Choerodon fasciatusHarlequin tuskfish

Geographic Range

Choerodon fasciatus, which is commonly called harlequin tuskfish, is found throughout the Indo-Pacific (Fenner). Specimens have been collected from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Japan, New Hebrides and Taiwan (Fenner). In Australia they are found in the Great Barrier Reef from Queensland to New South Wales (the north east coast) (Australian Museum Online, 2003). ("Harlequin Tuskfish Choerodon fasciatus (Günther, 1867)", 2003)


Choerodon fasciatus lives in lagoons that are located on the outer edges of reef areas (Melbourne Aquarium). The water temperature is about 25-28 degrees Celsius (Randall, et al, 1990). Adults will usually live together in small loose groups in caves or by reef slopes (Melbourne Aquarium). Juveniles tend to isolate themselves and will live by reef walls that drop off to channels (Melbourne Aquarium). ("Fishy Fact Files", 2000; Randall, et al., 1990)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • caves
  • Range depth
    5 to 35 m
    16.40 to 114.83 ft

Physical Description

The head and body of adult Choerodon fasciatus has blue lined orange/red stripes (Melbourne Aquarium). The caudal fins are yellow (Marshall). As it ages the back half of the body darkens to a dark blue/purple color (Melbourne Aquarium). The juveniles have ocelli, which are eye-like spots on the anal and dorsal fins (Australian Museum Online, 2003). These spots go away with age (Australian Museum Online, 2003). The body of a juvenile C. fasciatus also has brown banding (Australian Museum Online, 2003). A mouth full of big blue teeth is a very distinctive feature of this species (Melbourne Aquarium). ("Fishy Fact Files", 2000; "Harlequin Tuskfish Choerodon fasciatus (Günther, 1867)", 2003; Marshall, 1964)

  • Range length
    30 (high) cm
    11.81 (high) in


Being part of the wrasse family, all Choreodon fasciatus hatch as females. As they become adults, loose social groups form. Within each social group, the most dominant female undergoes physiological changes to become a male. Each group consists of one male and multiple females. When the males dies or leaves the second most dominant female becomes the male. (Melbourne Aquarium) ("Fishy Fact Files", 2000)


Like other wrasses, the mating group of Choerodon fasciatus consists of one male with multiple females (Melbourne Aquarium). ("Fishy Fact Files", 2000)

The general reproductive behavior of this species is not known.

The parental investment of this species is unknown.


The lifespan of this species is unknown.


Choerodon fasciatus is not a dangerous species (Randall, et al, 1990). (Randall, et al., 1990)

Communication and Perception

Choerodon fasciatus like all other fishes uses the lateral line system to detect water movement (Tiscali, 2004). Choerodon fasciatus does have eyes so probably uses its eyesight to find food. ("tiscali.reference", 2004)

Food Habits

Choerodon fasciatus is a carnivore. It feeds aquatic worms, crustaceans, echinoderms, and mollusks (Randall,et al, 1990). (Randall, et al., 1990)

  • Animal Foods
  • fish
  • mollusks
  • aquatic or marine worms
  • aquatic crustaceans
  • echinoderms


Choerodon faciatus has some anti-predator adaptations. It is very brightly colored which is a warning to potential predators that its flesh could taste bad, be poisonous, or inedible (Melbourne Aquarium). Also, when feeling threatened the teeth of C. fasciatus will turn from blue to pink to warn other fish (Melbourne Aquarium). ("Fishy Fact Files", 2000)

Ecosystem Roles

Choerodon fasciatus is a carnivore and may affect the populations of its prey, which include mollusks, marine worms, crustaceans and other fish found in its environment (Randall, et al, 1990). (Randall, et al., 1990)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This species is found in the aquarium trade (Fenner).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

It is not known if Choerodon fasciatus has any sort of negative impact on humans.

Conservation Status

Choerodon fasciatus was not found on the IUCN Red List website, US Federal List website, or CITES website.

Other Comments

Choerodon fasciatus was first described by Günther in 1867. It was oringinally called Xiphocheilus fasciatus. The citation for this is: Xiphocheilus fasciatus Günther, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1867, p. 101. (Marshall, 1964)


Cassandra Coco (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, William Fink (editor, instructor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


Pacific Ocean

body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.

World Map


having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


having more than one female as a mate at one time


structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.

saltwater or marine

mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.


uses touch to communicate


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


Robert Fenner. "A Gentle Bruiser of a Wrasse, The Harlequin Tuskfish,<Choerodon (Lienardella) fasciata>" (On-line). WetWebMedia. Accessed October 27, 2004 at

2000. "Fishy Fact Files" (On-line). Melbourne Aquarium. Accessed October 27, 2004 at

Australian Museum Online. 2003. "Harlequin Tuskfish Choerodon fasciatus (Günther, 1867)" (On-line). Australian Museum Online. Accessed October 27, 2004 at

Tiscali. 2004. "tiscali.reference" (On-line). Accessed November 17, 2004 at

Marshall, T. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and coastal waters of Queensland. Sydney: Angus and Robertson LTD..

Randall, J., G. Allen, R. Steene. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. Accessed October 27, 2004 at