The bird wrasse Gomphosus varius.
appearance, and they are reputed to have
a long life in aquaria. It seems to me that
they should do well in your tank. The fish
should be all right, as they don’t have a
reputation for grazing on the invertebrates.
But that being said, all fish bear watching
in a tank of invertebrates, as there are
always individual differences—and some
individuals may decide to take bites from
the sponges, even though the species has
been declared reef safe. I’m not saying that
to alarm you, as the danger is small, but it is
still worth maintaining a watchful attitude
in regard to them.
I really like the appearance
of the bird wrasse, but after
seeing them while I was
snorkeling in Hawai‘i, I wonder if they can
adapt to the home tank. I see them for sale,
but I remember bird wrasses covering areas,
much like birds. Are they too specialized
for the home aquarium?
The bird wrasse Gomphosus
varius was named for the
beak like a bird’s, but it also,
like other wrasses, uses its
pectoral fins to fly like a bird. Surprisingly,
though, it does do well in the aquarium.
The beak makes it seem like a specialized
feeder, and it is in the sense that it probes
into crevices for prey, such as brittle stars
and small crustaceans, but it feeds fine in
Although it can “fly” across a considerable
area in the wild, it seems to acclimate well to
the confines of the aquarium.