There are over 400 species worldwide within the wrasse family, Labridae, roughly half of which are found in Australia. Size, shape and behavioural patterns vary greatly between species, however one common characteristic of this family is that they are protogynous hermaphrodites. That is all juveniles are born female, they consequently join a female harem that is dominated by a single male and if the behavioural cues of the male are missing the largest female will ultimately change sex. The red-banded wrasse have variable grey-brown to red bodies with a distinctive white stripe from the snout to the base of the tail fin and orange dorsal and caudal fins. Juveniles and females have black spots along the back, while the male can be recognised by brighter fins and the presence of a red anal fin. The species grow to a maximum length of 25 centimetres.
The red-banded wrasse is endemic to shallow Western Australian coastal waters, where they occur from the Houtman Abrolhos Islands to the Recherche Archipelago. They inhabit clear coastal reefs and offshore on exposed algae covered reefs to 20 metres depth.
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty:
The red banded wrasse is commonly observed from the underwater observatory. Similar in appearance to the eastern crimson cleaner wrasse, they can be distinguished by their orange-red caudal (tail) fin. This species was only discovered to inhabit the waters surrounding the Busselton Jetty several years ago, where it is observed solitary, swimming close to the seafloor amongst the fallen debris and the invertebrate adorned jetty piles.