Luculent Wrasse, Pseudolabrus luculentus (Richardson 1848)

Other Names: Luculentus Wrasse, Orange Wrasse

A male (terminal phase) Luculent Wrasse, Pseudolabrus luculentus, at Elbow Cave, North Solitary Island, New South Wales. Source: Richard Ling. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


Females are orange with white horizontal stripes on the head below the eye, white spots or diagonal lines on scales on the lower half of the body, and yellow dorsal and anal fins. Males are reddish with black and white blotches along the dorsal-fin base.

Like other wrasses, the Luculent Wrasse is variable in colour depending on its life stage and sex.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Pseudolabrus luculentus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Jun 2024,

Luculent Wrasse, Pseudolabrus luculentus (Richardson 1848)

More Info


Eastern Australia from Byron Bay, New South Wales, to at least Mallacoota, Victoria, and possibly west to Lakes Entrance; also the Lord Howe Province and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand.

Inhabits coastal and offshore reefs and islands at depths to at least 50 m. The species is common at Lord Howe Island.


Cheek scale rows behind eye 2, cheek scale rows below eye 4-7.


Feeds on benthic invertebrates such as crabs and other small crustaceans.


The species is a protogynous hermaphrodite with females changing sex into males. In New Zealand, individuals mature after one year and females spawn pelagic eggs from March to October.


Juveniles are known to clean parasites from other fishes.

Similar Species

Juvenile Luculent Wrasse are somewhat similar to Gunter's Wrasse, Pseudolabrus guentheriwhich lacks the black markings on the upper rear of the body.


The specific name is from the Latin luculentus (= full of light, bright, splendid), presumably in reference to the "oblique descending silvery bar" on the base of each scale below the lateral line that "belongs to the integument beneath the scale and shines through".

Species Citation

Labrus luculentus Richardson 1848, in Richardson & Gray (eds), Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror ... 1839–43 Vol. 2: 130. Type locality:  east and west coast of Australia, and Norfolk Island. (as Labrus luculentus vel Tautoga luculentus)


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Luculent Wrasse, Pseudolabrus luculentus (Richardson 1848)


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

Ayling, A.M. & Grace, R.V. 1971. Cleaning symbiosis among New Zealand fishes. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 5(2): 205-218.

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.

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

Francis, M.P. 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

Francis, M.P. 2001. Coastal fishes of New Zealand: an identification guide. 3rd Ed. Reed Books, Auckland.

Francis, M. 2022. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec islands December 2022.  

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. 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.  

Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Fairy and Rainbow Wrasses and their relatives. A comprehensive guide to selected labroides. TMC Publishing.  

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.

Pollard, D., Russell, B. & Sadovy, Y.J. 2010. Pseudolabrus luculentus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T154701A4610583. Accessed on 02 February 2023.

Richardson, J. 1848. Ichthyology. 75-139 pls 42-43 & 44 (parts), 45-52, 53 in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : Smith, Elder & Co. Vol. 2 139 pp. See ref at BHL

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. 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.

Waite, E.R. 1909. A list of the known fishes of Kermadec and Norfolk Islands, and a comparison with those of Lord Howe Island. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 42: 370-383.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384151

Biology:Able to change sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-50 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:25 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map