Talk About Fish
Home More Back Next

Wrasses (Labridae)

Wrasses, hogfishes, razorfishes, corises and tuskfishes are the common names used for the members of Labridae family. They occur in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. They are mainly saltwater fishes. Their mouth are terminal, usually with prominent lips and mouth slightly to extremely protrusible. Their teeth are usually jutting outward and with gaps between teeth. Most species are brightly coloured. They are typically small fish, with most less than 20 cm long, although the largest, the Humphead Wrasse, can measure up to 2.5 m.

Wrasses are difficult to identify. Many species could be identified by their live colouration, but they vary between juveniles and adults and with sex change. The colours also change after death. They are also often being confused as parrotfishes. Most of them mature first as females and then sexually transform into males, usually accompanied by a change in colour phase. In species where 2 adult colour phases are known, the first is termed “initial phase” (IP), the second, “terminal phase” (TP). Initial phases may thus be male or female, while terminal phases are invariably male.

Wrasses are most often found on or in the vicinity of coral reefs, rocky reefs, sand, grass, and algae, and are usually most abundant in shallow waters. Some species are found at depths of 100 m but are rarely found in muddy areas. Wrasses are diurnal, taking cover in reef crevices or burrowing into the sediment at night. They have a diverse feeding habits. Some of them carnivores, some planktivores, and some small species remove ectoparasites and dead tissues of larger fishes.

There are 70 genera and about 509 species of Labridae worldwide. Malaysia has at least 25 genera and 70 species.

Scientific Name: Cheilinus chlorourus  (Bloch, 1791)
English Name: Floral Wrasse, Tripletail Wrasse, Dotted Maori
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 鹦哥 (Yīng gē)
Japanese Name | 和名: アカテンモチノウオ (Akaten mochinouo)
Local Malay Name: Mameng Bintik Kuning, Tetarap, Bayan
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทองจุดแดง (Plā nok k̄hun thong cud dæng)
Main Identification Features: Head with small orange-red spots, some joining to form lines radiating from eye. Median fins with whitish dots. Body brown to dark olive with small black and white specks. Can rapidly change colour depending upon its background. The upper and lower rays form elongate lobes giving the fin a trilobed appearance in adult.
Size: Maximum total length 45 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral, rocky reefs and occasionally in sea grass areas, to 30 m depth. Feeds on benthic invertebrates including molluscs, crustaceans, polychaetes and sea urchin.

Scientific Name: Cheilinus fasciatus  (Bloch, 1791)
English Name: Redbreasted Wrasse, Scarlet-breasted Maori Wrasse, Banded Maori, Floral Wrasse, Redbreast Wrasse, Rainbow Fish
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 鹦哥 (Yīng gē), 横带唇鱼 (Héng dài chún yú), 黄带唇鱼 (Huáng dài chún yú)
Japanese Name | 和名: ヤシャベラ (Yasha bera)
Local Malay Name: Bayan, Boyan, Bebarat, Bechok, Lamun-lamun, Lingkar karang, Tetarap, Tokak, Surit Tana, Urama, Nuri, Ongos, Mameng Pelangi
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทองบั้ง (Plā nok k̄hunthong bậng), ปลานกขุนทองลายพาด (Plā nok k̄hunthong lāy phād)
Main Identification Features: Body with alternating dark and light vertical bars from opercle to caudal fin. Breast, pectoral-fin bases, and anterior sides orange or reddish in adult. Dorsal fin continuous. Caudal fin rounded in juveniles, the upper and lower rays forming elongate lobes in adults. Caudal fin reddish with dark vertical bar.
Size: Maximum standard length about 40 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits lagoon, coral reefs and sandy areas near reefs from 5 to 60 m depth. Often solitary or in pair when breeding. Feeds mainly on benthic, hard-shelled invertebrates such as mollusks, crustaceans and sea urchins.

Scientific Name: Choerodon anchorago  (Bloch, 1791)
English Name: Anchor Tuskfish, Orangedotted Tuskfish, White-belly Tuskfish, Yellowcheek Tuskfish
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 鹦哥 (Yīng gē), 楔斑猪齿鱼 (Xiē bān zhū chǐ yú), 鞍斑猪齿鱼 (Ān bān zhū chǐ yú), 牙衣 (Nga yī)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Bayan, Batu, Ketarap Bintik Jingga
Japanese Name | 和名: クサビベラ (Kusabi bera)
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากู่แก้มเหลือง (Plā kū̀ kæ̂m lueng)
Main Identification Features: Body depth 2.4 to 2.7 times in standard length. Anterior tip of head forming a broad angle with snout steeply inclined. Jaws prominent. Dorsal fin continuous. A wedge-shaped yellowish band behind pectoral fins. A large rectangular white saddle on caudal peduncle extending forward below rear of dorsal fin. Head speckled with small orange dots.
Size: Maximum total length about 50.0 cm, commonly 20 to 30 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Shallow coral reefs and seagrass beds, to 25 m depth. Often form small aggregations. Feeds mostly on hard-shelled prey including crustaceans, molluscs, and sea urchins.

Scientific Name: Choerodon oligacanthus  (Bleeker, 1851)
English Name: Seagrass Tuskfish, White-patch Tuskfish
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 鹦哥 (Yīng gē)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Ketarap Tanda, Bayan
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทอง (Plā nok k̄hun thong)
Main Identification Features: Body colour orange with light grey longitudinal stripes, a large bright yellow oval spot on side above lateral line and below anterior half of dorsal fin.
Size: Maximum standard length about 28 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Rubble bottoms of coastal and estuarine waters, 2 to 40 m depth. Feeds on hard-shelled prey including crustaceans, molluscs, and sea urchins.

