Checkerboard wrasse Halichoeres hortulanus

  • Fringing Reef
  • Wrasses
  • Lagoon coral patches
  • Fauna


The Halichoeres hortulanus, of the order of Perciformes and family of Labridae (Wrasses)  is commonly known as the Checkerboard wrasse, Four-spot wrasse, Rainbowfish, or Wall wrasse. Adults have one or two yellow saddles on the back with small black spots on the upper peduncle. The body of adults have variable colour from white to green. Juveniles are black and white. They gradually change colour pattern as they mature. There are variations between fish of the Indian and Pacific oceans. This species has a total of 9 dorsal spines, 11 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 11 anal soft rays[1].


[1] ‘Halichoeres Hortulanus Summary Page’.

Habitat and ecology

This species is present across the Indo-Pacific region. It is found in lagoon sand patches, drop offs, shallow reef flats, outer slopes and seaward reefs. Diet consists of prey that have a hard shell such as sea urchins and crustaceans. Distinct pairing occurs during breeding. 


Conservation and management

According to the IUCN Red list, this species is categorized as being of ‘Least Concern’. It is collected for consumption and the aquarium trade which are potential threats. No conservation measures are in place for this species. However, it is present in many MPAs[1].


[1] ‘Halichoeres Hortulanus’.

Halichoeres hortulanus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Mar 2019,

Did you know?

This species can reach a maximum recorded length of 27cm.