Harlequin Tusk – Choerodon fasciatus
Care level: Intermediate
Reef Safe: No (will not bother corals, but will eat inverts)
Minimum Tank Size: 100 Gallons
Native to the waters off Australia and the Indo-pacific, the Harlequin Tusk is one of the most colorful and unique fish in the hobby today. This moderately sized member of the Wrasse family grows to between 8-10 inches and requires live rock, caves and crevices where it can hide. Ample swimming room is also necessary as most Wrasses are quite active during the day.
Their diet should consist of meaty foods such as Mysis Shrimp, Mussels, Clams and live small fish or shrimp if available. Generally peaceful the Harlequin Tusk will leave most similar sized fish alone. In the wild they do group on occasion, but within the confines of an aquarium it’s best to have only one specimen. Having more than one Harlequin Tusk thrive in a tank system requires an exceptionally large aquarium of at least 250 gallons.
There are two versions primarily available to saltwater aquarists; the Australian and Indonesian area versions. The Australian version is more colorful, however both versions are impressive. They have vertical bands consisting of orange outlined in black against a white body. They can also have greenish bands as well as hints of blue and yellow. Equally as impressive is that their color becomes bolder as they age.
Acceptable tank makes include other semi aggressive fish such as Tangs, Triggers and Angelfish. Contrary to their appearance and teeth they are not as aggressive as they look. Their teeth are used to crush the shells of crustaceans. This is why the Harlequin Tusk is in the category of “not reef safe”. They will readily devour a cleaning crew. In time star fish, urchins, crabs, snails and small fish will all be eaten. However, the Harlequin Tusk will leave most sessile invertebrates alone, and they will not bother corals. When adding to an aquarium monitor their behavior, but they do not have a reputation for eating coral.
Standard water parameters apply although they are a little more sensitive to Nitrites and Ammonia. They should both be maintained at 0 ppm. Maintain the aquarium temperature between 75-80 degrees and the PH between 8.1-8.4. They can adapt to a wide range of salinity parameters; 1.018-1.026, however any water parameter condition changes should be done slowly.
Overall, with the exception of small fish and inverts the Harlequin Tusk is a model citizen. It’s color and activity level will liven up any aquarium.