Comb Wrasse Click to enlarge image
A Comb Wrasse photographed in 1999 at a depth of 25m, Shark Point, Clovelly, Sydney, New South Wales. Image: Ákos Lumnitzer
© Ákos Lumnitzer

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    picta
    Genus
    Coris
    Family
    Labridae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Comb Wrasse grows to 24 cm in length.

Introduction

The Comb Wrasse occurs in coastal and offshore rocky reefs in Australia and New Zealand. Mature male and female fish look similar, but within seconds males can assume a territorial or display colouration in which the black stripe disappears.

Identification

The Comb Wrasse has a pointed snout and an elongate body that is covered with ctenoid (view scale pages) scales.

Adults have a broad mid-lateral black stripe with comb-like extensions ventrally, hence the common name. Mature male and female fish look similar, but within seconds males can assume a territorial or display colouration in which the black stripe disappears.

Juveniles resemble Common Cleanerfish, a species well known for feeding on parasites of larger fishes. Juvenile Comb Wrasse can also pick parasites off larger fishes. Other species of fishes also feed in this way. View the fact sheets for the Eastern Cleaner Clingfish and Axilspot Hogfish.


Comb Wrasse, coris picta
A juvenile Comb Wrasse at a depth of 14m, "The Docks", Jervis Bay, New South Wales, March 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Distribution

It occurs in coastal and offshore rocky reefs in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia the Comb Wrasse is known from southern 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.



References

  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. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Fairy and Rainbow Wrasses and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Selected Labroids. TMC Publishing. Pp. 208.