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Thalassoma lunare 1.jpg
Moon wrasse, Thalassoma lunare, a typical wrasse
Scientific classification

Cuvier, 1816

See text.

Photo of two small wrasses cleaning large wrasse's gills
Cleaner wrasse working on a dragon wrasse on a coral reef in Hawaii

The wrasses are a family, the Labridae, of marine fish, many of which are brightly coloured. The family is large and diverse, with over 600 species in 82 genera.[1]

They are usually small fish, mostly less than 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, although the largest, the Humphead wrasse, can measure up to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft).

Feeding methods[change | change source]

They are carnivores, feeding on a wide range of small invertebrates. Many smaller wrasses follow the feeding trails of larger fish, eating invertebrates left by big fish.[2]

Wrasses can put their jaws forwards, usually with separate jaw teeth that jut outwards.[3]

Many species can be recognized by their thick lips. The inside of these lips is curiously folded, which gave rise the German name of Lippfische. The dorsal fin has 8–21 spines and 6–21 soft rays, usually running most of the length of the back.

Wrasse are sexually dimorphic. Many species are capable of changing sex. Juveniles are a mix of males and females (known as Initial Phase or IP individuals) but the largest adults become territory-holding (Terminal Phase or TP) males.[3]

The word "wrasse" comes via Cornish from the Welsh word gwrach meaning an old woman or hag.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. Cowman, Peter F.; Bellwood, David R.; Van Herwerden, Lynne (2009). "Dating the evolutionary origins of wrasse lineages (Labridae) and the rise of trophic novelty on coral reefs". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 52 (3): 621–631. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.05.015. PMID 19464378.
  2. Choat, J.H. & Bellwood, D.R. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 211. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wainwright; et al. (2005). "Many-to-one mapping of form to function: a general principle in organismal design?". Integrative & Comparative Biology. 45 (2): 256–262. doi:10.1093/icb/45.2.256. PMID 21676769.
  4. [1]