Five spotted wrasse
Common Name: Five spotted wrasse
Scientific Names: Symphodus roissali
Description: A small Wrasse (to 10cm), with an almost oval body and a wide array of spots all over its body. Colour is variable from predominantly green to brown, often with horizontal dark bands and a tail spot. A dark band joins the eye and snout. It can easily be confused with small, non-breeding Peacock wrasse (Symphodus tinca) and with Corkwing wrasse (Symphodus melops).
Distinctive Features: There are five dark blotches on the dorsal (top) fin of the body but these are not always obvious as this fin is often laid flat. In Maltese waters its main distinctive feature is that these are the most speckled Wrasse found and females especially have black spots all over the body.
Abundance: As individuals, or with one or two others. Very common (30+ per dive) in shallow water over rocks at every site.
Habitat & Behaviour: This Wrasse lives and feeds around seaweed covered rocks and over shallow seagrass beds. Its body colouration, whilst not true camouflage, enables it to merge in with its environment.
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Wary of snorkellers.
Other Notes: It is one of the species of Wrasse that builds seaweed nests for its eggs and this behaviour can be observed in shallow water.
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Luke Adshead