The Red Leopard Wrasse is only found along the eastern Australian Coast in southern parts of the Great Barrier Reef and northern New South Wales. These fishes differ in appearance depending on their age and sex. The adults have a white body with red/orange spots and heavy red striping at the face with a patch of yellow outlined in a blue/green on their operculum or gill covers. Younger Red Leopard Wrasse have a semi-transparent white body with a few orange patches. Terminal phase males differ from females by having a vibrant colored face with a green and orange alternating striped pattern, and yellow on their lips.
Like other members of the genus Macropharyngodon these fishes require a fine sandy substrate as they bury themselves at night for protection. They require a very well established aquarium as they naturally hunt for small crustaceans throughout the day.
Leopard Wrasse are challenging fish to adapt to a captive environment, but in the hands of the expert reef aquarist who can provide these fishes with the proper care and environment, they can thrive and make for an incredible display. It is ideal to introduced Leopard Wrasse to the display aquarium well before any larger or more active fishes are introduced, so that they have ample time to settle in and adapt to their new environment, and start feeding on prepared foods well. If trying to maintain a small group of these fishes, introducing them simultaneously into the display is ideal. Like other Labroids these fishes have the ability to change sex, as the most dominant fish in the group can turn into a fully functioning male.
The Red Leopard Wrasse’s diet should include vitamin enriched frozen mysis shrimp, vitamin enriched frozen brine shrimp, and other meaty foods along with a high quality marine flake and marine pellet food.