Hemigymnus melapterus
Source: JJPhoto.dk
Hemigymnus melapterus
Source: JJPhoto.dk
Hemigymnus melapterus
Source: Oceanreef.dk - Kasper Hareskov Tygesen
Hemigymnus melapterus
Source: Oceanreef.dk - Kasper Hareskov Tygesen
Hemigymnus melapterus
Source: Ahmed Abdul Rahman for MDC Seamarc Maldives / CC BY-SA 4.0
Hemigymnus melapterus
Source: JJPhoto.dk


Latin name Hemigymnus melapterus - (Bloch, 1791)
Common name Blackeye thicklip
Family Labridae - Hemigymnus
Origin East Indian Ocean, West Indian Ocean, Australia, The Red Sea, Indonesia, East Pacific, Central/West Pacific
Max length 37.0 cm (14.6")

As aquarium fish

Minimum volume 2000 l (528 gal)
Hardiness Delicate
Suitable for aquarium Experience, preparation and extra care required
Reef safe Not reef safe
Aggressiveness Might be aggressive towards similar species


  • Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
  • Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
  • Other invertebrates

Can be a threat to small fish

This spicies might be a threat to smaller fishes.

Difficult to provide the correct nutrition

Hard to give this species the correct nutrition and is therefore hard to keep alive.

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.

Can be a threat to many invertebrates

This species eats shrimps, crayfish, crabs, small bivalves, sea urchins, snails and similar.

Searches through sand for food

This species searches through the sand for food, which can make the water cloudy and shakes up detritus.

In an aquarium their natural food source in the sand is quickly exhausted.

Loses its colour as an adult

The juvenile form of this species is very colourful, but it becomes dull as it becomes larger.

Very frequent feeding

This species requires feeding 4 or more times a day.

Sensitive during transportation

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

Live food

There is a greater chance of success with this species if one can supply a living feed to allow it to adapt to the tank.

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.

Genus description (Hemigymnus)

Fish in the Hemigymnus grow to be very large, and therefore require a spacious tank.
They are typically fairly peaceful towards other fish, but do pose a threat to many invertebrates.

They must be fed four times a day, which requires good filtration. 

Before purchasing these fish one must be aware that they often cover corals with sand, in their search for food.

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: Red Sea and East Africa to Micronesia, Samoa (Ref. 2334), and Polynesia (Ref. 9823).
English common names Thicklip wrasse, Thick-lipped wrasse, Half-and-half thicklip, Blackeye thicklip wrasse, Blackeye thicklip, Blackedge thicklip wrasse
German common names Preußenbannerfisch
French common names Labre à grosses lèvres

References and further reading

About references

Bob Fenner. Genera Hemigymnus and Hologymnosus Wrasses - Wet Web Media - (English)

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

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (08/2014).


hermaphroditic, live food, eats fish, eats shrimp, eats crab, eats bivalve clams mussels scallops, eats snails, eats sea urchin, hard to feed
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