Clown Wrasse

African Clown Wrasse ~ Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse

Family: Labridae Clown Wrasse, African Clown Wrasse or Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse - Coris gaimardiCoris gaimardPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I've had a juvenile for just over a week and he's turned into my favorite fish. Very active and entertaining. Always searching for food and if startled he quickly... (more)  jeff

   Pictured above is an adult specimen of the Clown Wrasse, African Clown Wrasse, or Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse. The juvenile is much different with a general orange coloration and four white spot markings evenly spaced down the back of the fish.

   The Clown Wrasse, African Clown Wrasse, or Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse are a lively fish. It is best to keep them with hardy companions that don't mind a rambunctious tankmate!

   Because this fish is called a Clown Wrasse or an African Clown Wrasse as well as the Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse, do not mistake it for the Clown Coris or Threespot Wrasse, Coris aygula, which is also often called a Clown Wrasse. They look quite a bit different from each other!

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: Coris
  • Species: gaimard
Clown Wrasse adult, Coris gaimard
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Clown Wrasse adult looking for food in the wild

The Clown Wrasse (Coris gaimard) is a lively and attractive fish! As an adult it has a much different look than as a juvenile. The young are a general orange color marked with four white spots evenly spaced down the back. This fish can be great in a reef as they will not pick on corals. But they are a strong and large, 14- 16 inches in size, and have a very active behavior. They will flip anything they are strong enough to flip to look for food, so make sure your corals are snug! They will also need a large tank, 100 gallons or more, and to be fed at least 3 times a day.

Clown Wrasse juvenile, Coris gaimard
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Clown Wrasse juvenile looking for food

This young juvenile Clown Wrasse has a very high caloric intake need. Feed at least 6 times a day unless in a tank with a lot of natural foods. Even then feed at least 3 to 4 times a day. They are easier to keep once they are adults. Coris Wrasses, like Halichoeres, and Leopard wrasses need enough sand for them to bury in at night or when frightened.

Clown Wrasse adult, Coris gaimard
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Clown Wrasse in captivity as an easy going adult just cruising around.

Clown Wrasses adults have as spectacular coloring as their juvenile counterparts! This one still has a little bit of white baby in his face which he will loose once he is full grown. He will eventually be around 13 - 16" so be sure it has a 6' tank that is at least 100 gallons. These wrasses are pretty easy going unless the other fish are very small and added after they are acclimated. They will not bother corals, but will eat snails, hermits, mollusks, shrimp and sea urchins. They also need about 3" of sand to hide themselves at night, which similar to Halichoeres and Leopard Wrasses.

Clown Wrasse juvenile, Coris gaimard
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Clown Wrasse juvenile starting to change to adult coloration

This juvenile Clown Wrasse or Yellow-Tail Coris Wrasse is just starting to change from his juvenile coloring, which is where the "Clown" name is derived from! These fish are fine in a reef... but this will become a 14" fish! Specimens over 2" are best for long term success, unless you are willing to feed littler ones up to 6 times a day. Also make sure your corals are "nailed down" or they will flip them looking for food. House them with other larger fish as small fish will be harassed, and they will go after inverts including some snails.

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Maintenance difficulty:    The Clown Wrasse, African Clown Wrasse, or Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse is easy to keep. Feed young specimens several times a day. Start with brine shrimp, live or frozen, and offer other protein foods as well.

Maintenance:    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. They prefer a sandy bottom at least 5 cm deep in order to bury themselves in case of danger and at night to sleep.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Clown Wrasse, African Clown Wrasse, or Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse are found in the Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea to Hawaii, Tuamotu, the Marquesas, Japan, and New Caledonia.

Foods:    All kinds of protein foods, formulas and flakes.

Social Behaviors:    These fish may live in groups when young, but as adults they live singly. They prefer mixed bottoms of coral, rubble, and sand on exposed reef terraces, lagoons, and outer reefs.

Sex: Sexual differences:    The male will develop a light green stripe on the body above the anal fin as it gets older.

Light: Recommended light levels:    Prefers lots of light. Usually found in sunlight areas.

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

Length/Diameter of fish:    Clown Wrasse, African Clown Wrasse, or Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse adults can grow to 40 cm (15.75 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 60 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    Will spend time in all parts of the aquarium, but mostly near the bottom.

Availability:    This fish is available from time to time.

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