Tips on Bird Wrasse Care

The bird wrasse or Gomphosus varius are a species belonging to the family Labridae. Their natural habitat is rather vast. It extends from Hawaii south to central Polynesia and west to southern Japan. They also inhabit the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and off the coastlines of western Africa.

These rather unique looking creatures are named for their elongated snouts that bear a striking resemblance to a bird’s beak. As adults each sex has its own distinctive color palette. Males typical range from a greenish blue to a dark or medium green. The anterior of the females’ bodies are a creamy off-white with a dark brown to nearly black anterior. Their color is so different from one another that they are often referred to as two entirely different fish, a green bird wrasse or a brown bird wrasse. Juveniles of both sexes have a brownish coloration. The elongated beak that this fish is named after doesn’t develop until adolescence.

This species is marketed under a myriad of names; Bird Fish, Birdfish, Blue Bird Wrasse, Blue-Green Bird Wrasse, Black Bird Wrasse, Brown Bird Wrasse, Green Bird Wrasse, Indian Ocean Bird Wrasse, and Red Sea Bird Wrasse.

Bird wrasses are among the larger saltwater tank fish. They will reach an adult size of 11 to 12 inches in length. A minimum tank size of 100 gallons is recommended. This is a very active species that is always on the move. They require an abundance of wide open spaces to swim in. If you are considering purchasing one be forewarned: They are accomplished jumpers and have been known to leap out of open aquariums. You should also provide them with plenty of rock work and caves. If they do not bury themselves in the substrate to sleep at night, they will lay on top of it under the shelter of one of these decorations.

Bird wrasses are a hardy fish. They acclimate well to aquarium life. Their overall temperate is considered semi-aggressive. They will make for better community dwellers when housed with fish of similar size and attitude. Do not keep them with more docile species. You especially want to avoid mixing them with smaller fishes with elongated bodies. You may wake up with one less fish in your tank.

Never add two males to the same aquarium. Their temperament will escalate from semi to extremely aggressive. A male female combination is fine. You can have a single female or several. Introduce the female(s) to the new surroundings first. Then follow up with the male.

In the wild a single male will preside over harem of females. Nature has a unique way of propagating the species in these fish. When separated from the harem, a single female will transform into a male. Once this transformation is complete the new male will start a harem of his own.

This fish is a devout carnivore. Their elongated beaks are used to snatch up small crustaceans and smash the against the ocean floor until they are suitably bite sized. Accordingly, they do not make good marine reef inhabitants. They will eat the smaller decorative creatures in your aquarium.

In captivity these fish can be fed vitamin enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, carnivorous based frozen foods, or small bits of fresh seafood (especially crustaceans) purchased from your local grocery store. They should be fed three times daily.