Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Genus Labroides Cleaner Wrasses Compatibility

Related Articles: Cleaner Wrasses

Related FAQs: Labroides 1Labroides 2Labroides Identification, Labroides Behavior, Labroides Selection, Labroides Feeding, Labroides Systems, Labroides Disease, Labroides Reproduction, Wrasses, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Diseases,  

Beware of too much "cleaning". A Cetoscarus bicolor juvenile.

Puffer With Wrasse/Labroides/Compatibility 2/11/11
<Hello Gary>
I have a Dogface Puffer in a FOWLR and this week was giver <given> a cleaner wrasse. Yes he`s very annoying.
Been reading the solutions on your pages.
Struggling to catch wrasse and don't want to lose puffer.
Might the behaviour quieten <quiet> down with time ?
The wrasse eats greedily out of the water column so will he start to leave the puffer alone or must he be removed ?
I have a reef tank with 3 Tangs in ....Would the wrasse be better in there if I can catch him. I already have cleaner shrimp in that one...Would that be a problem ?
<Gary, based on your information, the Cleaner Wrasse is likely trying to "clean" the puffer and will cause no harm. Although rarely offered in the trade, you very well could have a False Cleaner Wrasse (Aspidontus taeniatus) which mimics the Cleaner Wrasse but instead of servicing an infected fish, it actually removes small hunks of flesh from the fish. If so, I would remove this fish.
See here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sabertoothblens.htm.>
Thanks and regards
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Puffer With Wrasse/Labroides/Compatibility 2/11/11- 2/12/11

Thanks James,
<You're welcome, Gary.>
Yes I am aware of the mimic (Blenny ?) but this is the wrasse.
He is trying to clean puffer but is really stressing him. Going a really dark grey colour at times.
Sorry a bit vague earlier but Bob Fenner wrote in your puffer pages that the wrasse and puffer are not compatible as the puffer`s skin is quite tender and the constant attention of the wrasse is too much so one or other should be removed.
I meant I didn't want to rehome puffer and can't catch the wrasse at present to rehome him.
I have seen film of them together in the wild but was really just wondering if the wrasse would not clean quite so much if well fed anyway.
Maybe when settled things would improve.
Hope this is clearer.
<Yes, it is. I originally answered this query based on Cleaner Wrasse behavior. Puffers are definitely not my area of expertise and I will ask Bob to comment here on your above statement.
And thanks again.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
<<Ah yes. Labroides in small volumes, with "few customers" can be very bothersome; particularly as Gary points out w/ fishes such as smooth puffers, with their delicate skin. I would be separating these two. Bob Fenner>>
Puffer/Cleaner Wrasse Query
Hi Bob,
Would you please look at the query in the draft folder and comment.
I answered what I could but hoping you can comment on the gent's referral to something you wrote re puffer/Cleaner Wrasse compatibility.
Thank you, Bob,
Puffer/Cleaner Wrasse Query
Hi Bob,
<Ahh, have done so James. B>
Would you please look at the query in the draft folder and comment.
I answered what I could but hoping you can comment on the gent's referral to something you wrote re puffer/Cleaner Wrasse compatibility.
Thank you, Bob,
James Puffer/Cleaner Wrasse Query
Oops, forgot to mention, I did not send the query out.
Oops, forgot to mention, I did not send the query out.
<I also did this... B, of at times, strong intuition>
Re: Puffer with wrasse
Thank you very much!!
<Thank you James>
Re Puffer With Wrasse/Labroides/Compatibility 2/11/11- 2/12/11- 2/13/11
Thanks James and Bob,
<You're welcome, Gary.>
Yes I have decided I want to remove wrasse and return him to LFS.
Any tips on catching him?
<Hee, hee. Definitely a net in each hand, try to corner/trap. Do read here as well.
I am the worst fish catcher in history.
<Next to me.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Puffer With Wrasse/Labroides/Compatibility 2/11/11- 2/12/11- 2/13/11- 2/14/11

