Facts

Latin name Labroides phthirophagus - Randall, 1958
Common name Hawaiian cleaner wrasse
Family Labridae - Labroides
Origin East Pacific
Max length 12.0 cm (4.7")

As aquarium fish

Minimum volume 1000 l (264 gal)
Hardiness Average
Suitable for aquarium Experience, preparation and extra care required
Reef safe Always reef safe
Aggressiveness Mostly peaceful but might be aggressive towards similar species of same gender

Food

Maybee
  • Zooplankton (Cyclops, pods...)
  • Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Recommended
  • Parasites

Fastidious

This species can be fastidious and in an aquarium it can be very difficult to get them to eat sufficiently.

Difficult to keep

It is recommended that this species be kept by experienced aquarists as it requires specialized food for its continual survival.

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. 

Hermaphroditic

This species can change gender from female to male.

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

Removes parasitic life

This species is able to remove parasites from fish.
It does not have a great impact on a large outbreak of marine ich (Cryptocaryon), for example, but it contributes towards keeping fish parasite free.

Constant cleaning can stress the fish in the aquarium, so one should not add this fish which removes parasites, if the fish are already weakened through other causes.

Not all specimens actively clean fish.

Can coexist as a pair

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

Genus description (Labroides)

Cleaner Wrasses, of the labroides genus, remove parasites from fish, but only particular types of parasites.
They do not remove marine ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) or velvet (Amyloodinium ocellatum), but they are good at controlling parasitic Flatworm and Isopods

Cleaner Wrasses do not survive on parasites alone, but also eat other fishes mucous layer. It is therefore a bad idea to keep Cleaner Wrasses with a small amount of fish as this will weaken these fishes immune system. 

Labroides dimidiatus are the easiest to keep in an aquarium as they will often happily eat frozen food, especially if helped along by having live food to begin with. 

These fish can be kept in pairs or alone, but two males will kill each other.
As it can be problematic to distinguish gender, one should buy these fish at a young age, if one wishes to have a pair. 

They sleep in a mucous cocoon between the rocks. 

Even though predatory fish will rarely eat Cleaner Wrasses in the wild, the same cannot be said for in captivity. 

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 Eastern Central Pacific: Hawaiian Islands (Ref. 583) and Johnston Islands (Ref. 28618).
English common names Hawaiian cleaner wrasse
Danish common names Hawaii-pudsefisk

References and further reading

About references

Bob Fenner. Cleaner Wrasses in the Genus Labroides - 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).

Tags

hermaphroditic, hard to feed, pair couple
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