Fun Humphead Wrasse Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 17, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Discover interesting humphead wrasse facts.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.9 Min

Do you like to learn about different marine animals? Then you should read these humphead wrasse facts. Humphead wrasses are large fish found mainly in the Pacific Ocean. This species of fish are typically located near coral reefs.

They are the largest species belonging to the Labridae family. Humphead wrasses have various unique characteristics that make them special. They can be easily identified by their color and thick lips. As the name suggests, this species has a hump on its forehead.

Humphead wrasses are pretty popular in the Live Reef Food Fish Trade (LRFFT), and they are consumed by wealthy people. Apart from destructive fishing and loss of habitats, this is another reason why they are going extinct.

Currently, they are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Appendix II by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Keep on reading to learn more interesting humphead wrasse facts. For more relatable content, check out our articles on catfish and blue catfish.

Humphead Wrasse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a humphead wrasse?

A humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) is a type of fish that falls under the phylum Chordata.

What class of animal does a humphead wrasse belong to?

Humphead wrasses belong to the Actinopterygii class of the Animalia kingdom. It has the genus Cheilinus, and the scientific name of this species is Cheilinus undulatus.

How many humphead wrasses are there in the world?

Humphead wrasses are currently considered to be Endangered by the IUCN. The exact number of this species living in this world is unclear, but the humphead wrasse population is known to be decreasing.

Where does a humphead wrasse live?

The location range of humphead wrasses is throughout the Indo-Pacific region. They can be found residing in the Red Sea. Areas of South Africa and the Tuamoto Islands also have a population of some humphead wrasses. Humphead wrasses can be spotted in the oceans of New Caledonia and the Ryukyu Islands.

What is a humphead wrasse's habitat?

The natural habitat of a humphead wrasse is around coral reefs. It prefers tropical and subtropical waters. Deepwater areas of the coral reef, which is slightly offshore, are where you can spot an adult humphead wrasse. A juvenile humphead wrasse prefers more shallow regions of coral reef waters.

Who do humphead wrasses live with?

Humphead wrasses can be characterized as a solitary species. They prefer doing daily activities like swimming around coral reefs and preying on marine species independently. Spotting this reef fish in schools or groups is a rare event.

However, they can be found in pairs at times. This solitary behavior tends to change during mating. Male-female pairs or groups are formed for spawning.

How long does a humphead wrasse live?

This reef fish does not just have a large size but also an extensive lifespan. They are known to survive for about 30 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The reproductive process of this reef fish is quite interesting. Humphead wrasses are one of the many fish that experiences hermaphroditism. Hermaphroditism is a common concept among fish where they can change their gender at any point in life.

What influences this change is not known, and the time is not determined. Cases of a humphead wrasse reaching sexual maturity before five years of age are extremely rare. All these factors slow down the breeding rate of this reef fish.

Once the fish reaches sexual maturity, the spawning process is just like any other fish. A school of male and female fish swims toward the coral reef, but they generally do not tend to swim a lot for spawning.

Females lay their eggs at the same time males release their sperm. The fertilized eggs of these reef fish are found on coral reefs. In their larvae stage, they are generally found around coral reefs.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed this reef fish as Endangered and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has them listed in Appendix II. The number of these unique fish with a hump on their forehead has drastically decreased as they are exposed to multiple threats.

Proper measures should be taken immediately to save the remaining population of humphead wrasses.

Humphead Wrasse Fun Facts

What does a humphead wrasse look like?

A humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) is blessed with distinguished features such as a blue color, a large body, thick lips, and most importantly, the hump on their forehead. The unique color varies from blue-green to purplish-blue. Males of this species are larger than females.

Underwater view of a humphead wrasse.

How cute are they?

Humphead wrasses can't be considered cute. Their large body and thick lips make them look rather scary.

How do they communicate?

Like other fish, a humphead wrasse communicates through gesture and motion. It sends out a vibration to alert other fish. This method is also used when males try to call females to mate.

How big is a humphead wrasse?

