Birdnose Wrasse, Gomphosus varius Lacépède 1801

Other Names: Bird Wrasse, Bird-nose Wrasse, Clubnosed Wrasse

A male Bird Wrasse, Gomphosus varius, at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Andy Lewis / Lizard Island Field Guide. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

An easily recognized wrasse with an extremely long, slender beak-like snout. Colours differ depending on sexual development. Males are green to bluish green with a bluish head, and a bright yellow bar behind the head. Females are whitish with black speckles on the front half, and greyish to blackish behind, with a reddish to black stripe along the snout and through the eye. Juveniles are white with a greenish to brownish back and two black stripes along the side, and they have relatively short jaws.

Video of male and female Birdnose Wrasses

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Gomphosus varius in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024,

Birdnose Wrasse, Gomphosus varius Lacépède 1801

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Rottnest Island to Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea on the West Coast, and from the Great Barrier Reef north of Cape York, Queensland, to at least the Solitary Islands, with juveniles as far south as Bermagui, New South Wales. Also on reefs in the Coral Sea, and at Lord Howe and Norfolk islands in the Tasman Sea.
Elsewhere, widespread in the East-Indo-West-Pacific, and common throughout most of its range. 

Solitary or in small groups on coral and rocky reefs, preferring coral rich areas in lagoons and seaward reefs at depths to 35 m. Juvenniles sometimes occur in seagrass beds. 


Carnivore - uses its long jaws to pick small benthic crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps from coral and rocky crevices. Also feeds on brittle stars, molluscs and small fishes.


Collected for trade in the aquarium industry.


Bernardi et al. (2004) determined that species currently in the genus Gomphosus are members of the genus Thalassoma.

Species Citation

Gomphosus varius Lacépède, 1801, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 3: 100, pl. 5(2). Type locality: Tahiti.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Birdnose Wrasse, Gomphosus varius Lacépède 1801


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384106


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-35 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:32 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map