Reef to Rainforest: Discovering Tropical Species, Places, Nature


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Anampses chrysocephalus, Redtail Tamarin Wrasse (female). Scott W. Michael

Family: Labridae

Species in Genus Anampses:

  • Redtail Wrasse

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM


Theoretically near-perfect as reef aquarium inhabitants, these wrasses are drop-dead gorgeous, peaceable and harmless to corals and most invertebrates. Alas, they are a challenge to maintain and are only recommended for the most advanced aquarist.

These wrasses tend to ship poorly and usually refuse food when first introduced to the tank. Live black worms and enriched live brine shrimp can be used to induce a feeding response. Live rock and a tank with a healthy amphipod population can help to maintain their weight while they adjust to the more popular aquarium foods. In time, some of the Anampses species may accept frozen mysid shrimp, frozen brine shrimp, or finely chopped fresh or frozen table shrimp, while others will eat only live foods. All need a thick sand bed in which they can refuge at night.

Smaller females (approximately 3 in. [8 cm] in length) may be more likely to acclimate to captivity, while juveniles have higher metabolic needs and must be fed accordingly. Some of the larger species will eat small bivalves, worms, ornamental shrimps, serpent stars, and small sea urchins.