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FAQs on Harlequin Tuskfish, Choerodon fasciata, Stocking/Selection

Related Articles: Harlequin Tuskfish, Tuskfishes, Genus Choerodon,

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

Tuskfish Sources Hey Bob how you been? I want to ask you something. That is what a good mail order company that I can buy a tusk fish from? <These companies are posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Pages. Bob Fenner>

Tusk fish... stkg./sel.       5/15/15
Hey Bob, was thinking about getting a Harlequin tusk fish. The Australian ones are just too expensive and understandably so. I've been looking at an Indo Pacific specimen from BZA that's about 4 inches and has been there for about 3 weeks and is eating. A little worried about cyanide
<If this fish is eating... and living; it has not been cyanide exposed>

but they "assured me" that the collectors that they work with are some of the ones that police for that kind of activity... Who knows, right? Anyway, should I decide to get it, do you recommend QT?
<A week or so...>
My QT tank is 55 gallon with live rock but no sand. Would that be a problem for it?
Do they "need" sand to feel secure?
<Not this Wrasse, no>
<Welcome. BobF>

The old Harlequin Tuskfish Debate, stkg/sel. of Choerodon fasciata based on source country     9/13/13
Hi WWM Crew :)
I thought I'd ask for opinions and experiences about the eternal question:
Philippines/Indonesian vs. Aussie specimens. Often (including WWM) the wisdom is put forward that Australian ones have better and "bluer" color and the blue teeth with deeper orange, etc.. The other issue being that collection methods in Oz are superior.
<Generally this, these statements are so: factual, useful. Again; not due to the genotype of the specimens, but the usual history of their methods of collection, holding, shipping>
Well I am geared up to finally get one of these guys. I am not worried about the price for a fish when my goal is to have him for 10+ years if I can. Compared to that goal (and the cost of keeping a tank to begin with) the idea of paying twice as much is chump change, right?
<I do agree>
I was just going to shoot for an Aussie fish but when I talked about this to my dealer, he said he doesn't even bother with Aussie individuals anymore because the only real difference has always been health/collection methods/ etc. and not coloration so if the fish is well handled and held, then origin is irrelevant.
<I concur w/ this as well>
This guy is someone who I trust and who only deals in marine life. I have a few guys from him in my tank currently and they have all been exemplary and some of the best looking, healthiest, personable of their kind I have ever seen. He got his "fish lore" from Quality Marine in L.A. and his opinion which made me rethink this issue was (essentially) - "the Harleys out of Aus. are usually quite a bit larger. A lot of fish don't "color up" until they grow or change colors obviously. Health is also a major factor. And the Indo individuals collected now can be sourced currently that are as healthy and well-cared-for as from anywhere and this dealer only buys from those sources. Therefore, the fish collected anywhere looks the same as from anywhere else IF in kept great health and allowed to grow to "Aussie size".
<Mmm, yes; I would add/throw in that there are a percentage from the P.I. and Indo. that are collected w/ poisons (e.g. cyanide); that is not ever used in Australia>
IOW Aussie ones are only superior in that they are A) in good health and B) are more developed/larger and "in full bloom"
This all makes perfect sense based on how many other fish turn out. Dull individuals that color up (or get drabber) based on health/stress levels/maturity. I also heard a claim that someone put 5 similarly-sized Harleys in a tank (4 Australian, 1 Indonesian) at a wholesaler/transhippers and challenged the other staffers to pick out which was the Indonesian and no one could.
<I can believe this. There ARE (emphasis mine) specimens collected from Indo., even the Philippines that are excellent... the factors as you, your ref. and I state leading to some "average" difference in dealing with many (hundreds, thousands) of individuals from all places>
Anyway I mostly put this forth for thought/discussion...do you guys have any opinions or experience for/against this hypothesis? I did read Marco mention that the origin only matters for healthiness not for color but most everything else seems to say otherwise.
~ fish addicted in Indiana
<As stated. Thank you for your well-thought out and fairly (re)stated input here. The universe is rarely as "discrete" as humans, simple speech infer... Things are more becoming, unbecoming, very infrequently yes/no, good/bad. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: The old Harlequin Tuskfish Debate, stkg./sel.... by country of origin     9/16/13

