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Bird Wrasse Fish Profile

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Gomphosus varius

Hawaiian Male Green Bird Wrasse

Photo © Keoki Stender

Scientific Name:

  • West-Indo Pacific Region: Gomphosus varius (Lacepede, 1801).
  • Indian Ocean-Red Sea Region: Gomphosus caeruleus.

Other Common Names:

Bird Fish, Birdfish, Blue Bird Wrasse, Blue-Green Bird Wrasse, Black Bird Wrasse, Brown Bird Wrasse, Green Bird Wrasse, Indian Ocean Bird Wrasse, Red Sea Bird Wrasse.

Identification:

Named for their distinctive bird-like beaked snouts, and sexed by colors, Bird Wrasses are easy to identify. As juveniles, each species has their own unique transitional juvenile to adult colors and markings. G. varius males are typically medium to dark green or greenish-blue in color. Females are creamy white colored in front and dark brown to nearly black in back. G. caeruleus males are much bluer in color. Females from front to back are white to yellow on the bottom and greenish-blue on top. Both female species have bottom half white and top half peachy colored snouts.

Changing of Sexes:

In the wild a single male congregates with a large harem of females. Nature's way of propagating the species is that a single female will change into a male, separate from the group, and once fully transformed starts a harem of its own. For a period of time during this female to male transformation the fish possesses colors of both sexes, but eventually turns into an all green adult male.

Distribtution:

Extends from Hawaii southward to central Polynesia and westward to Micronesia, Melanesia and southern Japan, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa and the Red Sea.

Average Size:

Males grow to 12 inches, and females to 8 inches.

Charactertistics and Compatibility:

  • A hardy wrasse that adapts rather well to aquarium life. Only one male should be kept to an aquarium. A male-female pair should be added to the aquarium at the same time, introducing the female first.
  • Can become aggressive towards other tank mates, especially smaller fishes, and in particular avoid housing with small elongate shaped species, as in all likelihood they will be eaten.
  • A wrasse that does not bury in the sand to sleep at night, but will lay on top of the substrate or take refuge in rocks.
  • A flighty fish that will leap out of an open aquarium, is constantly on the move, and needs lots of swimming room.

Diet and Feeding:

  • Although this fishes bird-like beaked mouth is small, it is adept at grasping prey in its strong jaws, and once captured bashes it against the substrate until it breaks into bite-sized pieces.
  • Will eat nasty fire and other nuisance bristle worms, but beneficial and decorative type worms, small crustaceans, snails and such as well.
  • Feed a hardy diet of vitamin-enriched frozen brine and mysid shrimp preparations, small bits of fresh or frozen meaty seafoods, and frozen silversides.
  • Recommended Feedings - 3 times a day.

Habitat:

Should be housed in a covered aquarium, and provided with plenty of unobstructed room to swim around.

Suggested Minimum Tank Size:

100 gallons.

Reef Tank Suitability: Not recommended.

Guides Fish Care Rating: Male or Female - 2 Stars.

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