News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Fish - Halichoeres biocellatus (08/11/15)

Highly Underrated Fish - Halichoeres biocellatus

In the Wild

Halichoeres biocellatus are found all over the Western Pacific, from Japan down to the Great Barrier Reef. Like most fish in the Genus, they are commonly found over seaward reefs nearly always in conjunction with sandy patches. They use these patches for burying themselves overnight, as well as scavenging in them for prey items.

They have an extremely varied diet, eating everything from fish eggs and fan worms, to amphipods, snails and starfish. They are almost always found in less than 100 feet of water, frequently as shallow as 20 feet. The biggest individual documented in the wild was 4.7 inches.

In the Aquarium

What we at QM call the Fiji Xmas Wrasse is an excellent aquarium candidate. We source them from a MAC certified Short Supply Chain and they do extremely well here. They readily accept a wide variety of foods, including pellets. This proclivity toward eating just about anything is part of their charm, but is also a reason to take some caution with the tank-mates you choose for them; like most fish in the Genus, these will nip at snail and clam mantles and may take chunks out of starfish. On the plus side of these varied eating habits, they are also known predators of pyramidellid snails, small bristleworms, and acropora mites.

Among the fish in the Genus, these are some of the more peaceful. I have kept them in tanks with other peaceful Halichoeres like Halichoeres leucoxanthus and Halichoeres lamarii without incident. They are very disease resistant, especially to ich.

They are long lived, but slowly grow to a fairly small maximum size. Juveniles will display more distinct lines, where adult males will become a deeper red and green, will lose the eye-spots on their dorsal fin, and will gain dusky barring on the posterior end. Below, I have pictured both the juvenile (left), and the male (right).

Rudie H Kuiter, Fairy & Rainbow Wrasses and their relatives, 1st ed. (TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UK, 2002)

Scott W. Michael, Wrasses & Parrotfishes, the complete illustrated guide to their identification, behaviors and captive care 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ, 2009) (Microcosm, Ltd, Charlotte, VT, 2009) biocellatus

Quality Marine Internal References:
Adam Mangino, Brent Robinson, Eli Fleishauer