Bluethroat Wrasse, Notolabrus tetricus (Richardson 1840)

Other Names: Bluehead, Bluehead Parrotfish, Bluenose, Bluenose Parrotfish, Blue-throat Parrot Fish, Bluethroat Parrotfish, Blue-throat Parrotfish, Blue-throat Wrasse, Bluethroated Parrotfish, Blue-throated Parrotfish, Bluethroated Wrasse, Blue-throated Wrasse, Kelpie, Lilac Banded Parrotfish, Rocky Bream, Rocky Cod, Rotfish, Winter Bream

A male Bluethroat Wrasse, Notolabrus tetricus, at Eaglehawk, Tasmania, February 2017. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A large long-lived wrasse found in south-eastern Australia - and the most common wrasse in Victorian and Tasmanian waters.

Juveniles and females are a greenish-brown with a broad blackish bar around the middle of the body. As they grow, females become lighter behind the dark bar.
Males have a bluish head, a blue throat, a distinct white band around the rear of the body, yellow pectoral and pelvic fins and a white caudal peduncle.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Notolabrus tetricus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Bluethroat Wrasse, Notolabrus tetricus (Richardson 1840)

More Info


Widespread in south-eastern Australia, from about Newcastle (New South Wales) to about Port Lincoln (South Australia) and around Tasmania.

Adults usually inhabit deep exposed rocky reefs. Juveniles in found shallower weedy areas; depth range 1-160 m.


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

Body moderately deep, snout rounded. Juveniles and females are greenish or brown, paler below, gradually developing a broad dark band on the sides and behind the pectoral fin; scales large with pale centres; as females mature they develop a distinct white band behind the dark band on their sides. Males brown to bluish grey with a bluish head, a blue throat and yellow pectoral and pelvic fins. To 50 cm.


Juveniles and females greenish to brownish, paler below, with pale centres to their large scales. Females gradually develop a broad dark band on the sides and behind the pectoral fin. As they mature, females also develop a distinct white band behind the dark band on their sides.

Males are brownish to bluish-grey with a distinct white band on the sides and another on the caudal peduncle, a pale bluish head, a blue chin and yellow pectoral, pelvic and anal fins.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on crustaceans and molluscs.


Bluethroat Wrasse change sex from female to male (protogynous hermaphrodites) during their life cycle and are sexually dimorphic in colour. Females mature at 20-25 cm TL, and may change sex after their 4th year. Spawning occurs during spring.


Blue-throat Wrasse are fished commercially and recreationally. A market was established for live bluethroat wrasse in the early 1990s. The total catch (which also included a portion of Purple Wrasse, Notolabrus fucicola) rose from fewer than 10 tonnes to almost 60 tonnes in 1995/96 - with most live fish being sold to Sydney restaurants in Sydney. The species is frequently taken on hook and line, and is also taken in trawls and with commercial gillnets.

In Victoria, the minimum legal length is 28 cm TL, and the commercial fishery is limited to 51 licences (as of 2010). The minimum legal length is 30 cm in Tasmania, with no upper limit in Tasmania, and 58 fishing licences (as of 2010).


  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern
  • Remarks

    The Bluethroat Wrasse reportedly hybridizes with the Purple Wrasse, Notolabrus fucicola.


    The specific name tetricus is from the Latin tetricus, meaning 'grim', seemingly in reference to the rather forbidding appearance of large terminal males of this species. Richardson (1844) refers to it as the 'grim wrasse' (Russell 1988). 


    Dianne J. Bray

    Bluethroat Wrasse, Notolabrus tetricus (Richardson 1840)


    Allen, G.R., N.J. Cross, C.J. Allen & M.F. Gomon 2006. Labridae: Labrinae. pp. 1368-1418 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp.

    Barrett, N.S. 1995. Aspects of the biology and ecology of six temperate reef fishes (Families: Labridae and Monacanthidae). University of Tasmania.

    Barrett, N.S. 1995. Short- and long-term movement patterns of six temperate reef fishes (Families Labridae and Monacanthidae). Marine and Freshwater Research 46(5): 853-860.

    Edgar, G.J., Last, P.R. & Wells, M.W. 1982. Coastal Fishes of Tasmania and Bass Strait. Hobart : Cat & Fiddle Press 175 pp.

    Francis, R. 2003. Protogynous sex change in the Blue throat wrasse, Notolabrus tetricus. The University of Melbourne.

    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.

    Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

    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. 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.

    Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.

    Richardson, J. 1844. Description of Australian fish. Part 2. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 3(2): 133-185 figs 7-11

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

    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.

    Russell, B. & Pollard, D. 2010. Notolabrus tetricus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <>. Downloaded on 10 May 2011.

    Shepherd, S.A. & Hobbs, L.J. 1985. Age and growth of the blue-throated wrasse Pseudolabrus tetricus. Transactions of the Royal Society of Southern Australia 109: 177-178. 

    Shepherd, S.A. & Clarkson, P.S. 2001. Diet, feeding behaviour, activity and predation of the temperate blue-throated wrasse, Notolabrus tetricus. Marine and Freshwater Research 52(3): 311-322.

    Saville-Kent, W. 1888. Notes on the identity of certain Tasmanian fishes. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania  1887: 47-48

    Smith, D.C., Montgomery, I., Sivakumaran, K.P., Krusic-Golub, K., Smith, K. & Hodge, R. 2003. The fisheries biology of bluethroat wrasse (Notolabrus tetricus) in Victorian waters. Final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Project 1997/128. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Queenscliff, Victoria. PDF Open access

    Ziegler, P., Lyle, J.M. and Haddon, M. 2008. Scalefish Fishery Assessment Report – 2007. Fishery Assessment Report. Tasmania Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, Hobart, Australia.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37384003

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Depth:1-160 m

    Fishing:Commercial & recreational fish

    Max Size:50 cm TL


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