Goldsinny (Ctenolabrus rupestris)

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



The goldsinny wrasse Ctenolabrus rupestris is brown, greenish or orange-red in colour. It is easily distinguishable from other wrasse species by two dark patches, one on the dorsal fin and one just in front of the tail fin. The head is small and pointed, with a large mouth, two rows of small teeth and fleshy lips. Adults are usually 10-12 cm in length, but may reach 18 cm.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Widely distributed throughout Britain and Ireland, although rare in the North Sea and eastern Channel.

Global distribution



Inhabits rocks or algae (particularly eelgrass) at depths between 1-50 m. Adults inhabit deeper waters, while young can be found further inshore and even inhabiting rock pools.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Up to 12 cm long.
  • Brown, greenish or orange-red in colour.
  • One dark spot on dorsal fin, another in front of the tail fin.
  • Small pointed head with large mouth.

Additional information

Prey species of the goldsinny include benthic crustacea, molluscs and also parasites from other fish species. It has also been a successful alternative to pesticides, in removing parasitic lice from commercially farmed salmon.

Listed by


  1. FishBase, 2000. FishBase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2001-05-03

  2. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  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]

  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. 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.

  7. 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).


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  3. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  4. Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre, 2017. Fish: Records for Kent.. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  5. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  6. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  7. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-21


This review can be cited as:

Reeds, K.A. 2004. Ctenolabrus rupestris Goldsinny. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 10/08/2004