Thanks for the reply...I am always interested in this kind of detail from those with direct experience.
<Ahh; I as well>
 It certainly seems to clarify and lay to rest the idea that there are two "versions" or color morphs of the same animal. If nothing else, it might stop aquarists from passing over healthy fishes which would have been great. I think it's always worth looking into the "whys" regardless of the truth or lack of truth of any oft-repeated claim.
It doesn't serve anybody to just repeat things like mantras without knowing the workings behind them.
I have seen debates about the ol' Tuskfish for many years and sometimes some crafty person thinks to ask for side-by-side comparisons and there don't seem to be many.
<No; too much passes for science, at least objective observation that is more anecdotal subjective evaluation in our interest, indeed lives>
One photo comparison I have seen used as the gold standard for ID between the two choices of fish is from an online retailer...which it seems is not particularly valid for that purpose. These fishes seem to cause a lot of people to fail the "Pepsi challenge"...
<Ahh! BTW, I do allow myself on off-brand Refreshe (Vons/Safeway) per day... despite the phenylketonurics>
In the end IMO personality and healthiness are more interesting than looks but it's good to have solid, clear info to make decisions on. Always like to know all the facts before making the choice.
<Salud! Am glad to encounter this point of view in fellow humans, citizens>
As for me I think I will get a Harlequin Tusk when my fav. dealer gets one in and it's been eating, robust and personable for a few weeks...I will check out firsthand how his color changes.
Am I the only one who finds more enjoyment in watching fish change as they grow rather than a specific stage?
<Oh no; assuredly, perhaps on a less conscious plane, certainly less "vocal", you/we are of the at least simple majority>
Watching a Queen Angel right now going from its juvenile colors to adult...nothing like seeing the stripes and blue tint bloom into that distinct rich pure yellow with the almost unnaturally blue markings...
<Ahhh! Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> 

harlequin tusk not eating, except tankmates 3/12/12
Hi Crew, Jim again. I Hope you all had a great weekend! I have a 8" Australia Harlequin tusk.
<Collected at too large a size>

I have had him for about three months now. I was really having a hard time with him killing my smaller fish and now he has stopped eating.
 I caught him swimming with my Longnose Hawkfish in his mouth last week. I chased him with a net and he dropped him. So far the Hawkfish is fine. I never realized how aggressive they can be. He has killed several Chromis, damsels, and took a chunk out of my flame angel. Everything I read was that they don't attack other fish.
<Not so>
I changed his diet thinking maybe he was not getting enough food. I started feeding him one silverside in the morning and Mysis at night. It seemed to help, but he still wants to eat my smaller fish. He stopped eating about a week ago today. I don't know what is going with him.
<Put this fish in a larger system (hundreds of gallons) w/ larger specimens>

All my Chromis have been accounted for, and the Hawkfish is alive too. Is this something they normally do? My salinity is 1.23,
<... no>
nitrate 0, nitrite 0, Amm, ph 8.17, and temp is 77  Thanks, Jim
<... Bob Fenner>
Re: harlequin tusk not eating 3/12/12

Hi Bob, This was the first time that he has not been eating. I was kind of wondering if the silversides bones might of upset him.
<Mmm, doubtful>
He had a pretty hard time swallowing those things down. It seemed like he was choking sometimes. I think you were getting the emperor mixed up with the tusk from not eating. The emperor is a pig now. Before I even bought the tusk I emailed James and talked to him and ask if he thought the tusk would eat my Dartfish, and Chromis. He told me he would not eat the Dartfish, but they could starve. He said he was semi-aggressive and they would not get enough food. He never said anything about eating my fish. So when I bought the fish I was thinking he would be fine. As far as know he seems stress free. The emperor and Naso don't like him, but he stays away from them. The tank he is in, is a 180 6' long. Is that not plenty long enough for him?
<Not really, no>
 As you know I have my tank over stocked. I just upgraded to a 180 and I am shooting for something over 300 in the next couple of years. All my fish I bought as juveniles. I wanted them to grow up and be one happy family.  I hope all is well for you Bob in your many adventures in the sea. Jim
<Thank you Jim. BobF>

Re: Hey everyone!
Harlequin Tusk sel.   5/20/11

Hello....I wanted to ask a quick question regarding a Harlequin Tusk. In your book and on WWM it says that an Australian Tusk has blue bordered teeth and red stripes. The one here at my LFS has blue bordered teeth and blue bordered eyes and orange stripes on the head....but too small for any red coloring yet. Its listed as neither Philippines or Australian and he's 100 dollars at about for inches. Can I be certain this is an Australian from the blue teeth or do some other locales have blue teeth also?
<Can't tell from the description>
I need to purchase today because he will sell....id appreciate your input...thanks.
<The folks there should be able to tell you the country of origin... Is this price wholesale? If so it should be an Aussie specimen... if retail, to Australian. Bob Fenner>
re: Hey everyone!

He told me its from the Philippines but it has blue outlined orange stripes and teeth. He is eating like a hog and swimming all over the tank....shall I try him out since I know he's in good condition or still too risky since he's from the inferior locale?
<I'd give this one a go as it sounds like a very nice individual... BobF>
re: Hey everyone!
It is....thanks Bob.....much appreciated!
<Ah good. B>
re: Hey everyone!
Only downfall id the coloring.....blue and red....it'll b lacking in this one as an adult.
<Mmm, not necessarily, no... Depends a good deal on food, water quality... >|
re: Hey everyone! Harlequin Tusk Sel.    5/22/11

Well I purchased him.....100 bucks! For a 3" fish that's a lot. Do you still think this fish is at a higher risk for mortality?
<... no>
Or, if he is in good condition now....most likely he will be in good condition and Hardy as long as I keep up with good water quality and feeding?
I was hoping that he would be showing signs this soon of bad capture if that was the case. As long as death doesn't creep up on this fish in the near future....I will be happy and received my money's worth.
re: Hey everyone!

