IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

Read full entry


  Common names: wrasse (English), doncella (Espanol), cuchillo (Espanol), peine (Espanol)
Novaculichthys taeniourus (Lacepède, 1801)

Rock-mover wrasse

Body elongate, oblong, very compressed; forehead profile angular, without fleshy keel; eye nearer mouth than head profile; 2 pairs of stout canines at front of upper and lower jaws, no canines at rear of jaws; preopercular margin free; dorsal fin IX, 12,  first two dorsal spines greatly prolonged in juveniles; anal rays III, 13; pectoral rays 13; lateral line in 2 parts, 19-20 pored scales on front upper portion + 5-6 on base of tail; head scaleless except for a few scales below & sometimes behind eye.

Adults  dark greenish brown with white spot on each scale; head grey with several brown bands radiating from eye; tail black with white base; dorsal and anal fins black, with wiggly whitish lines; juveniles mottled and banded, either green, reddish or brown, and spotted with white.

Size: grows to 30 cm.

Habitat: rubble and sand bottoms. Can overturn large rocks with its powerful jaws when searching for invertebrate prey; the young mimic drifting masses of algae.

Depth: 3-30 m.

Widespread in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to the Americas; central Gulf of California to Colombia, plus the Revillagigedos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo and the Galapagos.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Belongs to 0 communities

This taxon hasn't been featured in any communities yet.

Learn more about Communities


EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!