Coral Pigfish

Bodianus Axillaris
Coral Pigfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Bodianus Axillaris
Other names Axil Hogfish, Axil Pigfish, Axilspot Hogfish, Bicolor Wrasse, Coral Hogfish
Size Up to 20 cm (7.8 in)
Weight Under .50 kg (1.1 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters, coral reefs amongst ledges, caves & crevices
Depth Range 3 - 30 m (100 ft)
Coral Pigfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • In Australia, Coral Pigfish can be found along the west and east coasts, from Western Australia and the Northern Territory to Queensland and the northern coast of New South Wales.
  • They have a slender body, rounded head, and vibrant colours that make it stand out among coral reefs. Adult males showcase a striking combination of bluish-black coloration, a bright yellow stripe along the side, and a distinct blue patch on the gill cover. Females and juveniles exhibit a more subtle appearance, with a pale pink to reddish-brown body adorned with small white spots.
  • The diet of Coral Pigfish consists mainly of small invertebrates, such as crustaceans and molluscs, as well as small fish and their eggs. They use their strong jaws and sharp teeth to crush and consume their prey.
  • Coral Pigfish are known for their ability to change colour rapidly, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings or display dominance or courtship behaviours.
  • These fish are not considered aggressive and are generally non-territorial, except during the breeding season when males defend their chosen area within the reef.
  • Breeding season for Coral Pigfish usually occurs during the warmer months, between spring and early summer (October to December) in Australia. During this time, they gather in groups near coral reefs and engage in courtship behaviours.
  • Their estimated lifespan is between 10 – 15 years and up to 20.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Coral Pigfish are not commonly targeted by anglers due to their relatively small size. They are often found in home aquariums as they have striking colours and interesting swimming patterns. They however do need a large established tank with live rock or coral structures. Snorkelers and divers can easily find them in their natural habitat, as they are not particularly shy or elusive. Their vibrant colours and contrasting patterns make them an attractive sight among the coral reefs, especially during the breeding season.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Bodianus

Species: Bodianus Axillaris

Conservation Status

In terms of conservation status, the Coral Pigfish is currently listed as Least Concern in Australia. However, local populations may face threats from habitat degradation, pollution, and overfishing in certain areas.

Fish Taste Quality

Coral Pigfish are considered to be good to eat. It has firm, white flesh with a mild and delicate flavour. When cooked, the meat retains its moisture and tends to flake nicely.

Taste Rating: 3/5

How to catch
Coral Pigfish

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

Coral Pigfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Omnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Curious

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: None

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