; subclass Actino-pterygii, order Perciformes)
A very large family of marine fish which are very diversified in shape and size. Usually a wrasse has a rather robust body, long and low dorsal and anal fins, and a tail fin that is rounded or notched, but never forked. The thick, protrusible lips and well-developed canine-like teeth give the fish a distinctive profile. Most species are brightly coloured, but within a single species the colour pattern may differ according to age, sex, and season. In a number of species females turn into males as they grow older. Wrasses range in size from the 10 cm Labroides dimidiatus (cleaner wrasse) to the huge Cheilinus undulatus (giant maori wrasse) which grows to 2.3 m. There are at least 400 species, found world-wide in tropical to temperate waters.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.