ornate wrasse

Scientific name Thalassoma pavo
Descriptor Linnaeus
Year of description 1758
IUCN category LC
Family Labridae
Genus Thalassoma
Thalassoma pavo Thalassoma pavo


Thalassoma pavo, commonly known as ornate wrasse, is a salt water fish.

Who is it?


  • Average size
    20 cm
  • Maximum size
    25 cm
  • Longevity
    12 year
  • Average size
    20 cm
  • Maximum size
    25 cm
  • Longevity
    12 year

How to recognize the ornate wrasse ?

The ornate wrasse measures around 20 cm. The dominant males can however reach 25 cm. This fish is multicolore with a predominantly vert and orange body.

Sexual dimorphism

The adult male is bigger than the female.

Behaviour & Life cycle

  • diet
    omnivorous with carnivorous tendency
  • Sociability
  • territorial
  • Way of living

The ornate wrasse is a fish solitary naturally found near the bottom. This species is omnivorous with carnivorous tendency .

The ornate wrasse is a territorial animal that does not tolerate any incursions into its living area. It is particularly virulent against other territorial species and it can provoke heated fights. Relationships between conspecifics are also hectic, with each seeking to secure its place.


  • Reproduction
    ovipare qui pond en eau libre
  • Hermaphrodite

The ornate wrasse is a fish ovipare qui pond en eau libre. always born female. Growing up, individuals will change sex to become male, this is called successive hermaphroditism of the protogynous type.

Harmless species

This species does not represent any particular threats to humans when encountered in its natural environment.

Where to find it?

Where to see this species?

What is its habitat?

Natural environment characteristics

  • Temperature
    18 - 22 °C
  • Depth
    1 - 25 m
  • Flow
    Strong and Medium

Biotope presentation

The ornate wrasse is most often found at a depth between 1m and 25m. However, it is not impossible to find this species at other depths.

Species of the same biotope


Not recommended

We do not recommend keeping this species in an aquarium. It has unpredictable needs which, if not met, generate significant stress, potentially leading to a shorter life expectancy, an interruption of its growth or the development of pathogens.

To go further

Species of the same family

To read on the web

Sources & Contributions

Participation & Validation

The Fishipedia team and specialist contributors are committed to providing high-quality content. However, although the information comes from scientific sources or testimonials from specialists, the cards may contain inaccuracies.

Benoit Chartrer

Benoit Chartrer

Théo Guillaume

Théo Guillaume

Adrien Falzon

Adrien Falzon


Translation done with the valuable contribution of our translators, who make this information available to a wider audience. We sincerely thank them for their commitment.

Bibliographic references

Evolution of coral reef fishThalassomaspp. (Labridae). 1. Molecularphylogeny and biogeography - G. Bernardi - G. Bucciarelli - D. Costagliola - R. Robertson - J. B. Heiser - Marine Biology - 2003.

Tropical fishes in a temperate sea: evolution of the wrasse Thalassoma pavo and the parrotfish Sparisoma cretense in the Mediterranean and the adjacent Macaronesian and Cape Verde Archipelagos - Vera S. Domingues - Markos Alexandrou - Vitor C. Almada - D. Ross Robertson - Alberto Brito - Giacomo Bernardi - Marine Biology - 2008.

Abundance and size structure of Thalassoma pavo (Pisces: Labridae) in the western Mediterranean Sea: variability at different spatial scales - Paolo Guidetti - Carlo Nike Bianchi - Gabriele La Mesa - Milena Modena - Carla Morri - Giampietro Sara - Marino VACCHI - Cambridge University Press - 2002.

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Species of the same family

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Species of the same biotope

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