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Comb wrasse

Coris picta

Description: The distinctive Comb wrasse (Coris picta) has a pointed snout and a long white body with a black stripe that runs from its mouth along the body to its tail. The lower portion of the stripe is wavy and comb-like, thus its common name. It is this “comb” that makes this species unmistakable. Adult males and females look alike, however, when displaying or indicating their territory, the black stripe of the male can disappear. This wrasse also has a thin red stripe running along the top of the body from its mouth to the base of its dorsal fin. The tail is yellow.

Size: Comb wrasses grow to about 10 inches (25 cm) in length.

Behavior: They live in a cleaning symbiosis with larger, often predatory fish, grooming them and feeding on what they remove. They will also eat small crustaceans.

Diet: They eat what they “clean” off other fish and also small crustaceans.

Reproduction: Comb wrasses are pelagic spawners, broadcasting eggs and sperm into the water. These fish are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they can start their life as a female and then change into a male later in life.

Habitat/range: They occur in coastal and offshore rocky reefs of Australia and New Zealand.

Status: This fish is common.