Batu Coris, Coris batuensis Click to enlarge image
A male Batu Coris at a depth of 5m, Ribbon Reef #3, Great Barrier Reef off Cooktown, Queensland, December 2001. In the background is a Speckled Butterflyfish. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 17 cm in length.


The Variegated Wrasse occurs in tropical marine waters and can be recognised by its colouration, which varies as the fish grows. It inhabits sandy areas and feeds on crabs and gastropods.


The Variegated Wrasse can be recognised by its colouration, which varies as the fish grows.

Juveniles are olive-green above and white below. They have bright orange spots on the head and belly. There is a dark brown stripe from the mouth to the eye. A series of narrow white bars extend from the dorsal fin onto the top of the body and there are three black ocelli on the front, middle and rear of the dorsal fin.

Female Variegated Wrasse have a grey-greenish body and irregular blackish bars on the back. There are irregular pink bars on the face, a vertical elongate black spot behind the eye and a black bar on the pectoral fin base. They also have three black ocelli on the dorsal fin.

Males are similar to the females, but have a greener body and may lose some of the ocelli in the dorsal fin.

juvenile Variegated Wrasse
A juvenile Variegated Wrasse, Coris batuensis, at a depth of 6m, Fairy Bower, Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, 27 January 2014. Image: John Sear
© John Sear


The Variegated Wrasse inhabits sandy areas of coral reefs and protected lagoons. This fish is usually found at depths between 1 m and 34 m.


The Variegated Wrasse occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific, from the Maldives, north to Japan, throughout Micronesia, south to Australia and east to Tonga.

In Australia the species is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia and from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland to the northern coast of New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Feeding and diet

It feeds on crabs and gastropods.

Life history cycle

The movie, below, shows juveniles of the species.


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Fairy and Rainbow Wrasses and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Selected Labroids. TMC Publishing. Pp. 208.
  3. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 222.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 415.
  5. Randall, J.E., 1999. Revision of the Indo-Pacific labrid fishes of the genus Coris, with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes (29):74.