The reason for my concern is because he twitches from time tonight time.
Kind of like bending his head to the one side of his body toward tail.
Was hoping it was just a parasite of some kind that can be cured rather than from bad capturing practices.
<Some twitching is natural>
re: Hey everyone!   5/22/11
Thanks for continuing to answer my repetitive and relentless emails haha.
<Welcome Welcome Welcome Welcome Welcome Welcome....>
Enjoy your weekend !

Large Australian Harlequin Tuskfish Question   1/15/11
Hello Crew. I went through your sections on Harlequin Tuskfish and could not find the answer, so I will ask it here. I have owned 2 Indian Ocean Harlequin Tuskfish in the past and both did not fare well. Two days ago I sprung for a 7" long, 3 to 4" tall Australian Harlequin Tuskfish.
<Wow! A big boy (or girl likely)>
I freshwater and Formalin dipped him, and placed him in my 8ft x 3 ft x 3ft show tank. He has been actively swimming and is the largest fish in the tank by far. He is a magnificent looking specimen.! My only concern is, that I have had him in the tank about 40 hours now and he is not interested in food. I do not have much experience with a fish this size as I normally buy fish small and grow them. I soak all my food in a Selcon, Vitachem and garlic mixture. I have tried squid tentacle, clam, Mysis shrimp, and krill.
He sometimes looks at it, but that is all thus far. I also tried the same food items without soaking them and he ignored these as well. No one is bothering him, in fact the other fish wisely so, look scared of him. I
checked the parameters of the tank and they are spot on. Any advice you could give me, as always would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
<Mmm, well, this may seem strange (as in odd) but I strongly encourage you to try a larger diameter grade of Spectrum (brand) pelleted food. Very palatable, sinking... and completely nutritious. Do have a read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/SpectrumFoodsF.htm
Other foods might tempt this Choerodon into feeding... but... Bob Fenner>
Re: Large Australian Harlequin Tuskfish Question   1/15/11
I will head to my LFS and purchase some large pellets. I already feed all of my fish Spectrum pellets (small and medium).
<Ahh! Am glad to not have to make some sort of endorsement/promotion>
Thank you as always for the very quick response Mister Fenner. When should I start to worry as far as this fish not eating if the Spectrum pellets do not entice it?.
<I do not, though I do suggest adding vitamins occasionally to all foods and the system water>
Many Thanks,
<As many welcomes. BobF>
Harlequin Tusk Hiding 10/27/08
Bob, <Scott V. with you today.> I've written you before on my recently added Australian Harlequin Tusk, who has been in my tank for a month now, was eating very well, but just over the past few days has taken to hiding in one particular spot in the rocks for the entire day, coming out only for food and now even not much for food either. I noticed that he was chased once or twice by a Harlequin Sweet Lips that is in the tank, who has normally been docile to all other tankmates. <These two may get along in a very large system, but in most home aquariums some run ins are to be expected with these two very large fish.> I get particularly concerned when it comes to unusual behavior like this, compounded by the lack of eating like he had been..what do you suggest? Removal of the Sweet Lips? <I would, not an easy fish to keep anyhow. How does the Tusk look when it does come out?> Patience? Thank you so much. Charles <Welcome.>
Re: Large Australian Harlequin Tuskfish Question  1/17/11

Hello again Mister Fenner or whomever I get from the "Crew". I did purchase some of the 7mm Spectrum Pellets but the Tuskfish simply would not eat.
<Do keep offering a few pellets mixed in w/ other foods...>
I also went to the Chinese market for my seafood re-supply and found some fresh Octopus Tentacle, shrimp and scallop, she refused those as well.
Today she was hunkered deep in a live rock cave and breathing very rapidly.
<Mmm, not good>
Tonight as I was doing my evening maintenance I found her Dead in the corner of the aquarium. No visible sign of disease or anything to make me suspicious, and brilliant coloration.
<IF this animal was collected in Australia, of a certainty it was not cyanided. I suspect simple "stress" at most fault here... That this animal was so large... oh, I see your comments below re>
This is one of the most puzzling fish related episodes ever for me. I am going to replace her when I can find another specimen. Do you think the 7" size I received is good, or should I try a smaller one?.
<Definitely smaller... 4 inches, five overall maximum length. Too small and too large species of all species don't ship, adapt as well to captive conditions as some "happier" mid-range>
I do swear by Spectrum Pellet though, buy it bulk when I can, and freeze it. My fish have spectacular coloration, and are fat and healthy on this food. I have a 8" Hippo Tang
that is "solid" blue, no fading whatsoever, and his favorite food is Spectrum Pellet. I have another question for you concerning a different issue and will address it in a new message. Thank you again Mister Fenner for your attempt to aid me here. It is as always, greatly appreciated.!
Many Thanks.
<Welcome my friend. BobF>

