Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Halichoeres garnoti, Yellowhead Wrasse

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

IP - brown above, yellow below, dark bar under D origin
TP - yellow head & front back; black T bar under
Juv - yellow + blue stripe

Halichoeres garnoti (Valenciennes, 1839)

Yellowhead Wrasse

Elongate, compressed; mouth protrusible, opens at front, thick lips; rear of top jawbone not visible on cheek; toothed grinding plates in throat; enlarged canine teeth at front of both jaws (1 pair above, 2 pairs below), a canine at rear of top jaws; gill rakers 16-19; gill membranes fused under throat; dorsal fin IX, 10, not obviously notched between spiny and soft parts; anal fin III, 12; lateral line unbroken, but abruptly bent down under rear of dorsal fin, its tubes branched, except those on tail base; lateral line with 26-29 pored scales.

Juvenile: yellow to yellow-brown, with a dark-edged blue stripe from eye to end of tail base. Initial phase: upper ½ of head and upper ¾ of body under front 1/3 of dorsal fin brown; cheek, operculum and middle ½ of body yellow; lower ¼ of body white. Terminal phase: head and upper ¾ of body under front 1/3 of dorsal fin bright yellow; a thick black bar behind that joins a broad black stripe along top of back to end of tail base; body under black stripe is white; tail dark grey.

Reaches 30 cm.

Rubble and sand bottoms within and around edges of reefs; also on reefs near sand areas.

Depth range: 2-130 m.

Bermuda to the S Caribbean.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Sea anemones
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
  • Sessile worms
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • GC endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 30
Depth Range Min
  • 2
Depth Range Max
  • 130