Ornate wrasse adult female on a reef in Hawaii.
Ornate wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus) larvae reared in the laboratory.
Female ornate wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus)(Hawaii).
Hoeven's wrasse intermediate phase (Indonesia).
Cultured ornate wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus) larva.
California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher). California.
Juvenile whitepatch razorfish (Iniistius aneitensis) emerging from the sand at 45 days post hatch.
Whitepatch razorfish (Iniistius aneitensis) larvae reared in the laboratory.
Adult whitepatch razorfish (Iniistius aneitensis).
Sunset wrasse (Thalassoma lutescens) races down from the surface. Lord Howe Island.
A male Beau's wrasse (Cirrhilabrus beauperryi). Solomon Islands.
The beautuful redbreasted wrasse (C. fasciatus) cruising over reef in the Solomon Islands.
Two-spot wrasse ( Oxycheilinus bimaculatus) male (Indonesia).
A White-barred wrasse (Pseudocheilinus ocellatus) blends in with background.
Colorful wrasses and butterflyfish gobble up Indo-Pacific sergeant fish eggs.
A male Filamented flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus filamentosus) flaring its fins and intensifying in color to attract females.
Leopard wrasse (Macropharyngodon meleagris).
Hoeven's wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus) intermediate color phase (Indonesia).
Peacock fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus temminckii)(Philippines).
The myriad of colors of this surge wrasse (Thalassoma purpureum) provide camouflage due to the poor spacial resolving power of fish.
Sixstripe wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia).
Fiji endemic flasher wrasse wrasse (Paracheilinus rubricaudalis).
Juvenile Yellowtail coris wrasse (Coris gaimard).
The orange and green/blue colors of this Christmas wrasse (Thalassoma trilobatum) combine in the distance due to the poor spacial resolving power of fish. The resulting color closely matches the blue background, hiding the fish from potential predators.
A male orangeback wrasse (Cirrhilabrus lubbocki) oversees its harem of females. Indonesia.
Goldstripe wrasse (Halichoeres hartzfeldii). Bali, Indonesia.
Two Hawaiian cleaner wrasse (Labroides phthirophagus) tend to a barred filefish. Hawaii.
A Hawaiian cleaner wrasse picking dead skin and parasites off a Longnose Butterflyfish (Hawaii).
A male Beau's wrasse (Cirrhilabrus beauperryi). Solomon Islands.
The beautuful redbreasted wrasse (C. fasciatus) on a reef in the Solomon Islands.
Spanish hogfish (Bodianus rufus) cleaning a spiny balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus). Bahamas.
Male pencil wrasse (Pseudojuloides cerasinus). Hawaii.
A tiny juvenile Ornate Leopard Wrasse (Macropharyngodon ornatus) blends into the background. Indonesia.
Blue flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus cyaneus) changes colors shifts colors during its mating ritual. Indonesia.
Male blue flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus cyaneus) flashes while courting mutiple females. Flasher wrasses are named after their grandeur "flashing" behavior during courtship. To attract a mate the male undergoes exaggerated lateral moves while intensifying his colors and erecting his fins "flashing" the females. Indonesia.
Blue flasher (Paracheilinus cyaneus) just after flashing. Indonesia.
A blue flasher (Paracheilinus cyaneus) in full glory. Indonesia.
A male blue flasher (Paracheilinus cyaneus) and a blue-sided wrasse (Cirrhilabrus cyanopleura) retreat into hiding at dusk. Indonesia.
Close-up of a male blue flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus cyaneus) flashing. Indonesia.
A slippery dick (Halichoeres bivittatus) wrasse races by. Bahamas.
Make yellowfin flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus flavianalis) (Indonesia).
Male humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus). Indonesia.
Filamented flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus filamentosus). Papua New Guinea.
Leopard wrasse (Macropharyngodon meleagris). Papua New Guinea.
Red-breasted wrasse (Cheilinus fasciatus). Indonesia.
Hoeven's wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus). Indonesia.
Head shot of humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) intermediate phase. Indonesia.
Humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) intermediate phase. Indonesia.
Orangeback wrasse (Cirrhilabrus lubbocki). Philippines.
Male peacock fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus temminckii) with females in background. Philippines.
Exquisite wrasse (Cirrhilabrus exquisitus) racing across a reef in PNG. Papua New Guinea.
Motion blue of exquisite wrasse (Cirrhilabrus exquisitus) racing across the reef in PNG. Papua New Guinea.
