There is a large variation of coloration. The checkerboard wrasse has a white to greenish background coloration with blue to black on the edge of its scales (checkerboard pattern). The head is greenish with pink lines stretching to dots behind the eyes until the base of dorsal fin. Bright yellow spot in front of the body just at the border of the side and the dorsal fin. Some color variation occur with a possible black spot just behind the characteristic first yellow spot, and a second bright yellow spot can be seen along the edge of the dorsal fin but at the end of this later.
Small juveniles black and white, gradually changing with growth to adult pattern.
Least concern according to the IUCN Red list.
Indo-Pacific: Red Sea south to Sodwana Bay, South Africa and east to the Line, Marquesas and Tuamoto islands, north to southern Japan, south to the southern Great Barrier Reef.
Inhabits sand patches of lagoon and seaward reefs at depths of 1 to at least 30 meter.
Distinct pairing during breeding.
Average 12.8 cm, max length is 27.0 cm.
Feeds mainly on hard-shelled prey, including molluscs, crustaceans and sea urchins.