What is a Dragon Wrasse?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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A Dragon Wrasse is fish that is popularly sold as a pet. These fish are called several different names, and are known for their odd appearance and ability to move aquarium rocks around with ease. The animal is scientifically known as Novaculichthys taeniourus.

These saltwater fish have the capability of growing up to 12 inches (31 cm) in length. They are multi-colored, with long, light blue to green bodies featuring dark markings. This animal can be found naturally in the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to Polynesia, as well as throughout the East Indies. Dragon Wrasse are also found along the shores of Africa.

Members of the Labridae family, Dragon Wrasse fish are considered very aggressive, territorial fish. They should not be placed with any other marine life, save for stinging-cell creatures. Dragon Wrasse will eat other fish, or even hermit crabs, when given the opportunity. When they do feel threatened, however, they will bury themselves within the sand or rocks of an aquarium until they feel safe. They also engage in this type of behavior when sleeping.


The carnivores' natural diet consists of shrimp, worms, and feeder fish, though they will also eat fish flakes. These hardy eaters should be fed a wide variety of food in order to remain as healthy as possible. Both frozen and live sources of food may be given, as well as some dehydrated protein. A fish specialist can help determine which food combinations are best for an individual Dragon Wrasse.

Environments created for Dragon Wrasse fish should be large, as the animals grow much larger than most household aquarium fish. The fish are strong jumpers and require a secure, heavy lid to prevent them from leaping from their tank and harming themselves. Wrasse fish are very active and require lots of room to swim, as well as many rocks for security and enjoyment. The fish also enjoy sand covered with patches of grass, which is reminiscent of their natural home environments.

Dragon Wrasse fish are commonly known as Reindeer Wrasse at their juvenile stage of development. This is attributed to the two long dorsal fins extending from the fish's head during this stage, which some say resemble the antlers of a reindeer. The fish's ability to move rocks while searching for food has given it the name Rockmover Wrasse. Some of the fish's other names include Striped Wrasse, Red Belly Wrasse, and Clown Wrasse.


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