Little Rainbow Wrasse

Dotalabrus Alleni
Little Rainbow Wrasse - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Dotalabrus Alleni
Other names Allen's Polly, Allen's Wrasse
Size Up to 12 cm (4.72 in)
Weight Less than 100 grams


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst inshore/offshore rocky reefs
Depth Range 3 - 60 m (196 ft)
Little Rainbow Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Little Rainbow Wrasse, also known as Dotalabrus alleni, is a species of wrasse fish that is native to the coastal waters of central and southern Western Australia.
  • They are easily recognisable by their colourful appearance, with males featuring a greenish-blue head and a pinkish-red body with a blue stripe along the side. Females, on the other hand, have a more subdued coloration, with a brownish-red body and a white underside.
  • These fish are opportunistic feeders, feeding on a variety of small fish, crustaceans, and other small invertebrates.
  • These fish are known to be social, forming schools or small groups in the wild. They will often interact with other species of fish, including larger predators such as sharks and rays.
  • The Little Rainbow Wrasse is a diurnal species, meaning that it is most active during the day and rests at night.
  • They breed during the warmer months, typically from September to March. Where the male Little Rainbow Wrasses build nests on the seafloor to attract females during breeding season and court them with colourful displays before fertilising and defending the eggs.
  • The eggs hatch within a few days and the fry emerge as larvae that will float in the water column before settling on the seafloor.
  • Estimated lifespan is up to 10 years.
Species Interaction

Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

The Little Rainbow Wrasse is not a commonly kept aquarium fish, but it can be kept in a large, well-maintained tank with plenty of hiding places and live rock for grazing. Generally they are reserved for experienced aquarists. They can be a treat to find in the wild for snorkelers and divers but are difficult to spot due to their small size and camouflage within their habitat.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Dotalabrus

Species: Dotalabrus Alleni

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Little Rainbow Wrasse in Australia is currently listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that the species is not considered to be at risk of extinction, and that its population is thought to be stable and healthy in its native range in the coastal waters of southern Australia.

Little Rainbow Wrasse
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon, Seagrass Beds

Danger: None

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