Six Line Wrasse: Fish Species Profile

Characteristics, Origin, and Helpful Information for Hobbyists

Six Line Wrasse with coral background

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The Six Line Wrasse is a vivid addition to many larger saltwater systems. A fairly aggressive fish, especially towards some invertebrate species and many fishes, the Six Line Wrasse requires careful consideration before adding them to your system. Once established, they are relatively easy to keep, although breeding them is exceedingly difficult.

Species Overview

Common Names: Six Line Wrasse, Six Stripe Wrasse, Six Bar Wrasse

Scientific Name: Pseudocheilinus hexataenia

Adult Size: 3 inches

Life Expectancy: 4 to 6 years

Characteristics

Family  Labridae 
Origin  Indo-Pacific and Fiji 
Social  Semi-aggressive 
Tank Level  Mid to bottom-dweller 
Minimum Tank Size   30 gallon
Diet   Carnivore
Breeding   Egg layer
Care  Easy 
pH   8.1 to 8.4
Hardness   8 to 12 dkH
Temperature  75 to 82 F (24 to 28 C)

Origin and Distribution

Many of the Six Line Wrasses in the aquarium hobby are live-caught from the coast of Fiji and other Indo-Pacific locations. They are found on coral reefs in shallow, clear, and warm water. They spend their days foraging in the cracks and crevices of reefs, looking for small prey animals to eat.

Colors and Markings

The Six Line Wrasse, as you can discern from its name, has six bars or lines lengthwise along its body. Their bodies are blue to pink with bright red to orange bands. Their tails are green to yellow and they are distinguished by a false eye spot on their dorsal tail peduncle. This false eye spot is used to trick potential predators to attack the back end of the fish, allowing fish to survive if attacked.

Tankmates

The Six Line Wrasse is typically reef safe and does not nip at corals. They are known to prey on crustaceans, snails, and live clams. They are aggressive towards other fish, particularly other smaller, peaceful wrasses. As with all aggressive fish, it is best to add them to a system last, after all the other fish have had time to settle in. Aggression may be apparent over food, space or other resources, so be sure to have enough space for all your intended species and spread out meals to limit competition. It is recommended to only have one Six Line Wrasse per system to limit aggression, unless you are planning on breeding them.

Some potential tankmates for the Six Line Wrasse include larger, semi-aggressive wrasse species. Please keep in mind that these species will need considerably more space, given their large size and personalities.

Banana wrasse in coral
Banana Wrasse (Thalassoma lutenscens)

Hal Beral/Getty Images

Dragon Wrasse in front of coral
Dragon/Rockmover Wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus)

Minakryn Ruslan/Getty Images

Six Line Wrasse Habitat and Care

Once established, the Six Line Wrasse is relatively easy to care for. They will be seen foraging between cracks and crevices in your substrate and live rock, mainly keeping to themselves. Be sure to provide a rich environment with many places to explore to keep your wrasse out of trouble with its tankmates.

They are known to eat snails, urchins, and flatworms, so may have some benefits for your overall system environment. Try to limit the number of "cleaner" fish in a system with a Six Line Wrasse in order to prevent injury or death from aggressive fish.

Six Line Wrasse Diet and Feeding

The Six Line Wrasse is primarily a carnivorous fish, eating mostly animal proteins. They are natural foragers and will nibble at small invertebrates in your aquarium.

They are best fed a carnivorous pelleted diet and supplement with meaty treats. Pelleted diets contain the best source of required vitamins. Meaty treats may include mysis, brine shrimp, and other carnivorous frozen diets.

Being tropical fish, they should be fed at least twice a day, or smaller meals three times a day.

Gender Differences

Male and female Six Line Wrasses have no externally distinguishable sex characteristics. Some owners have noted that their fish may become more vibrantly colored just prior to spawning, but this is not guaranteed. Males are noted to turn brighter colors than females.

Breeding the Six Line Wrasse

Unless you have a pair of Six Line Wrasses that have already mated, it is almost impossible to sex fish prior to purchase. Given their aggressive nature, most Six Line Wrasses are kept individually, therefore will not be given the option for reproduction.

Like many other fish species, the Six Line Wrasse is a broadcast spawner. This means that eggs and sperm are haphazardly sprayed throughout the system, rather than concentrating their eggs in a clutch or cave. Many spawnings happen without hobbyists even noticing, since most of the reproductive products will end up in your filtration.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar species, check out:

Check out additional fish breed profiles for more information on other saltwater fish.