Uncommon in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed through the Indo-Pacific region, Cocos-Keeling to the Hawaiian, Marquesas and Tuamoto Islands, north to southern Japan, south to Rowley Shoals in the east Indian Ocean. In Australia recorded north from Geraldton in Western Australia, from Torres Strait south through Queensland to northern New South Wales, and including Lord Howe Island.
Frequents rocky reef and coral rich areas of lagoons and seaward reefs. Depth to 30 m.
Colouration variable according to age, top photograph shows adult, followed by initial phase, then older juvenile with small juvenile at bottom. Usually a solitary species, there is distinct pairing during breeding. Very small juveniles similar to juvenile Thalassoma lutescens but have lower black stripe on the underside. Feeds on small benthic crustaceans, brittle stars and molluscs. Grows to 30 cm.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.308.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. https://fishbase.ca/summary/Gomphosus-varius.html. Accessed 27/05/18.
Atlas of Living Australia website at https://bie.ala.org.au/search?q=Gomphosus+varius. Accessed 27/05/18.