Doubleheader, Coris bulbifrons Randall & Kuiter 1982

Other Names: Double Header

A Doubleheader, Coris bulbifrons, at Lord Howe Island. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

This is the largest species in the genus Coris, reaching almost one metre in total length. Adults are bluish to purplish-grey with a bulbous hump on the head above the front of the eye that becomes very pronounced in large males (hence the name "double-header"). Small juveniles are black with two rows of large white spots and scattered smaller spots along the side. Larger juveniles are dark brown to blackish with irregular partly broken bands or white lines along the side, oblique white lines on the dorsal fin, a row of small white spots along the anal fin, and a white caudal-fin margin.. Larger juveniles may also have a small yellow patch on the rear of the gill cover.

Video of a Doubleheader.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Coris bulbifrons in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2022,

Doubleheader, Coris bulbifrons Randall & Kuiter 1982

More Info


Eastern Australia from about Byron Bay to Sydney, with juveniles to Shellharbour, New South Wales. The species is more common at islands and reefs in the northern Tasman Sea - Lord Howe Island, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, and Norfolk Island (where it is rare). The species has also been recorded from northern New Zealand.
Inhabits coral, rubble and sandy areas on coral and rocky reefs, usually above 20 m. Juveniles have been collected from tide pools.


Dorsal fin IX, 12; Anal din III, 12; Pectoral fin ii, 11-13; Lateral line scales 61-66; Gill rakers 18-21.
Body depth 27-8-34.5% SL; hump on forehead of adults becomes very pronounced in large males; anterior canine teeth large.


Feeds mostly on gastropod and bivalve molluscs, and also consumes crabs.


Protogynous hermaphrodite - changes sex from female to male during the life cycle. Doubleheaders usually occur on small to large family groups dominated by a large male. 


At Lord Howe Island and Elizabeth Reef, the Doubleheader is fished recreationally under strict regulations. It is totally protected at Middleton Reef.

Similar Species


The specific name bulbifrons is from the Latin bulbus, meaning "swelling" or "bump," and frons, meaning "forehead," in reference to the prominent hump on the head of adults of both sexes.

Species Citation

Coris bulbifrons Randall & Kuiter, 1982, Pacific Science 36(2): 168, pl. 2A-C, figs 3-5. Type locality: Lord Howe Island. 


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Doubleheader, Coris bulbifrons Randall & Kuiter 1982


Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 DOI: 10.3853/j.0067-1975.30.1976.287, open access (as Coris sp.)

Choat, J.H., van Herwerden, L., Robbins, W.D., Hobbs, J.P. & Ayling, A.M. 2006. A report on the ecological surveys undertaken at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, February 2006. Report by James Cook University to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. 65 pp.

Choat, J.H. & Pollard, D. 2010. Coris bulbifrons. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187392A8522703. Downloaded on 25 March 2019.

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

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

Ferrell, D.J. 2005. Biological information for appropriate management of endemic fish species at Lord Howe Island. Fisheries Final Report Series No. 76. New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

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, open access

Gill, A.C. & Reader, S.E. 1992. Fishes. pp. 90-93, 193-228 in Hutchings, P. (ed.) Reef Biology. A Survey of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, South Pacific. Canberra : Australian National Parks Vol. 3, Kowari 230 pp.

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

Ogilby, J.D. 1889. The reptiles and fishes of Lord Howe Island. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 2(3): 51-74 pls 2-3 DOI: 10.3853/j.0067-1967.2.1889.481, open access (as Coris aygula)

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 64 pp.

Parker, P.G. 1999. Fish assemblages at Julian Rocks and the adjacent waters of northern New South Wales, Australia. Australian Zoologist 31(1): 134-160., open access

Patterson, H.M. & Swearer, S.E. 2007. Long‐distance dispersal and local retention of larvae as mechanisms of recruitment in an island population of a coral reef fish. Austral Ecology 32(2): 122-130.

Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. & Paxton, J.R. 2002. Conservation overview and action plan for Australian threatened and potentially threatened marine and estuarine fishes. Environment Australia, Canberra, Australia.

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. & Kuiter, R.H. 1982. Three new labrid fishes of the genus Coris from the western Pacific. Pacific Science 36(2): 159-173 figs 1-5, open access

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.

Whitley, G.P. 1937. The Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, South Pacific Ocean. The Australian Zoologist 8(4): 199-231 figs 13-14 (misidentified as Coris cyanea) See ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. 1951. Studies in Ichthyology No. 15. Records of the Australian Museum 22(4): 389-408 figs 1-14 See ref online, open access (misidentified as Coris cyanea)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384091


Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

Depth:1-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:90 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map