Rosy Wrasse, Pseudolabrus rubicundus (Macleay 1881)

Other Names: Rosy Parrot Fish, Rosy Parrotfish

A Rosy Wrasse, Pseudolabrus rubicundus, at Crescent Point, Tasmania, January 2008. Source: Erik Schlogl / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A pinkish to reddish wrasse becoming paler below, with a yellowish spot on each scale below the lateral line forming stripes along the side, and often two rows of small red spots on the dorsal and anal fins. Females and juveniles have a black blotch and a small white spot at the base of last few dorsal-fin rays, and males may have a yellowish tinge.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Pseudolabrus rubicundus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Rosy Wrasse, Pseudolabrus rubicundus (Macleay 1881)

More Info


Sydney, New South Wales, to WSW of Albany, Western Australia, including around Tasmania. An inquisitive wrasse usually seen on deeper rocky reefs and drop-offs below 10 metres.


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 long and slender, upper caudal-fin rays slightly produced into a point.


Overall pinkish to reddish, paler below, with a black blotch and small white spot at base of last few dorsal-fin rays in juveniles and females. Dorsal and anal fins often with two rows of small red spots. Males often with a yellowish tinge.


Feeds on benthic invertebrates such as crustaceans, molluscs and echinoderms. Juveniles have been seen removing parasites from other fishes.


The Rosy Wrasse is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that females change sex to become males during their lifecycle. Barrett (1995) showed that sex change occurs at 5-7+ years and the maximum age is 11 years. 

Individuals are site-attached. Females have widely overlapping home ranges, while males are territorial during the breeding season, defending their territories from all other males during the breeding season from late August to January.


Taken as incidental bycatch in the rock lobster and giant crab trap fishery in South Australia.


  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern
  • Remarks

    This species had previously been recognised in Australia as Pseudolabrus mortonii (Johnson 1885) by Allen et al. 2006, who placed Labrichthys rubicunda Macleay 1881 as incertae cedis in the family Labridae, stating “ this name is at best a nomen dubium, as the species does not occur in Western Australia, and the description is not consistent with this south-eastern Australian species.” Russell & Gill (2012) resurrected P. rubicundus after locating the holotype at the Macleay Museum, Sydney. They determined that L. rubicunda is conspecific with P. mortoni, and found the type locality to be Tasmania, and not King George Sound, WA, as had been widely reported.


    The specific name is from the Latin rubicundus (= reddish, ruddy, rubicund) in reference to "yellowish-red" colour (in spirits), "with the basal portion of all the scales a brilliant pinkish-red".

    Species Citation

    Labrichthys rubicunda Macleay, 1881, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 1 6(1): 89. Type locality: Tasmania.


    Bray, D.J. 2022


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Rosy Wrasse, Pseudolabrus rubicundus (Macleay 1881)


    Barrett, N.S. 1995. Aspects of the biology and ecology of six temperate reef fishes (Families: Labridae and Monacanthidae). PhD Thesis, University of Tasmania. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculusSee ref online

    Barrett, N.S. 1995. Short- and long-term movement patterns of six temperate reef fishes (Families Labridae and Monacanthidae). Marine and Freshwater Research 46(5): 853-860. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

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

    Edgar, G.J., Last, P.R. & Wells, M.W. 1982. Coastal Fishes of Tasmania and Bass Strait. Hobart : Cat & Fiddle Press 175 pp. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

    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. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

    Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

    Johnston, R.M. 1885. Observations on six rare fishes recently captured in Tasmanian waters. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1884: 252-256 See ref online (described as Labrichthys mortonii, type locality Derwent River, Tasmania)

    Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

    Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Fairy & Rainbow Wrasses and their Relatives. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 207 pp.

    Kuiter, R.H. 2010. Labridae fishes: wrasses. Seaford, Victoria, Australia : Aquatic Photographics 398 pp.

    Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

    Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 3. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 6(1): 1-138 pls 1-2 See ref at BHL

    May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 pp. (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

    McCulloch, A.R. 1913. Studies in Australian fishes, No. 3. Records of the Australian Museum 9(3): 355-389 figs 54-55 pls 12-20 (as Pseudolabrus miles)

    Richardson, J. 1840. On some new species of fishes from Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 8: 25-30 (described as Labrus psittaculus, type locality Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land =Tasmania)

    Richardson, J. 1844. Description of Australian Fish. (Part 2). Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 3(art. 5, pt. 2): 133-185, Pls. 7-11. See ref at BHL

    Russell, B.C. 1988. Revision of the labrid fish genus Pseudolabrus and allied genera. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 9: 1-72 https://10.3853/j.0812-7387.9.1988.95 (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus

    Russell, B. 2010. Pseudolabrus mortonii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187641A8588247. Accessed on 22 November 2020. (as Pseudolabrus mortonii)

    Russell, B.C. & Gill, A.C. 2012. The status of Pseudolabrus psittaculus (Richardson) and use of the name Pseudolabrus rubricundus (Macleay) for this species. Cybium 36(2): 353-356.

    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. (as Pseudolabrus mortonii)

    Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs. (as Pseudolabrus miles)

    Waite, E.R. 1921. Illustrated catalogue of the fishes of South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 2(1): 1-208 293 figs pl. 1 (as Pseudolabrus psittaculus)

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37384023


    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Depth:2-218 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:25 cm TL


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    CAAB distribution map