Ornate Wrasse
Ornate Wrasse

Ornate Wrasse

Halichoeres melanurus

Ornate Wrasse

Common name: Ornate  Wrasse, Christmas Wrasse
Scientific name: Halichoeres ornatissimus
Max size: 7 in / 18 cm
pH: 8.1-8.4
Salinity: 1.020-1.025
Temperature: 72-78ºF (22-26°C)

The Ornate wrasse is also known as the Christmas Wrasse. Some say the name Christmas wrasse relates to the fact that they are found around the Christmas Island, other say that the name Christmas wrasse is due to its red and green color. It is an extremely beautiful fish that can be the centre piece of any aquarium.

It is very hard to describe this stunning species with words. The Ornate wrasse has a red/purple body with blue lines running horizontally across the body. It has green and yellow spots in the tail fin and yellow and green stripes on the head. The Ornate wrasse has two black "eyes" on the dorsal fin. Only adult males show this coloration, juveniles and females have a different coloration.

The Ornate wrasse is quite hardy once it have established itself in your tank but unfortunately it ships very poorly and shipping guarantees usually don't cover this species when it is ordered online. The Ornate wrasse is only occasionally available and if you want one you might be forced to wait a few months.

Ornate wrasses are sensitive during the first period after they have been introduced into the aquarium until they have acclimatized. During this period, you will usually only seldom see your Ornate wrasse. The rest of the time it will be burrowed down in the bottom substrate. It can be hard to rear emaciated specimens or specimens that have lost their appetite back to health and you should therefore only buy Ornate wrasses that look healthy and that you have seen eating in the store.

The Ornate wrasse is not completely reef safe as they can eat small shrimps, snails, hermit crabs and even small sea cucumbers. They can however also be a great benefit to the reef aquarium by helping you by controlling populations of fire worms, pyramidellid snails and commensal flatworms by eating them. They leave corals alone. The Ornate wrasse is a peaceful species that can be kept with other peaceful species. Do not keep it with aggressive fish or fish that bullies them.

The Ornate or Christmas wrasse is found in the Indian Ocean from the Cocos and Christmas islands to southern Japan. It is relatively common in the waters of Hawaii.

Ornate wrasse care and aquarium setup:

The Ornate wrasse should be provided with an aquarium no smaller than 50 gallon /200 L. The aquarium should be decorated so that a lot of hiding places are created in caves and under overhangs. The fish easily get stressed if there aren’t enough caves and will become very skittish and spend most of it time burrowed in the bottom substrate. Ample amounts of caves are essential if you want to keep this fish. The Ornate wrasse wants to be able to bury itself in the bottom and a wrasse aquarium should contain at least 3 inches / 7.5 centimeters of fine grained sand on the bottom. They prefer a well circulated well lit aquarium. This species is an excellent jumper and it is important to cover the aquarium well to prevent your Ornate wrasses from jumping to their deaths.

Ideal conditions for Neon wrasse is pH 8.1-8.4, salinity 1.020-1.025, and temperature 72-78ºF (22-26°C).

Feeding Ornate Wrasse

The Ornate wrasse is a carnivore. In the wild, they eat small invertebrates such as very small shrimps, snail and micro-crustaceans. Most specimens can be trained to accept frozen food and chopped up sea food as well as flake food. Ornate wrasses will need to be trained to accept anything but live food so during the first few weeks you can feed them black bloodworms and feeder shrimps. It is very important to make sure that they get enough food. Feed them 3-4 times a day.

Breeding Ornate Wrasse

All Ornate wrasses are born as females and the dominant female will then develop into a male when the need arises, e.g. if the male falls prey to a predator. A female can turn into a male in 2 weeks.  Sometimes females turn into males even though there already is a male present, but they will only be subordinate males and not as colorful as the dominant male. Sexing Ornate wrasses is easy as the females much less colorful (but don’t forget about the subordinate males). We have no information on breeding this species in home aquariums.

Wrasse Articles:

Bird Wrasse – Gomphosus varius
Dragon Wrasse  - Novaculichthys taeniourus
Harliquin Tuskfish – Coerodon fasciatus
Hogfish - Information about Hogfish
Neon Wrasse – Halichoeres melanurus
Queen Coris – Coris frerei
Radient Wrasse – Halichoeres iridis
Spanish Hogfish – Bodianus rufus
Striated Wrasse – Pseudocheilinus evanidus
Yellow Coris – Halichoeres chrysus

Line Wrasses:
Fourline Wrasse – Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia
Sixline Wrasse – Pseudocheilinus hexataenia
Eightline Wrasse – Pseudocheilinus octotaenia

Fairy Wrasses:
Exquisite Fairy Wrasse – Cirrhilabrus exquisitus
Lubbock's Fairy Wrasse – Cirrhilabrus lubbocki
Scott's Fairy Wrasse – Cirrhilabrus scottorum
Solar Fairy Wrasse – Cirrhilabrus solorensis

Flasher Wrasses:
Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse – Paracheilinus carpenteri
Dot-and-Dash Flasher Wrasse – Paracheilinus lineopunctatus
Filamented Flasher Wrasse – Paracheilinus filamentosus
McCosker's Flasher Wrasse – Paracheilinus mccoskeri


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