Novaculichthys taeniourus (Lacep├Ęde, 1801)
Rockmover wrasse
Novaculichthys taeniourus
photo by Cook, D.C.

Family:  Labridae (Wrasses), subfamily: Cheilininae
Max. size:  30 cm TL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  reef-associated; marine; depth range 3 - 25 m
Distribution:  Indo-Pacific: Red Sea to South Africa (Ref. 35918) and the Tuamoto Islands, north to Ryukyu and Hawaiian islands, south to Lord Howe Island. Excluding Persian Gulf (Ref. 86689). Eastern Pacific: Gulf of California to Panama and the Galapagos Islands (Ref. 5227).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 9-9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 12-13; Anal spines: 3-3; Anal soft rays: 12-13. Juveniles have long extended dorsal fin spines (Ref. 48636).
Biology:  Inhabit semi-exposed reef flats and lagoon and seaward reefs (Ref. 1602). Common in areas of mixed sand, and rubble that are subject to mild surge (Ref. 1602, 58466). Benthopelagic (Ref. 58302). Juveniles shallow on rubble amongst large bommies or protected open patches on reef crests and swim as if were a leaf floating along the bottom; large adults move along over large reef section, usually in pairs and typically turn or shift large pieces of rubble or debris that they grab and pull with their mouth or push over with their snout. Often, while one works the piece, the other grabs exposed prey. They are sometimes called rock-mover wrasse, but they don't move real rocks (Ref. 48636). Highly territorial (Ref. 9823). Feed on mollusks, sea urchins, brittle stars, polychaetes, and crabs (Ref. 5213); feeding is done by overturning large rocks to expose target preys. The young imitate drifting masses of algae (Ref. 2334). Marketed fresh (Ref. 9311). Minimum depth reported from Ref. 30874.
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 16 February 2009 Ref. (130435)
Threat to humans:  harmless

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