The species has three color phases. Adults have two dark to black lateral stripes, one extending from the snout and via the eye to the base of the tail, with a second, paler lateral stripe further below. The upper stripe incorporates a bicolored spot where it crosses the edge of the gills (this is present in all phases). Dark triangular corners on tail. Irregular light red bands on head and on caudal fin. Shades of green. Intermediates: Color varies greatly, from shades of light purple to dark brown. Juveniles are usually white and have two dark stripes, but the lower (abdominal) stripe may be faint. The slippery dick reaches about 30 centimetres (12 in) TL.
The slippery dick is generally found in shallow reefs, and grass beds. Also can be found at the Jetty In Ponce Inlet Florida.
This species feeds on benthic invertebrates, including crabs, sea urchins and ophiuroids, polychaetes, and gastropods. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite. These fish form leks while breeding. In North Carolina, males defend temporary territories with peak spawning in May and June. Pair spawning typically occurs between females and terminal phase males; initial phase males occasionally try to insert themselves into the spawning event. Slippery dick is found in fairly large sizes (3-6") and after a relatively short period in the plankton. Peak recruitment occurred during the new moon and the highest amplitude tide.
- Species List for the Dominant Fishes at Gray's Reef
- Rocha, L., et al. 2010. Halichoeres bivittatus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 03 June 2013.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2007). "Halichoeres bivittatus" in FishBase. May 2007 version.
- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Bocas del Toro Species Database