Crimson Cleaner Wrasse, Suezichthys aylingi Russell 1985

Other Names: Butcher's Dick, Crimson Cleaner-wrasse, Crimson Rainbow Wrasse, Crimson Wrasse, Maori Wrasse

A male Crimson Cleaner Wrasse, Suezichthys aylingi. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

Females and juveniles (initial phase) are reddish-orange above, paler toward the rear, with a black ocellus edged in white near the rear of the dorsal fin at the fin base. at the base of the 9th and 10th dorsal rays. Males (terminal phase) are a deep crimson becoming paler below, with a pearly white stripe from the mouth to the tail base, and six bright blue lines on the head.
Divers sometimes see Crimson Cleaner Wrasse picking parasites from other fishes. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Suezichthys aylingi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2023,

Crimson Cleaner Wrasse, Suezichthys aylingi Russell 1985

More Info


Seal Rocks, New South Wales, to east of Cape Conran, Victoria and eastern Tasmania north of Eaglehawk Neck. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand.
Inhabits sand patches near reefs.


Dorsal fin IX, 11; Anal fin III, 10; Caudal fin 12; Pectoral fin 13-14; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 25-26; Predorsal scales 3-5; Cheek scales 1 row behind the eye; 2 rows below eye. 
Body shallow (19-23%), moderately elongate, compressed. Head small (26-29% SL), dorsal profile convex; eyes moderately small (17-24% HL); mouth small, upper jaw not reaching as far as eye; teeth conical, pointed, in single row, anterior pair in both jaws enlarged and outwardly curved.  
Scales moderately large, cycloid, firmly attached, covering body; head naked except for one or two rows of cheek scales and eight to ten large scales on opercle; no scaly sheath at base of dorsal and anal fin; lateral line bent abruptly downwards beneath soft dorsal fin, scales with simple laterosensory canal tube.  
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, upper rays longest, not reaching near anus. Pelvic fins long, arising beneath pectoral fin bases, but not reaching to anus. 


Juveniles and females bright red orange with scales on sides of body brilliantly marked with white; dorsal and anal fins reddish, edged with white; white edged black ocellus present near base of last few dorsal fin rays; caudal fin reddish with white crescentic area near base; pectoral and pelvic fins clear.  Adult males deep red, tinged with green on sides; pearlescent white band extending along each side; head pale green, tinged with red, with six blue lines on either side; upper part of dorsal fin orange or yellowish, edged with blue, lower part pinkish red, separated from upper part by yellow line; anal fin yellow or pinkish with narrow red or blue margin and three pale red or blue lines along fin; caudal fin yellowish-orange with narrow red or blue margin; pectoral fins translucent; pelvic fins red.


Feeds on small crustaceans, picked from the substrate and from macroalgal fronds.


A protogynous hermaphrodite, with females spawning for a season or two before changing sex to become males.


Removes parasites, and damaged skin and scales from other fishes.

Species Citation

Suezichthys aylingi Russell 1985, Indo-Pacific Fishes 2: 5, pl. 1(A, B), fig. 2. Type locality: Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand. 


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Crimson Cleaner Wrasse, Suezichthys aylingi Russell 1985


Ayling, A.M. & Grace, R.V. 1971. Cleaning symbiosis among New Zealand fishes. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 5: 205-218., open access

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

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

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

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. 

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

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. 

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 pp. 398. 

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

Russell, B.C. 1985. Revision of the Indo-Pacific labrid fish genus Suezichthys, with descriptions of four new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 2: 1-21 figs 1-7 pls 1-3

Russell, B. 2010. Suezichthys aylingi . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187588A8575723. Downloaded on 14 November 2019.

Russell, B.C. 2015. Tribe Julidini and Tribe Pseudolabrini. pp. 1374-1403 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748. 

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. 

Russell, B.C. & Westneat, M.W. 2013. A new species of Suezichthys (Teleostei: Perciformes: Labridae) from the southeastern Pacific, with a redefinition of the genus and a key to species. Zootaxa 3640(1): 88-94

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384159


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:3-100 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:11 cm SL

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CAAB distribution map