Birdnose Wrasse Click to enlarge image
A terminal phase Birdnose Wrasse at a depth of 8 m, Ribbon Reef #10, off Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, December 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl.
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    varius
    Genus
    Gomphosus
    Family
    Labridae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 30 cm in length.

Introduction

The common name of the Birdnose Wrasse refers to the fish's long snout that is thought to resemble a bird's beak.



Identification

Juvenile Birdnose Wrasse are green above and white below with two black stripes along the length of the body. Their snout is less elongate than adults.

Initial phase fish are white with a black spot on each scale that gives the fish a speckled look. The top of the snout is orange, and the caudal fin is black with a white border.

Terminal phase individuals have a blue-green body with a red line on each scale. The snout is blue-green and the caudal fin has a bright blue crescent.

Habitat

Birdnose Wrasse inhabit lagoons and coral-rich reef areas. It occurs at depths from 1 m to 30 m.

Distribution

The Birdnose Wrasse occurs in tropical marine waters of the West-Central Pacific, from the Cocos-Keeling Islands, 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, around the tropical north of the country, and south to the southern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland.

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.



Feeding and diet

The snout is used to probe the coral for prey, primarily crustaceans, brittle stars, molluscs and small fishes.

Other behaviours and adaptations

It is often seen in small groups or as a single individual.

References

  1. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  2. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 251.