The cuckoo wrasse Labrus mixtus

The cuckoo wrasse

  Cold and temperate sea fish

The cuckoo wrasse Labrus mixtus

Identity card

The cuckoo wrasse

Scientific name:
Labrus mixtus
Year of description:
Linnaeus, 1758
IUCN Status:
Least Concern

Not Evaluated


Mediterranean, eastern Atlantic, from southern Norway to Senegal, the Azores and Madeira.


Near the coast, at a depth of between 0 and 200 m, in rocky areas, among seagrass beds or algae.


Between 20 and 35 cm.


Crustaceans, small fish and molluscs.


20 years

The cuckoo wrasse Labrus mixtus

During the breeding season, the male prepares a nest of algae and watches over the eggs.

The cuckoo wrasse is a protogynous hermaphrodite. Initially female and relatively sociable, it becomes male at the age of five years with a territorial character. The male is in competition with other males in its environment.

did you know?

Where is the animal to be found?

In the eastern Atlantic, from southern Norway to Senegal. In the north and west of the Mediterranean region.

How can it be recognised?

Females and juveniles tend to be orange with three black spots, whereas males have a blue head with yellow-orange sides. Colours and patterns vary as the fish grows and may also vary depending on where it lives.

Like most labrids, sexual dimorphism, i.e. the difference in livery between males and females, is very pronounced in the cuckoo wrasse.

Males are also larger than females and can measure up to 40 cm.

What is distinctive about it?

Furthermore, sex change can also be triggered by particular circumstances; indeed, when a dominant male dies, a female can transform into a male in turn in order to perpetuate the species.

Threat and protective measure

The cuckoo wrasse is often caught in recreational fishing or as by-catch by professionals. It lives near reefs covered in algae or sea grass. The deterioration of Posidonia meadows is a threat to its habitat.

Where can I find it at Nausicaá?

mankind and shores

The cuckoo wrasse Labrus mixtus

Cold and temperate sea fish

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