Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Labridae (Wrasses)

Genus/species: Gomphosus varius

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Wrasses vary greatly in size and body shape. All have terminal mouths, prominent canines, thick lips, and a single continuous dorsal fin.

The Bird Wrasse common name refers to the fish’s long snout, which is said to resemble a bird’s beak. This species, like many wrasses, changes appearance as it matures. During the juvenile phase it is green above and white below. The snout is short. In the next phase, called the initial phase, most or all are females, and they are white with a black spot on each scale. The top of the snout is orange, and the caudal fin is black with a white border. 

During the terminal phase, a dominant male becomes blue-green. The caudal fin has a bright blue crest.

Length of males up to 30 cm (12 inches) Females to about 20 cm (8 inches)

Initial Phase below

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indo-Pacific: East Africa to Hawaiian Islands, north to southern Japan, south to Australia. Found in lagoons and seaward reefs at depths 2–30 m (6-100 ft.).

DIET IN THE WILD: Unlike parrotfishes which scrape algae from rocks with fused beaks, most wrasses feed on hard-shelled invertebrates such as crabs, brittle stars and shrimps  They use scissored motions with protruding canines and crush with powerful pharyngeal teeth. 

REPRODUCTION: Anthias and most wrasses are protogynous hermaphrodites meaning they are born female but if a dominant male perishes, the largest female of the group will often change into a male to take its place. On the other hand, clown anemonefish are protandrous hermaphrodites. This means that they mature as males and the largest one will change into a female when the resident female dies.

REMARKS: Like other wrasses, the bird wrasse can be recognized by its characteristic swimming pattern: the pectoral fins move up and down in a “flying” motion”.

Terminal phase below


California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 2016

Ron’s flickr

Australian Museum


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