Poisson napoléon - Aquarium La Rochelle

Humphead Wrasse

Cheilinus undulatus
Conservation status :

Endangered species

  • Group
  • Size
    1 metre
  • Distribution area

    The humphead wrasse can be found in the Red Sea and throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

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Also known as the 'giant wrasse', it is one of the largest fish in the reefs, reaching sizes of up to 2 m long and 190 kg.

Humphead wrasse spawn in couples in open water then rise quickly to the surface to release the ova and the spermatozoa. Despite their large size, their are fairly timid, often darting into holes to hide.


In Polynesia, humphead wrasse are victims of their own territoriality. If they are caught out in open water, they will always try to return to their homes on the ocean's slopes. All an underwater hunter needs to do is locate one of those shelters and wait for them there.


Giant wrasse primarily feed on molluscs, crustaceans, sea urchins and fish. Moreover, they are among the rare predators of venomous marine organisms like boxfish, crown-of-thorns sea stars, and sea hares.


Populations of humphead wrasse are on the decline. But after several years of campaigning, the species was finally added to CITES, which regulates international trade in endangered wild flora and fauna.

« Humphead wrasse are hermaphrodites, born female only to transform later on into males. When that change happens, their colours become brighter and the bump on their forehead becomes more pronounced. »

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