Smalltail Wrasse- Facts and Photographs

Smalltail Wrasse (Pseudojuloides cerasinus) is also known as the Smalltail Pencil Wrasse

The Smalltail Wrasse (Pseudojuloides polackorum) is also known as the Smalltail Pencil Wrasse. While not a common wrasse on Tanzanian main reefs, neither are they that rare. They tend to favor mixed rubble areas below 20 meters and if one dives in these areas one will see them. They obtain their name from their relatively small tail.


As with many wrasses the colouration changes from the adults to the juveniles. The  females  which are pictured below have a similar body shape to the males ( pictured above) but the colouration is very different. The body is elongated with a proportionally small tail and in the females is a pinkish color. There is a light yellow bar across the eye and the anal and dorsal fins have a light yellow tint.

The males are far more colorful and the body is a light green colour, darker on the dorsal area and lightening towards the stomach. The yellow bar over the eye is still present and there are two light blue lines running longitudinally down the body. In the males the area between the two stripes is an orange colour in East Africa.  On the rear of the caudal fin there is a thick black line with a thin light blue line alongside it. They grow up to 12 cm in ength.

Smalltail Wrasse (Pseudojuloides cerasinus) is also known as the Smalltail Pencil Wrasse


The Smalltail Wrasse are mainly found below 20 meters and seem to prefer mixed rubble sandy areas although they are seen around the fringes of reef. The males are more active than the females and patrol their territory at quite a high speed while feeding intermittently. They will frequently feed along with groups of Goatfish.

Pseudojuloides cerasinus) 3


The Smalltail Wrasse (Pseudojuloides polackorum) has been split off from Pseudojuloides cerasinus and is found only in the western Indian Ocean whereas Pseudojuloides cerasinus is found across the East Indian Ocean and the West Pacific area  to Hawaii and north to Southern Japan and south to Lord Howe Island.


The Smalltail Wrasse feed on small crustaceans which they scrape off corals and rocks.

Pseudojuloides cerasinus) 2


The Smalltail Wrasse is a Protogynous hermaphrodite, they first develop into females. Some specimens based on social cues transform into males. They are Oviparous, with the dominant male running a harem or at times several harems of females. Little is known of their breeding habits but occasionally a dominant male will be seen pursuing a female. We see far more females than males.

Pseudojuloides cerasinus) 1


Smalltail Wrasse are not commonly kept in aquariums. They are only recommended for advanced aquarists as they are difficult to feed correctly. They require good hiding places, deep fine sand and plenty of water to swim in. These fish will almost certainly jump out a tank if given the chance.


Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Labridae
Genus: Pseudojuloides
Species P.cerasinus