Re FO stocking list, Choerodon fasciata sel.  2/1/2010
Thanks Marco
I plan to get my snowflake eel for my 150 gallon tank at around 10" in size or bigger but around that size.
<Sounds good.>
Another question, my local fish store (lfs) says that they can get harlequin Tuskfish from Vanuatu. Is this a good source?
<Generally, yes, since 2003. Depends a lot on the catchers and wholesalers, but the ones from Vanuatu seem OK.>
They don't get Australian ones, don't know why...
<More expensive?>
my stocking list:
x1 harlequin Tuskfish
x1 snowflake eel
x1 yellow tang
x1 blackspotted puffer
x1 Picasso triggerfish
<Good luck. Marco.>
stocking list
Choerodon fasciatus - 02/01/10

I thank you for your advice
<You are welcome.>
my lfs don't get harlequin tusks from Australia because, ya, the harlequins are to expensive and he could sell something for a lower price that looked almost like the harlequin.
<Those are harlequin Tuskfishes, too. Just from a different country. Still the same species: Choerodon fasciatus. There's a Northern and a Southern population. The Southern ones appear to have a little more blue, but in the
Northern population you'll also find specimens with blue stripes next to the red stripes. And, the amount of blue increases with age in general.>
What do you mean "it depends a lot on the catchers and wholesalers"?
<In Australia catchers and wholesalers in general have a rather high standard, which means the fish you get are caught carefully (without poison) and treated properly. That's one reason why these fish are more expensive, the other one is that Australia has higher wages than many other countries we import our ornamental fishes from. Vanuatu in general also has a high standard, but somewhat lower wages. Some Indonesian catchers don't keep such a high standard, but if you have good catcher and wholesalers you can get equally healthy fishes.>
Last question, what coloration would the harlequin tusks from Vanuatu have?
<Comparable to other locations, especially from the Southern Pacific including Australia, with more blue. See here
http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/ThumbnailsSummary.php?ID=12722 and here
<Welcome. Marco.>

Stocking list
Choerodon fasciatus -- 02/02/10

Thanks; I looked at the pics from http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/ThumbnailsSummary.php?ID=12722
Um not sure which I'm getting. Is it the New Caledonian or Lizard Island or something else?
<The ones from New Caledonia and the one from Lizard Island belong to the same population (Lizard Island is Australian by the way). Vanuatu specimen come from the same population and should look like these. Cheers, Marco.>

Indo Harlequin Tusk Question
Greetings Crew,
I have had my Indo Harlequin Tusk for a year now in my 240 "aggressive" set-up. A wonderful fish, though I will certainly spend the extra money on the Aussie in the future. The more beautiful coloration, and fear of cyanide make the Aussies a better bet I've learned.
My question is my Indo is a bit over 4 inches long, and I don't really see much in the way of the beautiful blue teeth I see in Harlequins of similar size starting to form on the Aussies. Is this another advantage the Aussie Tusk has over the Indo?
<It is indeed>
Thanks, and best regards,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Harlequin tusk scratching behavior -- 10/13/08 Hello all. I have had my eye on a 3" Tuskfish from Indonesia (I think) for about a week now. He is eating krill, mysis, and new life spectrum pellets. The only thing keeping me from purchasing him is that I have seen him scratch on the rocks a few times. <Mmm, "some scratching is natural, to be expected"> His color and appetite are great and I see no spots or abnormalities on his fins or body and he is not doing it excessively. Is this normal for Tuskfish? Thanks, Shea <Yes... though I am adding that I would still at least dip/bath this specimen enroute to the main display if not fully quarantine. Bob Fenner>

Harlequin Tusk Question, sel., beh.  06/06/2008 Hi, I have a 600 gallon all fish set up that has been running for almost 2 years now. Everything is healthy but I am frustrated! I had purchased A tusk that I thought was going to look like the picture as advertised. Upon arriving over a year ago was this 2 1/2 inch big eyed fish with deep burgundy stripes. After doing research after the fact, I indeed purchased a juvenile NON-Aussie tusk. It is now 4" long, how long will it take to become the bright orange beautiful tusk that I long for. Thanks for your response. Kevin <Mmm, perhaps never... What do you feed? This is the best avenue for improving color, health here... Euphausiids, a good staple (the best, Spectrum pellets)... supplemented with a few drops of HUFA/Vitamin mix occasionally (a few times a week)... Otherwise, baiting/hook-and-lining this specimen out, replacing it with another... Bob Fenner>

