Habitat: Natural geographic location: The Black Leopard Wrasse or Yellowspotted Wrasse was described by Herre in 1932. They are found widespread throughout the Western Pacific from the Eastern Indian Ocean to the Great Barrier Reef, ranging at depths of 26 to 109 feet (9 - 33 meters) though usually below 49 feet (15 meters). They enjoy lagoons and seaward reefs with sand and coral mixtures. They will be seen swimming in pairs or small groups close to the bottom.
Status: These fish are not listed on the IUCN Red List.
Description: Both the male and the female have a black body color. On the male, the spots are more like "diamond" shapes, in the sense that each scale is outlined in a blue-green coloring. The females are similarly colored, though the spots are closer together as they get closer to the dorsal fin, with colors ranging between yellow to white. The juveniles are the ones with the yellow spots, thus the name Yellowspotted Wrasse. As this fish ages the spots may take on a blue-greenish color with yellow near the the top of the head. Leopard Wrasses have been known to live from 5 to 8 years in captivity.
Length/Diameter of fish: Black Leopard Wrasse adults reach up to a maximum length of about 4.7 inches (12 cm).
Maintenance difficulty: Due to their specialized eating habits and nature, the Black Leopard Wrasse or Yellowspotted Wrasse should only be attempted by advanced aquarists as they are very difficult to keep. The key to successfully keeping this wrasse is ultimately a well established reef tank, with lots of food (micro-crustaceans) flourishing in the environment. Do not put with other fish that will compete for food. Also, they tend not to tolerate copper.
Some guidelines for establishing these fish:
Foods: The Black Leopard Wrasses or Yellowspotted Wrasses are carnivorous. In the wild they mostly eat small invertebrates such as foraminiferans (small shelled protozoa) and snails, which they pick from the reef with their canine teeth, then use their pharyngeal teeth to pulverize. They also eat small amounts of copepods and amphipods. Provide your new wrasse with live foods such as feeder shrimp and live black worms. Slowly introduce them to mussel meat, mysis, krill and plankton. Feed several times a day. Try to gut load the live foods with vitamin preparations for marine fish, and soak prepared foods in the vitamins. Providing a constant source of natural prey through a productive refugium will also help. A good commercial protein formula for wrasses is Pro-salt marine.
Maintenance: Normal water changes at 10% biweekly or 20% monthly. During quarantine period, use the main tank water for water changes in the quarantine tank. For more information see, Marine Aquarium Basics: Maintenance
Aquarium Parameters: This fish needs to have lots live rock producing its natural habitat foods (micro-crustaceans) to ensure an easy transition to captive life. A minimum 2" sand bed is imperative, and more is even better. Using a tight fitting lid lid is a good idea as they may jump if semi-aggressive fish are in the tank.Minimum Tank Length/Size: A minimum 50 gallon (189 liters) aquarium.Light: Recommended light levels No special requirements. Temperature: No special requirements. Normal temperatures for these marine fish is between 74° and 79° Fahrenheit.Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong No special requirements.Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom They will spending in all parts of the aquarium.
Social Behaviors: The Black Leopard Wrasse or Yellowspotted Wrasse is best in pairs or groups, though the tank must be larger to sustain more than one. It is one of the few wrasses that may be kept with their own genus (Macropharyngodon), and then only if one fish is male and the rest are female. They are reef safe, though the do eat tiny micro-crustaceans, they will not bother the corals. Compatible with all peaceful fish and some semi-aggressive fish like dottybacks, dwarf angels, jawfish, rabbitfish and the like. If semi-aggressive fish are in the plans, add the leopard wrasse first. Do not put with Puffers, scorpionfish, groupers or other fish large enough to eat them. Also avoid slow, methodical feeders such as seahorses or pipefish.
Sex: Sexual differences: All are born female and change as the need arises. Males have greenish-blue edged scales, with the face having more irregular lines instead of spots. They also have a metallic green color that is only displayed during courtship. Females have spots that get closer together and more numerous as they get closer to the dorsal. Interestingly, once this wrasse turns into a male, the change cannot be reversed. A harem consists up to 7 to 10 females.
Breeding/Reproduction: They have not been bred in captivity. In their natural environment males and females will dart up into the water column 2 to 3 feet at a time and deposit sperm and eggs. The current then takes the fertilized eggs out to a safe area of the ocean.
Availability: The Black Leopard Wrasse or Yellowspotted Wrasse is only occasionally available. They are sometimes available on the internet or as a special ordered through a pet store. When special ordering, request 2" of sand for shipment and make sure you see the fish come out of the box with the sand in the bag. Put down a deposit and observe the fish for a few days before purchasing.
Some things to check for when obtaining these fish:
For success in keeping this wrasse, follow the methodical procedure describedin Maintenance difficulty above.
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