Diet, Mates, Size, Lifespan and Tank

Welcome fellow saltwater aquarists to our comprehensive care guide for the captivating Red Coris Wrasse! This species exhibits a stunning color transformation as it matures, showcasing a stunning mix of fiery reds, yellows and purples. It really is a sight to behold!

This fish is quite exciting and we are happy to share the best of the best so you can take great care of your Red Coris Wrasse.

So without further ado, let’s dive in together and embark on a journey of discovery and admiration for this remarkable fish!

Species Summary

Red Coris Wrasses, also called Yellowtail Coris Wrasses, Clown Wrasses or Coris Gaimard (scientific name), are an exciting saltwater species known for their amazing coloration. In the wild, they are usually reef dwellers that live in warm places like the Indo-Pacific, Fiji, the Red Sea, and around the Hawaiian Islands. They are active carnivores that hunt molluscs and small invertebrates hidden in the sand.

Author’s note: Wrasses are great additions to most fish-only aquariums. They can be territorial with others of their kind but are generally peaceful.

They have moderate care needs and require optimum quality water to maintain good health. Besides adding more color to your aquarium, these quirky fish can also help you eliminate pesky hairworms.


As juveniles, Coris yellowtail wrasses start out as small reddish-orange fish that have black-edged white spots along their backs. Once they begin to age, these red scales develop green and orange stripes. The fins will turn blue and red with the tail taking on a prominent yellow color. The white and black spots will disappear completely.

Male wrasses are often slightly larger and brighter than females. Adult males tend to take on a dark gray color and will have a green bar behind the gills. Females, on the other hand, lean more towards blue with a red fringe. Males of this species may subtly change their colors or patterns to impress potential mates.

A Red Coris Wrasse has a long, narrow body that allows it to quickly and efficiently stalk its preferred prey. They are able to squirm easily in caves and caves and cling to shells thanks to their two “tusks” located at the front of the jaw. These fascinating teeth allow them to catch crustaceans out of hiding.

An adult yellow-tailed coris swimming and looking for food


It can be difficult to determine the exact lifespan of these unique fish in the wild, as it is easy to confuse juveniles with other species. With good management and an ideal tank environment, your Red Coris Wrasse could have a lifespan of 5 years although some sources say up to 8 years!


Fortunately for enthusiasts, Red Coris Wrasses are one of the smallest fish in the Labridae family with an average size of 6 inches to over 12 inches long. On the other side of the size spectrum, Napoleon wrasse can grow to over six feet in diameter.

Care of the Red Coris Wrasse

Yellowtail Coris Wrasses are magnificent fish that provide a vibrant display in any aquarium. However, they are not the easiest species to manage and can be prone to unhealthy stress levels and internal infections. Providing them with the right diet and the right environment will ensure that you don’t lose them prematurely.

tank size

Wrasses are active fish that need plenty of room to swim and burrow. For a Red Coris Wrasse, the recommended tank size is between 100 and 125 gallons. If you have a small version of this type, you might be able to get by with 50 gallons. Consider investing in a larger 150 gallon tank if you’re interested in sticking a pair.

Water parameters

Water temperature: 74°F to 80°F

pH levels: 8.1 to 8.4

Water hardness: 8 to 12 dKH

Specific gravity: 1.020 to 1.025

Tank configuration

Your large wrasse aquarium will need two to four inches of soft, sandy substrate along the bottom. These fish like to bury themselves when sleeping and for protection from predators. Rough substrates like crushed coral or gravel can damage your Red Coris Wrasse’s delicate scales and fins. They need a safe substrate where they can completely immerse themselves.

Author’s note: Don’t forget to add caves, crevices, live rocks, and other shelter structures. Yellowtail Coris Wrasses is constantly moving and moving rocks in search of food. They need lots of enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. While this hunting behavior is a great way to find hitchhikers on your living rock, it could lead to a disastrous avalanche.

The best way to protect your aquarium is to secure heavy rocks that could fall and crush unsuspecting fish below. Leave plenty of rocks and loose objects along the bottom that they can easily flip over. These fish also thrive in bright environments with regular water changes and adequate filtration. You’ll want to make sure your tank lid is always tight to avoid dangerous jumping.

