Macropharyngodon bipartitus

Download Reef App on Google Play or App Store
Get it on Google Play Get it on App Store
Latin name Macropharyngodon bipartitus
Local name Blue Star Leopard Wrasse
Family Labridae - Macropharyngodon
Origin East Indian Ocean, West Indian Ocean
Max length 13 cm (5,1")
As aquarium fish
Minimum volume 400 cm (106 gal)
Hardiness Average
Suitable for aquarium Experience, preparation and extra care required
Reef safe Always reef safe
Aggressiveness Docile
Recommended Zooplankton (Cyclops, pods...)
Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Beware of
Pods in the aquarium

It is preferable that this species should be able to find all of its own food in the tank.
It can therefore be very challenging to keep it in an aquarium, as it so easily runs out of food.

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.

Frequent feeding

This fish requires feeding several times a day, especially when newly added.

When the fish can find its natural food in the aquarium it requires less frequent feeding. 


This species is very shy and docile, so one should be careful when keeping it with more aggressive fish.

Can coexist with its own species

Several specimen of this species can coexist in the same aquarium, provided they are introduced simultaneously.


This species can change gender from female to male.

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

Descriptions and further reading
Genus description (Macropharyngodon)

Leopard Wrasses have fascinating colours and patterns, but they are not for the novice because of their nutritional and dietary needs.

One must have a well established aquarium where these fish can find their own food in the form of small snails and pods. If there is not enough food they will slowly die, due to malnutrition. This means too, that it is a bad move to keep them with competitors for the same foods, such as Mandarinefish, unless one is absolutely certain that there is sufficient to go around.

One should supplement their diet with various kinds of frozen foods, several times daily.

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

If they are transported in a container without sand, can they be injured in the area around their mouth, this is something which must be checked when selecting fish in the fish store. They have an excellent biological clock, but after transportation it takes a bit of time before it starts working properly again.

One must not introduce Leopard Wrasses into an tank with aggressive fish, as then it will be hard to get them to eat.

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.

References and further reading

About references

Henry C. Schultz. 2002. The Leopards of the Reef - Reefkeeping Magazine - (English)
Bob Fenner. Leopard Wrasses, the Genus Macropharyngodon; Hardier Than They Used To Be - Wet Web Media - (English)
Terry Siegel. 2003. Editorial: March 2003 - Advanced Aquarist - (English)
Bob Fenner. 2011. Leopards for the Reef - Tropical Fish Hoppyist Magazine - (English)

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