Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Halichoeres melanotis, Golden wrasse

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

brown + irregular bars & stripes
operculum - dark blotch
IP pink belly
juvenile: yellow + black stripes

Halichoeres melanotis (Gilbert, 1890)

Golden wrasse

Elongate, compressed;  2 pairs of enlarged at front of upper and lower jaws; no large canine at rear of top jaw; dorsal fin IX, 12; anal rays III, 12; pectoral rays 12-13; lateral line unbroken, but abruptly bent down under rear of dorsal fin, its tubes branched, except those on tail base; lateral line with 27 pored scales.

IP: greenish to reddish brown on upper half, sometimes with 5-6 broad bars on upper half; a prominent black "ear" spot on upper edge of gill cover and blackish blotch or spot at base of caudal fin; belly pink with oblique white bars at rear; chest below pectoral base white; TP: grey brown above, paler below; a black earspot at upper corner of operculum, blue spots and lines on sides of head, lower cheek purple; body scales with a blue spot on lower half of body, blue edge to each scale on upper half; juveniles bright yellow with broad black midlateral stripe and narrower black stripe along base of dorsal fin.

Maximum size to 15 cm.

Habitat: often seen in sand-rubble patches near rocky inshore reefs.

Depth: 5-40 m.

Central Baja and the central Gulf of California to Colombia; the Revillagigedos and Galapagos.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Soft bottom only
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • No Data
  • Carnivore
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • No Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • Pelagic
  • Data
Global Endemism
  • East Pacific endemic
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
  • All species
Regional Endemism
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • All species
  • 3 provinces (Cortez + Mexican + Panamic) endemic
  • TEP endemic
  • Continent
  • Island (s)
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 15
Depth Range Min
  • 5
Depth Range Max
  • 40