Wrasses make up and entire family of saltwater fish. This massive family is home to over 600 species which are split into nine subgroups.


The Wrasses are a widely varied group of fish; some are extremely small while others can grown quite large. The largest known wrasse is the humphead wrasse, which can grow to over eight feet in length.

Other, much smaller wrasse are well known as “cleaner fish.” These wrasse are so small that they get their food by feeding on unwanted materials on the scales of other fish. This includes parasites and excess dead-scales.

In Aquariums

Wrasse are popular pets because they come in many colorful varieties and will brighten up any tank.

Because they come in so many colors, some owners want to buy many different types of wrasses to give their tank a rainbow of colors.

However, this is not always advisable. Different species of wrasse will sometimes be violent towards one another. This can be particularly true for wrasses that are different sizes as they can view each other as food.

Before purchasing your wrasses, you will want to consider which types you want to have and then research whether or not they get along.

The most popular type of wrasse to use as a pet is the cirrhilabrus, also known as the fairy wrasse. The cirrhilabrus genus makes up fifty-three species of wrasse, so there is already a wide color variety available just in this genus.

The fairy wrasse is popular not just for its vibrant colors but also because of its size. While some wrasse are quite large or very small, the fairy wrasse tends to be just the right size for salt water aquariums.

As is common with many fish, the male fairy wrasse is more colorful than their female counterparts but also tend to be more aggressive to other fish.

Another popular wrasse is the flasher wrasse, which is well known for its varied colors and its unusual fins. It gets its name for its interesting mating display; in which the male dashes around the water while making its colors brighter in quick flashes.

With so many interesting options available, it is easy to see why the wrasse is so coveted amongst saltwater aquarium enthusiasts.

Other Uses for Humans

While wrasse are not used as food particularly often when compared to fish like tuna and salmon, they do have an important role in the industry. The smaller species of wrasse have become commonly used by fish farmers due to their use as a feeder fish.

When farming large groups of fish (such as salmon) parasites such as sea lice can become an issue. Treating all of these fish is challenging due to the vast quantity of the fish involved as well as the parasites get under the scales where it is hard to deal with them.

The wrasses perform an excellent job of keeping the other fish clean and healthy.