Thanks again James....
<You're welcome, Gary.>
Read the fish catching pages.
Was thinking to move my live rock and leave about a quarter of the tank free ...move the wrasse to that end with food then block it off.
Just read about the fish trap made from a soda bottle.
Which method do you think would be best for this fish.
If using the trap , would I just put the normal frozen food floating in bottle.
<I would start with the least disruptive. Try the bottle first, wrasses are very inquisitive and it may just go in to nose around. If that fails, your above method would be my next bet. I've been in this hobby over 30 years and the only easy fish I ever caught was a dead one.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Puffer With Wrasse/Labroides/Compatibility 2/11/11- 2/12/11- 2/13/11- 2/14/11
Thanks James....Sounds best route to me too.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Puffer With Wrasse/Labroides/Compatibility 2/11/11- 2/12/11- 2/13/11- 2/14/11- 2/15/11
Hi James,
<Hello Gary>
Just a final thank you.
Trap was set at 12 o clock and fish was residing in LFS by 2.
<I'll be darn, good for you!>
Used a slightly smaller bottle than suggested as wrasse was a lot smaller than other fish and it worked a treat.
The fact he was so nosey helped too.
<Yes, very inquisitive.>
Thanks again and thanks to EricR for the written article.
<Will pass along to Eric.>
Best regards
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>
Gary and Percy the happy Puffer.

Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse 4/20/10
We've just introduced a Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse into our tank which did the rounds attending to all the other fish.
<Cleaner wrasse have a dismal survival rate in captivity, and the Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse is perhaps the worst of the group. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/labroide.htm .>
However its hounding our Ocellaris clowns. It's constantly trying to get to the inside of a front fin of both clowns and just won't leave them alone to the point where either clowns mate is chasing the wrasse off.
<Not uncommon.>
One clown is now swimming around with one fin held tight against its body but I don't know if its damaged or just keeping itself closed up.
<Most likely injured.>
It does appear as though the wrasse is grabbing a mouthful of clown and hanging on but this may just be my impression.
<Very possible.>
Is this normal behavior for the wrasse?
<Can be.>
Surely the wrasse has eaten whatever parasites might have been on the clowns.
<And now is still hungry.>
Should I get rid of the wrasse?
Is it being a bully?
<No, just doing what instinct tells it to do.>
Appreciate your advice.

Re: Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse 4/20/10
Thanks Chris
Yes I know about the poor rate of survival but this one has been in another tank for 8 months so seemed worth a try.
<Large tank?>
Anyway my clowns are worth more to me so out it goes.
Many thanks for the advice

Porcupine puffer with a "bruise" 5-30-3009
Hi all,
I have a Porcupine Puffer in a 600 litre tank with a variety of other fish (some clowns, triggers, tangs, damsels & blennies). I was not here on the day it was introduced, but noticed a cloudiness on its top rear fin (dorsal?), see attached image.
<I do see this... Likely one of the triggers...>
It is feeding well on some shrimp, sand eels & cockles, but seems nervous & it stays beneath a pile of rock unless it thinks it may get fed. I have noticed the cleaner Wrasse having a go at the same area,
<Not good to keep Labroides in small systems... pester other fish/hosts too much>
but I don't know if it is helping with some sort of parasite
or has taken to bullying the Puffer.
<Could be>
The fin which had the cloudiness now has what looks like a bruise on it which appears to be spreading to the skin on the left side, again, I'm not sure whether it is caused by the Wrasse, an infection or a parasite.
<Mmm, neither>
Nitrite, Ammonia & pH are all spot on, and all the other fish are perfectly healthy. None have any signs of ick & the only aggression in the tanks is the Wrasse picking at the fin of the puffer.
Any help or advise would be gratefully received.
Gareth Harper
<Time to remove the Labroides. Bob Fenner>

