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Novaculichthys taeniourus, Rockmover or Dragon Wrasse. Scott W. Michael

Family: Labridae

Species in Genus Novaculichthys:


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


The two species in this genus are incredible, fascinating fishes, but not suitable for most reef aquariums because of their habit of flipping rubble and corals (hence their common name) and their proclivity toward eating all kinds of motile invertebrates. They will eat snails, bivalves, polychaete worms, crabs, shrimps, serpent stars, sea stars, and sea urchins. They also flip fungiid corals and large-polyped stony coral colonies when hunting, and have been known to jump from uncovered aquariums.

The most common member in the genus, the Rockmover or Dragon Wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus) is not only a threat to invertebrates, it can be very aggressive toward any fish tankmates. Although ornate, interesting, and relatively well-behaved as a juvenile, N. taeniourus will become a destructive and uncontrollable aquarium inhabitant as it matures.

Novaculichthys species do best in a fish-only tank with aggressive tankmates. These wrasses bury and will require a fine sand bed (2 to 4 in. [5 to 10 cm] deep) in which to hide at night. They eat virtually any meaty food offered.

Facts about NovaculichthysRDF feed
Family Labridae  +
Image credit SWM  +
Reference A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes  +
Text credit SWM  +