Six-Striped Soapfish

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Grammistes sexlineatus - (Thunberg, 1792)
Six-Striped Soapfish

An unusual aquarium species, beautiful but predatory and able to produce a toxic lather. Scott W. Michael


Not for everyone, this is a handsome fish and an ­interesting choice for the aquarist looking for an unusual, highly predatory aquarium inhabitant. It produces a toxic slime (it will ­actually lather in a bucket), but this is rarely a problem. Color patterns change considerably as the fish grows, from two stripes on young juveniles to six as a subadult and a series of broken lines on adults.

Family: Serranidae

Other common name(s):

  • Six-line Soapfish
  • Goldlined Soapfish

Native range:

Habitat: Reef and rocky coastal waters. Suitable caves and overhangs are required to make this fish feel at home.

Maximum length: 30 cm (12 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 209 L (55 gal)

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

General swimming level: Midwater to bottom.


Carnivore. Satiate with meaty foods, such as shrimp, squid or non-oily marine fish flesh twice a week.

Aquarium Compatibility

At first, this soapfish will hide most of the time, sneaking about the tank and peeking out from hiding places. But once it begins to see its keeper as a food source, it will become a true pet, begging for handouts and swimming back and forth at the front of the tank when the aquarist enters the room.


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.


Two words: eating machine. It is the “über-predator,” consuming any fish or crustacean that fits in its mouth and even tankmates that are too large to swallow. (They are known to swim around with part of a damsel or shrimp protruding from their mouths for hours, waiting to swallow.) Keep one per tank. Large individuals will not hesitate to eat smaller Six-striped Soapfish.

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