Purple Wrasse

Notolabrus Fucicola
Purple Wrasse - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Notolabrus Fucicola
Other names Blue Wrasse, Kelpie, New Zealand Banded Wrasse, Parrotfish, Purple Parrotfish, Saddled Wrasse, Southern Purple Wrasse, Southern Wrasse, Winter Bream, Yellow Saddled Wrasse
Size Up to 45 cm (17.7 in)
Weight Up to 1.2 kg (2.64 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst rocky areas & reefs with kelp beds
Depth Range 1 - 20 m (65 ft)
Purple Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Purple Wrasse is a small fish species that can be found along the southern coast of Australia, primarily in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania
  • They have a deep, laterally compressed body shape, with a pointed head and a moderately large mouth. Its dorsal fin is tall and runs along the entire length of its back, while its anal fin is relatively short and positioned towards the back of its body.
  • The Purple Wrasse is named for its striking purple coloration, which is most pronounced in mature males during the breeding season. Males have a bright purple head and body, while females and juvenile individuals are more subdued in colour, with a brownish-green hue on their upper body and fins.
  • They are a carnivorous fish that feeds on crabs, shrimps, amphipods, isopods, gastropods, chitons, and sea urchins. They have strong jaws with several rows of small, sharp teeth that help them crush the hard exoskeletons of their prey.
  • The Purple Wrasse is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that all individuals start off as females and later change into males.
  • Breeding season, typically occurs from August to February. Spawning occurs in open water, where eggs and sperm are released into the water column, after which the eggs are fertilised externally. The eggs hatch into larvae, which eventually settle into the rocky reef habitats where they will continue to develop and grow.
  • Estimated lifespan is up to 20 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Purple Wrasse are a popular recreational fishing species in Australia. They are highly prized by anglers for their bright colours, fighting ability, and good eating qualities. They are sometimes kept as aquarium fish, although they can be challenging to keep in captivity. They require a large tank with plenty of hiding places and a varied diet. They can be aggressive towards other fish. Snorkeling or diving in areas where Purple Wrasse are known to live can provide opportunities for close-up observations of their behaviour and feeding habits.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Notolabrus

Species: Notolabrus Fucicola

Conservation Status

The conservation status of Purple Wrasse in Australia is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While specific population data for the species is limited, it is considered to be relatively abundant in its range along the southern coast of Australia, and is not currently facing any major threats or declines.

Fish Taste Quality

Purple wrasse are considered to be good eating fish, with firm white flesh and a mild, sweet flavour. The texture of the flesh is often compared to that of snapper or bream.

Taste Rating: 3/5

How to catch
Purple Wrasse

Catch Difficulty: Intermediate

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig, Artificial Rig

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

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

Popularity: Targeted

Purple Wrasse
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

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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