Halichoeres hortulanus

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Facts
Latin name Halichoeres hortulanus - (Lacepède, 1801)
Local name Checkerboard wrasse
Family Labridae - Halichoeres
Origin East Indian Ocean, West Indian Ocean, Australia, The Red Sea, Indonesia, Central/West Pacific
Max length 27 cm (10,6")
As aquarium fish
Minimum volume 900 cm (237 gal)
Hardiness Hardy
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Not reef safe
Aggressiveness Might be aggressive towards other species
Feed
Recommended Zooplankton (Cyclops, pods...)
Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
Other invertebrates
Beware of
Eats tubeworms

This species likes to eat tubeworms.

Jumps out of open aquaria

This species is known to jump out of open aquaria.

Rearranges rocks etc.

This species like to move rocks and sometimes corals in the search for food.

An effective invertebrate hunter

These fish will hunt crustaceans, sea urchins and worms in an aquarium, very effectively.

Demand a very large aquarium when fully grown

This species needs a very large aquarium when fully grown.

Exactly how big the aquarium should be is hard to say, but the size of this species is such, that it cannot normally be kept in a home aquarium.

Keep in mind
Sensitive during transportation

This species is very sensitive during transportation and acclimatizing into the aquarium.

Deep sandy substrate

This species needs a minimum of 2 inch (5 cm) of sand in the aquarium bottom, so it can dig itself down when afraid or needing to sleep.

A pair, or one male with several females

This species functions best as a pair (one male, one female), or one male with several females.

Hermaphroditic

This species can change gender from female to male.

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

Eats flatworm

This species is known to feed on flatworms.

One can, of course be unlucky in having a specimen that refuses to eat them.

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.

Eats Pyramid snails

This species can be used to combat Pyramid snails.

One can of course be unlucky in having an individual that refuses to eat them.

Descriptions and further reading
Genus description (Halichoeres)

Fish of the genus Halichoeres are very populair in aquaria, as they are attractive and effective at eradicating flatworms and pyramid snails.

They are generally more peaceful than Pseudocheilinus hexataenia, which are often acquired to the same end. However, most fish of the Halichoeres genus will quickly become too large for smaller aquaria.

There is a difference in which food these fish live on, some on small invertebrates, whilst others can crush various crustaceans. Some species will take prey larger then themselves and smash it against rocks, so be aware of this when one has small fish, crabs, shrimps, snails etc. in the aquarium.

These Wrasses will dig themselves into the sand when feeling threatened or needing to sleep.

When they are choosen at the fish store one must make sure they are not injured during transport, especially in the area around the mouth. If the fish will be long in transit, it is a good idea to have enough sand in the container used so they can bury themselves.

They have an excellent biological clock, but after transportation it takes a bit of time before it start working properly again.

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.

FishBase
Aquarium trade Yes
Distribution Indo-Pacific: Red Sea south to Sodwana Bay, South Africa and east to the Line, Marquesas and Tuamoto islands, north to southern Japan, south to the southern Great Barrier Reef.
German common names Schachbrett-Junker
Danish common names Ternet gylte
French common names Girelle échiquier
English common names Checkerboard wrasse
References and further reading

About references

Richard Aspinall. 2014. Aquarium Fish: Halichoeres Wrasses - Are they the best reef fish? - Advanced Aquarist - (English)
Bob Fenner. Genus Halichoeres A-M - Wet Web Media - (English)

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