© Johan Boshoff


Wrasse (Labridae)




Wrasses measure 45 cm in length on average but can be as long as 2.5 m.


Wrasses have elongated flat bodies. Their dorsal fin is continuous and their tails are predominantly rounded, but also shortened, forked and crescent-shaped. They have smooth scales, and the juveniles and adults are very different in appearance. They vary in bright colours such as orange, yellow, blue, white, green and black, and can easily be spotted on the reefs.

General Info

Wrasses belong to the Labridae family which comprises of 69 genera and 500 species. They can be spotted on reefs, weed beds, rock pools and the sandy bottom of the sea. Some of the smaller species are cleaner fish on the reefs. They are sexually dimorphic and pelagic spawners, changing sex when the dominant male dies.


Wrasses feed on zooplankton, fish and invertebrates such as polychaete worms, brittle stars, crabs and shrimps.


They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Goldsaddle wrasse - Bodianus perditio
Lyretail wrasse - Bodianus anthioides
Napoleon wrasse - Cheilinus undulatus