Harlequin Tuskfish Problem   5/13/07 Hi i <...> have a problem with my Harlequin Tusk. I purchased him about two weeks ago and after a few days i noticed his stomach getting larger and what appeared to either be his skin tearing around his anus or the scales protruding out. It seems like he's having some type of digestive problem and I'm not sure what to do. I treated the tank with Mardel Maracyn 2 <For?> from the advice of my LFS but conditions only seem to be getting worse. All my parameters are normal, Ph 8.3, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10. Temp is at 80 and salinity is at 1.023. The tank is a 100 gallon fish only with protein skimmer, canister filter, and air pump. The tank also contains a lion fish and a snowflake moray eel. I do weekly water changes of about 15 percent and feed a combination of krill, Mysis shrimp, and flakes. Thanks for any help you can give me I greatly appreciate it and think your website is awesome.                                 Sincerely,                                                    Jeff <No pic? From the description... I strongly suspect this is a poisoned specimen (Choerodon et al. large wrasses are often collected with such in the Philippines and Indonesia... hence my strong bias in directing people to buying this species from Australia... where it is hand-collected assuredly...). Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciata.htm and the linked files above... Your specimen was likely cyanided... I would take it back to the dealer, and have them demand credit in turn from their supplier. Bob Fenner> - Harlequin Tusk - What do you Think? - What's your opinion of the Harlequin? <I love 'em - one of my favorite fish.> I would like to add a wrasse to my 200 gallon system that already houses a Naso (7"), maroon clown (2"), yellow tang (2"), Maculosus angelfish (5"), and a blue throat triggerfish (5").  I love the Harlequin's but are they hardy <Yes.> and will they do well with the existing tankmates?  <Yes, I think so.> Thanks for your advice and opinion. <Cheers, J -- >

- Harlequin Tusk - What do you Think? Follow-up - Thanks for your help. <My pleasure.> I was thinking of getting one from Australia in the 3-4 inch range. <From my limited experience, I've never seen an Australian Tuskfish come in less than six inches - they seem to catch them big out there... but the colors are a real pay off, these fish are much more striking than their Indo-Pacific counterparts.> Sound ok with you? <Sure.> Thanks again. I appreciate you all! <Cheers, J -- >

- Choerodon pricey-ata - Hi WWM team,  you guys helped me when I setup my 90 gallon about 8 months back (aqua c skimmer, 90lbs live rock, and, just started a refugium).  All is great.  Now, I want to get a choerodon fasciata but man these things are expensive (even more so in New York City).  My current stock is: 1. 2 maroon clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus?) 2. 1 Zebrasoma flavescens 3. chocolate chip star 4. green brittle (I love this guy even though he can be very mean but I keep him well fed) Do you advise that I add the tusk to round out my system? <I'm a big fan of Tuskfish so it's hard for me to say no - but in general, your tank could fit one of these, no problem.> I know the yellow tangs are territorial. <Doubt a tusk would have much to fear from a yellow tang.> There are at least 2 hiding places, maybe even 3 depending on how picky they are so there shouldn't be a lack of "living spots."  I've heard that the tangs will purposely "bully" some fish, regardless of if the new comer is in the tangs spot.  Is this true? <Sometimes.> If so, is it just temporary until they get used to each other? <Think the Tuskfish is bulky and toothy enough to perhaps convince the tang he's not worth bothering with. Additionally, tangs are most often aggressive to other tangs and sometimes fish who compete for the same foods - that wouldn't include a Tuskfish.> I'm a bit worried because the tang as been the boss for 12 months (4 in a smaller tank and 8 in the larger 90). <I'm sure all will be well in a couple of weeks to a month.> I've read your site and see that other readers have HT and YT in the same tank but at $200 I feel better getting your opinion on the above. <At $200 I'd shop around - the typical Tuskfish in the Northeast shouldn't be more than $79 - $99 for a small to medium sized Indo-Pacific specimen - perhaps $50 to $75 more for an Australian one. Unless this fish is huge, it is over-priced.> Thanks so much! Mark <Cheers, J -- >

- Assasi Trigger or Harlequin Tusk? Hawkfish-venomous? - First of all thanks for your time.  I have 2 quick questions. First I am having trouble deciding on getting either a Assasi Triggerfish or a Harlequin Tusk.  They are both on the higher side of the price range, but they are both beautiful creatures. In your opinion what is the better fish (personality, coloration, hardiness, easy feeding, social ability) for the money? <Depends on what else is going to live in the tank. The triggerfish will likely have more personality, is certainly smarter, but will grow large enough to consume many other occupants in the tank. The Tuskfish will top out at about a foot, perhaps a little less, but is a striking and interesting addition to any tank. Could still consume smaller fish in the tank, but it is less likely to become a terror.> Second, today I purchased my first hawkfish at my LFS. The owner told me that hawkfish are venomous. <Not to my knowledge.> This is the first time I have ever heard this. Is it true? <Don't think so, have heard this stated before, but have not seen any documentation. Hawkfish certainly don't behave like they are venomous.> Once again thanks for your time. <Cheers, J -- >

