Fun Checkerboard Wrasse Facts For Kids

Iram Ashfaq
Jan 31, 2024 By Iram Ashfaq
Originally Published on Aug 17, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Check out these 15 thrilling checkerboard wrasse facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The checkerboard wrasse has many strange behaviors that make it an interesting creature for marine biologists who study them. Do you know that the checkerboard wrasse is one of a few species that can change its sex? This fish will start life as a female, then switch to a male later in its life. Females are larger and more colorful than males, but they both use camouflage for protection from predators when resting on coral or seaweed. These fascinating creatures also have an unusual defense mechanism, they shoot water at potential threats. This fish can be found in shallow waters near coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, or other types of vegetation where they feed on small crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. These fishes do not require saltwater but are typically found among these habitats which provide protection from predators because their coloration blends with their surroundings very well. These little guys like hiding places so if you are looking for them just look under rocks at low tide pools or seaweed forests close to shorelines during high tides.

Checkerboard wrasse are reef fish that inhabit shallow reefs near coral and rocks. They can be found in a variety of colors, often with contrasting stripes or spots on the body. This species has an elongated and compressed shape. The checkerboard wrasse lives in peaceful sandy and muddy areas where it hunts for crustaceans, small fishes and worms. It also inhabits rocky habitats with strong currents upwelling from depths as deep as 656 ft (200 m)! If you're looking for an unusual fish to add to your aquarium or tank, the checkerboard wrasse might just be what you need.

For more relatable content, check out. these wrasse facts and humphead wrasse facts pages.

Checkerboard Wrasse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a checkerboard wrasse?

The checkerboard wrasse (Halichoeres hortulanus) is a type of medium-body-sized fish perfect for an aquarium or tank.

What class of animal does a checkerboard wrasse belong to?

The checkerboard wrasse (Halichoeres hortulanus) belongs to class Actinopterygii, just like many other fishes including the skate fish, and family Labridae. These fishes love to eat shrimp.

How many checkerboard wrasses are there in the world?

Scientists estimate there is a population of around 10,000 Checkerboard wrasses in the world.

Where does a checkerboard wrasse live?

Checkerboards wrasses (Halichoeres hortulanus) can be found all over the world living mostly near coral reefs as well as other rocky areas of shallow water on ocean floors.

What is a checkerboard wrasse's habitat?

The checkerboard wrasse (Halichoeres hortulanus) is a rare and fascinating fish. They live in the Coral Sea off Australia's coast, making them one of only two species that can be found there. These fishes have an iridescent blue coloration with white spots on their back to blend into the peaceful sand on the seafloor so they do not get eaten by predators such as barracuda or sharks.

Who do checkerboard wrasses live with?

The Hortulanus wrasse live with sea anemones, horseshoe crabs, and oysters to provide them protection from predators by living inside their shells or tentacles for safety.

How long does a checkerboard wrasse live?

An average lifespan for a checkerboard Hortulanus wrasse is about 15 years, but some have been known to live up to 25. Their diet mainly consists of medium-sized shrimp.

How do they reproduce?

The checkerboard Hortulanus wrasse is a common and widespread reef fish that reproduces in different ways, both sexually via external fertilization or by internal egg-laying. In the latter case, females will produce eggs which they then release alongside their male partner's sperm into the open water for them to come together inside of her body as she releases these unfertilized eggs externally the following mating this way. When it comes time for breeding internally instead though, we see some very fascinating changes go down as these fish can change sex.

What is their conservation status?

The Hortulanus wrasse has the IUCN conservation status of Least Concern.

Checkerboard Wrasse Fun Facts

What do checkerboard wrasses look like?

The Hortulanus wrasse fish's name is derived from a checkerboard pattern on their bright green body and yellow stripes that run vertically down both sides, which can be seen when they flare out for breeding or fighting purposes. They have a black and white dorsal fin with white spots in it that range from the top to the bottom of its back.

Coral Reef


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How cute are they?

Checkerboard wrasses have many different colors decorating their scales and checkerboard pattern and a black and white dorsal fin, making them a popular fish for an aquarium or tank.

