Cigar wrasse Cheilio inermis

  • Seagrass
  • Sharp-nosed rainbowfish
  • Cigar wrasse
  • Fauna


Cheilio inermis, of the order of Perciformes and family of Labridae is commonly known as the Cigar wrasse and Sharp-nosed rainbowfish. This fish has a slender body with a long snout and large lips. Juveniles are of a speckled green to brown colour with a large dark mid-lateral stripe. Males usually develop bright yellow, orange, back white or multicolour patches on the sides, behind the pectoral fin. Some individuals are also uniformly yellow[1]. Large males lack a mid-lateral stripe.  It has a total of 9 dorsal spines, 12 to 13 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 11 to 12 anal soft rays. It can reach a maximum of 50cm.


[1] ‘Cheilio Inermis’.

Habitat and ecology

 This species is present from the Red Sea and East Africa, to Hawaiian and Easter Islands. It can also be found from North to Southern Japan, South of Lord Howe Island, Central Western Australian Coast, Northern Australian coast and south to central coast of New South Wales. It is found in seagrass meadows, algal covered flats, lagoons and seaward reefs. The recorded depth range reaches 30 m. It is usually solitary but some adults swim in loose groups. Juveniles hide in seagrass or can be found amongst Sargassum. Their diet consists of crustaceans, molluscs, sea urchins and many other shelled organisms. Large groups are formed  during spawning. There is distinct pairing and species is oviparous.


Conservation and management

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


[1] Cheung, Sadovy, and Liu, ‘Cheilio Inermis’.

Did you know?

This species can reach a maximum length of 50cm.