The Dragon Wrasse, Rockmover Wrasse, or Red-belly Wrasse is a very interesting and beautiful fish in any aquarium. They get their name “rockmover” because they like to rearrange shells and stones!

   Dragon wrasses will often bury themselves in the gravel and they like plenty of caves and hiding places. In the wild they feed by turning over rocks and eating things like the mussels, urchins, and starfish that it finds under the rocks! The young Dragon Wrasse, Rockmover Wrasse, or Red-belly Wrasse are much different looking than adults. As youngsters it is thought that they are colored to resemble algae growth and sway back and forth in much the same way.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Labridae
  • Genus: Novaculichthys
  • Species: taeniourus
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Maintenance difficulty:

   The Dragon Wrasse, Rockmover Wrasse, or Red-belly Wrasse is easy to keep. Wrasses are not challenging if you feed young specimens several times a day. Start with brine shrimp, live or frozen, and offer other protein foods as well.

Maintenance:

   This fish will dive into the gravel if startled and therefore likes at least 10 cm. of fine gravel on the bottom of the aquarium. Feed all kinds of live, frozen, and flake foods. Best to feed small amounts several times a day. We generally feed squid, shrimp (the same kind people eat), mussels, and all kinds of chopped up fish. A good formula for wrasses is Pro-salt marine.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:

   Dragon Wrasse, Rockmover Wrasse, or Red-belly Wrasse are found in the Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea to Panama, Japan, Lord Howe Island, and Tuamotu. They are found at depths of .5 to 14 meters.

Foods:

   All kinds of protein foods, formulas and flakes.

Social Behaviors:

   As young fish they are peaceful and are colored like the algae found in the environments they are native to. They are rather shy and will dive into the gravel at the first sign of danger. As adults they live in pairs. These pairs will forage as a team, with one fish turning over rocks and debris while the other will grab whatever is underneath. They will alternate duties regularly.

Sex: Sexual differences:

   Not known.

Light: Recommended light levels:

   Likes plenty of light. Usually found in sunlight areas with algae growth.

Temperature:

   No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:

   Dragon Wrasse, Rockmover Wrasse, or Red-belly Wrasse adults can grow to 30.0 cm (11.8 inches). They are usually about 2 or 3 inches long at the pet stores.

Minimum Tank Length/Size:

   A minimum 40 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong

   They are accustomed to water movement and wave action. Strong currents are appreciated.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom

   They are a bottom feeder and will spend most of the time near the bottom of the aquarium.

Availability:

   This fish is available from time to time.


Rockmover wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus) (Image Credit: Rickard Zerpe, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)