's flashers and would like to perhaps try to get  them to have babies. Any tips? <Mmm, really to (maybe when you're in San Diego again... contact me and I may join you on the venture), to make a sojourn to a large/college library... there's one (a treasure) down next to SIO... their library I mean... where I/we can "do" a computer search bibliographic search for such information. I would take a look see at Ron Thresher's (see Amazon.com maybe) general work on marine fish reproduction... but very likely you'll need/want to study re rearing techniques/technology and food culture methods. Bob Fenner> Breeding Cirrhilabrus? 10/9/04 I'm trying to breed Cirrhilabrus wrasses, (Cirrhilabrus temminckii) and (Cirrhilabrus flavidorsalis?).  Do you guys have any pointers or info? Philip, S. El Monte <hmmm... I am not aware of any significant hobby or commercial breeding/culture activity with this group of fishes. Do check into the database at the Breeder's Registry online... and perhaps the old TFH "Reproduction of Reef Fishes" for field observations that might give you insight to go on. From what we know, you will need very large and tall aquaria to begin to have any chance at successful pairings for their elaborate and extended mating "dances". Also, do think about visiting or chatting with the folks at some public aquaria like Atlantic in Riverhead NY where spawnings (no attempt at rearing) is an almost daily occurrence. Best regards, Anthony>

Breeding Cirrhilabrus II 10/11/04 Do you have a link to the website of the Atlantic public aquarium in Riverhead NY?   <if you are going to succeed... you need to be more resourceful than that <G>: simply do a keyword search with the info given to you: "Atlantis Aquarium" "Riverhead, NY", etc... it will show up on the first google page of hits. Do help yourself, bub> I would be totally interested if the fish are spawning like crazy.   <I have watched them spawn... and my NY friends say this is a regular occurrence in the evenings> By tall aquaria, how tall are we talking about?   <several meters - pool sized: much bigger than home aquaria, as they need a deep column of water to run to the surface for their mating rituals... like Centropyge angels> I've already got four C. temminckii in quarantine, but I don't know if they're still in the female phase about to transition to being males or if they're immature males in development.   <sex change can occur completely in as little as 10-14 day> So far the pics on the internet I've seen are probably of dominant(?) and subordinate males(?), (based on the elongated pelvic fins), but no females(?).  They are anywhere from 1 3/4" to 2" in length.  The pelvic fins on all of them are not elongated yet.  By the way thanks for the leads. Philip <very best of luck! Anthony> Wrasse Sex Change Hi! <Hi there-Scott F. here today> I've purchased a small female bird wrasse and am hoping she will turn into a he. <smile> Is there anything that I can do to help her along? Please advise. Thanks! Linda <Well, Linda, in the wild, sex change is determined by social factors, among other things, in these animals. With an individual specimen in your tank, there is not much that you can do to influence this process. Mother nature has the control over that! If your wrasse does start turning green-well- then Mother Nature has granted your wish! In the meantime, just give the fish a good home with proper care, and she/he will live a happy, healthy life!>

Green Bird Wrasses >Hey Guys! >>And a gal says hello, Marina here. >Just a quick question about my "mated" pair of green bird wrasses. About 7 months ago we bought this mated pair. The LFS rep told us they were juveniles. One was the white with black spots and Orange beak, the other had a green-bluish tint but bottom was a cream white color and the beak was blue, but a brownish blue. They are about 4 1/2 inches long. We have noticed that in the past 2-3 months these two have grown to look more and more alike. >>Yes, I was wondering how one acquires a mated pair of juveniles... >They both look like females. The ones tint is still a little different but anyone that doesn't know them thinks they look exactly the same. I can always tell the difference and the one that started out with the bluish tint has a V in the back of his tail where the original blackbird has a straight tail. >>Take a look here, see if this helps with I.D. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/gomphosus/ >They get along beautifully, even lay together during their napping periods. >>I need my own "bird" to lay peacefully with...Hhhmmm..I can't predict that they'll change, but one must be wary. >Is it possible that we have two females? And if so, will they continue to get along. >>I suppose it's possible, though I *thought* that wrasses begin life looking like females, and as males mature, and especially if they become dominant, their appearance changes dramatically, but I may have it turned round. >These are some of my favorite fish! I have a green bird in another tank that is about 8-9 inches and enjoy him immensely! I recommend anyone with a large enough tank to make this addition. >>Indeed, the wrasses as a family are among the most amazing fish I've seen.  It's good to see that you're aware of their housing requirements. >Thanks for your information and thanks for your website. You have answered every question I could possibly ask and just enjoy reading all your FAQS. >>You're very welcome, and we're glad that the FAQ's are so helpful, Jayne.  Marina

Sex Changes in Wrasses 7/11/03 Hi, I hope all's well. <cheers> I may have a dilemma. A little over a year ago, I bought two female Rainbow (Paddlefin) Wrasses. A few months later, one transformed into a male which was very exciting. <yes... the old "reverse Michael Jackson"> Recently, the second female also appears to be changing to a male. Is this possible or is it my imagination? <it is possible> If it is, will the two males be able to coexist in the same aquarium since they've been together for a while? Thanks,  Rich Aylward

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