Purple Tuskfish

Choerodon Cephalotes
Purple Tuskfish - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Choerodon Cephalotes
Other names Grass Parrot, Grass Tuskfish
Size Up to 38 cm (14.9 in)
Weight Up to 1 kg (2.2 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst shallow coral reefs & seagrass beds
Depth Range 10 - 60 m (196 ft)
Purple Tuskfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Purple Tuskfish is found across a broad range of Australian waters, extending from Western Australia’s central coast, throughout the Northern Territory’s coastal regions, and along the entire Queensland coast. This range also stretches down to the northern parts of New South Wales.
  • They are typically coloured in striking hues of blue, purple, and green, rather than solely purple and pink. The body is primarily blue, fading to lighter shades towards the belly, with greenish patterns and streaks across the back and flanks.
  • They also have a characteristic tusk-like pair of canine teeth protruding from its lower jaw, hence the name “tuskfish”.
  • The Purple Tuskfish, like other members of the Choerodon family, uses its tusk-like teeth to uncover invertebrates from the substrate, with a diet primarily consisting of molluscs, crustaceans, and small fish.
  • Sexual dimorphism is generally low in tuskfish species. Both males and females tend to have a similar size and colour, making it difficult to visually distinguish between them.
  • Like many tuskfish species, Purple Tuskfish are likely to be solitary breeders. They tend to have a demersal spawning behaviour where they release eggs near the seabed. It is believed breeding season is during the warmer months of the year.
  • Their estimated lifespan is between 10 – 15 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Snorkeling & Diving

Purple Tuskfish are targeted in recreational fishing due to their fighting qualities and their culinary value. They are known to put up a good fight when hooked, providing a challenge for anglers. Purple Tuskfish are generally not shy and can be seen during daylight hours. Their unique feeding method, using their tusks to uncover prey, makes them particularly interesting to observe for snorkelers and divers.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Choerodon

Species: Choerodon Cephalotes

Conservation Status

The Purple Tuskfish is not listed on the IUCN Red List, meaning it’s not currently threatened or considered at risk of extinction.

Fish Taste Quality

Purple Tuskfish are a great eating fish and are considered a delicacy. Their flesh is white, firm, and has a mild, sweet flavour. Their taste is frequently compared to that of Snapper.

Taste Rating: 4/5

How to catch
Purple Tuskfish

Catch Difficulty: Intermediate

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

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

Technique: Keep bait close to the reef/structure

Popularity: Targeted

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Seagrass Beds

Danger: None