Animal Species:Threespot Wrasse, Halichoeres trimaculatus (Quoy & Gaimard 1834)

Threespot Wrasse can generally be recognised by their distictive colouration.  Adults usually occur over sand or rubble near coral reefs and in lagoons.

A Threespot Wrasse at Mantis Reef

A Threespot Wrasse at Mantis Reef
Photographer: Erik Schlögl © Erik Schlögl

Standard Common Name

Threespot Wrasse


Initial phase Threespot Wrasse have a greenish-yellow body with pink-rimmed scales. There is usually a large black spot surrounded by yellow on the top of the caudal fin base (yellow only on the fish in the image). There is a smaller black spot on the pectoral fin base.

Terminal phase males are similar in colour, but have an additional black mark below the first part of the dorsal fin. The head has irregular pink and green markings and the black spot on the caudal peduncle is more obvious than in initial phase fish. The caudal fin may be completely yellow.

Size range

The species grows to 20 cm in length.


The Threespot Wrasse occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West Pacific, from the Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Islands, throughout South-east Asia and Micronesia, north to Japan, south to Australia and east to French Polynesia.

In Australia it is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country, and south to northern 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.

Halichoeres trimaculatus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Threespot Wrasse specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


Adult Threespot Wrasse are commonly seen over sand or rubble near coral reefs and in lagoons. Juveniles inhabit shallower protected coastal waters. It is found in depths from 1 m to 18 m.

Feeding and Diet

The species feeds primarily on crustaceans, molluscs, polychaetes, fish eggs and small fishes.



What does this mean?


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  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.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Threespot Wrasse, Halichoeres trimaculatus, Labridae, white, green, yellow, pink, 'normal fish', 10 cm - 30 cm, countershaded, coral reef, soft substrate, marine, adult,