Western King Wrasse, Coris auricularis (Valenciennes 1839)


Other Names: Blushing Wrasse, King Wrasse

A female Western King Wrasse, Coris auricularis, at Horseshoe Reef, Jurien Bay, Western Australia. Source: Graham Edgar / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

Summary:
The Western King Wrasse changes sex from female to male at some stage during its life and undergoes corresponding marked colour changes.

Juveniles are dark reddish to black with a narrow white stripe above the lateral line and a broader white mid-lateral stripe. Females (intermediate phase) are pale greenish to pinkish with a reddish-brown tapering stripe above the lateral line. Large males (terminal phase) are salmon pink to purplish, with a paler chin and throat, a bluish-black mark on the rear of the gill cover and a broad white vertical band on the abdomen.

Lives in small haremic groups with a dominant male controlling several juveniles and females.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Coris auricularis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Dec 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1932

Western King Wrasse, Coris auricularis (Valenciennes 1839)

More Info


Distribution

Endemic to Western Australia from Esperance northwards to Ningaloo Reef and the Murion Islands, and most abundant between Perth and Geraldton.

The most abundant wrasse over reefs in many parts of its range, and commonly found on offshore reefs, near sandy areas and seagrass beds.

Features

Meristic features Dorsal fin IX, 12; Anal fin III, 12; Caudal fin 14; Pectoral fin 14; Pelvic fin I, 5; lateral line scales 83-84.

Body shallow (approx. 26% SL), moderately elongate, compressed; head small (approx. 26% SL), dorsal profile convex; eyes small (approx. 17% HL); mouth small, upper jaw  not reaching as far as eye; mouth relatively small, with small conical pointed teeth in a single row in jaws, anterior pair in each jaw enlarged and outwardly curved; prominent canines absent from rear of jaw.

Scales very small, cycloid, firmly attached, covering body but not head, body scales not extending onto base of dorsal and anal fin; lateral line bent abruptly downwards beneath soft dorsal fin.

Dorsal fin continuous, with elongate base and uniform height; anal fin similar to and opposite rear half of dorsal fin; caudal fin truncate. Pectoral fins moderately long, upper rays longest. Pelvic fins moderately long, arising beneath pectoral fin bases, reaching to or near anus.

Colour

Juveniles are dark reddish to black with a narrow white mid-dorsal stripe from the snout to the tail, and a broader white mid-lateral stripe; ventral surface whitish. Adult females are pale greenish-white with a reddish-brown band tapering from the snout through the eye along the body just above lateral line. Adult males are salmon pink, top of head pale bluish, chin and throat whitish, and a bluish-black mark on the rear edge of the operculum; thoracic area yellowish followed by a broad white vertical band; a diffuse dusky or pale stripe from mid-body to the caudal-fin base.

Feeding

Carnivore - forages in groups over sandy areas very close to reefs. Feeds mostly on small crustaceans such as amphipods and isopods, gastropod molluscs and to a lesser extent on larger crustaceans such as brachyuran crabs. Also consumes a range of other benthic invertebrates including marine worms and bivalve molluscs. 

Juveniles and small adult females may act as 'cleaner fishes' and congregate at 'cleaner stations', removing skin parasites from other fish species. 

Biology

This species is a protogynous hermaphrodite and changes sex from female to male during its life cycle, accompanied by dramatic colour changes. Adult males are territorial and control harems comprised of many juveniles and adult females. Spawning occurs during late summer and autumn.

Species Citation

Julis auricularis Valenciennes, 1839, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 13: 489. Type locality: King George Sound, WA.

Author

Dianne J. Bray

Western King Wrasse, Coris auricularis (Valenciennes 1839)

References


Choat, J.H. 2010. Coris auricularis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. Downloaded on 26 September 2013.

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp.

Gomon, M.F. &. Russell, B.C. 1994. Family Labridae. pp. 675-699 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Harman, N., E.S. Harvey & G.A. Kendrick. 2003. Differences in fish assemblages from different reef habitats at Hamelin Bay, south-western Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 54(2): 177-184.

Harvey, E.S., J.J. Butler, D.L. McLean & J. Shand. 2012. Contrasting habitat use of diurnal and nocturnal fish assemblages in temperate Western Australia. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 426–427: 78-86. ISSN 0022-0981, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2012.05.019.

Kleczkowski, M., Babcock, R.C. & Clapin, G. 2008. Density and size of reef fishes in and around a temperate marine reserve. Marine and Freshwater Research 59: 165-176.

Langlois, T.J., Radford, B.T., Van Niel, K.P., Meeuwig, J.J., Pearce, A.F., Rousseaux, C.S.G., Kendrick, G.A. & Harvey, E.S. 2012. Consistent abundance distributions of marine fishes in an old, climatically buffered, infertile seascape. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21: 886–897. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2011.00734.x

Lek, E. 2011. Comparisons between the biological characteristics of three co-occurring and reef-dwelling labrid species at two different latitudes. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

Lek, E., Fairclough, D.V., Hall, N.G., Hesp, S.A. & Potter, I.C. 2012. Do the maximum sizes, ages and patterns of growth of three reef-dwelling labrid species at two latitudes differ in a manner conforming to the metabolic theory of ecology? Journal of Fish Biology 81: 1936–1962. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03446.x

Lek, E., Fairclough, D.V., Platell, M.E., Clarke, K.R., Tweedley, J.R. & Potter, I.C. 2011. To what extent are the dietary compositions of three abundant, co-occurring labrid species different and related to latitude, habitat, body size and season?Journal of Fish Biology 78: 1913–1943. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2011.02961.x

Randall, J.E. 1999. Revision of the Indo-Pacific labrid fishes of the genus Coris, with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 29: 1-74 pls 1-7 pls 1-22

Russell, B.C. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Labridae. pp. 638-659 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Tuya, F., T. Wernberg & M.S. Thomsen 2009. Habitat structure affect abundances of labrid fishes across temperate reefs in south-western Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 86(2): 311-319.

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1839. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 13 505 pp. pls 369-388.

Vanderklift, M.A., How, J., Wernberg, T., MacArthur, L.D., Heck, K.L. & Valentine, J.F. 2007. Proximity to reef influences density of small predatory fishes, while type of seagrass influences intensity of their predation on crabs. Marine Ecology Progress Series 340: 235-243.

Watson, D.L., Harvey, E.S., Kendrick, G.A., Nardi, K. & Anderson, M.J. 2007. Protection from fishing alters the species composition of fish assemblages in a temperate-tropical transition zone. Marine Biology 152(5): 1197-1206.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37384088

Biology:Able to change sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:2-45 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:40 cm TL

Native:Endemic

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