Dusky Wrasse

Halichoeres Marginatus
Dusky Wrasse - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Halichoeres Marginatus
Other names Speckled Rainbowfish, Splendid Rainbow Wrasse
Size Up to 18 cm (7.08 in)
Weight Up to .15 kg (.33 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst rocky & coral reefs
Depth Range 2 - 20 m (65 ft)
Dusky Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Dusty Wrasse is primarily found in the tropical and subtropical waters of northern Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding regions of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales.
  • They have a distinctive appearance, with a brownish-grey body, blue-green fins, and a bright blue stripe running along its lateral line.
  • Juveniles are generally bright green or yellow-green in colour, with a series of vertical blue stripes running along the body.
  • The Dusty Wrasse feeds primarily on small invertebrates and crustaceans. Their diet consists of a wide range of prey items, including small crabs, shrimps, polychaete worms, and molluscs.
  • They are a diurnal fish, meaning it is active during the day and rests at night.
  • In terms of breeding habits, Dusty Wrasse are known to engage in a polygynous mating system, with males defending territories and courting multiple females.
  • Breeding season occurs between October and February.
  • Estimated lifespan is up to 6 years.
Species Interaction

Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

The Dusty Wrasse is a relatively common and widespread species in the waters of northern Australia, and as such, it is relatively easy to observe in the wild for snorkelers and divers. They are typically found in shallow waters on rocky reefs and areas with coral, making them accessible for snorkelers. They are sometimes kept as an aquarium fish but for more experienced hobbyist with larger tanks.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Halichoeres

Species: Halichoeres Marginatus

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Dusty Wrasse in Australia is currently assessed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In Australia, the Dusty Wrasse is protected under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which regulates activities that may impact the species or its habitat.

Dusky Wrasse
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

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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