Blackbarred Wrasse, Thalassoma nigrofasciatum Randall 2003

Other Names: Blackbar Wrasse

A Blackbarred Wrasse, Thalassoma nigrofasciatum, at Flinders Reef, Moreton Bay, Queensland. Source: Dave Harasti / License: All rights reserved

Adults are blackish with the lower half of the head, chest and belly white, a short white to yellow vertical band above the pectoral-fin base, two broad white to yellow bars on the sides and a yellow tail. The pale areas in females are mostly white, whereas in males these areas tend to be more yellow. Males also have a pale pink chin and filamentous lobes on the tail. 

Often confused with the closely related Jansen's Wrasse, Thalassoma jansenii.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Thalassoma nigrofasciatum in Fishes of Australia, accessed 30 Jan 2023,

Blackbarred Wrasse, Thalassoma nigrofasciatum Randall 2003

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, to Montague island, New South Wales, reefs in the Coral Sea, and Lord Howe and Norfolk islands in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, widespread in the Western and Central Pacific, from eastern Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the Kermadec Islands (New Zealand), to New Caledonia, Tonga and Niue.

Inhabits shallow coastal, lagoon and outer coral reef areas, including tide pools, in depths to 15 m. May be solitary or occur in small groups.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin VIII, 13; Anal fin III, 11 (first spine very slender and short); Pectoral fin 15-16; Gill rakers 20-23; Lateral line scales 26-27; Vertebrae 25. 

Head naked, except for a small patch of scales dorsally on opercle. Body depth 5.9-3.6 in SL; head length (HL) 3.1-3.4 in SL; snout length 8.4-9.8 in SL; caudal peduncle depth 6.2-6.65 in SL; pectoral fins 4.0-4.3 in SL; pelvic fins 6.3-6.9 in SL. Caudal fin truncate in juveniles, to strongly lunate with filamentous lobes in adult males.


Juveniles and females (initial phase) mostly black with lower half of head, chest and abdomen white, an oblique white to yellow bar above dorsal edge of opercle, two white bands on side, a black spot on first 2 membranes of dorsal fin. Males (terminal phase) have yellow partly replacing the white, a salmon pink patch on the chin, and blue ventrally on the head and chest.


Very closely related to Thalassoma jansenii, and the molecular sequences of 16S rRNA in the two species are the same, though they differ in one nucleotide of the cytochrome b sequence (Bernardi et al. 2004). Although there are no significant colour differences between these two species, and they have overlapping scale counts, the former is most probably a separate and valid species Cabanban & Pollard 2010).

Similar Species

Often confused with the closely related Jansen's Wrasse, Thalassoma jansenii, which is mostly black with narrower white or yellow bands.


Thalassoma is from the Greek thalassa meaning 'the sea' and soma meaning 'body', referencing the colour of the sea. The specific name nigrofasciatum is from Latin, and refers to the black bars on the body.


Dianne J. Bray

Blackbarred Wrasse, Thalassoma nigrofasciatum Randall 2003


Allen, G.R., N.J. Cross, C.J. Allen & M.F. Gomon 2006. Labridae: Labrinae. pp. 1368-1418 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Bernardi, G., Bucciarelli, G., Costagliola, D., Robertson, D.R. & Heiser, J.B. 2004. Evolution of coral reef fish Thalossoma spp. (Labridae). 1. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography. Marine Biology 144: 369-375.

Cabanban, A. & Pollard, D. 2010. Thalassoma nigrofasciatum. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 16 March 2014.

Francis, M.P. 1991. Additions to the fish faunas of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 45(2): 204-220. (as Thalassoma jansenii)

Francis, M.P. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170. 
(as Thalassoma jansenii)

Francis, M.P. 1996. Geographic distribution of marine reef fishes in the New Zealand region. N.Z. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 30: 35-55. (as Thalassoma jansenii)

Randall, J.E. 2003. Thalassoma nigrofasciatum, a new species of labrid fish from the south-west Pacific. aqua International Journal of Ichthyology 7(1): 1-8.

Randall, J.E., 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 720 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. (as Thalassoma jansenii)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. (as Thalassoma jansenii)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384196

Biology:Capable of changing sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-15 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:20 cm SL

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