- Australian Tuskfish - I currently have a 180 gallon tank with Live Rock. I was reading an article on your website and it said Harlequin Tusks (Australia) are long lived. How long do they live? <I'm not sure anyone knows for certain, but I'd guess at least 20 years.> I was also wondering how well do they acclimate to home aquariums? <Overall pretty well. Most that I've kept are quite boisterous on arrival, but tend to calm down once they accept their new circumstances. This seems to vary from individual to individual.> Are they a challenge to start feeding? <Not really... we're talking about a fish that really likes to eat, although most are caught with a barbless hook and line so their mouth can be sore on arrival and would be a reason for them to refuse food.> My local LFS said he would only buy the Harlequin Tusk from Australia because the other ones don't live long and aren't that hardy. Is this true? <I wouldn't agree with that statement entirely. On the average, Harlequin Tuskfish from Australia come in larger, more colorful, and captured with proper technique. For quite a while the only other source was the Philippines where cyanide capture was the norm - no animal caught this way is going to be healthy or live for very long. These days it seems more of these fish are coming out of Indonesia where they seem to be much more aware of the impact cyanide has. You may still see some individuals that have been nuked, but it seems less common now-a-days. My current Tuskfish is from Indo and is quite healthy.> I also heard that you need a DSB for wrasses because they like to bury themselves at night, do I need this for the Harlequin Tusk? <No, Harlequin tusks do not seem to exhibit this behaviour.> I am very interested in getting this beautiful fish, but before I buy this pricey fish I would like to have all the info I can find, so if there is anything else I should know could you fill me in? <Well... given the size of your tank, and seeming willingness of your local fish store to procure one, I'd go with an Australian tusk as they are quite colorful. Just keep in mind that most Australian tusks come in at about six to eight inches.> Thank You for your time <Cheers, J -- >

- Tusk Time? -  Hello,  I have recently lost a Green Leaf Coris Wrasse due to flight out of tank....I will be covering the tank with egg crate to ensure this does not happen again. <Sorry to hear of this... is unfortunately all too common.> Due to the fact that this is a rare fish, I have only seen once within 3 years (this is not a green Coris wrasse), I am thinking about a replacement as either a Harlequin Tusk or Red Coris Wrasse. I want to check compatibility and have already received conflicting information from local fish stores.  Here is what is in the 180 FOWLR currently:  Sohal Tang 6"  Blue Face Angel 5"  Xmas Wrasse 3.5"  Purple Tang  Flame Angel  Lemon Peel  Blue Devil Damsel  Pink Pseudochromis  I want to make sure the wrasse I get is compatible with the Xmas wrasse and the other fish as well... I was told by an LFS that Tusk fish can be aggressive, I have always read to the contrary and have only been concerned about housing them with little fish... what is your opinion on Harlequin Tusk?  <Well, the fact that I have one tattooed on my leg might tell you something... I'm a huge fan of these fish and all in all they aren't really aggressive in terms of what is possible in the various aquarium fish. Tusk fish can get grumpy from time to time, but little ever comes from their actions. What is important is that they can have a cave of their own, and that other fish don't pick on it. They can, when obtained in larger sizes be trouble for small fish, but if you get one not much larger than your Christmas Wrasse, you should be ok.>  Nikki  <Cheers, J -- >

- Tuskfish - Hi, first of id like to say you guys have a really really helpful website ! :D Now for the questions, iv got a 66G FOWLR tank, occupants are currently a 11 inch snowflake moray & a 3inch lion. I am thinking of getting a tusk fish & was wondering if it would be ok in my tank? <I wouldn't add anything more to this system.> I'm aware that my system will be too small for the lion when its fully grown & might even trade him in soon. <How about a larger tank?> The reason for wanting the tusk fish was that my tank really lacks colour! <There are other, small and colorful fish that don't grow to a foot long. Would encourage you to keep looking.> if you could suggest another type of fish that has bright colours & will work well in my tank, that'd be great! <Spend more time on Wet Web Media - many articles and photos there to help you decide.> I was thinking either a dwarf angel or the tusk but I'm not sure. <Would likely become lunch for the eel - I'd be saving my money for the larger tank.> please help ! thanks for your time. <Cheers, J -- >

