Checkerboard Wrasse Click to enlarge image
A Checkerboard Wrasse at a depth of 12 m, Cormorant Pass, Great Barrier Reef off Lizard Island, Queensland, December 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    hortulanus
    Genus
    Halichoeres
    Family
    Labridae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 27 cm in length.

Introduction

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.

Identification

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.

Habitat

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.

Distribution

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.



Feeding and diet

The fish feeds primarily on sand-dwelling gastropods, bivalves, hermit crabs, polychaetes and small fishes.

References

  1. 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.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Fairy and Rainbow Wrasses and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Selected Labroids. TMC Publishing. Pp. 208.
  3. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 251.
  5. 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.