Common Name: Peacock wrasse
Scientific Names: Symphodus tinca
Description: This is largest common Wrasse in Maltese waters growing up to 30cm, although individuals in shallow water are often half this size. It has a moderately elongate body shape. It has a black spot on the tail (usually), three strong lines along the body, and often has white lips and white flecks around the eye.
Distinctive Features: The black spot on the tail with three darker lines running from head to tail. Unlike the similar Five spotted wrasse it regularly sucks in and spits out bits of the sea bed when it is feeding.
Abundance: Usually as individuals feeding in particular areas, but with 20-30+ seen in any one dive and at every site where there is rocky habitat.
Habitat & Behaviour: They feed on seaweed covered rocks, and are found in a wide variety of rocky reef and large boulder habitats including in shallow water near the shore. Its habit of spitting out food that it has just bitten off means that other rocky species can often be seen in close association with it (Ornate, Rainbow wrasse and Painted combers).
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Shy of surface diving snorkellers, but more tolerant of divers.
Other Notes: Breeding males become a mostly yellow colour and their longitudinal lines are flecked with red.
Other Names: Painted wrasse
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Bob Earll & Luke Adshead