Clown Wrasse, Coris gaimard (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

Other Names: Gaimard Rainbow-wrasse, Gaimard Wrasse, Gaimard's Wrasse, Rainbow Wrasse, Red Coris Wrasse, Red-finned Rainbowfish, Yellowtail Coris

A male (terminal phase) Clown Wrasse, Coris gaimard, at Bali, Indonesia, 2014. Source: Robert Fenner / License: All rights reserved

Males (Terminal phase) have a pinkish head with green bands, small blue spots on a dark brown to blackish body, a pale greenish to yellow bar behind the pectoral fin, and a yellow tail.
Females (Intermediate phase) are similar with a reddish body and no pale bar on the side. Juveniles (Initial phase) are bright orange-red with 5 white saddles (outlined in black) from the snout to the caudal peduncle.

Video of Clown Wrasses at Kaloko, Kona Coast, Hawaii, by Bruce Carlson.
Video of the same large male Clown Wrasse flipping rocks to reveal sea-urchin prey in Hawaii.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Coris gaimard in Fishes of Australia, accessed 10 Dec 2023,

Clown Wrasse, Coris gaimard (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Ningaloo Reef to the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia, also Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef and Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and from Cape Melville, Queensland to Bermagui, New South Wales, on the east coast; Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island, eastern Indian Ocean, and also Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, Tasman Sea. 

Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the tropical East Indian and Western-central Pacific, from the Australian territories of Christmas and Cocos Keeling islands, to the Tuamotu and Society islands, north to southern Japan and Hawaii.
Inhabits sand, rubble and coral areas in lagoons and seaward reefs, and on exposed outer reef flats.


Carnivore - feeds on benthic invertebrates, including crabs, molluscs and tunicates.

Species Citation

Julis gaimard Quoy & Gaimard 1824, Voyage autour du monde: 265, pl. 54. Type locality: Hawaiian Islands.


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Clown Wrasse, Coris gaimard (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)


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

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. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls. 

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.

Pollard, D. & Liu, M. 2010. Coris gaimard. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187436A8534848. Downloaded on 20 September 2016. 

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1824. Chapter 8. Poissons. 183-328 pls 43-65 in Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.) Voyage autour du Monde, entrepris par ordre du Roi, exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 712 pp. 96 pls.

Randall, J.E. 1999. Revision of the Indo-Pacific labrid fishes of the genus Coris, with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 29: 1-74 pls 1-7 pls 1-22 

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. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. 557 pp.

Shikuna, T., Hashimoto, H. & Gushima, K. 1994. Changes with growth in feeding habits and gravel turning behaviour of the wrasse, Coris gaimard. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 41(3): 301-306.

Westneat, M.W. 2001. Labridae. pp. 3381-3467 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384094

Biology:Capable of changing sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-50 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:40 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map