Males are blue to dark green with numerous dark stripes on the body, white to yellowish belly, orange eyes. The first ray of the dorsal fin is elongated, they have black spots behind the head and on the pectoral fin base. Females dark grey to green on the upper body and have a white underside, divided by a black line from the nose to the tail, they eyes are bright red and white. Juveniles are red to dark red with several white horizontal lines. They live in small groups or solitary.
Least concern according to the IUCN Red list. There are some areas where populations are growing, such as in France, and sightings of populations on the West coast of Africa. Further south the species has been replaced by Coris atlantica. There are few threats, so it is listed as “least concern”.
They can be found in the Mediterranean, as far as Cape Verde, the Canary Islands and Senegal. Sightings further south are probably C. atlantica. They prefer shallow waters with rubble and/or rocks, weeds and seagrass. Older males can be found be found in deeper waters, and alle rainbow wrasses move deeper in winter. They live in a depth range of 1-50 meters.
They spawn in summer. Eggs and larvae are plaktonic. All rainbow wrasses are protogynous, born as females and can change sex later on in life. They are sexually mature after 1 year. All fish bigger than 18cm. are males.
Up t0 20cm.
They feed on small crustaceans, isopods, sea urchins and worms.
They bury in the sand when threatened or at night.