Hello fellow reefers, I hope you enjoy this article about the Halichoeres wrasses we know and love. Before we start, I would like to thank @SaltyT and @Crabby48 for allowing me to use some of their photos. So, lets get into it.

The genus Halichoeres is differentiated from other genera of wrasses due to their teeth. Often the teeth differentiate many of our commonly loved and owned Labrids. Specifically with the teeth of these wrasses is their canines. Halichoeres species often have pointed snouts with two rows of teeth. One row is on the upper jaw and the second is on the lower jaw, with 2 sets of canines in each row. One set is on the front whilst the second set are in the corners of their mouths.
This genus of wrasse can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Currently there are 80 recognised species of Halichoeres and many of them are available to us hobbyists. Each species shows a variety in colouration from solid colours such as yellows to several different colours. Due to this the species of Halichoeres are often recommended as a beginner species of wrasse.

(Left) Halichoeres iridis - Transitional-Phase Male. Photo by SaltyT. (Right) Halichoeres garnoti - Juvenile. Photo by I Cant Think.

Keeping pairs or trio's of Halichoeres is not recommended to attempt unless the tank is huge (8'+) - Even then it’s not recommended. The reason for this is due to all specimens of Halichoeres transitioning to Males in captivity. You may have heard the same occur with Cirrhilabrus as well as Paracheilinus. The reasoning for all specimens transitioning to males is unknown however if you were to try a trio or pair then chances are the two males would fight to the death.

(Left) Halichoeres pallidus - Transitional-Phase Male. (Right) Halichoeres iridis - Terminal-Phase Male. Photos by Crabby48.

wrasses are a species of wrasse that we only recommend for a tank with a sandbed. The reason for this is due to when stressed or scared. Juveniles may also stay under the sand during growth or colour changes.
At night, these wrasses often go undisturbed by the majority of nocturnal predators however some predators that have sonar use it to detect prey items that may be under the sandbed. Due to how much these wrasses use the sandbed (and also why they use it) we often recommend a sand bed that is Atleast 2 inches in depth as well as a fine sand.

Halichoeres melasmapomus - Terminal Male. Photo by SaltyT.

These wrasses are found around large open areas of sandbeds, many being found around areas like seagrass beds, rubble piles ect. The exact type of reef will all depend on the latitude these fish are most commonly found. Many of the much more tropical species we find around in fish stores will be from tropical areas (Most commonly the Western Atlantic and Pacific).

Halichoeres melanurus - Terminal-Phase Male. Photo by SaltyT.

The Halichoeres wrasses are often suggested as a great beginner wrasse due to the majority of their care being easy but also their diet. These wrasses have a diet of worms, snails, crabs, shrimp and other invertebrates so they will help with "pest" eradication. I will use Halichoeres wrasses as my first line of defence against anything like flatworms or nudibranchs and many like myself will do the same. The diet of Invertebrates does come with a con though, and that con is these wrasses may start putting a dent in your clean up crew and eat ornamental shrimp. If you're worried about your cleaner shrimp or fire shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis or Lysmata debelius) then don't worry, the chances of the wrasse thinking of these as a snack is very small as their role is to help clean parasites off of fish. As for snails, they may begin getting picked off one by one, the way I avoid this is by looking for snails of certain traits (See a few examples below).
Can Flip ThemselvesNocturnal/Sand Sleeper
Trochus SnailsNassarius Snails
Cerith SnailsCerith Snails
Nerite SnailsBumblebee Snails

(Left) Halichoeres iridis - Transitional-Phase Male displaying towards a Transitional-Phase Male Halichoeres chloropterus. Photo by I Cant Think. (Right) Halichoeres biocellatus - Terminal-Phase Male. Photo by SaltyT.

In terms of aggression, the majority of species this genus of wrasse can be mixed around with other wrasses as many that are available in this hobby are the smaller 4 to 5 inch species. These wrasses are often much less aggressive than others in the genera of Thalassoma however caution must be applied when mixing larger Halichoeres such as Halichoeres garnoti or Halichoeres chloropterus with other wrasses. This is due to many of the larger species being much more likely to show aggression and when they do they can be nasty with it.

Halichoeres chloropterus - Transitional-Phase Male. Photo by I Cant Think.

And now I shall leave you with yet another genus of wrasse to contemplate going for :)

Halichoeres iridis - Transitional-Phase Male. Photo by I Cant Think.