Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Novaculichthys taeniourus, Rock-mover wrasse

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head grey
body black + white spots
C black & white
juvenile: filamentous D spines
brown + white spots



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;  tail black with white base; dorsal and anal fins black, with wiggly whitish lines; IP with brown lines radiating from eye & with pink belly; TP without pink belly, without lines radiating from eye, with a yellow spot at upper base of pectoral fin. 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.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Sand & gravel
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Rocks
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Data
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
  • Pelagic
Global Endemism
  • All Pacific (West + Central + East)
  • "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific)
  • TEP non-endemic
  • All species
  • Indo-Pacific only (Indian + Pacific Oceans)
Regional Endemism
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Eastern Pacific non-endemic
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • All species
  • Continent
  • Island (s)
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • 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
  • 30
Depth Range Min
  • 3
Depth Range Max
  • 30