Wrasse species identification guide


Some of the most lively and inquisitive reef fish

With about 500 species, the Labridae family (wrasse) is the second largest family of marine fishes. Wrasse species appear in a diverse range of size, shape and color, sometimes varying considerably even within a single species, as they proceed through several distinct phases during their life. Wrasses are among the most abundant and conspicuous fish on shallow coral reefs, but also in temperate seas. Some wrasse can be really inquisitive, making them some of the easiest fish to see and photograph while snorkeling.

Where are the most emblematic wrasse species found?

The largest (and also the most famous) species in this family is the Maori wrasse, which can reach a length of more than 6ft/2m. It is mainly seen on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Tuamotu Islands, where some individuals are almost tame. Thalassoma genera wrasses, bright and colorful, are common over coral reefs around the world. The sixbar wrasse, widely distributed from East Africa to French Polynesia, is certainly the most common in the Indo-Pacific. In the Caribbean, the bluehead wrasse is simply unmissable. The vibrant colors of the ornate wrasse gives a tropical touch to the Mediterranean underwater landscape. Some other wrasse species are known for cleaning larger fish from their parasites, which they feed on. The best known among them is the bluestreak cleaner wrasse, found from the Red Sea to the Marquesas. Finally, if we had to vote for the most beautiful wrasse species, the juvenile clown coris, with its exquisite white body decorated with two black and orange eyespots, would undoubtedly be among our favorites.

Caribbean & Western Atlantic Ocean wrasse

Indian & Pacific Oceans wrasse

Eastern Pacific Ocean wrasse

Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic Ocean wrasse

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Have a look at the best identification fish guides to learn more about marine life!

Want to learn more about the species you observed or photographed under water? The identification guides are true treasures for those curious to know about the undersea world! These books show, in the form of images or drawings, the species of certain environments (such as coral reefs) or certain regions of the world (such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or the Red Sea). If some guides are limited to fish, others describe all the local underwater fauna and flora. True scientific works, the identification guides are also a beautiful way to prepare for our future snorkeling explorations!