Family: LABRIDAE, Sheepheads, Razorfishes, Moon-Wrasses, Hogfishes, Wrasses
tooth plates in throat
large smooth scales
WRASSES, HOGFISHES, MOON-WRASSES, RAZORFISHES, SHEEPHEADS
Wrasses vary greatly in size (from a few cm to over 2 m), shape and color; body elongate to oblong, slightly to strongly compressed; mouth protrusible, opens at front, usually with prominent lips; rear of top jawbone not visible on the cheek; usually 1-2 pairs of well developed canine teeth at the front of the jaws, sometimes projecting forwards; rarely teeth on the roof of the mouth; well developed toothed grinding plates inside the throat; gill membranes fused under throat; a single continuous dorsal fin, VIII-XIV, not obviously notched between the spinous and soft portions (some Xyrichtys have a few isolated spines on the head at the front of the dorsal fin); usually III anal spines (rarely II); large smooth scales; lateral line continuous (straight, curved, kinked) or broken.
This large family contains ~ 71 genera and ~ 515 species, well over half of which occur in the Indo-Pacific region. There are 21 species from 8 genera in the Greater Caribbean: 8 endemics, 12 West Atlantic and 1 pan-Atlantic.
Note: Recent genetic analyses have shown that parrotfishes actually belong, as a distinct subfamily, in the wrasse family (Labridae). However, in line with common usage, here we keep the two families separate.
PREPARED BY D ROSS ROBERTSON, AFTER WESTNEAT (2002)