News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Fish - Coris venusta (01/20/16)

Highly Underrated Fish - Coris venusta

In The Wild

The Elegant Coris (Coris venusta) comes from a small range in the Central Pacific, where it is a common fish. They are reef associated, generally found above the rubble or sand near said reefs. They prefer shallower waters, tending to live in less than 40 feet of water.

Among Coris genus wrasses, this is one of the smallest ones, reaching a maximum size of only about 7.5 inches. They reach sexual maturity much smaller than that, and form distinct pairs during breeding. They eat a wide variety of motile invertebrates preferring snails and bivalves; though they have no problem eating crabs, urchins, shrimp, stars a variety of pods and pretty much anything else that moves.

In The Aquarium

The Elegant is an excellent, durable, gorgeous aquarium fish. They eat just about everything you throw at them, are resistant to most common aquarium maladies and stay pretty small (as far as Coris go). As an extra added benefit, they'll eat just about every common aquarium pest there is! They are low risk with sessile invertebrates (coral), though they are likely to take a toll on your clean up crew, which will mean replacing snails slightly more often than you did before. While smaller individuals tend to ship better, if they are too small, they can be challenging to start on prepared foods.

They don't need a ton of swimming room, though they do much better if they have a sandbed to hide in. Frequently literature suggests a two to four inch deep sandbed for Coris genus wrasses, and for the larger ones this might be good, but for these fish with their smaller max size, 1/2 to one inch is plenty. Deeper sandbeds run the risk of going anoxic, and those anaerobic areas could easily be disturbed by the wrasse, releasing hydrogen sulfide and other undesirables into the aquarium.

Coris venusta is easy to feed, and like a mix of thawed meaty foods. They can generally be segued onto pellets in short order, but a good mix of meaty food is still a good idea. Occasionally offering whole bivalves gives them something to do. Because of their wild feeding habits, never house these fish with decorative clams or stars, as those will become food as well.

As with any Coris wrasse, take care when you choose tankmates for these fish. They can be aggressive with other similarly shaped and sized fish and may also dominate smaller fish of similar shape. That being said, this fish's upside far outweighs its liabilities, especially when you make reasonable choices about what to house this animal with.

Scott W. Michael, Reef Aquarium Fishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2005).
Rudie H Kuiter, Fairy & Rainbow Wrasses and their relatives, 1st ed. (TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UK, 2002)
Scott W. Michael, Wrasses & Parrotfishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2009).
In House Resources: Adam Mangino, Eli Fleishauer