Bird Wrasse

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Gomphosus varius - Lacepède, 1801
Bird Wrasse

With beaklike nose and swooping swimming motions, this hardy wrasse puts on a constant show in larger aquariums. Scott W. Michael


A true oddity, this long-nosed wrasse is almost “bullet-proof” and able to survive less-than-ideal water conditions. Males are a glorious blue-green and females have brownish scales. It swoops through its environment like a bird in flight.

Family: Labridae

Other common name(s):

  • Brown Bird Wrasse

Native range:

Habitat: Reef or reef-sand interface. This athletic creature needs lots of open, swimming space.

Maximum length: 11 cm (4 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 380 L (100 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.


Carnivore. Feed meaty foods at least several times a day. Because it is so active, it is prone to losing weight if not fed enough.

Aquarium Compatibility

Do not let the long snout fool you—its mouth is ­relatively large and it will eat any fish that it can catch and swallow. Keep one male per tank, but a male and female can be kept together. Its catholic diet makes it a threat to a wide range of ornamental invertebrates (including feather dusters, snails, small clams, shrimps, crabs, brittlestars, sea stars, and small urchins).


Egg scatterers that produce pelagic eggs, often in midwater mating rituals. Both eggs and larvae that drift with plankton in the water column and settle back onto a reef at about the time of metamorphosis. These are among the most challenging types of marine fishes to propagate in captivity.


This is a very active species that will pace from one end of the aquarium to the other. It will occasionally stop to probe a reef crevice with its snout or examine the bottom as it searches for food. As it grows, it is not uncommon for male Bird Wrasses to develop large bumps on the snout. These protuberances, which may be fatty tumors, do not tend to interfere with the feeding and general health of the Bird Wrasse.

Reference: 101 Best Saltwater Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM