Redbreast Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus fasciatus (Bloch 1791)

Other Names: Banded Maori, Banded Maori-wrasse, Redbreasted Maori Wrasse, Redbreasted Wrasse, Scarlet-breasted Maori Wrasse

A male Redbreast Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus fasciatus, at Osprey Reef, Queensland. Source: Dave Harasti. License: All rights reserved

A brownish to blackish wrasse, usually with 5 whitish vertical bars or bands along the side, a broad orange-red area extending forward from the the first white band to the eye, short orange lines radiating from the eye, and small dark red spots on the lower half of the body, the dorsal and anal fins, and the rear of the caudal fin. The Redbreast Maori Wrasse has a white caudal fin with a black posterior margin, and a median black bar that does not extend to the upper and lower lobes. Large males have a prominent lower jaw, and well-developed upper and lower lobes on the caudal fin.

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Bray, D.J. 2021, Cheilinus fasciatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Redbreast Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus fasciatus (Bloch 1791)

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Houtman Abrolhos to the Buccaneer Archipelago, and offshore reefs of north Western Australia, Ashmore Reef in the  Timor Sea, and the Torres Strait and reefs in the Coral Sea, to the Capricorn-Bunker Group, Queensland; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-west-central Pacific from east coast of Africa and islands of the western Indian Ocean to Micronesia and Samoa and Tonga, in the western Pacific north to the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, and south to Australia. 
Inhabits coastal, lagoon and seaward reefs, usually in protected areas with mixed coral, sand and rubble substrates. Juveniles are secretive.


Dorsal fin IX, 10; Gill rakers 13-16; Lateral line (pored scales) 14-15 + 8-10. 
Body depth 2.3–2.7 in SL; upper and lower lobes of caudal fin prolonged in males.


Juveniles brown with five white bars across body, first bar broadest and brightest, below third dorsal-fin spine, second bar indistinct, on ventral half of body, fifth bar faint, anteriorly on caudal peduncle; all bars but the second extend onto dorsal and anal fins; three faint, short, greenish bars on nape and interorbital space; short, oblique, white or yellowish band from eye across preopercle; narrow white bar at base of caudal fin; large, dark blue spot, surrounded dorsally with orange, anteriorly in dorsal fin.Subadults and females with similar white bars on nape and body as juveniles, but second bar on lower body becoming more distinct and nearly reaching dorsal fin; few scales behind eyes and many scales on body with vertical indistinct dark streak; orange area from behind eye and nape to pectoral-fin base; humeral area with two (sometimes third above) double, rounded to nearly quadrangular, dark blue or black spots; head becoming olive with short orange-red lines radiating from eye; lower body, dorsal and anal fins, and posterior half of caudal fin with small dark orange to red spots, only a few spots in fins in some individuals, sometimes median fins also with short red lines, similar to those radiating from eye; caudal fin white with black bar in centre (bar not reaching upper and lower margins) and black posterior margin.Males with similar colour pattern but the suffusion of orange becoming bright orange-red, covering postorbital part of head, anterior of body (including anterior abdomen and chest), and pectoral-fin base, the area restricted posteriorly to the first white bar, not enclosing it; second white bar across the body reaching dorsal fin; black streak on scales becoming broader and well-defined.


Feeds mostly on small hard-shelled invertebrates, such as molluscs, crustaceans and sea urchins.


Of minor commercial importance in Australia, and also taken by recreational anglers. The species is also collected for the aquarium industry.


The specific name is from the Latin fasciatus (= banded), in reference to the alternating dark and white bands along the sides.

Species Citation

Sparus fasciatus Bloch 1791, Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische Vol. 5: 18. Type locality: Japan.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Redbreast Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus fasciatus (Bloch 1791)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384066


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:4-60 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:36 cm

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