Yellow Coris Wrasse – A Great Addition for Pest Control

Today’s post we are going to talk about the Yellow Coris Wrasse. This Wrasse is a workhorse in the aquarium. It is a great choice for a saltwater reef tank because it preys on many types of pests that can infest your corals. It is super active and full of personality. It’s one of my favorite yellow saltwater fish that is available in stores.

About the Yellow Coris Wrasse

The Yellow Coris Wrasse is known to the aquatic community under various names: golden rainbowfish, golden wrasse, yellow coris, and canary are several names that you will see. Its scientific name is Halichoeres chrysus and it hails from the Pacific Ocean to the edges of the eastern Indian Ocean. In the wild, they can be found in areas around 60 to 200 feet deep.They are known for grouping together in all stages of life and young wrasses and be identified with the one or two spots they have on their dorsal fin. 

Yellow Coris Wrasse in the Aquarium

Scientific NameHalichoeres chrysus
Common Name (Species)Yellow Coris Wrasse
OriginWestern Central Pacific
Care LevelEasy
ActivityVERY active
LifespanUsually to 5 years
Size5 inches
Tank LevelAll Areas
Minimum Tank Size55 Gallons
Temperature Range73 – 81 Degrees F
pH Range8.1 – 8.4
Filtration/Flow RateAll
Water TypeSaltwater
BreedingBreeding not possible at this time
CompatibilitySemi-Aggressive tanks
Ok, For Reef Tanks?Yes
Ok, For Inverts?Small shrimp, snails, and worms are at risk

The Yellow Coris Wrasse is best known for its ability to eat a number of nuisance pests in the aquarium. Really they well eat just about any pest in the aquarium except for aiptasia.

They will eat nearly any type of meaty food offered to them and do not get too large with the max size usually being around 5″. They are one of the more docile wrasses in the Halichoeres genus and are model citizens in your tank. They are not aggressive towards other fish nor are they particularly territorial. They do prefer a sandy substrate as they are known for burying themselves1. Keep this in mind if you are thinking about a bare-bottom setup. They are a fairly hardy fish and a good choice for a beginner.

The great thing about the yellow coris wrasse is the availability of tank raised varieties. They can be easily found tank bred either online or locally. The tank raised varieties are different than tank bred. Tank raised means the fish as been raised in an aquarium since it was very young.

This makes the fish hardier, drama free, and easier to care for then usual wrasses you will fine. Whenever a tank raised variety is available I always recommend the tank raised aquarium fish over the older wild caught one. Technology is rapidly advancing. There could be a day where we see the first tank bred wrasses. It is very difficult to do right now with current technology and research.

The main issue with these yellow fish are their tendency to jump out of the tank when stressed. It it recommended that you cover your tank with a mesh screen  to prevent any accidental fatalities.  

Yellow Wrasse Tank Mates

Because of the peaceful nature of the Yellow Coris Wrasse, they get along with nearly all saltwater fish. There are two main things two watch out for. The first, is because the Yellow Coris Wrasse is so active, they will bother slower moving and timid fish. Larger predatory fish will also try to eat them. Knowing this, here are a few good choices and others to avoid:

Fish That Work Will

Fish That Will Not Work

  • Other Halichoeres wrasses
  • Lionfish
  • Groupers
  • Eels
  • Pufferfish

Are They Reef Safe?

Yes, they are reef safe. I have seen reports on forums where they have eating corals or disturbs other inhabitants, but I feel a lot of these issues are mostly due to not having the fish feed well or lack of space. That being said, all fish have different personalities and you could get a yellow coris wrasse who’s personality is not the norm. The best way to prevent any tank drama is having the right tank, having them well feed, and purchasing a tank bred specimen. I have not seen them bother Softies, LPS, or SPS corals.


What Do Yellow Coris Wrasses Eat?

Yellow Coris wrasses are carnivores by nature. They will readily eat anything you put in the tank. Brine shrimp, black worms, shellfish, mysis shrimp are some meaty foods they will enjoy.

Within a reef tank, a Yellow Coris wrasse will eat bristle worms and copepods mainly. They are great against many types of coral pests like flatworms.

Are Yellow Wrasses Aggressive?

Yellow Coris Wrasses are considered semi-aggressive, which means they will defend territory. However, they tend to be on the lower scale of aggression. They will get along with most marine fish, even the most timid ones.

How Fast Do Yellow Coris Wrasses Grow?

Yellow Coris wrasses grow very fast. They can reach adult size in within 1 to 2 years. They will display their adult colors within this timeframe. Nearly all wrasses in a home aquarium will transition into a Male.

What’s Your Experience With The Yellow Coris Wrasse

Let us know your experience with this fish in the comments below. We love hearing everyone’s personal experience and tank stories.

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.


  1. Got mine yesterday pit him in the tank he vanished straight away at that point i didnt no they hide under the sand so 4 hours later a gave up looking for him (i thought he jumped out) wake up today hes gracfully swimming round the tank great bit of colour added to the tank and hes supper friendly if i go to the tank hes straight there in front of me lovly looking fish not what i was looking for i wanted a foxface or a yellow tang but they didnt have any so came home with this guy but glad i did

  2. I have had my Yellow Wrasse for about 3.5 years and it hardly stays out, it comes out in the morning for maybe an hour or 2 just to eat and goes right back in it’s spot under the substrate. I thought something was wrong with it and also removed a Pink Dottyback that picked at the Wrasse a little but still goes right back under the sand. It’s Very Bright Yellow and eats Great but will Not go far from it’s spot which is a Skull, pushed down in the fine sand, he dives down in the eye of the skull, under the sand and will remain there until the next morning. It’s been doing this for about 2 years, maybe a little longer and as said eats well and looks beautiful. Just can’t understand why it prefers living 22 – 24 hours a day in the skull under the sand. The tank is a 54 Gallon Corner with a Classic 110 Reef Octopus Skimmer and has been running since 11/00/2013. Anyone had any simialar experiences with their Yellow Wrasses? Thanks, Tim

  3. I have a 220 gallon tank that was heavily infected with dinoflagellates . One week ago I bought 5 inch-long yellow coris wrasses .Today I have hardly any infestation.They are cute eating machines. Thanks for the recommendation .


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