Wrasses (the family Labridae), are the most abundant and conspicuous fishes on tropical reefs around the world. Wrasses also comprise an important element of the coldwater fish population on temperate reefs. They are second largest family of marine fishes and the third largest family in the Perciformes order, containing approximately 60 genera and roughly 500 species. Wrasses appear in a diverse range of colors, shapes, and sizes, often varying considerably within individual species (see Physical Description). This morphological diversity is matched by the wide variety of prey consumed. Wrasses fill the roles of piscivores, zooplanktivores, molluscivores, herbivores, planktivores, polychaete predators, decapod crab predators, and coral predators, as well as many others (see Food Habits). Many wrasses are organized into harem-based social systems and hermaphroditism is common (see Reproduction: Mating Systems). Finally, as suggested by their diverse food habits, wrasses fill many important ecological roles on reefs of tropical and temperate regions around the world. (Choat and Bellwood, 1998; Nelson, 1994; Wainwright and Bellwood, 2002)
- Nelson, J. 1994. Fishes of the World – third edition. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.