MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

A slim-line wrasse with a narrow long head and a pointed snout. The colouration of Labrus mixtus is different between the sexes and very variable. The female is rose-pink to orange-red in colour with 2-3 dark spots interspersed with white on the rear dorsal and adjacent tail fin. Young males are similar in colour to the female but lack the dorsal spots. Older males have dark blue heads with brilliant blue lines and blotches that extend along the flanks. The rest of the body and the fins are bright orange and the fins also have bright blue markings. Males can reach up to 35 cm in length and the females are generally slightly smaller.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Labrus mixtus can be found in rocky areas around most of the coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution

East Atlantic, ranging from Norway south to Senegal, Azores, Madeira and the Mediterranean.

Habitat

Over rocks and hard ground, and in the algal zone, between 2 - 200 m but mainly between 20 - 80 m.

Depth range

-

Identifying features

  • Male up to 35 cm in length, female up to 30 cm.
  • Functional males have a blue striped head and back, the rest of the body and fins are orange.
  • Females and non-functional males are rose-pink or orange-red.
  • Females have black and white blotches on back.
  • Elongate body with dorsal fin uniform in height.
  • The mouth is large with lips made up of 7 -9 folds.
  • Scales are moderate in size and rather smaller than the pupil diameter of the eye.

Additional information

The goldsinny wrasse, Ctenolabrus rupestris, is similar to the female cuckoo wrasse but lacks the three dark spots at the base of the dorsal fin and has a dark spot at the base of the tail fin.

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Dipper, F., 2001. British sea fishes (2nd edn). Teddington: Underwater World Publications Ltd.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  5. Muus, B.J. & Dahlstrom, P., 1974. Collins guide to the sea fishes of Britain and North-Western Europe. Wm Collins Sons & Co. Ltd: London.

  6. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin., http://www.itsligo.ie/biomar/

  8. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Gregory, P. 2003. Labrus mixtus Cuckoo wrasse. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1670

Last Updated: 23/05/2003