Head shot of pastel ring wrasse (Hologymnosus doliatus). Fiji.
Exquisite Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus exquisitus) in Palau.
Yellowtail coris wrasse (Coris gaimard) (Hawaii).
Cocos wrasse (Halichoeres dicolor) (terminal male) - endemic to Cocos Island. Costa Rica.
Juvenile Mexican hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia). Costa Rica.
Two juvenile California sheepheads (Semicossyphus pulchermales) "mouth fighting" over territory. California.
Spawning senorita (Oxyjulis californica). I saw this species aggregate into large schools near drop offs during the midday and then spawn in smaller groups of 20-30 individuals. Senorita spawn from May through August. California.
Clown wrasse (Halichoeres maculipinna) - intermediate phase. Bahamas.
Yellowhead wrasse (Halichoeres garnoti) - terminal phase. Bahamas.
A checkerboard wrasse (Halichoeres hortulanu) races across the reef. Solomon Islands.
A female Beau's wrasse (Cirrhilabrus beauperryi). Solomon Islands.
TL-BR: Initial phase male or female. Transition phase male or female. Terminal male. Harem feeding on yellowtail damsel nest. Initial males mass spawning with female. TR: Harem feeding on small sessile invertebrates hiding in seaweed.
If you’ve ever snorkeled or dove on a reef in the Caribbean, Bahamas or Florida you likely saw groups of a small, colorful wrasse called bluehead (Thalassoma bifasciatum). This fish is probably the most common wrasse species in tropical western Atlantic. Why are blueheads so abundant? Well, for one, they breed every day.
Blueheads are protogynous hermaphrodites that mature at just 3-4 cm, which is when they begin to sow their oats. Mature adults have two dominant color phases. Females and small males (derived from juvenile sex change) share the same color phase (initial phase) and large dominant males display the distinct bright blue head for which the species is named (terminal phase). Terminal males defend territories and maintain harems of females. When a terminal male becomes absent, the most dominant female or initial male transitions to replace it.
Social groups in blueheads typically consist of one dominant terminal male and a female harem, plus a few or more initial (sneaker) males. Every day throughout the year whenever tides are favorable, terminal males pair spawn with 20-50 females in their harem. This, no doubt, keeps them really busy, and allows the initial males to sneak in a spawn or two. In fact, on larger reefs, initial males are so numerous that they form groups, often by the hundreds, to sneak spawn with willing and available females. Repeated spawnings of multiple large groups within the same area is not unusual.
Needless to say, there is no shortage of bluehead gametes on tropical coral reefs in the western Atlantic -:)
Slippery dick (Halichoeres bivittatus) initial phase male on a wreck in North Carolina. Initial phase males often sneak in their sperm while terminal males are pair spawning with females.
Juvenile California sheephead. Like most wrasses, sheephead are protogynous hermaphrodites. They spawn in the spring and summer in California. The planktonic larval duration varies from 37 to 78 days.
Like many wrasse species, sheephead are protogynous. All are born female, and the largest individuals become male due to hormonal changes triggered by social cues. The two sexes have extremely different appearances. Male sheephead are larger than females, with black head and tail and red mid-section, red eyes, and fleshy forehead bumps. Female sheephead are dull pink with white undersides.
Senoritas (Oxyjulis californic) feed on invertebrates that live on kelp. They also act as "cleaner fish", removing dead skin and parasites from other fishes. Unlike most wrasses, this species apparently does not change sex.
Male and female sheephead surround a gorgonian on a deep kelp reef covered in brittle stars. Male sheephead are larger than females, with black head and tail and red mid section, red eyes, and fleshy forehead bumps. Female sheephead are dull pink with white undersides.
Redbreasted wrasse (Cheilinus fasciatus) juvenile (left) and adult (right).
A pair of pinstriped wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus) rise to spawn above a coral head on a wreck in Truk Lagoon.
Yellowband fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus luteovittatus) female (left) and male (right). Cirrhilabrus luteovittatus was the most common fairy wrasse in Truk Laggon.
Three-line wrasse (Stethojulis strigiventer) female (left) and male (right) - a common ribbon wrasse found on the wrecks in Truk Lagoon.
Floral wrasse (Cheilinus chlorurus) juvenile (left) and adult (right).
A gorgeous Celebes wrasse (Oxycheilinus celebicus) - common on the wrecks of Truk Lagoon