PSEUDOCHEILINUS OCTOTAENIA slightly larger fish, P. octotaenia grows to 5½ inches and is known as the eight-line wrasse. It comes in two color morphs, one more orange and the other more pinkish in body hue. Its range is the Indo-Pacific, including Hawai‘i.
Often called the four-line wrasse, P.
tetrataenia, like all members of the genus, is
best kept one to a tank. It grows up to 3 inches
and inhabits the west-central Pacific.
As noted, these fishes are shy to the
point of invisibility, spending their daylight
periods skulking about in crevices and
caves on the bottom. Although frustrating
for an aquarist, this full-time activity serves
them well in seeking out their favored food
items as well as in avoiding predators.
I should mention that these wrasses
sleep in cocoons, not under the sand. They
exude body mucus and sleep in a bag-type
arrangement similar to many parrotfishes.
This is thought to aid in avoiding predators.
You may see yours ingesting this mucus on
waking in the morning.
A disturbing behavior that should be
guarded against is their tendency for
jumping out of aquariums. These little
wrasses can launch themselves up and
through small openings. Do make sure you
have your top completely screened.
The feisty six-line wrasse P. hexataenia and others in its genus are better kept singly to avoid
squabbles between individuals.
All of these wrasses can become agonistic
toward other fishes, particularly species that
inhabit similar between-rock niches and
habitats. Undercrowding, overdecorating,
and keen observation are called for here,
as always. Unless your system is at least
100 gallons, and some 5 to 6 feet in length,
fish families like the dottybacks, dartfishes,
grammas, Liopropoma, and small clownfishes
should be avoided. These fishes frequently
fall prey to harassment from even smaller
individuals of Pseudocheilinus.
Pseudocheilinus wrasses are reef-safe and
leave stinging-celled life be, though you
may occasionally find yours picking around
sessile invertebrates, looking for the small
worms, crustaceans, and the like that they
feed on. Very little damage is done by
this picking. Small hermits and shrimps
(peppermints, cleaners, etc.) may tempt
your wrasse, especially while soft bodied
during molting, and small snails and small
tridacnid clams have been nipped by these
species on occasion—possibly in their quest
for pyramidellid parasites. But though they
do not harm hard and soft corals, not
all cnidarians are safe for the wrasses—
Pseudocheilinus have been consumed by sea
anemones in captivity.
Vanishing wrasse P. evanidus; beautiful yet reclusive, Pseudocheilinus species have a habit of remaining out of sight.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com