Fun Ornate Wrasse Facts For Kids

Abhishek Mishra
Feb 20, 2024 By Abhishek Mishra
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Interesting ornate wrasse facts for kids.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

A much-loved species of wrasse, the ornate wrasse (Thalassoma pavo) is native to the rocky coasts of the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Meditteranean Sea. The species is an aggressive predator. They eat small crustaceans including worms, snails, shrimps, and crabs. Their diet also includes frozen food in captivity. It is a popular game fish that can also be found in the aquarium trade.

The fish has an elongated body and an oval head and sexual dimorphism can be seen in the species This means that males and females exhibit different characteristics, for instance, a male ornate wrasse has a red head with blue markings while females are green-brown in color and possess a dark bar on each scale alongside five bluish vertical stripes. Males have vertical blue lines with red margins near the pectoral fin. The fish has a short snout with thick lips. In both male and female ornate wrasse fish, the caudal fin is turquoise in color. Unlike the ornate leopard wrasse, juvenile fish of this species are green. The average length of ornate wrasses is around 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm).

This fish is a carnivore and, whilst it should never be kept in a reef tank, ornate wrasse fish go well with many peaceful fish in an aquarium tank. These fish generally leave corals alone.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the fish in the Least Concern category. Predation and climate change are two of the biggest threats to the ornate wrasse and the species is extending its range north as a result of global warming.

For more relatable content, check out these rainbow trout facts and rockfish facts for kids.

Ornate Wrasse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an ornate wrasse?

The ornate wrasse (Thalassoma pavo) is a peaceful fish that could be the best option for your aquarium. In the wild, the species is an aggressive predator that feeds on small invertebrates. Its diet mainly includes worms, shrimps, and mollusks. Whilst it might seem similar, it is not to be confused with the ornate leopard wrasse fish!

What class of animal does an ornate wrasse belong to?

The ornate wrasse belongs to the Actinopterygii class, the family of Labridae, and the Thalassoma genus. Species such as the blunt-headed wrasse, the blacktail wrasse, the red-cheek wrasse, and many more of the Thalassoma genus are known for their stunning appearance.

How many ornate wrasses are there in the world?

The exact population of ornate wrasses is not known as of now but the fish is listed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. Due to their stable population, these fish are popular in the aquarium trade.

Where does an ornate wrasse live?

The ornate wrasse fish is primarily found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This fish is found along the coasts of Africa and Asia, in Portugal, and along the coast of West Africa. The species also inhabits Macaronesia, archipelagoes of the Cape Verde Islands, Madeira, the Salvage Islands, the Azores, and the Canary Islands.

What is an ornate wrasse's habitat?

Ornate wrasses inhabit a wide range of habitats such as tidal pools, grass beds, and coastal rocky areas. The fish also dwells in anthropogenic structures like shipwrecks, piers, and jetties. You can also find this fish in tanks and aquariums, where an aquarium size of 50 gal (200 L) is required for the fish.

Who do ornate wrasses live with?

Females and juvenile fish generally live in small groups while males are solitary and prefer to live alone. In the breeding season, male fish come together in groups.

How long does an ornate wrasse live?

The exact life span of ornate wrasses is not known as of now but the life expectancy of other species of the Labridae family is between three and five years. Studies reveal that the life span of wrasses generally increases in tanks and aquariums.

How do they reproduce?

One of the most interesting facts about ornate wrasses is that these fish are all are born as females. This is one of the most interesting ornate wrasse adaptations. The dominant female eventually transforms into a male fish. This development of the dominant female into a male occurs normally over a time span of two weeks. These new males generally remain subordinate to older males as they are not colorful as these males. Apart from this, very little is known about the breeding patterns of the species. These fish are either polygynous or polygynandrous which means that both males and females have multiple partners during the breeding season. Their average litter size is not known, but it is known that species such as the Ballan wrasse generally build the nests used by these fish to lay their eggs in, and it is males who protect the eggs once they have been laid.

What is their conservation status?

