Red cheek wrasse Thalassoma genivittatum

  • Fringing Reef
  • Wrasses
  • Fauna
  • Lagoon coral patches


Thalassoma genivittatum, belonging to the family of Labridae, is commonly known as the Red-cheek wrasse. At the initial phase, the body of this species has a whitish colour and at its terminal phase, its body is greenish with a darker upper dorsal region and yellow bands can be seen behind the head and before the tail. There are blue to green patterns on the lower part of the head, and its eye is surrounded by blue. It has a protractile mouth which is turquoise in colour, its lips are thick and form a type of beak. It has total a of 8 dorsal spines, 13 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 11 anal soft rays[1].       


[1] ‘Thalassoma Genivittatum Summary Page’.

Habitat and ecology

This species is present across the Indian Ocean from South Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion. Their recorded depth range is between 4 and 25m. It is found in rocky reefs with little coral cover,in clear water  lagoons and on outer slopes[1]. Their diet consists of invertebrates. Distinct pairing occurs at the time of breeding.


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 often collected for aquarium trade. No conservation measures are in place for this species, but it is sensitive to human activities, and suffers from the significant degradation of its habitat, however, it is present in many MPAs[2].


[1] ‘Thalassoma Genivittatum | DORIS’.

[2] Pollard and Cabanban, ‘Halassoma Genivittatum’.

Did you know?

Thalassoma genivittatum can reach a maximum of 20cm.

The word genivittatum, is composed of the Latin words genae meaning cheeks, and vittatus meaning adorned with strips or ribbons. The word refers to the facial makings of the species.