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Six-Line Wrasse
(Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)

six-line wrasse

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The six-line wrasse or Pseudocheilinus hexataenia belongs to the family Laridae. This is a large and rather diverse family containing over 500 species in 60 different genera. The six-line wrasse is native to the central and western Indo-Pacific with large concentrations found off the coast of Fiji and the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef. They inhabit clear coastal to outer reef waters at depths up to 60 feet.

The name six-lined wrasse is purely descriptive. These fish have six neon orange lines running the length of their upper bodies. This horizontal striping is a striking contrast against their bluish purple body color. Their caudal fins are yellow with blue veining and an ocellus (false eye) meant to confuse predators located on the upper part of its base. The most distinguishing feature of these fish is their intense red eyes. Two white lines run diagonally through their eyes; one above and the second just below the pupil. This species is also marketed under the names six-stripe and pyjama wrasse by the aquarium trade. These are relatively small fish only reaching an adult size of approximately 3 inches.

This is an extremely active, exceptionally quick species. They will dart in and out of hiding places faster than just about any other fish you could have in your aquarium. They are diurnal foragers. In their natural habitat they spend the majority of their day scrounging around reef formations in search of food. In the evening they sleep in a mucus cocoon. It is believed that this cocoon forms a protective barrier against nocturnal predation; acting to mask its scent from potential predators.

These make good community tank fish. They are considered mildly aggressive and will bully smaller more timid species. Multiples can be kept together without any worry of territorial disputes. They may however demonstrate aggressive behavior toward other wrasse species.  Six-lines can make suitable additions to a marine reef tank depending on the general population. They will not harm corals or other anchored species. They may eat smaller crustaceans on occasion.

Wrasses are carnivorous. In nature their diet consists largely of minuscule creatures living on corals, other fish and rock formations. You will want to have an adequate supply of well established living rock. They provide beneficial services for the fellow inhabitants of their tank. They will eat the pyramidellid snails which commonly infest clam populations. They will eat the unwanted commensal flatworms off of your corals.  They will also remove pests such as bristleworms from living rock. Once they are confident in their surroundings they will take an active role as a cleaner fish removing parasitic isopods and copepods from the bodies and fins of their tank mates. Their foraging efforts should be supplemented with meat-based food products. They may also be fed finely chopped seafood such as shrimp, crab, and squid.

Six-line wrasses are protogynous hermaphrodites. They are born as females. If you introduce a group of juveniles in an aquarium together the larges most dominant member of the group will transform into a male. You will end up with a male who will tend to his harem. This change in gender can be accomplished in as little as 10 days. These fish are not known to breed in captivity.

Environmental Parameters


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

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