Senator Wrasse, Pictilabrus laticlavius (Richardson 1839)

Other Names: Green Parrotfish, Patrician Wrasse, Purple-banded Wrasse, Senator Fish, Senatorfish, Senatorwrasse

A terminal phase (male) Senator Wrasse, Pictilabrus laticlavius, at Fairy Bower, Manly, New South Wales, September 2013. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


Males are green with maroon or purplish stripes along the sides. Females and juveniles are reddish to greenish-brown  with a row of black spots above the lateral line, 4-5 dusky bars on the lower sides and a black spot on the rear of the dorsal fin.

Senator wrasses are common amongst kelp and other macroalgae on reefs along the southern coast.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Pictilabrus laticlavius in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

Senator Wrasse, Pictilabrus laticlavius (Richardson 1839)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from about Bryon Bay (New South Wales), to the Houtman Abrolhos (Western Australia), including around Tasmania.

This relatively common wrasse inhabits coastal reefs and algal beds in 3-40 metres, and is common in kelp and macro-algal beds along the south coast. It also occurs on sponge covered reefs.

Senator wrasses are site-attached, meaning that individuals have a home-range. Females have overlapping home-ranges and males are territorial during the breeding season, and exclude all other males from their range.


Dorsal fin IX, 11; Anal fin III, 10; Caudal fin 12; Pectoral fin 13; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 25-26.

Body moderately deep (26-32% SL), compressed; head moderately large (26-34% SL), dorsal profile convex; eyes moderately large (16-27% HL); mouth small, upper jaw not reaching as far as eye; teeth small, caniniform, anterior pair in upper jaw and anterior two pairs in lower jaw enlarged and recurved; each side of upper jaw with enlarged canine at rear. 

Scales moderately large, cycloid, firmly attached, covering body; head naked except for one to three rows of cheek scales and eight to ten large scales on opercle; lateral-line abruptly curved downwards beneath last spines of 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 short, rounded; pelvic fins short, arising beneath pectoral-fin bases, not reaching near anus.


To 25 cm SL


Juveniles and females are reddish-brown or greenish with a single row of black spots on the back above the lateral-line, and four or five faint dusky bars on the lower part of the body; dorsal fin with black spot between first three spines and last two soft rays; small dark spot at bases of dorsal and anal rays, fins with dusky margins.

Adult males are deep green with two dark violet or reddish bands on the head and body, separated by pale yellow interspace; dark wedge-shaped bar extending down from upper band just behind pectoral fin; head with pale mauve radiating lines around eye; dorsal, anal and caudal fins pale reddish-green or deep blue-violet, inner halves paler, and fins spotted with blue; dark spot between first three dorsal-fin spines.


Feeds on a range of benthic invertebrates, such as crustaceans (amphipods and small decapods) and gastropod molluscs.


The Senator Wrasse is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that individuals mature into females (Initial Phase) during their first year, and change sex into males (Terminal Phase) during their 2nd to 5th year. They have a life span of up to 10 years. Spawning occurs during spring and summer months.


Caught by recreational anglers, and possibly taken as incidental bycatch in commercial trawls.


IUCN Red List: Least Concern.

Similar Species

Differs from the False Senator Wrasse, Pictilabrus viridis in having rounded pectoral fins with the middle rays longest (vs pectoral fins pointed, upper rays longest); males with a distinctive dark wedge shaped bar on body behind pectoral fin and no bar or, at most, only an indistinct bar at base of each pectoral fin (vs males without dark bar on body but with distinct dark bar at base of each pectoral fin).


The specific name laticlavius alludes to the ornamental blue spots on the fins, resembling the 'clavi' on the borders of the Roman patrician dress (Richardson, 1844). Hence the common name 'patrician wrasse' (Richardson, 1844) or senator wrasse (Russell 1988).

Species Citation

Labrus laticlavius Richardson 1839, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 7: 99. Type locality: Port Arthur, Tasmania.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Senator Wrasse, Pictilabrus laticlavius (Richardson 1839)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384020


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:3-40 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:30 cm TL


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map