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Halichoeres inornatus Cape wrasse

Halichoeres inornatusis commonly referred to as Cape wrasse. Difficulty in the aquarium: There are no reports available yet that this animal has already been kept in captivity successfully. Toxicity: Toxic hazard unknown.

Profilbild Urheber Dr. Benjamin C. Victor, USA

Fotograf: John Snow
Courtesy of the author Dr. Benjamin C. Victor, USA Copyright Dr. Benjamin C. Victor

Uploaded by AndiV.

Image detail


Halichoeres inornatus 
Cape Wrasse 
Family tree:
Animalia (Kingdom) > Chordata (Phylum) > Actinopteri (Class) > Eupercaria incertae sedis (Order) > Labridae (Family) > Halichoeres (Genus) > inornatus (Species) 
Initial determination:
(Gilbert, ), 1890 
Cocos Island (Costa Rica), Columbia, Galapagos Islands, Gulf of California 
Sea depth:
57 - 115 Meter 
6.3" - 7.48" (16cm - 19cm) 
15,6 °F - 22,4 °F (15,6°C - 22,4°C) 
Bacteria, Carnivore, Clams, Crabs, Predatory, Schrimps, Snails, Worms, Zoobenthos, Zooplankton 
There are no reports available yet that this animal has already been kept in captivity successfully 
Not available as offspring 
Toxic hazard unknown 
Not evaluated 
Red List:
Data deficient (DD) 
Related species at
Catalog of Life:
More related species
in this lexicon:
Last edit:
2021-07-10 15:21:29 


The "Cape wrasse" Halichoeres inornatus, which was only known from greater depths, was "rediscovered" in Gulf of California / Baja California a few years ago.
Originally the wrasse originates from the waters around the Galapagos Islands.

We sincerely thank Dr. Benjamin Victor for the first picture of this particularly pretty male wrasse in the terminal phase.
In the attached paper "Rediscovery of sagittalarva inornata n. Gen., n. Comb. (Gilbert, 1890) (Perciformes: Labridae), a long-lost deepwater fish from the eastern Pacific Ocean: A case study of a forensic approach to taxonomy using DNA barcoding", the lost fish and its occurrence in the Gulf of California is documented with photos of live females and a juvenile.

Males are primarily salmon pink to orange with bright blue stripes, the three stripes consisting of a mid-lateral blue line along the body that begins behind the head, curves upward along the pectoral fin base, and then runs straight to the caudal fin base; a broken or partial blue stripe along the lower lateral body; a blue stripe along the sagittal midline of the head; and three blue stripes on each side of the head: One behind the upper eye, extending posteriorly to below the anterior dorsal fin; a second from the upper jaw posteriorly, interrupting at the lower margin of the orbit and curving downward over the operculum to meet the upper margin of the pectoral-fin base; and the lowest from just behind the corner of the jaw across the lower operculum.

Similar blue stripes run along the dorsal and anal fins at about the midpoint of the membranes and, to a lesser extent, along the edge of the membranes.
There are lighter contrasting stripes of pale pinkish-yellow that run above the blue stripe on the snout and operculum and continue above and below the central blue line (more evident in females, especially in underwater photos).
There is a prominent contrasting black to dark brown band along the outer portion of the dorsal fin, and a sharp black edge on the caudal fin that extends forward, especially along the edges of the upper and lower caudal tips.
The caudal fin is bright orange with three thin blue-white bars, the last highlighting the black edge of the fin.
There is a small dark spot on the dorsal midline of the body just past the base of the last dorsal fin ray.

Based on the color photo in Baldwin and McCosker (2001), females have the same basic pattern of markings but without the contrasting black markings.
The blue stripes are less intense and appear pinkish-blue, bordering bright orange-yellow background stripes that are more distinct than in males.
In underwater photographs, the blue or pink stripes are usually bright and the yellow stripes are intense.
The stripes are punctuated by five bright, indistinct bars that form a pattern of stripes and bars in live fish.

Live juveniles have the same basic stripe pattern on a light background, with the dark stripe on the upper body contrasting more strongly.
At the base of the middle portion of the soft dorsal fin is a prominent black spot that stands out in underwater videos.
Also in juveniles, the five light bars and the dark upper body stripes from each side meet at the end of the dorsal fin, followed by the last light bar, with the intersection highlighted as a dark spot.

A distinctive distinguishing feature Halichoeres inornatus is the upper lip flap on male Sagittalarva inornata, which is not found in any other wrasse.

Pseudojulis inornatus Gilbert, 1890
Pseudojuloides inornatus (Gilbert, 1890)
Sagittalarva inornatus (Gilbert, 1890)





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