Species Index

Novaculichthys taeniourus
(Lacepede, 1801)

Common Name: Reindeer Wrasse

Distribution: Relatively common in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Tropical Indo Pacific region: Red Sea and East Africa to the Hawaiian and Tuamoto Islands, north to Ryuku Islands, south to Lord Howe Island. In Australia recorded from Shark Bay and the North West Shelf region of Western Australia, the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland south to northern New South Wales, and including Lord Howe Island.

Ecological Notes: Frequents tropical reef flats, especially among macro algae, inshore reefs and around offshore islands. Juveniles in shallower protected areas, adults often in pairs across reef crests. Depth 3-25 m.

Additional Notes: Four different stages shown with juvenile in top photo, larger juvenile then sub adult. Adults have different colour patterns, see lower photograph. First and second dorsal fin greatly elongated in juveniles, which float in the surge like leaves across the substrate. Feed on small invertebrates, molluscs, brittle stars, sea urchins and polychaete worms. Large adults operate in pairs with one overturning small bits of rubble and the other feeding, leading them to be referred to as Rockmover Wrasse. Shy, juveniles especially difficult to approach. Grows to about 30 cm.

References: R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.326.

Atlas of Living Australia website at Accessed 17/06/18.

FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. Accessed 17/06/18.