Halichoeres prosopeion – Twotone Wrasse

Halichoeres prosopeion or Twotone Wrasse starts out as a white fish with black stripes, adults have a completely different colour. They have a blue/purple head which turns to yellow towards the caudal fin.

Halichoeres prosopeion – Twotone Wrasse

Halichoeres prosopeion was first described by Bleeker in 1853. The genus name can be broken down into two ancient Greek words. Halios means ‘sea’ and choiros means ‘pig’. Freely translated Sea pig. A reference to the elongated conical teeth that point outward and forward at the corner of the mouth. These teeth protrude beyond the lips of the fish. These canines reminded Rüppel of the teeth of a bore (male pig).

The species name prosopeion means ‘mask’. This is not explained in the description but is probably a reference to the coloured head. Their common name is Twotone Wrasse.


Juvenile Twotone Wrasses look very different from their parents. Depending on the origin, there are minor variations. All young have a light white ground colour. Four horizontal black stripes can be seen on it. These run from the tip of the nose to the caudal fin.

In the fish that come from Australia and the eastern part of Papua New Guinea, the black stripes extend to the tail. Those of the other areas stop well before the caudal fin.

Halichoeres prosopeion – Twotone Wrasse – Juvenile – Menjangan Island – Bali Indonesia
Halichoeres prosopeion – Twotone Wrasse – Juvenile – Menjangan Island – Bali Indonesia

Adult Twotone Wrasses have a Grey/Blue to Purplish head. Towards the caudal fin, this colour fades to yellow. A black spot is visible at the beginning of the dorsal fin, surrounded by a light blue, iridescent border. They reach a maximum total length of about 15 centimetres.

Halichoeres prosopeion – Adult – Twotone Wrasse – Posiposi Maluku Utara Indonesia
Halichoeres prosopeion – Adult – Twotone Wrasse – Posiposi Maluku Utara Indonesia

Protogenic Hermaphrodite

All Halichoeres prosopeion begin their lives as female. If the dominant male in the vicinity of this species dies, the largest female changes into a male.


Halichoeres prosopeion is found in the Western Pacific Ocean. From Indonesia to Samoa and Tonga. They inhabit the reefs at a depth of 2 to 40 meters. They are not usually seen together or in groups. This species lives solitary, only during mating do they come together


In the wild, the diet of the Twotone Wrasse consists of small animals such as crustaceans, molluscs, worms and echinoderms such as small starfish. These are searched for and eaten on and between the substrate. Young animals also eat parasites from the skin of other fish.

In the aquarium you can feed them with, for example, brine shrimp, mysis, krill, copepods, etc., but also flake food and granulate are eaten.

Halichoeres prosopeion is Reefsafe, they even protect the coral by eating pests. However, they can prey on small shrimp, fan worms and tube worms.

The Aquarium

An aquarium of about 1,000 litres is sufficient for a single specimen. Decorate it with enough rock and/or coral for the Halichoeres prosopeion to hide in. He goes in search of something edible between the rocks and the coral.

Make sure that there is a thick layer of sand on the bottom of at least 5 to 7 centimetres thick. In case of imminent danger or to sleep, the Twotone Wrasse dives into the sand.

The temperature of the water may be between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Francois Libert (Zsispeo)CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Rickard ZerpeCC BY 2.0



Additional information






Julis prosopeion

Common name

Twotone Wrasse

First described by

Pieter Bleeker


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