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Harlequin Tusk
(Lienardella fasciata)

Harlequin, Tusk, Wrasse, wrasse, Lienardella fasciata

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Harlequin Tusk Wrasses or Lienardella fasciata are a part of the family Labridae. This is the second largest family of marine fish, containing over 500 individual species. In Germany wrasses are commonly called lippfisch, in reference to their rubber lipped, protractile mouths.  Harlequins are indigenous to the west Indo-Pacific; from the northern coast of Australia up through Indonesia to Taiwan and Japan.

This is not your typical cigar shaped wrasse. In fact, they look more like a species of marine angelfish than they do most wrasse. They have rounded bodies just shy of achieving the disc shape of an angelfish. We will breakdown the name, harlequin tusk, into two separate words for further analysis. Harlequin bears reference to the brightly colored outfits of a harlequin. The coloration in this species is absolutely stunning. Their bodies are one continuous pattern of alternating vertical stripes from the tip of the nose to the base of their tails. Primary body coloring ranges from stark white, to blue, purple or green fading to white toward the underbelly. Interspersed in between the main body color are wide bands of vibrant orange frequently overcast in blue. The orange banding itself may be outlined with thin blue pin striping. Caudal fins are white tipped with orange. The word tusk refers to these fishes’ rather vicious looking outward projecting teeth. This species has bright blue teeth or tusks used for crushing invertebrates.

The two major export centers for these exotic creatures are the Philippines and Australia. Specimens from Australia are said to be of hardier constitution and are definitely more vibrant in color.  Those of Australian origin have the electric blue striping separating the thicker banding. 

Harlequin Tusks grow to a maximum adult length of 10 inches. These fish undergo a massive transition in temperament between youth and adulthood. Juveniles are quite timid and may be the subjected to intimidation or abuse by the aquarium’s other inhabitants. As the fish grows in size and experience it becomes more and more boisterous. While adults never quite achieve an aggressive attitude, they are fierce enough to hold their own against surgeonfishes, large angelfish, puffers and triggers as their tank mates. This fish is idea for a rowdy FOWLER (Fish Only With Live Rock) aquarium. Juveniles of the same species can be kept together without worry. Adults have major territorial issues toward conspecifics. Do not attempt to house two adults together in the confines of an aquarium. This species is not rated reef safe. Suitability depends on the tank’s inhabitants. They will not bother your coral or sessile invertebrates. However snails, hermit crabs and other small crustaceans will definitely be on the menu. Harlequins are rated at a moderate care level.  A minimum tank size of 125 gallons with a good assortment of well established live rock is recommended for this species.

Harlequins are strictly carnivorous.  They have not been successfully bred in captivity so any specimen you receive will come straight from the wild. Your harlequin may show a reluctance to feed when first introduced to your aquarium. A hunger strike of a few days, or even weeks for larger specimens, does not necessarily spell imminent doom for your fish. Try tempting it with live food offerings such as brine shrimp or feeder shrimp for larger fish. Once eating, you can begin the process of training it recognize nonliving food preparations as a source of nutrition. Flake food and pellets should be supplemented with frozen preparations and or fresh chopped seafood to help your fish maintain their general health and intense color palette. 

Environmental Parameters


pH Level Specific Gravity
72-78  °F 8.1-8.4 1.020-1.025

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