Are red loris reef safe?

Red Coris Wrasses are not entirely reef safe, but you can add them to your reef tank with caution.. Generally, they will not target your coral polyps. However, they will attempt to consume sessile invertebrates and others like crabs, snails, feather dusters, and shrimp.

The biggest danger to consider with Red Coris Wrasses is their rock flipping behavior. While they won’t attack your corals directly, they can inadvertently damage them when they move nearby rocks and structures. These fish will not recognize the difference between a polyp and a rock and will flip anything they can.

Possible common diseases and prevention

Coris yellowtail wrasses are hardy fish, but they can develop certain infections and diseases due to stress or a poor environment. For example, interaction with a hard substrate can lead to internal bacterial infections in the bladder. They can also suffer from fin rot, marine ich, and various viral infections. Persistent issues like marine ICHs require immediate quarantine before they spread to others in the tank.

A sick wrasse may lose the color of its scales, swim erratically, lose weight, or develop strange spots or growths. Many health problems start because of overcrowding or poor water quality. You should check the filter, tank temperature and specific gravity daily. Be sure to test the water quality weekly and replace approximately 10% to 25% of the tank volume every two to four weeks.

Food and diet

Your Red Coris Wrasses diet may include a mixture of brine, ghost or glass shrimp and black worms. You can use a mix of frozen, freeze-dried, and live foods. For extra nutrition, regularly add vitamin-rich pellets and flakes to their diet.

They should be fed once or twice a day. Allow them to consume as much as they can in about two minutes. You must completely thaw any frozen food before adding it to the tank. Some younger wrasses may need more frequent feedings to compensate for their initial discomfort in the tank.

Behavior and temperament

Coris yellow-tailed wrasses are most active during the day. After emerging from their sand bed, they will begin to search and explore the reservoir. You should expect lots of burrowing and scavengers. If you notice your wrasse hiding too often, he may be stressed or ill.

Author’s note: It is best to get your juvenile wrasses when they are already a few inches long. This species does not travel well and may refuse to eat due to excessive stress.

Wrasses are more peaceful when younger, but as they reach adulthood they become more destructive and territorial.

Two juvenile Red Coris Wrasse swimming in a saltwater aquarium

Red Coris Wrasse Tank Mates

By nature, these wrasses are timid and nervous. They get along well with other peaceful species. A wrasse that refuses to come out of the sand is often a sign that other tank mates are aggressive. While it may seem like their tusks are useful defensively, they are used exclusively for digging up food.

The Red Coris Wrasse traditionally lives a solitary lifestyle unless in a mated pair. Although they may attend school as juveniles, they are prone to aggression as adults. It is never a good idea to put two males in the same tank as they may clash. Consider adding a wrasse to your aquarium last to dampen its natural territorial instinct.

Here are some great tank mates for Red Coris Wrasses:


Although it is easy to tell female and male wrasses apart, breeding them in captivity can be nearly impossible. Always be careful when introducing two wrasses into the same tank. If you’re lucky, you might see your male and female develop into a mated pair.

During their spawning season, the males build a nest to attract the attention of the female. The female will then lay eggs in the nest for the male to fertilize. It will keep constant guard until they hatch and even after that until they are able to survive on their own.

Author’s note: Even if you provide the right substrate and limit predators in the tank, there is still very little chance that you will be successful in reproducing your Red Coris Wrasses.


We hope this care guide has been a valuable resource for your saltwater aquarium adventure with the captivating Red Coris Wrasse. By now you’ve learned that their striking coloring transformation and fun antics make them a real gem in any marine tank.

We encourage you to continue exploring and learning about the fascinating world of saltwater aquariums (try these other saltwater maintenance guides). The journey of caring for these remarkable creatures is filled with wonder and rewards. May your Red Coris Wrasse thrive and bring endless beauty to your underwater sanctuary. And don’t forget to tag us on Facebook when you share a cool post from your aquarium 😉

Happy fish farming!

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