Violent Red Headed Wrasse


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Nov 18, 2018
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Hey everyone,
I'm losing fish left and right over the last month: a blue green chromis, followed by a male and female bartlett's anthia in the same day as one another, and now another blue green chromis is on the verge of death. All have been wounded quite badly, with chunks missing out of fins and obvious damage to their bodies as well. These signs of aggression were always visible before death and on one occasion I removed the fish and put it in qt, but it was too late and it died about a week later. My main DT has been up for almost 2 years. My most recent additions were three anthias and a red headed wrasse (male); this was back in mid January. All of my parameters are as follows:

100gal DT and 30gal sump, Temp 79 c, pH 8.0, Salinity 1.026, Ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 0ppm, nitrate 0ppm, phosphate 0.25ppm, calcium 500ppm, KH 11.2, Magnesium 1760ppm. I know that the last three are a little high I use instant ocean and don't does Mg, but it seems to stay high. Calcium and Alkalinity I've tried to bring down over the course of the past few months (very small adjustments on dosing pump once a month to not shock system - corals are all happy and growing though). Water changes are weekly at ~15% religiously.

My stock consisted of 2 clowns, a royal gramma, 5 blue green chromis, red headed wrasse, 3 bartlett's anthias (one male), red firefish goby, diamond spotted goby.

Initially I thought that one of the blue green chromis was responsible as they seemed to beat up on the one that didn't arrive with the other 4 (different supplier). After he died I noticed wounds on one bartlett's anthia (male) and that one of the females had disappeared. His wounds were on the left fin and side - fin was half torn off. About that time I also noticed another blue green chromis hiding constantly. About three days ago he came out of his hiding and within a day had new wounds including a bite out of his dorsal fin. I just watched, as he was trying to hide behind the power head, that the red headed wrasse swam up to him and started attacking him. He's so wounded he hardly moved. After a minute the wrasse just swam away.

I think I found my culprit, but I thought that these wrasses were supposed to be incredibly passive and good community fish. I can't find anything else that suggests this sort of behavior to anything other than other wrasses. Am I crazy? Did I miss something?

Big G

captain dunsel
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Jun 8, 2017
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Southern Oregon
Sorry for your losses.

Fish can be incredibly mean to one another. And to us too. Last year a member posted that his clownfish jumped up out of the tank and bit him on the eyeball while he was doing maintenance on the tank.


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Oct 23, 2018
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West Oz
I have a red headed solar wrasse that killed one of my dispar anthias. It also used to bully my blue star leopard wrasse pretty bad. Since then I added three Angelfish two of which are the most dominant fish in the tank which once settled the solar wrasse has settled down.

In my experience it’s not a good idea for the red head solar wrasse to be one of the dominant fish in the tank but at least a few notches down to keep it in check. My tank is 170gal but it was still a bully until I got more dominant fish.

I don’t know how big your tank is but I suggest you do the same or move your fish to someone who has a bigger tank and established community.
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