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Vermiculite Wrasse
(Macropharyngodon bipartitus)
Quick Care FactsCare Level: Expert
Temperament: Peaceful
Maximum Size: 5"
Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Water Conditions: 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Diet: Carnivore
Origin: Indo-Pacific
Family: Labridae
Species: Wrasse
Aquarium Type: Reef Compatible
Species Information
The Vermiculite Wrasse is peaceful species with an intricate pattern (especially on the male of the species) that is also commonly referred to as the Blue Star Leopard Wrasse and the Divided Wrasse. The Vermiculite Wrasse gets its name directly from the English word "Vermiculite", but it's based of the prominent markings of a male specimen as described by the Latin "vermiculatus" (of vermis, a worm). Vermiculite Wrasse can be found throughout the coral reefs of the tropical Indo-Pacific, but they are not found within the Rea Sea (the subspecies Macropharyngodon bipartitus marisrubri inhabits the Red Sea).
Vermiculite Wrasse are a peaceful that can do well in groups (1 male and 4-6 females) in larger aquariums and they will get along well with other peaceful, community oriented fish species. Vermiculite Wrasse are an extremely sensitive species that are highly specialized and are only recommended for expert hobbyists that can meet all of their needs. Vermiculite Wrasse are usually readily available from local and online retailers alike.
Aquarium Care
Vermiculite Wrasse require a well established aquarium of at least 55 gallons and must be provided with a sand substrate of at least 3" in depth as they burrow at night while they sleep. They also require plenty of live rock for grazing and shelter in addition to adequate water movement. Vermiculite Wrasse are extremely sensitive to water chemistry (a stable sg of 1.021-1.023 is highly recommended) and require high quality biological and mechanical filtration in conjunction with an efficient protein skimmer.
As known jumpers, their aquarium should be provided with a sealed hood to prevent escape and injury. They are a peaceful species and will get along well with other community oriented, peaceful marine species; male conspecifics will not get along and if multiple conspecifics are desired, one male can be kept in a larger aquarium (110+ gallons) with 4-6 females (they would ideally be introduced at the same time). They will not harm corals or other sessile invertebrates, but may prey on tiny snails, tiny shrimp, flatworms, and parasitic snails.
Feeding & Nutrition
Vermiculite Wrasse are carnivores that thrive on live zooplankton in the wild. To meet their special needs in the aquarium, they should be provided with a well colonized refugium that can disperse a constant supply of amphipods, copepods, and/or tiny mollusks as well as other live planktonic life. They may accept "gut loaded" live brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and ghost shrimp and should be introduced to chopped krill, bloodworms, chopped crab meat, and chopped clams if regularly accepting the former; Selcon may be added to prepared meaty foods to increase nutrition. Feed 2 to 3 times per day if non-planktonic foods are accepted; otherwise they will graze on live zooplankton at their leisure.
Additional Photos