The population of ornate wrasses seems to be stable as of now, even the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the species in the Least Concern category. There are only a few threats (such as predation) that affect the population of these wrasses, but in the coming years, climate change and global warming may highly affect the population and the habitat of these fish. The species is even extending its range northwards due to global warming!

Ornate Wrasse Fun Facts

What do ornate wrasses look like?

The ornate wrasse possesses a long body and oval head and males and females both exhibit different features. Adult males have a red head with blue markings while females are green-brown and possess a dark bar on each scale and five bluish vertical stripes. Unlike adult females, males have vertical blue lines with red margins near the pectoral fin. The short snout and mouth make the fish look even more predatory and makes it easier for the fish to find food to feed on. Its mouth has plenty of sharp teeth, which also help it to feed on crustaceans such as snails, worms, and many more. The fish also possesses green and yellow spots on its tail. A juvenile fish of this species is generally green.

These rare ornate wrasse facts might make you love them.

How cute are they?

The ornate wrasse might be one of the most gorgeous fish you can see in an aquarium. Both male and female fish of this species can easily attract anyone with their fascinating looks! The peaceful nature of the species makes it even more special, they do not bother the corals and leave corals in their environment alone.

How do they communicate?

Very little is known about the communication methods of the species but wrasses generally rely on their vision to find their prey and partners. Visual recognition is very significant for males as it helps in locating their group members. Studies also reveal that these fish mimic each other in order to communicate. Several tactile and chemical cues are also used to communicate with each other.

How big is an ornate wrasse?

The average length of ornate wrasses is around 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm). These fish are bigger than the white cloud mountain minnow and the round goby. The length of the ornate leopard wrasse is around 5 in (13 cm).

How fast can an ornate wrasse swim?

The exact speed of ornate wrasse fish is not known as of now but the species is quite skillful and is also known as an untiring swimmer. The species is quite active during the daytime and hides at night.

How much does an ornate wrasse weigh?

The exact weight of the body of a fish of this species is not known.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to male and female ornate wrasse fish, but sexual dimorphism can be seen in the species. This means that males and females exhibit different characteristics.

What would you call a baby ornate wrasse?

An ornate wrasse baby is generally called a juvenile or young fish.

What do they eat?

These fish are carnivores and they generally eat small crustaceans such as mollusks, worms, snails, shrimps, and other invertebrates. They also feed on frozen worms and other crustaceans in tanks and aquariums. Their sharp teeth help the species to prey easily.

Are they dangerous?

These small fish are not very dangerous but they can be quite aggressive when someone tries to poke their body or harm them. They also possess sharp teeth.

Would they make a good pet?

Ornate wrasses are considered great pets for an aquarium tank. Their tank size should be around 50 gal (200 L), the temperature should be around 72-78 F (22-26 C) and a suitable pH level is around 8.1-8.4. An ornate leopard wrasse pair would cost you around $130.

Did you know...

There are 28 species in the Thalassoma genus.

Are ornate wrasses endangered?

No, ornate wrasses are not endangered.

What role does the ornate wrasse play in the ecosystem?

These fish use their snout to flip rocks and find invertebrates, thus having an effect on the ecosystem they live in.

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 Midas blenny facts and Channel catfish facts pages.

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

Ornate Wrasse Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small mollusks, crustaceans, frozen food

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

coastal waters and aquariums

Where Do They Live?

the eastern atlantic ocean and the mediterranean sea

How Long Were They?

7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Thalassoma pavo

What Do They Look Like?


Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

predation and climate change

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Abhishek Mishra

Bachelor of Arts specializing in History

Abhishek Mishra picture

Abhishek MishraBachelor of Arts specializing in History

As a content writer, Abhishek's passion for writing extends beyond professional content creation. With a Bachelor's degree in History from Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi, Abhishek is a skilled writer in both English and Hindi, bringing a creative flair to his work. He enjoys crafting satires and poetry and is dedicated to producing engaging and informative content.

Read full bio >
Read the DisclaimerFact Correction