- Snoop Tusky Tusk - Hey guys and gals!! I've been perusing your Harlequin Tusk FAQ's, but all the reading has led me to more questions than anything!  So please bear with me. My LFS currently has a 2 inch Harlequin on hold for me, for $60. <Such funny fish when they're this size... almost all eyeball.> Supposedly it came from Australia, and they've had him for 3 weeks. <Hmm... I'm always dubious of small tusks coming from Australia - they almost always ship large ones, but there are exceptions. Look for deep red on the trailing edge of the tail, this is a good clue - also, the price... unless you are in LA, $60 is a bargain for an Australian tusk.> He looks well fed....though I have not asked them to feed it for me while I was there. <Make sure you do before you buy it.> He was in the tank with a snowflake eel, a huge yellow tang, and a hogfish of some kind.   It is the most timid of the bunch so far with the tang occasionally rubbing up against it. <In general, these aren't really outgoing fish... very shy and dubious of those creatures on the other side of the glass.> I observed it's behavior for about half an hour before I asked the guy to hold him for a couple of days.   My questions are as follows: The fish was swimming with a purpose it seemed.  He was cruising restlessly up and down the glass, and would lift his nose out of the surface and spit water.  Now I read on your FAQ's that this behavior is usually not a good sign.  Any idea as to what it could mean? <The spitting thing I've never figured out, and it may not be all bad. The cruising is pretty normal for holding systems where there are few placed to hide.> Stress from his inhabitants maybe? <And that as well.> He looks otherwise healthy, aside from his swimming pattern... clear eyes, no spots, no torn fins, no lesions. <Sounds good.> Also, my tank is a 55 gallon, 60lbs live rock, with current residents being a bi color blenny, and a very pugnacious tomato clown.    Realistically, how long could I keep him in there before he outgrew it? <Six months to a year, tops... but more cruising room is always good, even for a two inch tusk.> I am currently setting aside money from each paycheck towards a 180 gallon, but that probably won't happen for another 6mos to a year. <Make sure you do this.> I have 2 cleaner shrimp in house too....which from what I've read, I'm assuming I have to find a new home for them? <Yes, or sacrifice them to the tusk... they will coexist for a little while, but not forever.> Or could I naively assume that they are currently too big for the Tusk to chomp on? <Nope... nice, soft-shelled snack.> One last question... current QT tank is a puny 15 gallons.  I doubt he'd be comfy in there, but at the moment that is all I have. <Will be fine for two weeks.>  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!! <Find him some good foods - make sure it's eating before you take it home - and keep the water in quarantine clean.> Thanks for everything.   Karina P.S.  Though I love my LFS dearly, as they have always been good to me....they have a new guy that was only there a week when I put my tusk on hold.......and I asked HIM how long I could keep the tusk in a 55....what do you think he said?  "Don't feed him every day....and he won't grow as much." GASP!!  I almost reported him, but oh well.....he'd been there only a week after all.  Tisk, Tisk. <Cheers, J -- >

The Harlequin Tusk in a fish only tank Dear Mr. Fenner: I have been maintaining a marine aquarium for about 8 years, with a good degree of success. I have stayed with fish only systems, and have not ventured into the reef aquarium arena. I have enjoyed very much reading your articles over the years. <Thank you Sir> My local aquarium store has a couple of fish I am interested in, and it is about them that I have questions. One of them is a Harlequin Tuskfish. The shop owner indicates that the fish came from Indonesia, by way of a wholesaler out of California that has their own collection stations. In your article on the Harlequin, at Wet Web Media, you caution about staying away from fish that hale from the Philippines or Indonesia. Do you have any knowledge of a California wholesaler that does their own collecting in that area? The fish appears very healthy and alert, and has been in the store for a couple of weeks. <There are at least two that own/control their own there... All Seas Marine and Quality Marine... and you are right/in agreement with my thoughts, on examining and waiting on the specimen... wherever it hales from...> Also, it has the very noticeable blue outlines on its body, as you talk about being indicative of a fish coming from Australian waters. Should I assume that the Harlequin is an Australian species, or do specimens from the Indonesia area also have the blue? <They both show blue to a degree... and poor specimens from down under do indeed look worse than "good" ones from the P.I....> At the following web site ( http://www.aquarist.net/marine/harlequin2/tuskfish.htm ) an article cautions about NEVER having a Harlequin in a tank that uses copper as a preventive. Are you aware of a problem with using something like copper safe with a Harlequin? <Hmm, this is a semi-persistent rumor/rumor... and no, IMO, Choerodon Wrasses are no more susceptible to copper poisoning than other large labrid species... I consider the reference a spurious "wife's tale">  The other fish I am interested in is an Imperator Angel. It is a Red Sea specimen, about 4" long, and is in the final color change from juvenile to adult. It also is very healthy and alert, and has been in the store about a month. Because of its cost, the store owner has not been able to sell it. I have an 80 gallon Oceanic tank, with wet/dry, UV sterilizer, Protein Skimmer, and a very meticulous tank maintenance schedule (water changes, UV bulb changes, etc). In a fish only tank, of this size, what is your opinion of trying to keep an Imperator? The tank now has two Damsels, a Purple Tang, a Naso Tang, and a Fox Face. <The animal will indeed be crowded in a year or so... but this is a fabulous species from the Red Sea... If you think you might be moving it into larger quarters... I would be tempted>  Thanks in advance for your help, and the terrific service you provide for aquarium enthusiasts. Pete Vosbury Aussie Tusks Better? <Glad to be here my friend, Bob Fenner>Hello, MY name is Jack and I would like to ask a question about Harlequin  tusks. Is the Australian species considerably more colorful than the Philippine  species? Also, does the retail price reflect the same? Thanks for your help. > Good question re this hardy, gorgeous Wrasse (Choerodon fasciatus). Yes, the Australian specimens are more red, blue, and brighter white than the P.I. ones... and historically much hardier... and more expensive, but worth it...  Bob Fenner, whose article coverage on this species is stored at www.wetwebmedia.com, including images of both localities specimens

