Gomphosus varius

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Latin name Gomphosus varius - Lacepède, 1801
Local name Bird Wrasse
Family Labridae - Gomphosus
Origin East Indian Ocean, Australia, Indonesia, Central/West Pacific
Max length 30 cm (11,8")
As aquarium fish
Minimum volume 1000 cm (264 gal)
Hardiness Hardy
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Reef safe with caution
Aggressiveness Might be aggressive towards similar species
Recommended Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
Other invertebrates
Maybee Fish
Beware of
Jumps out of open aquaria

This species is known to jump out of open aquaria.

Can be a threat to small fish

This spicies might be a threat to smaller fishes.

Can nibble at clams

This species sometimes nibbles at clams including Tridacna species.

Can be a threat towards crustaceans etc.

This species will eat shrimps, crabs, small bivalves, snails and the like.

Keep in mind
Requires a varied diet

This species must be fed with an appropriately varied diet.

Can coexist as a pair

They can live as a pair provided they are introduced simultaneously.

Hiding places

This species needs good hiding places, for example, between live rocks.

Requires plenty of space for swimming.

This species revels in swimming and requires an aquarium with ample space.


This species can change gender from female to male.

When a male is needed, a female changes sex and takes on the role.

Can be aggressive

This species can be aggressive when kept together with fish that are very similar, or if they are not provided with adequate space.

Descriptions and further reading

The females are grey/brown whilst the males are green. If they are to function as a pair, the female should be introduced into the aquarium, first.

Genus description (Gomphosus)

Birdwrasses (Gomphusus) are so called because of their special beak-formed jaw, which they use to hunt for prey amongst rock and corals.

They eat mainly crabs, shrimps and crayfish, but also mussels, small fish and starfish are included in their natural diet. If the prey is too large to be eaten whole, these Wrasses will hit it against rocks until the pieces are of the right size.

They normally sleep between rocks.

Family description (Labridae)

Wrasses are nearly always seen in reef aquaria, since many of the species are both attractive and useful in battling a range of unwanted invertebrates like i.e. flatworms, pyramide snails.
These fish live of everything from zooplankton to large crustaceans, sea urchins and the like.

The needs and behaviour of Wrasses vary greatly, so it is vital to familiarize oneself with the specific species before buying one.

Aquarium trade Yes
Distribution Indo-Pacific: Cocos-Keeling to the Hawaiian, Marquesas and Tuamoto islands, north to southern Japan, south to Rowley Shoals in the eastern Indian Ocean and Lord Howe and Rapa islands. Replaced by <i>Gomphosus caeruleus</i> in the Indian Ocean (Ref. 3781
Danish common names Grøn fuglegylte
English common names Olive club-nosed wrasse
Birdnose wrasse
References and further reading

About references

Bob Fenner. Sociable to the Point of Exuberance! The Bird Wrasses, Genus Gomphosus - Wet Web Media - (English)
James Fatherree. 2014. A look at the Bird Wrasses (Requires subscription) - Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine - (English)

Scott W. Michael. 2009. Wrasses and Parrotfishes (Reef Fishes Series Book 5) - TFH Publications / Microcosm Ltd. - (English)