Yellowtail Wrasse, Diproctacanthus xanthurus (Bleeker 1856)

Other Names: Yellowtail Tubelip, Yellow-tail Wrasse

A Yellowtail Wrasse, Diproctacanthus xanthurus, at Ngederrak Reef, Koror Island, Palau. Source: Mark Rosenstein / iNaturalist. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A small black and white-striped wrasse found in coral rich areas on shallow protected reefs.
Adults are white with a broad black midlateral stripe from the snout to the tail base, and another dark somewhat less distinct stripe below the dorsal-fin base, and a yellow tail. Small juveniles have three broad black stripes and a black tail. The lower stripe disappears with age and the tail becomes yellow.

Yellowtail wrasse have thick fleshy lips. The juveniles "clean" parasites from other fishes, while the adults feed on coral polyps.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Diproctacanthus xanthurus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 08 Dec 2022,

Yellowtail Wrasse, Diproctacanthus xanthurus (Bleeker 1856)

More Info


Known in Australia from the Kimberley region of north Western Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere, the species occurs in the Western Pacific from the Philippines, Palau, Indonesia, New Guinea, east to Baker Island.

Inhabits coral rich areas in shallow protected lagoons and on sheltered seawards reefs.


Dorsal spines (total): 9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9-10; Anal spines: 2; Anal soft rays: 9 - 11; Vertebrae: 25. 
Juveniles with 3 broad black stripes from head to caudal fin where the stripes merge; with growth, lower stripe disappears, upper stripe is less distinct; black caudal fin becomes entirely yellow in adults. Head scales small. Lips thick and fleshy, forming a short tube when mouth is closed. Caudal fin rounded to truncate; pelvic fins rounded.



Adults feed mainly on coral polyps while juveniles remove ectoparasites from small territorial fishes.


 Adults swim in small groups.

Species Citation

Labroides xanthurus Bleeker, 1856, Acta Societ. Scient. Indo-Neerland. 1: 52. Type locality: Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia.


Bray, D.J. 2017

Yellowtail Wrasse, Diproctacanthus xanthurus (Bleeker 1856)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

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

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1992. Reef fishes of New Guinea: a field guide for divers, anglers and naturalists. Christensen Research Institute, Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Bleeker, P. 1856. Beschrijvengen van nieuwe of weinig bekende vischsoorten van Menado en Makassar grootendeels verzameld op eene reis naar den Molukschen Archipel in het gevolg van den Gouverneur-Generaal Duymaer van Twist. Acta Societatis Scientiarum Indo-Neerlandicae 1: 1-80.

Cole, A.J, Pratchett, M.S. & Jones, G.P. 2010. Corallivory in tubelip wrasses: diet, feeding and trophic importance. Journal of Fish Biology 76(4): 818-835.

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270

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. 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. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 2. Fusiliers - Dragonets, Caesionidae - Callionymidae. Zoonetics, Australia.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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.

Randall, J.E. & Springer, V.C. 1973. The monotypic Indo-Pacific labrid fish genera Labrichthys and Diproctacanthus with description of a new related genus, Larabicus. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 86(23): 279-298.

Russell, B. 2010. Diproctacanthus xanthurus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. . Downloaded on 07 August 2012.

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:37384102

Behaviour:Cleaner fish (juveniles)

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-25 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map