The standard name of the Slingjaw Wrasse refers to the fish's ability to protrude its mouth to capture prey such as crabs, shrimps and small fishes. When protruded the mouth can be up to half the body length.
The Slingjaw Wrasse's most obvious characteristic is the greatly protrudable mouth, which can be up to half the body length when protruded.
Great footage of a Slingjaw Wrasse feeding can be seen at 2 minutes 50 seconds into the movie below.
Juvenile Slingjaw Wrasse look different to adults. They are brown with narrow white bars on the body, resembling fishes of the genus Wetmorella.
Initial phase Slingjaw Wrasse are uniformly brown or yellow. Terminal phase fish have a white head, with a dark line through the eye extending onto the body. The body is dark with the exception of an orange region below the dorsal fin.
The Slingjaw Wrasse inhabits lagoons and coral-rich reef areas, often in surge zones. It is found in depths from 1 m to 40 m.
The species 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, around the tropical north of the country, and from the entire length of the 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.
- 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.
- 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.