The largest living species of the family Labridae are the humphead wrasses. A typical humphead wrasse size ranges from 3.3-6.5 ft (1-2 m). Males of this species are generally larger than females. When compared in terms of size, this species of reef fish are only slightly shorter than a Mako shark.

How fast can a humphead wrasse swim?

The exact speed of humphead wrasses is not known.

How much does a humphead wrasse weigh?

Humphead wrasses are huge fish that can weigh up to 396.8 lb (180 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the males and females of this reef fish. They can be referred to as a male humphead wrasse and a female humphead wrasse.

What would you call a baby humphead wrasse?

A baby humphead wrasse swimming around the coral reef can be referred to as a 'fry'.

What do they eat?

Humphead wrasses are opportunistic predators. They take advantage of their size to prey on various marine species. They eat sea urchins, mollusks, brittle stars, and other fish found near coral reefs.

Their diet should be rich in protein which they get sufficiently from these marine animals. Apart from their size, this type of fish has another advantage that helps them maintain variation in their diet.

They are immune to toxins. Toxic wild species like a crown of thorns starfish, sea hares, and boxfishes are pretty easily available as they share almost the same habitat as humphead wrasses. As a result, they easily feed on the crown of thorns starfish, and other poisonous marine animals without facing any consequences.

Are they aggressive?

Referring to humphead wrasses as opportunists would be more appropriate than referring to them as aggressive. As the size of this wild fish is huge, it can dominate a lot of smaller wild marine species. A humphead wrasse can easily eat toxic marine species as they are immune to the toxins.

This species of fish attacking a human is infrequent. However, they can cause ciguatera to humans in some areas as they prey on toxic and poisonous species.

Would they make a good pet?

A humphead wrasse is a reef fish living in the wild. They cannot make good pets for several reasons.

Firstly, keeping them as a pet would require an aquarium big enough for a fish of 396.8 lb (180 kg) to swim around freely. It is not possible to maintain such an aquarium in a house. Apart from that, the food required by this predatory fish is very different from aquarium food.

It would be tough for them to survive without proper food for long. They are better left alone in the wild.

As this wild fish is considered Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it is not legal to keep it as a pet.

Did you know...

Humphead wrasses go by other common names such as the most common which is Napoleon wrasse or Napoleon fish. The name Napoleon fish comes from Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor who used to wear a hat. The hump on the forehead of this fish has a great resemblance to the hat.

At times, these predators fall prey to bigger marine species like sharks.

A humphead wrasse has an important role in the ecosystem as they are needed to maintain the health of coral reefs. This reef fish can eat crown-of-thorn starfish which helps to protect coral reefs from an otherwise damaging coral reef predator.

Can you eat humphead wrasse?

One of the reasons for the poor population status of these fish is their consumption by humans. This is a popular delicacy in parts of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has live reef fish markets where 1 lb (453 g) of live reef fish can be sold at $50. Different people from Southeast Asia have different opinions about the flavor of this fish.

Some give it a five-star rating while others think it tastes like gasoline. Being able to afford this scarce fish is a sign of good wealth.

This is one of the reasons why this fish is so popular in the Live Reef Food Fish Trade (LRFFT). However, consumption of this fish can cause ciguatera as it preys on poisonous species.

Why is the humphead wrasse endangered?

There are numerous reasons for the question. Humphead wrasses live near reefs and are facing major habitat loss like most other marine species.

Fishing is another reason for its poor condition. As it is a large fish, destructive fishing techniques are used to catch it which affects the population more than fishing should do.

This type of fish is also very popular in the Live Reef Food Fish Trade (LRFFT). The destructive fishing techniques have been made illegal and proper studies are being conducted to save the population of this fish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including cory catfish or channel catfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Humphead Wrasse coloring pages.

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Sources

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/humphead-wrasse

https://www.iucn.org/commissions/ssc-groups/fishes/grouper-and-wrasse-specialist-group/humphead-wrasse

https://www.activewild.com/humphead-wrasse-facts/

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/cheilinus-undulatus/

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

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Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

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