Wrasse – Ornate wrasse


Ornate wrasse

Gozo & MaltaAtlantic SpeciesWrasse

Common Name: Ornate wrasse

Scientific Names: Thalossoma pavo

Description: This is a small Wrasse with the majority in the area being up to 10cm, the males growing slightly longer. It has a long and relatively slim body shape. The vivid colours are a variable mix of greens, yellow and blues. Females and older juveniles have 5 vertical blue bars and a black blotch on the back. Small juveniles lack the blue bars. Dominant male fish are more uniform in body colour with a single vertical blue bar.

Distinctive Features: The very colourful yellow, blue and green patterns are highly distinctive.

Abundance: It is usually observed in social groups of variable numbers mostly up to 10 or so but often many more. These groups are very common in the shallows and on rock reefs, with 10+ groups per dive. Likely to be seen at every site that has rocky habitats.

Habitat & Behaviour: This species prefers rocky habitats, from the extreme shallows to diving depths. Within the social groups, mature female fish may change sex to form dominant ‘terminal’ males. It is a busy fish and hyper-active during the day. It is often seen following other fish that are feeding more directly, such as Painted wrasse. Juveniles can act as cleaner species.

Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Whilst this is a wary and very busy little fish that is not at all easy to photograph, it will often approach and investigate if the undergrowth is gently agitated.

Other Notes: Look out for large fish with the female pattern but without a black blotch; these are in the process of changing sex.

Other Names: Turkish wrasse

Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Bob Earll & Luke Adshead

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