Cleaner animals, Compatibility 5-12-08 Hi Crew. <Hello> I've got a really quick, hopefully simple question. I know that the markings on cleaner animals signal to other fish that they are, in fact, cleaners, and that most other fish will not eat a cleaner animal, even though they are predators and easily could. But how do you know which animals will or won't leave a cleaner alone? <There is no definite way, and in an aquarium environment all bets are off.> I know some won't--years ago I saw a sargassum fish swallow a cleaner wrasse twice his length. But I know morays will (at least the shrimp). <There are also many tales of morays happily gobbling up their cleaner tankmates.> I have a cleaner goby who has been in my QT for several months, partly for his own quarantine and partly as a cleaner for other fish in the QT. But there's currently nobody else in the QT, and I don't think there will be for awhile. I would love to put the goby in my FOWLR tank. All the fish in that tank are quite large. I am fairly certain that the angelfish and butterfly will leave it alone (or seek cleaning), and so will the foxface. The blue damsel might chase it? <Possible> But the biggest question: will the male bluejaw trigger see it as a cleaner to be left alone or even utilized, or will he see it as a snack? Jim <May very well be aggressive or attack the goby, although not necessarily. The trigger being from the Pacific and the goby from the Atlantic may also lend itself to aggression. Unfortunately when talking about the size difference and damage potential of the trigger, one event may prove fatal, and not allow for separation after observation. If you do not mind keeping the second tank for the goby I would probably continue with the current living arrangements.> <Chris>

Re: Puffer not eating  - 3/12/07 Hello, My puffer is still not eating (for about a month and a half). I guess that clam she ate was really a reflex reaction. Every day I offer her several types of food, but she ignores them completely. Are there any substances I could add to the water that would stimulate her appetite? I am getting desperate and out of ideas. I am considering force feeding, but from what I've read it is very stressful and more often than not useless. As for your question about: <<What type of cleaner?>> The cleaner fish in my tank is a cleaner wrasse, yes, and occasionally bothers the puffer when picking at her tail and fins. <This Labroides should be removed... may be THE problem here. RMF> What else can I do? Any advice would be very welcome. <<Are you not receiving my emails properly? I have suggested the same things numerous times.  Please try them. As I suggested in the previous two emails, you can try rearranging the tank, a garlic additive, or a live food, such as ghost or grass shrimp to stimulate her to eat (always quarantined to prevent pathogen introduction).  The fishing-line trick tries to mimic the action of live food, so if that worked, my guess is something live will do the trick.  As I've also said, after you try these things, if she still will not eat, I'll walk you through the force-feeding process.  Please try the suggestions before writing back with the same questions. Lisa Brown>> Kind regards, Katja

Re: Puffer not eating  - 3/12/07 Hi, No, I received your e-mail. Sorry, I was not clear enough in my reply. I have tried all the suggestions, but nothing worked. She ignores the shrimp. <<Ah ok.>> The garlic and rearrangement did not help either. Is force feeding the only thing I have left? <<Is she thinning out? I do like to exhaust all other options; make sure it's not something environmental or social first.  If she is maintaining weight you can try not offering food for several days, then try the fishing line trick and live food again.  There must be something amiss here.  My concern with force-feeding is that generally this is used when a fish is too sick to feed on its own.  I fear this is a stress-induced hunger strike and that force-feeding will only worsen the situation.  Have you changed anything in the tank that she may not like? Are you able to easily capture the other fish and transfer them to a temporary qt tank?>> Regards, Katja <<Lisa Brown.>> Re: Puffer not eating  - 3/12/07 Hello, She is thinner, yes, but not too sick to feed on its own, I think. She actually swims around the tank more than in the previous week. I agree with you on force feeding. I hadn't changed anything in the tank before she stopped eating and I really can't think of anything that might trigger this strike. I could capture the other fish (not easily, though, particularly not the cleaner). Is there anything else I could do? <<I'm sorry I don't have a magic answer for you.  My previous suggestions, and possibly removing the other fish to see if they are the issue.>> Regards, Katja <<Best of Luck. Lisa Brown.>>

Re: puffer not eating  3-13-07 Hi, <This Labroides should be removed... may be THE problem here. RMF> Thanks for the advice. I will remove the cleaner and keep my fingers crossed. Regards, Katja <Ahh, very good. Life to you my friend. BobF>

