Red-head wrasse, Halichoeres rubricephalus


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Matt Clarke checks out a gorgeous wrasse for the marine tank.

Scientific name: Halichoeres rubricephalus, Kuiter and Randall, 1995.
Common name:
Red-head wrasse.
Origin: Endemic to the Flores and Banggai Islands off Indonesia in the western central Pacific, which are also home to the Banggai cardinal and the stunning lionfish Pterois kodipungi.
Size: Up to 10cm/4”.
Diet: There’s no specific data on diet, but most Halichoeres are foragers which pick at rocks and among the substrate for small benthic invertebrates and algae. They are typically simple to feed and readily will accept frozen Mysis and Artemia.

Aquarium: There’s little information on aquarium care of rubricephalus, so it’s not known whether this fish is safe for the reef aquarium.

Some Halichoeres have been successfully kept in reef set-ups, but larger ones may look on certain shrimp as food and could pick at corals, so be cautious. They’re not usually aggressive as wrasses go and should be added individually, unless you’re able to obtain a sexed pair.

Sexing: Like other wrasses, this species may change sex and males and females are sexually dichromatic, so look completely different and could easily be mistaken for separate species.

Males have a greenish body with a blue edge to the unpaired fins and characteristic red head.

Females are yellow with blue longitudinal pinstripes and a couple of dorsal spots.

Notes: This species, which was originally known as Halichoeres sp. ‘1’ and is listed in Kuiter and Debelius’s 2006 book as Hemiulis rubricephala, was named Halichoeres rubricephalus by Kuiter and Randall in 1995.

According to Kuiter, the type specimens were found on Wair Bleler reef in Flores at about 30m/98’. It’s apparently found among dense stands of coral on rubble slopes on the coastal side of reefs at 10-35m/33-115’.

Availability: This was on sale at Oasis Aquarium, Manchester, as an Australian Ruby-face wrasse.  
Price: £90.