By Bob Goemans
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Macropharyngodon bipartitus bipartitus

Smith, 1997

Vermiculate Leopard Wrasse

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Western Indian Ocean: Zanzibar to Mozambique and Aldabra, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius and Maldives South Africa, Chagos Archipelago, southern Oman, Rodrigues, and Yemen.

Size: 5 inches (13 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits lagoon and sheltered seaward reefs sandy areas, and retreats to sand burrows when threatened. Usually found at depths between 3 – 100 feet (1 – 30 m) where it feeds on benthic invertebrates.

General Husbandry: Occasionally seen in the trade, with the male having a dark brown to dull orange body with green bands on the head and fins. Females and juveniles are orange brown overall with white spots with an area of black on the belly.

Can be maintained in either fish-only or reef aquariums with each having a fine substrate (0.5 - 2 mm) of at least 4 inches (10 cm) in depth for sleeping in at night or hiding in when frightened. It also should contain large quantities of live rock to search for prey, e.g., small crustaceans/tiny snails/copepods/zooplankton.

As to diet, requires a meaty diet consisting of finely chopped clam, mussel, fish, and shrimp flesh, and/or other meaty type marine frozen foods, and fed twice daily.

If appearing to not be getting sufficient food, try some live foods, such as black worms (Lumbriculus variegatus) or adult fortified brine shrimp.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Labroidei

    Family: Labridae

    Genus: Macropharyngodon

FYI: Upon first entering the aquarium may stay buried for days. Simply await its decision when to emerge. Once established, it will go to sleep under the sand and arise the next morning at almost the exact same time every day!

One per aquarium.

Because of their diet requirements, its recommended only well-experienced hobbyists should attempt maintaining those in this genus.

Experience Level: Intermediate

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Coral Safe: Yes

Fish Safe: Yes

Invertebrate Safe: With caution

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Environment: Reef or fish-only aquarium

Tankmates: Peaceful

Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons

Temperature Range: 74 - 82°F (23 – 27°C)

Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Macropharyngodon bipartitus bipartitus (Vermiculate Leopard Wrasse)
Photo © John Randall
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