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Cheilinus undulatus Rüppell, 1835

Humphead wrasse
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Cheilinus undulatus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes (Perch-likes) > Labridae (Wrasses) > Cheilininae
Etymology: Cheilinus: Greek, cheilos = lip (Ref. 45335).  More on author: Rüppell.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; reef-associated; depth range 1 - 100 m (Ref. 58652).   Tropical; 30°N - 23°S

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Indo-Pacific: Red Sea to South Africa (Ref. 35918) and to the Tuamoto Islands, north to the Ryukyu Islands, south to New Caledonia. Formerly known as Vulnerable (A1d+2cd) (Y. Sadovy) but now listed as Endangered in IUCN 2004 and listed in Appendix II of CITES.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?, range 52 - ? cm
Max length : 229 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 9823); common length : 60.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5450); max. published weight: 191.0 kg (Ref. 9710); max. reported age: 32 years (Ref. 51676)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 10; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 8. This species is distinguished by the following characters: body deep, its depth 2.2-2.7 times in standard length; dorsal profile of head straight to above eye, then becoming convex; adults develop a large hump on forehead that can protrude anterior to eye; anterior tip of head forming an acute angle; jaws and lips prominent, 2 strong canines anteriorly in each jaw; no enlarged tooth present of rear of upper jaw; D IX,10, continuous; A III,8; dorsal and anal fins of adults very pointed, reaching well posterior to caudal-fin base; pelvic fins of small fish reaching anus, extending beyond anal-fin origin in large adults; pectoral fins with ii unbranched and 10 branched rays; caudal fin rounded; lateral line interrupted below posterior portion of dorsal-fin base, with a total of 22-23 pored scales; scales reaching well onto bases of dorsal and anal fins; scales in front of dorsal fin extending forward to above centre of eye; cheek and opercle scaly; lower jaw without scales. Colour of body olive to green with a vertical dark bar on each scale above and behind pectoral fins; head of adults blue-green to blue with highly irregular undulating yellowish lines; 2 black lines extending posteriorly from eye. Juvenile coloration lighter to white with dark scale bars and prominent black lines extending posteriorly from eyes, as well as 2 lines extending diagonally up and back from eye and 2 diagonally downward on snout in front of eye (Ref. 9823).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Adults inhabit steep outer reef slopes, channel slopes, and lagoon reefs (Ref. 1602). They are benthopelagic at 2-60 m (Ref. 58302). They are usually solitary but may occur in pairs. Juveniles are encountered in coral-rich areas of lagoon reefs, where staghorn Acropora corals abound (Ref. 1602) and also in algae reefs or seagrasses (Ref. 48636, 41878). Adults rove across the reefs by day and rest in reef caves and under coral ledges at night (Ref. 31343). Primary food are mollusks, fishes, sea urchins, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. They are one of the few predators of toxic animals such as sea hares, boxfishes and crown-of-thorns starfish (Ref. 1602). They are oviparous with distinct pairing during breeding (Ref. 205). They are sold in Hong Kong live fish markets (Ref. 27253). This species is captured by hook-and-line and by spear, and is occasionally marketed for food. Juveniles are occasionally seen in the aquarium trade (Ref. 9823).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Oviparous, distinct pairing during breeding (Ref. 205). Also Ref. 103751.

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Westneat, Mark | Collaborators

Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen and R.C. Steene, 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 506 p. (Ref. 2334)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 119314)

  Endangered (EN) (A2bd+3bd); Date assessed: 30 April 2004

CITES (Ref. 115941)


CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 5374)





Human uses

Fisheries: minor commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial
FAO(fisheries: production; publication : search) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 24.9 - 28.8, mean 27.5 (based on 580 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5078   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01413 (0.00913 - 0.02184), b=3.00 (2.87 - 3.13), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species & (Sub)family-body (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.0   ±0.61 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tm = 5-7; tmax = 32).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Very high vulnerability (86 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.