Dwarf Slingjaw Wrasse, Epibulus brevis Carlson, Randall & Dawson 2008

Other Names: Latent Slingjaw Wrasse

A Dwarf Slingjaw Wrasse, Epibulus brevis, at Bali, Indonesia, 2010. Source: Jim Greenfield / FishBase. License: All rights reserved

Similar to the widespread Epibulus insidiator. Males are brown with yellow on the throat area, yellowish caudal-fin lobes, and a yellow marking at the opercular flap. Females vary in colour from dark to pale brown, or yellow or almost white, with black markings on the pectoral fins. 

Juveniles are brown to greenish-brown with white lines on the head and body and a black spot on both the dorsal and anal fins. They resemble possum wrasses of the genus Wetmorella in both appearance and behaviour. Like possum wrasses, juvenile slingjaw wrasses are very secretive, and usually shelter in crevices or among branching corals.

The Dwarf Slingjaw Wrasse is deeper-bodied and attains a smaller size than the similar Slingjaw Wrasse. It also has relatively longer pectoral fins, and lacks the black stripe through the eye.

Video of a male latent Slingjaw Wrasse in Nikko Bay, Palau.
A female (grey form) Latent Slingjaw Wrasse in Nokko Bay, Palau.
A female (yellow form) latent Slingjaw Wrasse in Nikko Bay, Palau.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Epibulus brevis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 10 Jul 2020,

Dwarf Slingjaw Wrasse, Epibulus brevis Carlson, Randall & Dawson 2008

More Info


Hibernia Reef, north of Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, off north-west Western Australia. Elsewhere the species is known from Central Indonesia, east to Palau and Papua New Guinea.
Usually inhabits protected inshore reefs and lagoons, and also occurs in adjacent seagrass areas. 


Dorsal fin IX, 10; Anal fin III, 8; Pectoral fin 12; Lateral line interrupted, 14-15 + 7-9 scales; Gill rakers 16-19.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on crabs and shrimps, along with fishes and other crustaceans.


A protogynous hermaphrodite. Courtship and spawning are variable, and spawning has been observed in Palau in the late afternoon, not correlated with the high tide. Although males do not display in such an obvious manner as E. insidiator, they swim conspicuously around a territory, often a short distance above the bottom, but sometimes higher in the water column, presumably to be more visible to the females. The male’s courtship posture is distinctly different from that of E. insidiator, with the caudal fin folded, and the dorsal and anal fins held close to the body. Males swim around prospective females, displaying in a very subtle manner. The spawning rush varies, ranging from a low arch to a short and relatively slow upward movement. At the time of spawning the median fins of the male are more widely spread (Carlson et al. 2008)


The species is collected for the aquarium trade, especially the highly desired yellow females.

Similar Species

Epibulus brevis is very similar to the common and wide-ranging Slingjaw Wrasse, E. insidiator, differing in the relatively drab coloration of the male, the presence of prominent black pigment on the pectoral fins of most females, slightly longer pectoral fins, and in attaining a smaller size. It lives in more protected inshore waters than E. insidiator.

Species Citation

Epibulus brevis Carlson, Randall & Dawson 2008, Copeia 2008(2): 477, Figs. 1-2. Type locality: Ngerikuul (Nikko Bay), off south shore of Bukrrairong Island, Koror, Palau.


Bray, D.J. 2017

Dwarf Slingjaw Wrasse, Epibulus brevis Carlson, Randall & Dawson 2008


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

Carlson, B.A., Randall, J.E. & Dawson, M.N. 2008. A new species of Epibulus (Perciformes: Labridae) from the west Pacific. Copeia 2008( 2): 476-483.

Michael, S.W. 2004. The Slingjaw Wrasse (Epibulus insidiator) - The fastest jaw in the west (Pacific)! Available at: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/july2004/fish.htm.

Russell, B. & Myers, R. 2010. Epibulus brevis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187622A8583295. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T187622A8583295.en. Downloaded on 07 March 2017.

Quick Facts


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-18 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:18.5 cm SL

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