Re: Thanks, Drug Caught Tuskfish? Robert, <Anthony Calfo in your service> It's me again! This time I have a question of a different sort. I have purchased over the last 2 years 4 Harlequin Tuskfish for my 75 gal.. tank. Each one at around 5 months in the tank croaks! He will be eating excellent and swimming all over then one day he's dead. I checked the gills on the one that died today they (gills) were bone white.  <pale gill tissue is often a sign of drug caught fish> This one was about 4" long and robust and still had his juvenile fin spot. Were these 4 fish cyanide collected in the Philippines? Could you please give your best guess on this one, I'd hate for the same fate if I purchased another. <do yourself a favor and spend the extra money on an Australian Tuskfish... they are MUCH more colorful anyway and hardier by far. Do expect to pay more. Anthony> Thank You, Gary p.s. The blue ring and golden puffer are doing excellent!!

Harlequin Tusk Hi <Hello, JasonC here.> I just recently purchased a harlequin tusk fish from a local pet shop I have been dealing with for years. The fish is doing well in my 150 gallon fish only aquarium. It started eating the minute it got into the tank and takes Mysis, clams, brine shrimp and just about anything else I put in the tank. It is active and fairly bold at feeding times. <Ah, good.> Here is my question. I have been reading many articles saying that the best quality specimens come from Australia and are fairly pricey. I paid $60 for my two inch fish. These articles now have me concerned that the low price I paid may indicate that I have a low quality Philippine specimen that is most likely doomed.  <Not necessarily so. My own tusk was not from Australia and is doing well after more than a year. You just want to keep this information in hand when selecting a specimen. It sounds to me like you got a good one, and in general, these are pretty tough fish.> Is there distinguishing features between the Philippine and Australian fish.  <Ahh, someone asked this question the other day. Check out my answer at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciatafaqs.htm > Can you point me to any detailed information on this fish.  <Do also check on www.fishbase.org> Thank you AJ. <Cheers, J -- >

Tuskfish Hi Bob, I've been doing lots of research on the Harlequin Tuskfish. <Hello, JasonC here...> My question is do the Philippine version also have blue teeth? <Yes, they do.> What about the tooth coloring of a small juv Australian tusk? <In my experience, the blueness of the tusk teeth becomes more pronounced with age, and that juvenile's teeth have much less blue to them, to the point of being almost white. Again, this will change with time.> Do you have any recent pictures? <I do not, but Bob was recently in the GBR region and "thought" he had a photo of a tusk, but alas... with underwater photographs there are many, many variables which are often discovered once back home and examining your work. I believe his exact words were, "I used the wrong damn lens." Oh well, do check out http://www.wetwebfotos.com/ and use the search there to find the photos we do have.> Any help is appreciated. Thank you Ali Atapour <You are quite welcome. Cheers, J --> 

Re: Tuskfish Thank you for the quick reply, very impressive.. hehe <Oh thank you. Perhaps not so when you realize there are three or four people answering this stream of email!> I have another question if you don't mind, How can you distinguish a Philippine small juv versus an Australian small juv. <Probably the price. Shipping out of Australia is nuts, so it adds significantly to the price. The Philippines has very regular cargo flights heading into LA so it's much cheaper - up here in Massachusetts, an Aussie tusk might run you $150-200 or more, where the Philippine tusk would be no more than $100. Juveniles would be just a little less.> My local fish store insists that he carries only the Australian version, but how do I know for sure? He wants 75 for the small 3 - 3 1/2" juv (supposedly Australian) tusk. <Well many people talk about the coloration as a clue, and typically the orange of an Aussie tusk is very deep and bold. That being said, I've also seen this same orange on non-Aussie tusks. The same is true with the blue that occurs on the back and near the caudal fin. Aussie tusks typically have more blue, or are darker. But again, this can also lighten and darken with mood, and my own non-Aussie tusk has a good deal of blue on its back. Color may not be your best guide. I would use price - I paid $75 for my Indo-Pacific juvenile tusk (3in), and I live in Massachusetts. If you live in or close to LA, you might get a small shipping break but not that small.> Any tips on identifying the young? <Again, I think price - they don't cost any less to ship because they're smaller. The smallest of small tusks aren't nearly as handsome as their full-grown-selves and look more like a big eyeball with fins - ok, maybe not that bad, but certainly not easy to distinguish at that size. Do check out Bob's page on these - he has pictures of both:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciata.htm > Thank you again, Ali Atapour
<You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >

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