Query Yellow Wrasse & Cleaner Wrasse... mis-stocked reef on its way to the big ex-hobbyist garage in the sky    10/3/06 Hello WWM Team, I am Hitesh from Mumbai India. I got a 48\"x15\"x24\"  with 55kgs Live Rocks cleaned by Venturi type skimmer....2 power heads for circulation (3000L/Hr) Lighting - 1 no Metal Halide (Blue Radium) 75W 20000K, 2 nos 36W PL 10000KInverts - Boxer Shrimp / Candy Shrimp / Whine Shrimp (2 nos) / <Wonder what this is> Anemone Shrimps 2 pairs / 3 Anemones / <Trouble...> 1 no Mushroom rock / 4 polyp rocks / 4 leather corals / 2 daisy corals / 1 cauliflower coral / 1 brain coral / 1 sea fan / 6 feather dusters S - 2 nos Regals / 1 Maroon Gold Band / 2 Skunks / 1 Pseudochromis / 1 blue devil / 2 yellow goby\'s / 1 three striped damsel / 1 cleaner wrasse / 1 yellow wrasse. Coming to my question - I have recently added 1 yellow wrasse , i was acclimatizing it in a container above my tank , when i returned i saw the container empty!! <Jumped!> i searched in vain that whole evening in the nooks and crevices of the tank ... i was just praying that the yellow wrasse may have jumped in the tank while acclimatizing and survived... The following morning the yellow wrasse appeared and i was glad ..it was eating too! it was swimming the whole day until it disappeared again by evening (even though the 2 nos PL lights were on) it didn't appear in early morning today during my feed time....am worried...am in office now and hoping to see it swimming when am back home late evening. Question 2 - I had also purchased a cleaner wrasse which was also introduced simultaneously, <Labroides sp.? Poor choice> it never took into hiding and kept swimming the whole day till it vanished in the evening 30 minutes after the yellow wrasse vanished. It hasn't appeared today morn whilst feeding... Is this normal? <To die mysteriously? Yes> In case they hide in evening how do they get to know its evening considering the lights still on! Lights MH and 1 PL on from 7 am morn to 7 pm evening and post 7 pm 2 Pls on till 10pm then no lights till morn. feeding time 7 am and 7 pm <Where to start...? You have an incompatible mix of Anemones and other Cnidarian species... and too much period for such a small volume of water. Please take a read re the species listed on WWM (use the indices, search tool)... re their Compatibility, Systems... Is there a full moon out or what? Bob Fenner>

Hassling Wrasse! WWM Crew, <Scott F. here tonight!> Hello again.  You guys have been so helpful in the past, I thought I'd pose another question.  The California Ray has been, as I've e-mailed to you before, acquiring sores.  At first I thought it was the substrate and high nitrates (down to 20 ppm now), but I sequestered her until she healed, and rearranged things to where she could bury in the sand rather than the gravel-like substrate.  The wounds reappeared anyway.  The culprit turned out to be the Moorish Idol (I never would have suspected until I witnessed it myself). The Moorish Idol now resides in a different tank.  There is also a cleaner wrasse in the tank with the ray, which ceaselessly attempts to 'clean' the wounds.  Now, the Ray HATES that.  She always hated the cleaning though, even before she had any wounds.  Is it possible the wrasse is hurting her? <Well, the wrasse may not be causing more injury to the ray, but the resulting stress from the "harassment" definitely is not doing her any good!> It doesn't seem to be the case because she's not getting worse, she's healing.  Very rapidly.  But I keep getting complaints (The tanks are here at the museum where I work) that the wrasse is "attacking" the ray.  Am I accurate in thinking the wrasse is not actually hurting the ray, though maybe aggravating her? <Yes- I really think that the wrasse may be causing additional stress to the ray, which is the last thing a recovering animal needs! So-you may want to remove the wrasse> Thanks for your time.  If you say to leave the ray and the wrasse together, I'm just going to post a sign explaining the behavior of these two creatures. Rochelle. <Give the wrasse a vacation! Take Care! Scott F.>

Why puffers don't tolerate cleaner wrasses, PP's turn Hi crew <Hi Lorenzo, I'd like to know why puffers don't tolerate cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus)? <Wrasses have to pick at the skin of fish to remove the parasites and that can be painful for some fish. Puffers generally don't do well with wrasses because they have very sensitive skin.> I had two Labroides in my tank (250 gallons) who were keeping to nip my poor white spotted puffer. I had to take off them from my tank because my puffer was very afraid and irritated. Now I'd need to put back Labroides because my fishes have many parasites on their bodies and gills. <Your best move would be to move the puffers into a separate tank or use something else, for instance cleaner shrimp to remove the parasites. Generally they are a bit easier on fish like puffers than a cleaner wrasse is.> How can I do? Thanks a lot for your help! Best regards Lorenzo

