Uncommon in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region, from East Africa to the Tuamoto and Austral Islands in the Pacific, north to southern Japan, south to New Caledonia. In Australia recorded from Shark Bay in Western Australia, across the tropical north to Torres Strait, south through Queensland to northern New South Wales, and including Lord Howe Island.
Frequents lagoons and seaward reefs to a depth of at least 30 m. Relatively common where good coral cover. Juveniles secretive on algae reefs, usually around stinging hydrozoans.
Elongate body with fine vertical lines, usually row of black spots along rear midline. Tail margin with three lobes in large individuals. Usually solitary and secretive, hard to approach, feeds on benthic invertebrates such as crustaceans and molluscs, small fishes. Distinct pairing during breeding. Juvenile approximately 15 cm in length shown in photograph. Grows to 45 cm.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.292.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://fishbase.ca/summary/Cheilinus-trilobatus.html. Accessed 11/05/18.