Bluehead wrasses begin in a larval state. Bluehead larva are 12 mm in length and have one large black spot at the anterior end of the dorsal fin as well as a series of small black dots along the distal edges of the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. There are no erythrophores behind the head. The larvae spend 6 to 8 weeks in the open sea, then bury themselves in the sand as they metamorphose into juveniles. Individual fish mature at 35 mm standard length.
As the juveniles age, they turn yellow and collect in groups either in select areas of the reef or seagrass beds. The fish stay there until they completely develop and reach sexual maturity. Those that survive this stage eventually develop a dark stripe along their body. They will then become a part of a nearby population and are considered to be in the initial phase. Bluehead wrasses tend to stay where they have settled.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
- Natural Museum of Natural History: Department of Systematic Biology- Division of Fishes. 2002. "Larval Fish: Labroidei" (On-line ). Larval Fishes from Carrie Bow Cay, Belize. Accessed 03/22/02 at http://www.nmnh.si.edu/vert/larval/labroi.html.