Animal Species:Checkerboard Wrasse, Halichoeres hortulanus (Lacepede, 1801)
The Checkerboard Wrasse occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific. Juvenile Checkerboard Wrasse are usually seen under ledges near deep sandy holes, or surgy areas. Adults inhabit lagoons and seaward reefs.
The species feeds primarily on sand-dwelling gastropods, bivalves, hermit crabs, polychaetes and small fishes.
Standard Common Name
The Checkerboard Wrasse can be recognised by its colouration, which varies as the fish grows. Juvenile Checkerboard Wrasse have alternating black and white bars on the body and a yellow-edged, black spot in the dorsal fin.
Adult Checkerboard Wrasse have a white body with a black spot between each scale, creating a checkerboard pattern.
The head is green with irregular pink-orange stripes. There is a yellow spot on the back below the fourth and fifth dorsal fin spines and a second yellow spot in the middle of the soft dorsal fin.
The species grows to 27 cm in length.
The Checkerboard Wrasse occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea, throughout South-east Asia and Micronesia, north to Japan, south to Australia and east to the Tuamoto Islands.
In Australia it is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland to southern New South Wales.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
Juvenile Checkerboard Wrasse are usually seen under ledges near deep sandy holes, or surgy areas. Adults inhabit lagoons and seaward reefs.
It is found in depths from 1 m to 30 m.
Feeding and Diet
The fish feeds primarily on sand-dwelling gastropods, bivalves, hermit crabs, polychaetes and small fishes.
- Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Fairy and Rainbow Wrasses and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Selected Labroids. TMC Publishing. Pp. 208.
- Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 251.
- Westneat, M.W., 2001 Labridae. Wrasses (also, hogfishes, razorfishes, corises and tuskfishes) in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (Eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 6. Bony Fishes part 4 (Labridae to Latimeriidae), estuarine crocodiles, sea turtles, sea snakes and marine mammals. FAO, Rome. Pp. iii-v, 3381-4218.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology