Red Shoulder wrasseStethojulis bandanensis

  • Fringing Reef
  • Wrasses
  • Fauna
  • Lagoon coral patches


The Stethojulis bandanensis, of the order of Perciformes and family Labridae is commonly known as the Orange-axil wrasse, Red shoulder wrasse, Red-spot rainbowfish, or Red-spot wrasse. This species has a distinct reddish spot above the pectoral fin base  throughout its life cycle. It has total of 9 dorsal spines, 11 to 12 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 11 anal soft rays[1]. Males in their terminal phase of life are olive brown on the upper body and pale on the lower body, separated by a blue stripe. There is also a thin blue stripe that runs from the eye along the dorsal fin base and upper part of the tail. There are two blue stripes on the anterior part of the body and blue stripes on the head. A yellow patch is present on the cheek.  Adult females in their initial phase are greyish with numerous small white spots all over the upper body. There is a light patch on each scale on the lower part of the body which looks like a cross-hatched pattern and also has two small ocelli in the mid-section of its tail base. Juveniles possess a small ocellus (eye-spot) on the rear of the dorsal fin and tail base[2].


[1] ‘Stethojulis Bandanensis, Red Shoulder Wrasse : Fisheries, Aquarium’.

[2] ‘Stethojulis Bandanensis’.

Habitat and ecology

This species is  present across the Indo-Pacific region. Recorded depth range is between 0 and 30m. It is found in reef flats, lagoons, rubble, and corals. Its diet consists of small invertebrates.


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. However, it is collected for the aquarium trade. No conservation measures are in place for this species but it is present in many MPAs[1].


[1] ‘Stethojulis Bandanensis’.

Did you know?

This species can reach a maximum of 15cm and changes colour and body shape throughout the different stages of its life.