Zigzag Wrasse

Halichoeres Scapularis
Zigzag Wrasse - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Halichoeres Scapularis
Other names Zigzag Rainbowfish
Size Up to 20 cm (7.87 in)
Weight Under .50 kg (1.10 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters, lagoons & bays with sandy, rubble & seagrass areas
Depth Range 1 - 30 m (98 ft)
Zigzag Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The zigzag wrasse, is a common fish species found in tropical and subtropical waters across northern Australia. Primarily in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
  • They are colourful fish with vertical stripes that can be blue, green, or red. The body colour of adult males is predominantly green, with five to six vertical stripes along the body that range in colour from blue to green to red. The stripes are bordered by thin white lines that zigzag horizontally across the body, giving the fish its common name.
  • The zigzag wrasse is a carnivorous fish and feeds primarily on small invertebrates such as crustaceans, molluscs, and polychaete worms.
  • It is a highly territorial fish and will defend its territory against other fish species, including larger predators.
  • They are a diurnal fish, meaning it is active during the day and rests at night.
  • The zigzag wrasse is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that individuals start their lives as females and later change into males as they mature.
  • They are also known to spawn multiple times during the breeding season, with females releasing thousands of small, buoyant eggs into the water column.
  • Zigzag wrasse are relatively fast-growing, reaching sexual maturity at around 3-4 years of age.
  • Estimated lifespan is up to 16 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Zigzag wrasse are often caught as bycatch for anglers targeting other species. They are typically a catch and release species. They are more known for their striking colours and are a popular species for aquariums and to observe in the wild for snorkelers and divers.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Halichoeres

Species: Halichoeres Scapularis

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the zigzag wrasse in Australia is currently listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that the species is considered to be widespread and abundant, and there are no major threats to its survival at present.

Fish Taste Quality

Zigzag wrasse are considered to be good eating fish. They have firm, white flesh that is said to be mild and slightly sweet in flavour.

Taste Rating: 3/5

How to catch
Zigzag Wrasse

Catch Difficulty: Easy

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

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

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

Popularity: Not targeted

Zigzag Wrasse
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons

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