Scientific Name: Choerodon schoenleinii  (Valenciennes, 1839)
English Name: Blackspot Tuskfish
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 青鹦哥 (Qīng yīng gē), 哨牙仔 (Shào yá zǐ), 青衣 (Qīngyī)
Japanese Name | 和名: シロクラベラ (Shirokura bera)
Local Malay Name: Ketarap Bintik Hitam, Bayan
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทองสีฟ้า (Plā nok k̄hun thong s̄ī f̂ā), ปลานกแก้ว (Plā nk kæ̂w)
Main Identification Features: Body green-grey and blue, with a prominent blue line on each scale. Recognized by a black spot smaller than eye at base of last dorsal-fin spine.
Size: Maximum total length about 90 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs and lagoons, to 60 m depth. The species is a protogynous hermaphrodite, males only occur in larger size fish. Feeds on hard-shelled prey including crustaceans, molluscs, and sea urchins.

Click button below to see more species info and photo.

Scientific Name: Epibulus insidiator  (Pallas, 1770)
English Name: Sling-jaw Wrasse
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 伸口鱼 (Shēn kǒu yú)
Japanese Name | 和名: ギチベラ (Gichi bera)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Bayan, Batu, Nuri Sumpit
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทองปากยื่น (Plā nok k̄hun thong pāk yụ̄̀n)
Main Identification Features: Dorsal profile of head convex in front of dorsal fin, with a slight concavity above and before eye. Jaws extremely protrusible, capable of being extended forward more than half length of head.
Size: Maximum total length about 54 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, 1 to 42 m depth. Adults usually along deep slopes or drop-offs. Haremic. Feeds small fishes, shrimps, and crabs.

Scientific Name: Halichoeres chloropterus (Bloch 1791)
English Name: Pastel-green Wrasse, Black-blotched Rainbowfish, Dark-blotch Wrasse, Green-spotted Wrasse, Java Wrasse, Pastelgreen Wrasse
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 鹦哥 (Yīng gē), 绿鳍海猪鱼 (Lǜ qí hǎi zhū yú)
Japanese Name | 和名: ライムラス (Raimu rasu)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Bayan, Batu, Nuri Hijau
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทองเขียว (Plā nok k̄hun thong k̄heīyw), ปลานกขุนทองเหลืองลายเขียว (Plā nok k̄hun thong h̄elụ̄xng lāy k̄heīyw), ปลานกขุนทองปานดํา (Plā nok k̄hun thong pān dam)
Main Identification Features: A pair of prominent canine teeth situated anteriorly in each jaw with second pair of teeth moderately enlarged and recurved. Large curved canine tooth present on each side at rear of upper jaw. Narrow blackish bar across pectoral base. Vertically elongate dark spot behind eye follow by a small yellow patch. Initial phase pale green on dorsal surface, shading to white ventrally, with a black dot on each scale of back and side. Terminal phase pastel green with a faint pink spot in center of each scale in middle and posterior of body; anteriorly the pink spots coalesce to form an irregular network of lines around light green spots. Head with irregular bands of blue-green and blue-edged salmon pink in life.
Size: Maximum total length about 19 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Found mostly on shallow and protected coral reefs where there is sand, rubble, and algae at depths of 0.5 to at least 10 m. Feeds primarily on hard-shelled prey, including molluscs, crustaceans, and sea urchins.

Scientific Name: Halichoeres nigrescens  (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
English Name: Bubblefin Wrasse, Diamond Wrasse
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 鹦哥 (Yīng gē), 黑带海猪鱼 (Hēi dài hǎi zhū yú)
Japanese Name | 和名: バブルフィンラス (Baburufin rasu)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Bayan, Batu, Nuri Belodok
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทอง (Plā nok k̄hun thong), ปลาเหลืองหิน (Plā h̄elụ̄xng h̄in)
Main Identification Features: Dorsal-fin origin posterior to point midway between eye and pectoral-fin base. Body silvery to greenish with red, yellow and blue markings forming broad bars across the body. Snout pointed. Pectoral fin base with a dark spot.
Size: Maximum total length about 14 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coastal sandy and weedy areas and on reefs, 2 to 20 m depth. Found in groups. Small individuals have been recorded to clean other fishes.

Scientific Name: Hemigymnus melapterus  (Bloch, 1791)
English Name: Blackeye Thicklip, Thicklip Wrasse
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 鹦哥 (Yīng gē), 黑鳍厚唇鱼 (Hēi qí hòu chún yú)
Japanese Name | 和名: タレクチベラ (Tarekuchi bera)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Ketarap Tanda, Bayan, Bibir-tebal Badan Gelap
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลานกขุนทองปากหนา (Plā nok k̄hun thong pāk h̄nā)
Main Identification Features: Head and upper front of body light green, pale blue-green ventrally. Irregular bands on snout and above eye, and a large complex marking behind eye. Lips large and fleshy, the lower lips split on the midline forming 2 lobes.
Size: Maximum total length about 50 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, to 40 m depth. Occurs solitary or in small groups. Juveniles were found inshore and settled among branching corals, long spines of sea urchins or close to substrate among other stinging invertebrates for protection. Feeds primarily by taking in mouthfulls of sand, sorting out small invertebrates and then expelling the sand out through the gill openings. Feeds mainly on crustaceans, polychaete worms, molluscs, and brittle stars.