Western Foxfish

Bodianus Frenchii
Western Foxfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Bodianus Frenchii
Other names Fox Wrasse, Foxfish
Size Up to 48 cm (18.8 in)
Weight Up to 2 kg (4.4 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst deeper reefs in caves & under ledges
Depth Range 5 - 30 m (100 ft)
Western Foxfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Western Foxfish is primarily associated with Western Australia, it does have a wider distribution along the southern coast of Australia. In addition to Western Australia, this species can also be found in certain areas of South Australia and New South Wales.
  • The Western Foxfish has a vibrant and distinctive coloration. They have a reddish-brown body with a series of irregular white spots covering their entire body, extending even onto the fins. This unique colour pattern helps them blend in with their surroundings on coral reefs.
  • It has a slightly elongated body shape with a pointed snout and a mouth equipped with sharp teeth. These features help them feed on a variety of small invertebrates such as crustaceans, molluscs, and small fish.
  • They are diurnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the daytime. They spend their days actively foraging for food and interacting with other individuals within their social hierarchy.
  • The Western Foxfish is known to have a strong association with specific coral species, such as Acropora corals. They often seek shelter and protection within the branching formations of these corals, using them as hiding places and resting spots.
  • Breeding habits of the Western Foxfish typically occur during the warmer months of the year, from late spring to early autumn (October to April). They are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they start their lives as females and later transition to males.
  • They have a unique courtship behaviour where the male performs a display to attract females. This display involves rapid body movements, changes in color intensity, and extending their dorsal fin and tail. The male may also construct small sand mounds or depressions on the reef as part of the courtship ritual.
  • They have estimated lifespan between 20 – 25 years, but as long as 60 in certain studies.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

The Western Foxfish is not a commonly targeted species for recreational fishing. However, they may be incidentally caught by anglers targeting other reef fish species. They are a popular aquarium fish but require a large tank and with ample swimming space and hiding spots. Snorkelers and divers can observe Western Foxfish in the wild, as they are relatively common in suitable coastal areas of Western Australia.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Bodianus

Species: Bodianus Frenchii

Conservation Status

In Australia, the Western Foxfish is listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This indicates that the population is considered stable and not currently at risk of extinction.

Fish Taste Quality

Western Foxfish are not a commonly targeted species for consumption. They are know to have a firm, white flesh with a mild and sweet flavour. It is often described as being similar to other reef fish species.

Taste Rating: 2/5

How to catch
Western Foxfish

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: Not targeted - Bycatch

Western Foxfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 150 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Caves, Lagoon

Danger: None

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