How do they communicate?

Perhaps it is the stripes on their faces or maybe they use some kind of signal, but checkerboard wrasse fishes seem to have a way to talk with each other. They are able to identify themselves and can even tell when others are in distress. These fish communicate not only through body language such as eye contact, posture, coloration changes, and tail wagging but also by emitting clicking sounds called 'clicks'.

How big is a checkerboard wrasse?

Checkerboard wrasse fishes can grow up to 10-11 in (27-30 cm) in length and are often found among coral reefs.

How fast can a checkerboard wrasse swim?

Although they are not speedy swimmers, these fishare still be able to move at about 6 mph (10 kph). The actual speed of their swimming varies with water depth and currents, but it's safe to assume that this species is not very good in deeper waters due to its dorsal fin being unable to provide enough stability for propulsion.

How much does a checkerboard wrasse weigh?

Checkerboard wrasses may not always make it into your aquarium or tank, but they sure do command attention with their bright colors and medium size at an average of 2.2 lb (1 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both species go by the name checkboard wrasse fish. These fish love having medium-sized shrimp in their diet.

What would you call a baby checkerboard wrasse?

Hortulanus wrasse offsprings do not have any specific scientific terms and are simply known as wrasse babies and when they grow a little, they go by the name juvenile wrasse.

What do they eat?

The marine checkerboard wrasse is an interesting creature because it not only eats small crustaceans like shrimp and lobsters but also digs deep to hunt down young scallops or even baby oysters.

Are they dangerous?

Checkerboard wrasse fish are not dangerous for humans in any way. If you encounter one while swimming, it's best to stay back and let them go about their business of catching prey like shrimp or chasing other fish away from the territory they've claimed as theirs.

Would they make a good pet?

What better way to spend your day than playing with a cute little orange and yellow medium-sized aquarium marine fish? The checkerboard wrasse is an excellent addition to any home or office. It's easy to care for, however they have been aggressive towards humans and you need to be careful of the prickly spines on the fins.  

Did you know...

The wrasse, which is often considered among the more vicious breeds, has been known for its aggressive behavior on a number of occasions. One such time was when it managed to bite off two fingers from a diver's hand who had accidentally startled him by touching his tank with dirty hands while snorkeling at night!

Are checkerboard wrasses reef safe?

Scientists are unsure if checkerboard wrasses act as reef-safe organisms due to conflicting data from separate research groups either claiming they only feed on planktons or other sea creatures like algae or juvenile corals instead.  However, some scientists argue that they are completely reef safe.

What do wrasse fish do?

Wrasses are considered to be quite intelligent by some scientists due to their ability for problem-solving with limited resources  They can also use tools like the sea fan or other objects found on the ocean floor such as rocks and shells. The word 'wrass' comes from Old English roots that mean 'to twist'. This could reference how these creatures swim through coral reefs twisting around them looking for food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover!  Learn more about some other fish from our amberjack facts and guppy facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable checkerboard wrasse coloring pages.

Checkerboard Wrasse Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small invertebrates, crustaceans like shrimps, crabs, and lobsters

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

2.2 lb (1 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

marine waters, aquarium, tank, sandy beds in oceans and sea

Where Do They Live?

pacific ocean

How Long Were They?

10-11 in (27-30 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Halichoeres hortulanus

What Do They Look Like?

Blue, pink, green, orange, and yellow

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

sharks and eels

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Iram Ashfaq

Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Master of Public Health

Iram Ashfaq picture

Iram AshfaqBachelor of Dental Surgery, Master of Public Health

With a Bachelor's degree in Dental Surgery from Shaney Institute of Health Sciences and a Master's degree in Public Health from Imperial College London, Iram is a highly qualified and accomplished writer from Srinagar, India. Over the course of a year, she has acquired multiple writing certifications, focusing on health sciences and research studies. Prior to joining Kidadl, Iram gained valuable experience working as a content writer for Indian firms and interning at a New York-based company. Her expertise and passion for writing shine through in her ability to create compelling content across a variety of topics.

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