Earmuff Wrasse

Halichoeres Melasmapomus
Earmuff Wrasse - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Halichoeres Melasmapomus
Other names Blackeared Wrasse, Cheekspot Wrasse, Ocellated Wrasse
Size Up to 25 cm (9.8 in)
Weight Up to .5 kg (1.1 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters on deeper reefs amongst rubble & coral
Depth Range 1 - 5 m (16 ft)
Earmuff Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Earmuff Wrasse is a common species of wrasse found in the shallow waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea in Queensland.
  • They have a blue-green body with a pinkish-purple hue on their lower sides and belly. They are named after their distinctive dark earmuff-like markings located above their pectoral fins.
  • They are known to feed on a variety of small invertebrates, including crustaceans, molluscs, and worms, as well as algae and small fish.
  • Earmuff Wrasse are a diurnal species, meaning they are most active during the day and tend to rest at night.
  • They are a diurnal fish, meaning it is active during the day and rests at night.
  • They are a protogynous hermaphrodite species, which means they start their lives as females and later transform into males.
  • The Earmuff Wrasse typically spawns during the months of October to December, with males displaying elaborate courtship rituals to attract females.
  • The females lay their eggs in nests built by the males, who then guard and care for the eggs until they hatch.
  • Estimated lifespan is up to 15 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

The Earmuff Wrasse is a popular species for recreational fishing in Australia, but there are regulations in place to limit the number of fish that can be caught. The species is generally shy and cautious, but can be observed in the wild by snorkelers and divers in calm, clear waters. They are also a popular fish for experienced aquarium hobbyist.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Halichoeres

Species: Halichoeres Melasmapomus

Conservation Status

The Earmuff Wrasse is not listed as a threatened species in Australia, but it is protected under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s zoning plan.

Fish Taste Quality

Earmuff wrasse are considered to be okay to eat. They have firm, white flesh that is said to be mild in flavour.

Taste Rating: 2/5

How to catch
Earmuff Wrasse

Catch Difficulty: Intermediate

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

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

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

Popularity: Not targeted

Earmuff Wrasse
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Shy

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 200 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Intermediate

Temperament: Shy

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: None