Cheilinus undulatus (Humphead wrasse)


Blue head with maze-like markings, green body with dark vertical streaks, a pronounced hump above the eyes (best seen in adult specimens) and big lips.


Endangered species according to the IUCN Red list. Populations have decreased by 50% in the last 30 years. Humphead wrasses can grow to 25-30 years of age and reach sexual maturity around their 6th year. The species therefore takes quite a long time to recover from heavy fishing, which is still taking place today.


Indo-Pacific: Red Sea to South Africa and to the Tuamoto Islands, north to the Ryukyu Islands, south to New Caledonia. Inhabit steep outer reef slopes, channel slopes, and lagoon reefs. Benthopelagic. Usually solitary but may occur in pairs. Juveniles are encountered in coral-rich areas of lagoon reefs, where staghorn Acropora corals abound, also in algae reefs or seagrasses. Adults rove across the reefs by day and rest in reef caves and under coral ledges at night. They live in a depth range of 2-60 meters.


Oviparous, distinct pairing during breeding. Humphead wrasses reach sexual maturity at six years of age.


Biggest specimen measured was 229cm., but common length is around 60cm.

Prey / Predation

Primary food are mollusks, fishes, sea urchins, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. One of the few predators of toxic animals such as sea hares, boxfishes and crown-of-thorns starfish.

Special features

Humpheads are reported to cause Ciguatera poisoning.