The colorful Six Line Wrasse is small, active, and hardy making it a popular fish to spark up a small marine aquarium!

The Six Line Wrasse is one of those fish that most aquarists at one time or another have seen at the their pet store and thought, “that is a cool fish”! And cool they are. They are quite hardy, disease resistant, and long lived. Once acclimated they will even help control a few pests, like the pyramidellid snails and commensal flatworms that some coral keeping aquarists have to deal with at times. They have also been observed cleaning the fins and bodies of other fishes, picking off parasitic isopods and copepods.

The Six Line Wrasses are excellent hiders and are very quick, to the point of being one of the harder fish to photograph. They are diurnal,which means they are active by day and sleep at night. As with all fish in this genus they sleep in a mucus cocoon, which fortunately does not seem degrade the water quality. It is thought that the cocoon protects them from predators as they sleep by masking their scent.

Though they are shy secretive fish in the wild, once they become acclimated to the home aquarium they become quite boisterous. The Six Lined Wrasses are considered reef safe as they will not harm corals or coral anemones.They are also fine in a community tank but will become aggressive towards shy timid species in the same aquarium, and sometimes even larger fish. To prevent confrontations it is best to keep it with larger or more aggressive fish and to make a single lined wrasse the last addition to the aquarium. They do not co-habitat well with other lined wrasses.

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

Six Line Wrasse, Pseudocheilinus hexataenia

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Six Line Wrasse in a distributor’s tank.

The Six Line Wrasse is as pugnacious as it is beautiful! This small lined wrasse can hold its own with larger fish and semi-aggressive fish, despite its small size. Do not house it with other wrasses or peaceful fish. Like the other lined wrasses it will become more aggressive as it grows so it should not be kept with any shy or docile fish. They are great at getting rid of pests like bristle worms, parasitic pyramidellid snails and flatworms. They have also been known at times to clean ectoparasites from other fish. As adults they may eat ornamental shrimp. They hide in rock work at night and spin a cocoon around themselves.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Labridae
  • Genus: Pseudocheilinus
  • Species: hexataenia
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Habitat: Natural geographic location:

The Six Line Wrasse is found in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific including the Red Sea; areas from northwestern Australia, the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, and the northern part of New South Wales. They inhabit an area from clear coastal to outer reefs at depths of about 65 feet (20 meters), dwelling among protective coral branches.


These fish are not listed on the IUCN Red List.


Besides the striking contrast between the bluish to bluish/purple body and the six bright orange stripes of the Six Line Wrasse, one thing that sticks out are the 2 lines that go through the its intense red eyes! The cheek area is a light orange cast with several little specks dotting the area from the gill forward and under the eye area to the mouth. In front of the yellowish to yellow-green back fin they sport a blue-edged black ocellus, a “false eye” to confuse predators and give this little fish a chance to escape. The other fins are lighter in color from a clear to yellow transparent cast.

Length/Diameter of fish:

Six Line Wrasse adults reach up to 3.9 inches (10 cm), and have been reported to live up to 10 years in the home aquarium.

Maintenance difficulty:

Though sensitive during acclimation, these fish are hardy and easy to maintain once they are established in the aquarium. Make sure the individual you choose is eating and active.


The Six Line Wrasses are carnivorous, in the wild they feed on many small organisms such as various crustaceans, molluscs, crab larvae, and they especially love fish eggs! Provide a diet rich in all kinds of protein foods, formulas and flakes with an emphasis on small crustaceans. They are very active and need to be fed twice a day at least if not more. As with other lined wrasses they benefit from productive live rock, picking on the rock eating the micro fauna it provides.They have also been observed cleaning the fins and bodies of other fishes, picking off parasitic isopods and copepods.


These fish are generally very easy to care for and are hardy. Provide basic marine aquarium care with a 20% water change monthly or 10% twice a month.
For more information see, Marine Aquarium Basics: Maintenance

Aquarium Parameters:

This timid fish needs to have plenty of good quality live rock with holes for hiding to feel comfortable especially in a smaller aquarium.
Minimum Tank Length/Size:
A minimum 30 gallon (113.5 liters) aquarium.
Light: Recommended light levels
Prefers sunlight to moderate light.
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 usually spending most of their time in the rockwork.

Social Behaviors:

The Six Line Wrasse should be kept singly as they do not co-habitat well with other lined wrasses. They are basically reef safe with more semi-aggressive fish such as tangs, angels, and butterflies. They will not harm corals or coral anemones. They can also be kept in a non-reef setting with goatfish, puffers, and squirrelfish.
Avoid invertebrates such as small shrimp, or fish that are smaller than they are as they will become a quick meal. It may be feasible to keep the lined wrasses with larger crustacea however, as they reportedly are more amiable towards larger cleaner, marble and coral shrimp. But one day they may decide that a larger $20.00 ornamental shrimp looks pretty tasty and will make a mess of it until the shrimp is in bite size pieces. After that, do not put in any more shrimp! They have been known to go after small snails as well.
Avoid shy fish such as firefish, gobies, grammas, fairy wrasses, flasher wrasses, leopard wrasses, and others. The mandarins may or may not be picked on, but most likely will be. They will also out compete the mandarins and other fish for food. Slow-moving feeders such as pipefish and seahorses will starve in their presence. Predators such as groupers, lionfish, and scorpion fish will eat the lined wrasses in a heartbeat.

Sex: Sexual differences:

It seems there is a direct correlation between size and sex for the Six Line Wrasse. The males are generally the largest, with females coming in second and immature fish being the smallest.
The males will show off a more intense coloring during mating.


Has not been bred in captivity.


The Six Line Wrasse is readily available. It can usually it can be acquired from a pet store or found on the internet and can cost up to about $20.00 USD.