Care Level: Advanced
Reef Compatible: Yes
General Description: The Vermiculate Leopard Wrasse, also known as the Blue Star Leopard Wrasse, is native to the Red Sea and around the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. A striking fish that catches the eye and is intriguing to watch, the Vermiculate leopard wrasse requires exceptional dedication and attention from the hobbyist in order to thrive. Like all members of the genus Macropharyngodon, the Vermiculate leopard wrasse absolutely requires a fine sandy substrate in order to be able to bury themselves at night for protection or if felt threatened during daylight. In fact, it is very common for your newly introduced Vermiculate leopard wrasse to immediately bury themselves once released into the aquarium. Juvenile or female Vermilculate leopard wrasses have an overall mottled body color that is red to orange, with pearly white to blue spots, and a large blue to black patch on their abdomen. Males, on the other hand, are predominately blue to green around their face and abdomen with a broken-line pattern that runs the length of their body in variations of red, brown, and yellow colors. Like other Labroids (family: Labridae), Vermiculate leopard wrasses are capable of changing sex; the most dominant fish in the group can turn into a male. Vermiculate leopard wrasses can reach a size of approximately 5″.
Diet Requirements: Vermiculate leopard wrasses are carnivores, actively hunting tiny crustaceans throughout the day. Encouraging a Vermiculate leopard wrasse to accept prepared foods can be a challenge. We have found that offering live bring shrimp at the beginning can gain the interest of particularily fussy or stubborn individuals. Ultimately, a diet consisting of various meaty preparations such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and other mixed frozen foods will maintain optimal health and coloration. We highly encourage soaking frozen foods in vitamin and fatty acid supplements, as Vermiculate leopard wrasses have very high metabolisms. Multiple, small feedings per day rather than one large feeding can also help and in turn create more of a natural environment for the leopard wrasse as it would feed in the wild. Vermiculate leopard wrasses may also accept high quality flake or pellet foods, which is great for nutritional gaps and variety. Vermiculate leopared wrasses also have an incredible natural ability to control and eliminate nuisance red Planaria flatworms that sometimes hitch hike on corals or live rock.
Care Requirements: A very established, minimum 55 gallon aquarium with a 3″ sandbed at the very least is needed. Vermiculate leopard wrasses enjoy a variety of rock work and crevices to swim through and around while they hunt. Such live rock arrangements can also help to make it feel secure and encourage more outgoing behavior. The Vermiculate leopard wrasse is not tolerable of nitrite or ammonia spikes, and an established tank also offers microinvertebrates and crustaceans (such as copepods) that naturally accumulate over time as the aquarium ages for it to prey on. Given their peaceful and timid nature, a Vermiculate leopard wrasse should not be kept with overly aggressive species, especially those that can outcompete it in food resources. It is best to add a Vermiculate leopard wrasse before larger or more active fish in order to allow it to acclimate to the environment and begin feeding. Vermiculate leopard wrasses can be kept in groups, but add all individuals simultaneously for the best success. Recommended water conditions, 72-78° F, KH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, salinity 1.020-1.025.
Purchase Size: Small 1-1/4″ to 2″; Medium 2″ to 2-3/4″; Large 3″ to 4″
Note: Your item may not look identical to the image provided due to variation within species. Purchase sizes are approximate.