Why puffers don't tolerate cleaner wrasses, MacL's turn Hi crew, <Hi Lorenzo, MacL here with you tonight.> I'd like to know why puffers don't tolerate cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus)? <Puffers have very sensitive skin and cleaner wrasses picking at them bother puffers.> I had two Labroides in my tank (250 gallons) who were keeping to nip my poor white spotted puffer. <Probably really irritating his delicate skin. I'm guessing he hid a lot.> I had to take off them from my tank because my puffer was very afraid and irritated. Now I'd need to put back Labroides because my fishes have many parasites on their bodies and gills. How can I do? <Perhaps you should consider some cleaner shrimp or other types of cleaners that might be a bit easier on a puffers skin. Or remove the puffers into a separate situation.> Thanks a lot for your help! <Good luck and let us know what you decide. MacL> Best regards Lorenzo

Puffer Problem, New Cleaner Wrasse 5/4/04 Hi, your site is great and a big help to us fish keepers. <Good Evening Leslie here with you tonight. Thank you; it is a pleasure to help!> I have a little problem with my dog faced puffer, <Utto> last week I added a cleaner wrasse and ever since he has changed to a darker color and spends most of his time sat in the corner. <I suspect your Puffer is trying to be inconspicuous.... by blending into the rock and sand. Cleaner wrasses and gobies are not recommended tankmates for Puffers. The incessant pecking is often stressful and to much for their sensitive hides. The Labroides is doing his job very well and my puffer seems to pose for him as do the rest of the fish, the only problem is that every so often the wrasse picks a little too hard and the fish chase him a bit but always go back for more. As a marine biologist myself this suggests that the wrasse is just hungry and the fish are 'too clean' so I have made sure there is plenty of food in the tank. <These fish do not fare well in captivity and are better left in the ocean for many reasons. Please have a look at this article Cleaner Wrasses in the Genus Labroides here.....http://www.wetwebmedia.com/labroide.htm Is there anything you could suggest as of why my puffer seems down? <My guess is he does not like being picked at> My nitrate is also a little high, about 15-30, I'm doing plenty of water changes but struggling to keep it down. If you do not already have a protein skimmer I would strongly suggest one. Some other interventions include adding some additional live rock and some macroalgae for nutrient export.  > Also what would you say to a porcupine puffer as a little tank mate? <Little? Not for long. This would really depend on just how big ....big enough is. Definitely not until you have a handle on those nitrates. These endearing fish are hard to resist. I know they are one of my favorites. They are quite messy eaters and big waste producers. You are already having trouble keeping your Nitrates below 30. If you add another Puffer it will unfortunately only get worse. > The tank is big enough and is fish only. <Big enough? I have seen and heard some interesting assessments of big enough over the years. I guess this would depend on just how big your tank is and what other fish are already present.  A general stocking rule for Puffers is 10g of water to each inch of fish.  Each of those fish will eventually be a foot or more depending on the species you are keeping. So unless the tank is 200+ gallons or the Puffers are small and you plan on a bigger tank in the near future this would not be recommended. > Thanks for your time. Phil. <You are most welcome! Leslie>

Trigger/Wrasse Bob, I just picked up a 3-4 inch Rhinecanthus rectangulus, quite a beautiful specimen I might add, I also have a Cleaner Wrasse. I purchased the Wrasse before I knew that it was the wrong thing to do, and I know they usually don't survive in captivity, but my question is, will the L. Cleaner Wrasse survive with this Trigger?  <Only this individual experience will show... very often Triggerfishes leave Labroides alone, recognizing them as allies rather than meals...> By the way, for some reason, my wrasse is one of the few, I have had him for about 14 months now, but when he does go...I will heed your advise and try another species of cleaner to help the natural reef eco systems. Thank you, Doug <Please relate what you consider your success with this specimen is due to. Did it eat from the beginning? Did you have it in with many host fishes? Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: