Brownspotted Wrasse, Notolabrus parilus (Richardson 1850)

Other Names: Blue-spotted Parrotfish, Brown Spotted Wrasse, Brown-spotted Parrotfish, Brown-spotted Wrasse, Orangespotted Wrasse, Orange-spotted Wrasse

A Brownspotted Wrasse, Notolabrus parilus, at Kangaroo Island, South Australia, December 2003. Source: Erik Schlogl / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


Adult males are dark reddish-brown to dark chocolate-brown with a broad broken pale band along the side below the lateral-line, a whitish underside, gold, dark brown, or pale scales centres giving a marbled or spotted appearance, and a dark bar on the upper side of the pectoral-fin base. 

Females and juveniles are pale brownish to greenish, with pale centres on some body scales, usually five obscure brownish bars along the back above the lateral line, an indistinct zig-zag brownish band along the lateral-line joining the upper bars to lower bars, darker brown spots and markings on the head, and radiating lines around the eye.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Notolabrus parilus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Apr 2024,

Brownspotted Wrasse, Notolabrus parilus (Richardson 1850)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from Port Phillip, Victoria, to Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia. Inhabits shallow algal-covered rocky reefs at depths to 20 m.

Although widespread in southern Australia, this species is common only in Western Australia where juveniles and females are abundant on algal covered rocky reefs. It is also common in seagrass beds on the west coast.


Dorsal fin IX, 11; Anal fin III, 10; Caudal fin 12; Pectoral fin 14; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 25-26.

Body moderately deep (30‑38% SL), compressed; head moderately large (30‑35% SL), dorsal profile convex; eyes moderately large (14‑25% HL); mouth small, upper jaw not reaching as far as eye; teeth moderately large, caniniform, anterior two pairs in both jaws enlarged and recurved; upper jaw lacking enlarged canines at rear. 

Scales moderately large, cycloid, firmly attached, covering body; no scaly sheath at base of dorsal and anal fin; head naked except for one or two rows of cheek scales and 15‑16 large scales on opercle; lateral line abruptly curved downwards below soft dorsal fin. 

Dorsal fin continuous, with elongate base and uniform height; anal fin similar to rear half of dorsal fin; caudal fin truncate. Pectoral fins moderately large, upper rays longest, not quite reaching to anus. Pelvic fins short, arising beneath pectoral-fin bases, not reaching near anus.


Juveniles and females (Initial Phase) are pale brownish to greenish, with paler centres on some body scales; five obscure brownish bars on back between dorsal fin and lateral line in the interspaces between the upper bars; indistinct zig-zag brownish band joining upper and lower bars along lateral‑line; head and body spotted with darker brown markings; markings around eye in radiating pattern; dorsal and anal fins dusky brown with darker markings; caudal and pectoral fins translucent yellowish. The base colour of smaller individuals is highly variable.

Adult males (Terminal Phase) are dark reddish‑brown or deep chocolate brown with broken whitish band along body beneath lateral‑line; ventral surface whitish; body scales with gold, dark brown, or whitish centres, giving marbled or spotted appearance; fins dusky or reddish brown; dark bar on upper side of pectoral-fin base.


Feeds on a range of benthic invertebrates on sandy bottoms, and amongst seagrass and macrophytic algae. Prey items include gastropod molluscs, a range of crustaceans (including amphipods, isopods, prawns and crabs) and echinoids.


The Brownspotted Wrasse is a protogynous hermaphrodite - changing sex from female to male during the life cycle. 

The species breeds in late winter to early spring, and spawning occurs in seagrass and reef habitats. The eggs and larvae are pelagic.


Although not targeted, Brownspotted Wrasse are taken as bycatch in the rock lobster and giant crab fishery (South Australia), and possibly in the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery (Western Australia).

Also taken by recreational anglers in Western Australia, however, the flesh is not considered to be of high quality (Pollard et al. 2012).


  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern
  • Etymology

    The specific name parilus from the aboriginal word 'Paril' - the name given this species by the indigenous people of King George Sound (Richardson, 1850). 

    Species Citation

    Tautoga parila Richardson, 1850, Proc. zool. Soc. Lond. 18: 70, King George's Sound, Western Australia.


    Bray, D.J. 2022


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Brownspotted Wrasse, Notolabrus parilus (Richardson 1850)


    Allen, G.R. 1985. Fishes of Western Australia. Book 9. 2207-2534 526 pls in Burgess, W.E. & Axelrod, H.R. (eds). Pacific Marine Fishes. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications.

    Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 8. Fishes of Western Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 123-149 (described as Labrichthys bostockii and Labrichthys edelensis)

    Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. (described as Labrichthys rubraLabrichthys unicolor and Labrichthys convexus) See ref online

    Edgar, G.J. 2000. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 544 pp.

    Gomon, M.F. &. Russell, B.C. 1994. Family Labridae. pp. 675-699 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

    Günther, A. 1862. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Acanthopterygii Pharyngognathi and Anacanthini in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 4 534 pp. )described as Labrichthys punctulata) See ref at BHL

    Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds.) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

    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

    Hyndes, G.A., Kendrick, A.J., MacArthur, L.D. & Stewart, E. 2003. Differences in the species- and size-compositions of fish assemblages in three distinct seagrass habitats with differing plant and meadow structure. Marine Biology 142: 1195-1206.

    Kuiter, R.H. 1997. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers I-xvii, 434 pp.

    Lek, E., Fairclough, D.V., Hall, N.G., Hesp, S.A. & Potter, I.C. 2012. Do the maximum sizes, ages and patterns of growth of three reef-dwelling labrid species at two latitudes differ in a manner conforming to the metabolic theory of ecology? Journal of Fish Biology 81: 1936–1962.

    Lek, E., Fairclough, D.V., Platell, M.E., Clarke, K.R., Tweedley, J.R. & Potter, I.C. 2011. To what extent are the dietary compositions of three abundant, co-occurring labrid species different and related to latitude, habitat, body size and season? Journal of Fish Biology 78: 1913–1943.

    Pollard, D., Russell, B. & Fairclough, D. 2010. Notolabrus parilus . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187535A8561209. Downloaded on 10 March 2020.

    Richardson, J. 1850. Notices of Australian fish. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 18: 58-77 figs 1-3

    Russell, B.C. 1988. Revision of the labrid fish genus Pseudolabrus and allied genera. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 9: 1-72.

    Russell, B.C. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Labridae. pp. 638-659 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

    Somaweera, R. & Somaweera, R. 2021.  Nuclear–follower foraging behaviour between Western Australian common octopus and brown-spotted wrasse. Marine and Freshwater Research 72: 1679-1681.

    Thomson, J.M. 1978. A Field Guide to the Common Sea & Estuary Fishes of Non-tropical Australia. Sydney : Collins 144 pp.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37384022


    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Depth:1-20 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:49 cm TL


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