A very striking fish, the Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse is distinguished by its yellow head… and its bold black spot of course!

With its attractive color pattern, it is not surprising that the Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse has a variety of other common names. Other names for this fish are Breastspot Cleaner Wrasse, Cleaner Wrasse, False Bluestreak Wrasse, Spotbreast Cleanerfish, and Yellow Cleaner wrasse.

The Blackspot Cleaner Wrasses will form a symbiotic relationship with the other reef fish by cleaning them of unwanted parasites. Cleaner Wrasses are peaceful attractive fish with a most intriguing “dance” that they perform to solicit clients (other fish) and to calm them, allowing the cleaners to remove parasites and other debris from their clients bodies, fins, and mouths. They often set up a “cleaning station”, an area where the other fish can visit just for this beneficial service.

Dr. Jungle says, “Cleaner Wrasses are no longer
recommended for the average marine aquarium.”
Learn More…
Not a Pet!As recently as the mid 1990’s, the Cleaner Wrasses were regarded as a beneficial addition to the marine hobbyist’s aquarium. Tens of thousands of these little fish have been brought into the industry. Out of those, there is just a sprinkling of reports describing any sort of success in keeping this fish alive. With the increased knowledge of their specialized requirements, and the extreme difficulty of sustaining them in captivity, cleaner wrasses are no longer recommended for the home marine aquarium.
To Learn about the concerns of keeping Cleaner Wrasses in home marine aquariums, and the effects of removing them from their natural habitats,
Cleaner Wrasses in the Aquarium.

Like all the cleaner wrasses, the Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse’s sustainability in captivity is dismal, actually being the poorest surviror of this group. Fortunately there are a variety of other marine species you can choose from that perform beneficial cleaning services for other fish. These other cleaners are readily available and sustainable. The two main groups of cleaner fish are the gobies (genera gobiosoma especially) and wrasses. Some juvenile species of angelfish will also perform cleaning services. Another intriguing alternative is the cleaner shrimps, such as species of the genera Lysmata and genera Periclimenes.


Scientific Classification

Species: pectoralis

Habitat: Natural geographic location

A more recent discovery, the Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse was first described by Randall & Springer in 1975. They are found in the Pacific Ocean from the Eastern Indian Ocean areas and the Great Barrier Reef. The range of depth for this cleaner is 6.5 to 92 feet (2 – 28 meters) in coral-rich areas of seaward reefs and clear lagoon reefs.


These fish are not listed on the IUCN Red List.


The Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse is quite attractive, distinguished by its yellow head… and its bold black spot of course! The back half of the body is black with the black pinching to a point, and that turns into a faded line that continues to the snout. Above the black area and line is yellow. The yellow color extends below the black line on the head and a little further back on the body, then turning white until the anal fin starts, and at that point is light blue. True to its name, there is a black spot in the white area right behind the gill. Their life span is unknown.

Length/Diameter of fish

Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse adults reach up to about 4.3 inches (11 cm).

Maintenance difficulty

Very difficult. Though reef safe and peaceful the Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse is only for advanced to expert aquarists. Out of all the Labroides this cleaner has the poorest survivability, lasting only a couple of weeks to a month before dying from malnutrition even if they are feeding on prepared foods.
Unlike ‘facultative‘ cleaners such as cleaner gobies and cleaner shrimp, cleaner wrasses are ‘obligate’ feeders. Facultative cleaners engage in removing parasites from other fish but this in not their primary diet. For ‘obligate’ cleaners such as these wrasses, the cleaning activity provides them with their primary source of food. Most of the Labroides will accept prepared foods, but still starve due to malnutrition.


The Blackspot Cleaner Wrasses are carnivorous. Just as their name describes, they are cleaner fish whose entire lifestyle consists of (and relies on) a symbiotic relationship with other fish.They are classified as obligatory feeders, meaning they obtain all or virtually all of their nutrition by consuming parasites dead tissues, mucus, and other debris from the bodies, fins, and mouths of other fish.
Ideally cleaner wrasses could be kept in a reef environment supporting a large and diverse population of fish along with a variety of ectoparasites, basically supplying enough natural foods to sustain the cleaners.
In less than an ideal environment, trying foods similar to their natural diet such things as Cyclopeeze or daphnia would be highly recommended. Also encouraging them to take other finely chopped meaty foods such as shrimp, brine shrimp, squid, clams, and even chopped beef heart has said to be successful. In the wild they feed constantly while performing their normal cleaning activities, in the aquarium they should be fed several times a day. Very few have been successfully encouraged to eat other foods.
Even with these efforts survivability is questionable. Most of the time these fish will seem like they are doing fine eating prepared foods, only to slowly die from malnutrition.The Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse L. dimidiatus is the cleaner most often reported as being kept with any success, and it too is very minimal.


The few reports of successfully keeping any cleaner wrasses indicate that they are hardy once acclimated and if kept in quality water conditions. These are cleaners that have survived the stress of importation and relocation, and are eating prepared foods. Basic marine aquarium maintenance includes frequent water changes.

Aquarium Parameters

This fish needs to have plenty of live rock for hiding and for stationing “cleaning posts”, along with a lot of fish to clean.
Minimum Tank Length/Size:
A minimum 55 gallon (208 liters) aquarium.
Light: Recommended light levels
No special requirements, though these fish are diurnal and sleep when it gets dark.
No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74° and 79° Fahrenheit.
Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong
No special requirements.
Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom
They will spend time in all regions, however they will often pick an area among corals to establish a permanent cleaning station.

Social Behaviors

The Blackspot Cleaner Wrasses are solitary, only being seen alone or in pairs as opposed to large groups like other wrasses. Best to keep singly as the differences between male and female are unknown and each male will defend his territory.
All cleaner wrasses are peaceful and beneficial in keeping other fish parasite free. Labroides have a symbiotic relationship with other fish who provide them with nutrition. In return for their services they are even afforded a certain degree of protection from the natural predatory inclinations of larger fish which instead become their hosts. Some of the Labroides even clean large moray eels! Fish will come to the “cleaning” station on a regular basis to be cleaned.
Research the type of fish this cleaner regularly cleans before adding to the tank to be sure a larger fish doesn’t eat the cleaner wrasse due to not recognizing it. Though most fish recognize cleaners, large morays may not accept all cleaner wrasses! Anglers, Frogfish, and the like may be dangerous companions.

Sexual differences

Unknown, the gender of the Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse cannot be distinguished visually.


Has not been bred in captivity.


The Blackspot Cleaner Wrasse is rarely seen at either a pet store or on the internet, however when available they are expensive.
Due to the extremely low success rate in keeping them alive, they are not recommend for the home marine aquarium. Be sure to carefully consider your impact on this species and on the ornamental fish industry as a whole before purchasing these fish.

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 Blackspot cleaner wrasse (Labroides pectoralis) (Image Credit: Rickard Zerpe, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)