Yellowhead_wrasse. Source: ''Reef Fish Identification'', New World Publications © 1994
Initial phase/juvenile yellowhead wrasse. Source: Florent Charpin/www.reefguide.org
Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Yellowhead wrasse range from 12.5 to 20.0 centimeters in length. They have cylindrical bodies with large scales and sharp canine teeth. The coloration of yellowhead wrasse varies between phases. This species derives its name from the coloration of the terminal phase males. These "supermales" have bright yellow on the heads and the front part of their bodies and a black midbody bar. They have two wavy lines extending from their eyes. In the initial phase the fish (either males or females) have a dark upeer body and a yellow body. They also have two wavy lines extending from their eyes. Juveniles are yellow with silvery blue stripe along the sides.
Yellowhead wrasse live on coral reefs from two to 80 meters in depth, and are most commonly found between four and 60 meters.
H. garnoti is an omivorous carnivore that feeds on a variety of invertebrates including crabs and brittle stars, which prey are found in crevices in the reef and under rocks.
The species swimming behavior emphasizes natation using the pectoral fins. Yellowhead wrasse are less social than many other wrasses. Because their food source is widely distributed, yellowhead wrasse do not defend territories. Instead, they live in large overlapping home ranges in areas with hard coral. At night, they may burrow into the sand near rock ledges to sleep.
Males may be in either the terminal phase or initial phase, and all males are thought to be secondary males (change sex from female). Spawning occurs before sunset in the water column and one male may mate with several females. After the eggs hatch the larvae enter the pelagic stage where they remain untiil they settle on the reef.
These fishes may sometimes form feeding aggregations with yellowtail snappers, bar jacks, spotted goatfish, and other wrasses.
Yellowhead wrasse are not deemed to be at risk.
- Encyclopedia of Life. 2011. Halichoeres garnoti (Valenciennes, 1839)
- Fishbase. 2011. Halichoeres garnoti Yellowhead Wrasse
- Humann, P. and N. Deloach (Editor), 1994. Reef Fish Identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, Inc. Jacksonville, FL. ISBN: 1878348078
- Deloach, N. 1999. Reef Fish Behavior, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, Inc. Jacksonville, FL. ISBN: 1878348280