Species group: Wrasses
Other common names: Bird Wrasse; Green Birdmouth Wrasse; Greenbird Wrasse; Blackbird Wrasse
Scientific name: Gomphosus varius
The Birdmouth Wrasse is native to lagoons and coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific. It uses its snout to probe tiny crevices in coral branches in search for food like shrimps, small crabs, brittle stars, mollusks, and tiny fish. Birdmouth Wrasses are quite easy to care for. They prefer chopped frozen or live meaty foods like shrimp, mussels, shellfish, Mysis, and brine shrimp, but they also like to graze on tank algae. Juveniles act as cleaners, very much like the Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus), but later outgrow the tendency. Adults have a big appetite and will prey on everything including invertebrates.
The adult Birdmouth Wrasse has a long snout resembling a bird’s beak. The Birdmouth Wrasse is popular because of its unusual face and bright blue-green coloration. Males are blue-green while females are white with black spots. Juveniles start off having a dull brown coloration. Color changes occur through the different life phases of the fish.
Gomphosus varius are not reef-safe, as they will pick at rocks and coral while searching for food. As they will eat smaller tank inhabitants, and can reach 14 inches in length, they need to be housed in a large tank which contains fish of similar size and aggressiveness. They are generally peaceful but their constant swimming and activity throughout the tank can irritate their tankmates. They are seen singly or in small groups in the wild, therefore, are not quite ideal for community tanks because of their tendency to become aggressive against tankmates.
Growing to almost a foot long, Birdmouth Wrasses require large (75 to 100 gallons) aquariums that provide spacious areas for swimming. They prefer brightly lit tanks that promote algal growth because algae is one of their favorite foods. The tank should have a sandy bottom where the fish can bury under for sleeping or hiding.