Animal Species:Crimsonband Wrasse, Notolabrus gymnogenis (Günther, 1862)

The Crimsonband Wrasse is commonly seen by divers in the Sydney region.  Females are usually seen in weedy areas.  Males, with the white caudal peduncle and red fins, are immediately recognisable.

Crimsonband Wrasse, Notolabrus gymnogenis

Crimsonband Wrasse, Notolabrus gymnogenis
Photographer: Mike Jones © Mike Jones

Standard Common Name

Crimsonband Wrasse

Alternative Name/s

Crimson-banded Parrot-fish, Crimson-banded Wrasse, Spotted Rainbowfish, White-spotted Rainbow-fish


The Crimsonband Wrasse changes colour pattern with growth. Juveniles are a drab green to brown with white spots.

Females are red, green or grey with rows of white spots. Males have white cheeks, a red band across the body, red dorsal and anal fins and a white caudal peduncle and tail.

The species name gymnogenis comes from the Greeek gymnon meaning bare and genys meaning cheek. This refers to the nearly naked cheeks that have a single row of scales.

Size range

The Crimsonband Wrasse grows to 40 cm in length.


It occurs from southern Queensland to eastern Victoria

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.

Notolabrus gymnogenis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Crimsonband Wrasse specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


The species occurs at depths of 4 m to 40 m. It is a common species on rocky, kelp-covered reefs in the Sydney region.

Feeding and Diet

The Crimsonband Wrasse is a carnivore.  It has an unusual upper jaw with two large teeth anterioroly and a single tooth curving forward at the rear of the jaw.



What does this mean?


  1. Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Notolabrus gymnogenis, Crimsonband wrasse, Labridae, red, green, white, brown, grey, 'normal fish', deep-bodied, 30 cm - 1 m, mottled, countershaded, rocky reef, marine, adult,


Sascha Schulz - 12.07 PM, 04 July 2009
Hello Peppercorn, you're quiet right that "wrasse" is the English language name for the family Labridae. One notable feature of this family is that almost all species are protogynous. This means that they are born female, and change sex to a male later on in life. As they mature and change sex their colouring changes (see photos above). This is known as sexual dimorphism. The closely related Scaridae (Parrotfishes) share this feature.
billyhill - 1.07 PM, 03 July 2009
You are quite right peppercorn the colour of these crimson wrasses is quite spectacular almost like a rainbow
peppercorn - 12.07 PM, 03 July 2009
Very stylish photo sascha however i would like to point out that these so-called wrasses fishes are recognisable because of the bright mixture of colors which swip swap in shift like the rainbow does please reply back thanks.
Mark McGrouther - 1.07 PM, 02 July 2009
From Dr Stephen Keable, Collection Manager Marine Invertebrates: Hi Mark, The family is Cymothoidae, there are a few species known and it is often difficult to identify them from photographs alone as some of the necessary details to check can be obscured. Cheers, Steve.
Mark McGrouther - 2.07 PM, 01 July 2009
Wicked photo Sascha! Thank you. I'll send this off to the Marine Invertebrates folk for them to put a name on the isopods.
Sascha Schulz - 9.07 AM, 01 July 2009
Attached is an image of a female N.gymnogenis with two parasitic isopods. The larger isopod is the female.

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