Possum Wrasse: A Guide to Size, Tank Requirements, Care, and Breeding

Possum Wrasse

Possum wrasses, scientifically known as Wetmorella spp., are small-sized reef-dwelling fish native to the Indo-Pacific region. They belong to the family Labridae and are highly sought after for their striking colors and interesting behavior patterns. Possum wrasses are known for their ability to change color rapidly, a characteristic that adds to their allure.

white banded possum wrasse

Size and Appearance

With an average length of only 2 – 4 inches (5 – 10 cm) possum wrasses belong to a miniature fish group. Though females may grow slightly larger than males it is evident that male possum wrasses stand out with their bright hues and intricate patterns – showcasing sexual dimorphism at its finest.

Tank Size and Setup

Incorporating a possum wrasse into your aquarium requires consideration of their living arrangements. These sea creatures are on the smaller side and thus thrive better in spaces as small as 20-gallon-capacity tanks. Regardless of this fact, it cannot be stressed enough how beneficial larger tanks are for offering consistent water conditions and closely mimicking what these unique species usually call home.

To create an ideal setup for possum wrasses, consider the following factors:

  • Substrate: Use fine sand or crushed coral as the substrate to replicate their natural habitat.
  • Rockwork: Incorporate live rock formations to provide hiding places and create territories within the tank.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain a stable temperature between 75°F and 80°F (24°C and 27°C), a salinity level of 1.023 to 1.025, and a pH range of 8.1 to 8.4.
  • Lighting: Provide moderate lighting conditions that mimic their natural reef habitat.

Possum Wrasse Care Guide

To ensure the well-being of your possum wrasses, follow these care guidelines:

  1. Feeding: Possum wrasses are carnivorous and should be fed a varied diet consisting of high-quality frozen and live foods, such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and small crustaceans.
  2. Tankmates: Choose tankmates carefully, as possum wrasses can be territorial. Peaceful fish species and invertebrates that do not resemble their shape or coloration are generally suitable companions.
  3. Water Quality: Maintain excellent water quality by performing regular water changes and monitoring parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Use a reliable filtration system to keep the water clean and free from toxins.
  4. Behavior and Compatibility: Possum wrasses are generally peaceful, but males can become territorial towards other males of the same species or similar-looking fish. It is recommended to keep only one male per tank or a harem of females with a male. Avoid housing them with aggressive or larger fish that may bully or harm them.
  5. Observing Natural Behavior: Possum wrasses are known for their unique behavior, including their ability to change color rapidly. They often burrow in the sand or hide within rock crevices, so it’s essential to provide them with suitable hiding spots in the aquarium. Creating a peaceful and stress-free environment will encourage their natural behaviors to emerge.
  6. Disease Prevention: To prevent diseases, quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main tank. Maintain good hygiene and regularly observe the fish for signs of illness, such as abnormal behavior, loss of appetite, or physical abnormalities. Promptly address any issues by consulting with a knowledgeable aquarium professional.

Breeding Possum Wrasse

Breeding possum wrasses in a home aquarium can be a challenging endeavor, as they have complex reproductive behaviors. However, if you are up for the task, here are some key considerations:

  1. Tank Setup: Prepare a separate breeding tank with appropriate conditions, including live rock, a sandy substrate, and subdued lighting. The tank should have a minimum capacity of 30 gallons to provide ample space for the mating pair.
  2. Mating Behavior: Possum wrasses have unique mating rituals, with the male performing courtship displays to attract the female. These displays involve vibrant color changes, fin movements, and body contortions. Once the female is ready to spawn, she will release eggs, which the male fertilizes externally.
  3. Egg Collection and Rearing: After spawning, it is crucial to remove the eggs from the main tank to prevent predation by other tank inhabitants. Carefully transfer the eggs to a separate, well-maintained nursery tank with appropriate water conditions. Provide suitable microorganisms and food sources to support the hatching and growth of the fry.
  4. Rearing Fry: Rearing their fry can be challenging, as they have specific dietary requirements. Offer them live or frozen foods suitable for their size, such as rotifers and copepods. Maintain optimal water quality and monitor their growth and development closely.
  5. Expert Guidance: Breeding them successfully may require expert knowledge and experience. Consult with experienced breeders or marine biologists to gain additional insights and guidance throughout the breeding process.

Yellow and White Banded Possum Wrasse

The yellow and white banded possum wrasse, or Wetmorella nigropinnata, is a popular variant of the possum wrasse species. It displays beautiful yellow and white stripes along its body, making it a visually striking addition to any aquarium. The care requirements for this variant are similar to those of other possum wrasses.

Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse


Possum wrasses are captivating marine fish that bring beauty and charm to saltwater aquariums. Their vibrant colors, unique behaviors, and manageable tank size make them an excellent choice for hobbyists. By providing suitable habitat, proper care, and considering the intricacies of breeding, you can enjoy their captivating presence in your own aquarium.


Q1: Can possum wrasses change their gender?

No, they cannot change their gender. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males displaying more vibrant colors and patterns than females.

Q2: Are possum wrasses suitable for beginners in the aquarium hobby?

While they are relatively hardy, they may not be recommended for absolute beginners due to their specific care requirements. It is advisable to have some experience with maintaining a saltwater aquarium before adding possum wrasses to your tank.

Q3: Can possum wrasses be kept in a reef aquarium with corals?

Yes, they are generally considered reef-safe. However, caution should be exercised when choosing corals to ensure that they are not aggressive or harmful to the wrasses. Some corals with long tentacles or aggressive stinging cells may pose a risk to the delicate fins and scales of the possum wrasses.

Q4: How often should possum wrasses be fed?

They require regular feeding at multiple intervals throughout each day. Ideal feedings include various high-quality frozen as well as live foods. Served in small quantities two or three times a day for best results. Careful observation of their consumption rates will allow you to adjust their portions minimizing any potential waste while keeping these fish healthy without overfeeding them unnecessarily.

Q5: Can possum wrasses be kept in a community tank with other fish?

They can be kept in a community tank, but careful consideration should be given to the choice of tankmates. Avoid housing them with aggressive or larger fish that may intimidate or harm the possum wrasses. Peaceful species and those that do not resemble their shape or coloration are generally better companions.

Q6: Do possum wrasses require a specialized lighting system in the aquarium?

They do not require a specialized lighting system. They can thrive under moderate lighting conditions, similar to those found in most reef aquarium setups. Provide them with a suitable spectrum of light that promotes the growth of any corals or other photosynthetic organisms in the tank.

Recommended Reading:Picasso Clownfish: Care, Breeding, and Diet

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