Thalassoma bifasciatum Bloch, 1791, East India (actually western Atlantic).
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Bluehead wrasse, tiki tiki; Spanish: Cara de cotorra.
Length 9.9 in (25 cm). Begins life as yellow, eventually develops black, horizontal stripes. Large terminal-phase males have vivid blue heads followed by white and black vertical bands, then green rear bodies and a bluish tail.
Western Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda, also from northern South America to the West Indies and southern Florida, United States, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Coral reefs. Also seen among sea grass beds.
Juveniles often provide cleaning services to other fishes. Among adults, spawning occurs differently depending on the size of the reef. On large reefs, group spawning is the rule. On small reefs, terminal-phase males utilize mating territories. Males from ensuing generations frequently use their ancestral mating site, apparently as a result of social convention. Dozens of females may select the same spawning site, and thus mate with the same male. Groups of smaller males often mate with egg-laden females by ambushing them on their way to the territorial mating sites.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Primarily feeds on drifting zooplankton, but also takes crabs, shrimps, sea urchins, and sea stars. Sometimes engage in cleaning of other species.
Engage in sex reversal. Over a period of several weeks, the black-striped, yellow males or females take on full coloration of large, terminal-phase males. Initial-phase females can take on the role of the terminal-phase male and begin producing sperm in as few as eight days.
Not listed by the IUCN.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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