Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse

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Labroides phthirophagus - Randall, 1958
Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse

Beautiful but one of a number of cleaner wrasses that should be left on the reef. Scott W. Michael


Cleaner wrasses, including this very appealing species, are all obligatory parasite pickers and slime eaters and are virtually guaranteed to starve in the home aquarium. Before wasting away, they may pester tankmates by incessantly attempting to groom their bodies and fins.

Family: Labridae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: Reef.

Maximum length: 12 cm (5 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 208 L (55 gal)

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

General swimming level: All levels.


Carnivore. Difficult to feed. It may accept small meaty foods such as Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, zooplankton.

Aquarium Compatibility

May annoy other fishes by constantly picking at them, hunting for parasites or eating mucus from their skin.


Not reported. Produce pelagic eggs and larvae.


The survival rates of cleaner wrasses are so poor that conscientious aquarists shun them and try to discourage their collection and sale.

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