Halstead's Sandy, Novaculops halsteadi Randall & Lobel 2003

Other Names: Halstead's Sand-wrasse, Halstead's Wrasse, Redband Razorfish

A Halstead's Sandy, Novaculops halsteadi, on Holmes Reef in the Coral Sea, depth 15m. Source: Fenton Walsh / Cairns Marine. License: All rights reserved

Juveniles and females are whitish with a single reddish-bown stripe running from above the eye to the rear of the dorsal-fin base. The more colourful males are bluish-purple with a pale-edged black spot behind the head (on and below the seventh lateral-line scale).
Shown here is a purple male with the characteristic black spot behind the head. Females are white overall with a single brown stripe running down the dorsal region. In the wild and in aquariums, they can be maintained in small groups of multiple females and a single male.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Novaculops halsteadi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 10 Jul 2020,

Halstead's Sandy, Novaculops halsteadi Randall & Lobel 2003

More Info


Recorded from Holmes Reef, in the Coral Sea off Queensland. Elsewhere, the species is known from Northern Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, to Tahiti and the Society Islands, and north to southern Japan. 
Individuals or small groups inhabit open stretches of sand and sand/rubble, including slopes and rubble channels well away from the reef.
When threatened they dive into the sand.


Feeds on benthic invertebrates.


Randall (2013) placed this species in the genus Novaculops.


The species is named for Robert A. Halstead, who observed it in Papua New Guinea and suspected it was undescribed.

Species Citation

Xyrichtys halsteadi Randall & Lobel 2003, Bulletin of Marine Science 72(3): 972, figs. 1-3. Type locality: Uama Island, west end, 9°27'18"S, 150°57'00"E, D'Entrecasteaux Islands, Papua New Guinea, depth 34-41 m. 


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Halstead's Sandy, Novaculops halsteadi Randall & Lobel 2003


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp. (as Xyrichthys halsteadi)

Bertoncini, A. & Choat, H. 2010. Xyrichtys halsteadi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187782A8628790. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T187782A8628790.en. Downloaded on 30 October 2019.

Kuiter, R.H. 2010. Labridae fishes: wrasses. Seaford, Victoria, Australia : Aquatic Photographics pp. 398.

Randall, J.E., 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 720 pp.

Randall, J.E. 2013. Seven new species of labrid fishes (Coris, Iniistius, Macropharyngodon, Novaculops, and Pteragogus) from the Western Indian Ocean. Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation 7: 1-43. http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1041964, open access

Randall, J.E. & P.S. Lobel. 2003. Xyrichthys halsteadi, a new labrid fish from the Western and Central Pacific. Bulletin of Marine Science 72(3): 971-977. See ref online

Senou, H., Kobayashi, Y. & Kobayashi, N. 2007. Coral reef fishes of the Mayako Group, the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. Bulletin of Kanagawa Prefectural Museum (Natural Science) 36: 47-74.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384211


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:10-55 m

Habitat:Sand, sand/rubble bottoms

Max Size:12 cm SL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map