Blackback Wrasse

Anampses Neoguinaicus
Blackback Wrasse - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Anampses Neoguinaicus
Other names Blackbacked Wrasse, New Guinea Wrasse
Size Up to 40 cm (16 in)
Weight Up to .50 kg (1.1 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters, shallow coral reefs, rubble & sandy areas
Depth Range 3 - 30 m (100 ft)
Blackback Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Blackback Wrasse is widely distributed along the east coast of Australia. They can be found in various regions throughout the Coral Sea, including the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
  • They are characterised by their distinct coloration and pattern. Juveniles and females have a vibrant yellow or orange body with black markings on their backs, giving them their common name. As they transition into males, their coloration changes to a deep blue or green body with a bright yellow head and black markings.
  • Blackback Wrasse are omnivorous, feeding on a diverse diet that includes small invertebrates, algae, and small fish. Their foraging behaviour often involves picking at the substrate, searching for prey items.
  • Like many wrasses, Blackback Wrasse possess sharp teeth that are well-suited for capturing and consuming their prey. They have a protrusible jaw, allowing them to extend their mouth to snatch small, elusive prey items.
  • These wrasses have a complex social structure, often forming harems consisting of one dominant male and several females. The male defends his territory and mates with the females within his harem.
  • Breeding season for Blackback Wrasse typically occurs during the warmer months, particularly from spring to early summer. They engage in elaborate courtship rituals, where the males display vibrant colours and patterns to attract females.
  • Their estimated lifespan is between 10 – 15 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Blackback Wrasse are not specifically targeted for recreational fishing, they may occasionally be caught when targeting other species on the reef. They are however popular aquarium fish as they have striking colours and fascinating swimming behaviours. Blackback Wrasse are also a delight to observe for snorkelers and divers. With their vivid colours and active behaviour, they add vibrancy to the underwater landscape. They are generally curious and unafraid of human presence, allowing for enjoyable encounters in the wild.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Anampses

Species: Anampses Neoguinaicus

Conservation Status

In Australia, the Blackback Wrasse is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This indicates that their populations are relatively stable and not currently facing significant threats or declines.

Fish Taste Quality

Blackback Wrasse are considered to be edible but are not a commonly consumed fish. It general, wrasse as a species are described as mild and delicate, with a slightly sweet flavour and a tender, flaky texture.

Taste Rating: 3/5

How to catch
Blackback Wrasse

Catch Difficulty: Easy

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Crab, Fresh cut flesh baits, Pilchards, Prawns, Squid, Worms, Yabbies

Technique: Keep bait close to the reef/structure

Popularity: Not targeted - Bycatch

Blackback Wrasse
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Omnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: None

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