Moon Wrasse (species: Thalassoma lunare) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Thalassoma lunare
Moon Wrasse

©Andy Lewis: A terminal phase male Moon Wrasse

©Mark Shepherd: A male Moon Wrasse at Lizard Island

©Anne Hoggett: Blue colour form of male Thalassoma lunare at North Point, Lizard Island.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Labridae
Genus Thalassoma
Species Thalassoma lunare



Distinguishing features

A small elongate fish that swims very quickly using the pectoral fins. The fish is mainly green with pink lines on the head and a distinct pink patch in the pectoral fin. The terminal phase male is similar but with a blue wash over the head region and can change colour to all blue. Juveniles have a dark spot at base of tail and another in the middle of the dorsal fin.


  • Up to 20 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Usually near areas of hard coral cover in sheltered lagoonal habitats.

Can be found in most locations around the island.


The moon wrasse is common throughout the GBR, and is a very successful generalist feeder, able to occupy a wide range of habitats. It feeds primarily on small invertebrates picked from the substratum, but it will also feed on plankton, and the eggs of demersal nesting damselfish. It has also been observed to coordinate group hunting behaviour, where small packs of moon wrasse will isolate individual Cardinalfish juveniles from schools, and then attack and eat them. This species spawns in groups around sunset, where the brightly coloured males display to the duller females. Like all wrasses, this species changes sex from female to male as they get older.

Web resources


  • Ackerman, J. (2004). Geographic variation in size at age of the coral reef fish, Thalassoma lunare (Family Labridae): a contribution to life history theory, Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University. LIRS catalog number 927.
  • Allan, B.J.M., B. Illing, E.P. Fakan, P. Narvaez, A.S. Grutter, P.C. Sikkel, E.C. McClure, J.L. Rummer and M.I. McCormick (2020). Parasite infection directly impacts escape response and stress levels in fish. Journal of Experimental Biology, 223: jeb230904. LIRS catalog number 2445.
  • Arnal, C. (2000). Ecologie comportementale de la symbiose poisson nettoyeur/ poisson client: motivations et honnĂȘtetĂ©, Ph.D. thesis, University of Perpignan, France. LIRS catalog number 637.
  • View all references