The rock wrasse

Photo credit: Keoki Stender

This fish has it made. The small mouth of the rock wrasse or Halichoeres semicinctus usually prevents it from being caught by fishermen! Yet, rock wrasses are able to munch on a diverse diet of crabs, snails and algae, not too shabby small mouth.

This is all based on information conveyed by Dr. Milton Love’s book Probably More Than You want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast, the unofficial fish bible. The small mouth isn’t the only cool characteristic, it turns out that rock wrasses keep a very similar schedule to us. They do their activities during the day and rest at night. The fancy scientific word for such a standard lifestyle is diurnal.

But what’s even cooler is their ability to know exactly when to wake up and when to go to bed. According to Love, “They take shelter in bottom algae about 20 minutes after sunset and reappear about 20 minutes before sunrise.”

To top it off, the rock wrasse is multi-colored, featuring orange, green and yellow. These flashy fish tend to hang out in water that’s 10 to 50 feet deep where they grow up to 15 inches and are ready to “sexually interact” at five to six inches.

Rock wrasse…I’ll always remember you for being able to outsmart fishermen, even if it’s based on a simple small mouth technicality.

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