Green Moon Wrasse, Thalassoma lutescens (Lay & Bennett 1839)

Other Names: Blue-fin Wrasse, Parrotfish, Sunset Wrasse, Yellow Moon Wrasse, Yellow-brown Wrasse, Yellow-green Wrasse

A male Green Moon Wrasse, Thalassoma lutescens, at the Algal Holes, Lord Howe Island. Source: Graham Edgar / Reef Life Survey. License: CC By Attribution


A common reef fish that is capable of changing sex from female to male.

  • Juveniles - greenish above with a black stripe from behind the eye to the tail base; lower half of body white with a yellowish stripe from chin to the lower part of the caudal peduncle
  • Initial phase - body overall yellow with wavy orange to reddish lines on head and a reddish-orange vertical mark on each scale, appearing as fine vertical lines on body
  • Terminal phase - head and body to behind pectoral-fin base with broad reddish-orange wavy lines; rest of body abruptly greenish to bluish.
  • Pectoral fins yellow with blue tips
  • Dorsal and anal fins with a reddish-orange stripe along base
  • Caudal fin with a reddish-orange submarginal stripe near upper and lower margins.

  • Cite this page as:
    Dianne J. Bray, Thalassoma lutescens in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

    Green Moon Wrasse, Thalassoma lutescens (Lay & Bennett 1839)

    More Info


    Known in Australian waters from Rottnest Island to about Broome, Western Australia, and from Cape York, Queensland, to about Port Macquarie, New South Wales; also in the Coral Sea, at Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, and Lord Howe and Norfolk islands.

    Elsewhere, widespread in the Indo-Pacific, from about Sri Lanka to Rapa, including the Kermadec Islands, New Zealand.

    The Green Moon Wrasse inhabits outer lagoon and seawards reefs amongst rich coral, and sandy and rubble areas - including shallow exposed reefs.


    Meristic features:

  • Dorsal fin VII, 13-14
  • Anal fin III, 11
  • Feeding

    Carnivore - feeds mostly on benthic invertebrates such as crabs, shrimps, gastropod molluscs, brittle stars, sea urchins and polychaete worms. Also feeds on demersal fins eggs.


  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • EPBC Act: Not listed
  • Remarks

    Very common at Lord Howe Island.

    Species Citation

    Julis lutescens Lay & Bennett 1839, Zool. Capt. Beechey's Voy.: 65.Type locality (lectotype): Tahiti.


    Dianne J. Bray

    Green Moon Wrasse, Thalassoma lutescens (Lay & Bennett 1839)


    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.

    Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

    Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21

    Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

    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.

    Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

    Bernardi, G., Bucciarelli, G., Costagliola, D., Robertson, D.R. & Heiser, J.B. 2004. Evolution of coral reef fish Thalassoma spp. (Labridae). 1. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography. Marine Biology, Berlin 144: 369-375, 405

    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. 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

    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

    Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Checklist of the fishes of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 63: 9-50

    Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762

    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.

    Lay, G.T. & Bennett, E.T. 1839. Fishes. pp. 41–75 pls 15–23 in, The Zoology of Captain Beechey's voyage. London : Henry G. Bohn.

    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.

    Parenti, P. & Randall, J.E. 2000. An annotated checklist of the species of the labroid fish families Labridae and Scaridae. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute, Grahamstown 68: 1-97

    Randall, J.E. 2003. Thalassoma nigrofasciatum, a new species of labrid fish from the south-west Pacific. Aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 7(1): 1-8

    Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

    Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

    Westneat, M.W. 2001. Labridae. pp. 3381-3467 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37384168

    Biology:Capable of changing sex

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Depth:1-30 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:30 cm TL

    Species Image Gallery

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map