General Description

Moderately deep-bodied wrasses. Adults overall greenish-blue to brown, with a purple tinge, and five indistinct yellowish bars on body and fins. Juveniles reddish-brown with green and orange mottling. To 45 cm.


These fishes are carnivores with strong canines and crushing teeth for feeding on benthic invertebrates such as crabs, bivalve and gastropod molluscs and echinoderms. Juveniles prey on tiny amphipod and isopod crustaceans. Unlike most wrasses, which usually change sex from female to male during their life, all Purple wrasses start life as females, and some change sex to become males before they mature. This means that both large males and females are present in the population, which in relatively rare in the family labridae.


New Zealand and south-eastern Australia.


Kelp beds on exposed and moderately rocky reefs, in depths of 1-90 m.

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