Birdnose Wrasse

Gomphosus Varius
Birdnose Wrasse - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Gomphosus Varius
Other names Bird Wrasse, Clubnosed Wrasse
Size Up to 32 cm (12.59 in)
Weight Up to .80 kg (1.76 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst rocky & coral reefs rich in coral growth
Depth Range 1 - 30 m (98 ft)
Birdnose Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Birdnose Wrasse is found in the waters around Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea, and other areas of the Indo-Pacific region. They are commonly found in the waters around New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory.
  • They are colourful fish, with males displaying a blue-green coloration on their backs, and females having a brownish coloration with a pink stripe along the lateral line.
  • Birdnose Wrasse are carnivorous and feed primarily on small crustaceans and other invertebrates.
  • They are considered to be a highly active and agile swimmer, capable of darting in and out of coral heads and crevices with ease.
  • Birdnose Wrasse are often seen swimming alone or in small groups, and are known to be territorial, particularly towards other wrasse species.
  • They have been observed engaging in a range of interesting behaviours, such as using their long beak to flip over rocks in search of prey.
  • During breeding season, the males will display vivid colours, with blue-green bands on their head and body, and their tail fin becoming bright yellow.
  • Breeding occurs during the November to February period and the male displays vivid colours to attract a mate, which he then fertilises externally while swimming together, and the fertilised eggs hatch into planktonic larvae.
  • Estimated lifespan is up to 30 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Snorkeling & Diving

The Birdnose Wrasse can be observed in the wild by snorkelers and divers, as they are active swimmers that are commonly found in shallow waters on coral reefs, often swimming in and out of caves and crevices. They are known to be territorial and may be curious towards human observers, making them a popular species to observe in their natural habitat. They are often caught by recreational anglers as bycatch and released back into the water.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Gomphosus

Species: Gomphosus Varius

Conservation Status

The Birdnose Wrasse is not considered to be an endangered species and is listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. In Australia, the species is not listed as threatened under the EPBC Act.

Fish Taste Quality

Birdnose wrasse are considered to be okay eating fish. They have firm, white flesh that is said to be mild and slightly sweet in flavour. But are considered bycatch and more often released.

Taste Rating: 2/5

How to catch
Birdnose Wrasse

Catch Difficulty: Easy

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Fresh cut flesh baits, Pilchards, Prawns, Squid

Technique: Keep bait on the bottom, Keep bait close to the reef/structure

Popularity: Not targeted - Bycatch

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Intermediate

Temperament: Curious

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: None

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