Thalassoma purpureum   (Forsskal,  1775) (Fish)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Actinopterygii

Image copyrights: John Rangall, 2006

Size: 43-46 cm.

Max. weight reported: 1,210 gm.

Color: In preserved specimens livid (in life green above, blue below). A broad leaden colored or brown band, formed by the dark basal Half of the scales, from nape to base caudal rays, separated by a narrow light area from base of dorsal. Two less broad light pink longitudinal bands (red in life), the first from opercular flap to base of median caudal rays, the second from hind border of sub operculum, below base of pectorals to base of lower caudal rays. The bands connected on the side by bands of the same color, formed by elongate strips along the base of the scales. Head more or less purple. Upper part of head light bluish pink (red in life), this color sharply defined everywhere by a narrow dark line. It spreads anteriorly on sides of snout downwards as a triangular prolongation, the line bordering it descending in a vertical direction from before eye to some distant above corner of mouth, here sharply bent upwards, forming the top of the triangle and running parallel to the upper lip, in an oblique direction upwards and forwards, meeting that of the other side on the top of the snout. A similar prolongation of the color of the upper part of the head, but somewhat lighter and more pinkish, running as a broad band from behind eye oblique downwards to sub operculum, bifurcating before it reaches its hind border, where the two branches its hind border, where the two branches end. Operculum bordered above with a light pinkish band. A similar band along base of pectoral, joining below the lower longitudinal band on body. Dorsal yellowish above, pinkish below, the two colors separated by a narrow black line. Caudal yellowish, the bands of the body continued on it as purple narrower bands. Similar bands along the upper and lower rays, excepting the outermost above and below, which are again yellowish. Pectorals dusky along their upper border and at tip. Ventrals pinkish. In a small specimen the scales between the two light bands on the sides are partly dark at base, as those of the back, forming about 5 groups along the sides. About 3 or 4 similar groups below the second band, above anal. This specimens has also some dark spots on the nape.

Body shape elongate. Height 3-3.1, 3.7-3.9 in length with caudal. Head 2.8-3, 3.5-3.7 in length with caudal. Height of head 1.2-1.3 in its length. Eye 6.1-7, 2.2-2.5 in snout and 1.4-1.5 in convex inter orbital space. Mouth slightly oblique, almost reaching to below anterior nostril. Lips thick, plated, the inner plate papillated. Teeth in a single series, the two anterior ones in upper and lower jaw strong curved canines. Head naked, with exception of 3 or 4 scales in two rows on upper part of operculum. About 8 scales before dorsal. Dorsal spines short and slender, the first as long as eye, the last half diameter of eye longer. Soft dorsal higher than spinous part, somewhat pointed behind. Origin of anal below first soft ray of dorsal. First anal spine minute or wanting, last longest, scarcely longer than last dorsal spine. Soft anal similar to soft dorsal. Pectorals as long as head without or slightly shorter. No produced ventral rays. Ventrals slightly pointed, as long as snout. Caudal slightly rounded, but the lobes slightly produced. T. purpureum and T. trilobatum have nearly identical initial phases. They differ slightly in details of the head markings, and T. purpureum has a slightly longer head, shorter pectoral fins, and attains a larger size. Females best distinguished by the 'V' mark on the snout. Initial phase with a vertical dark red line below front of eye usually with a branch to front of snout. Head of terminal male blue-green with 2 or 3 broad irregular pink bands. Caudal fin of terminal male solid blue. Males grow much larger than females. Dorsal spines (total): 8 - 8, Dorsal soft rays (total): 12 - 14, Anal spines: 3, Anal soft rays: 10-12.

Protogynous, external fertilization, non guarders, open water or substratum egg scatterers. Pelagic spawner.

Remarks: Values in above description denote proportions.

Synonym (s)
Julis quadricolor Bleeker, 1862
Julis trilobata Gunther, 1862
Julis purpurea Day, 1877
Julis purpureus Klunzinger, 1871
Julis purpurea Day, 1877
Julis purpurea Pellegrin, 1898
Thalassoma purpurea Fowler, 1900
Thalassoma purpureum Jenkins, 1904
Thalassoma purpureum Jordan and Evermann, 1905
Thalassoma purpureum Jordan and Seale, 1906
Julis purpurea Gunther, 1909
Julis purpurea M. Weber, 1913
Thalassoma purpureum McCulloch and Waite, 1916
Thalassoma purpureum Jordan and Jordan, 1925
Thalassoma purpureum Barnard, 1927
Thalassoma purpureum Fowler, 1928
Thalassoma purpureum Pietschmann, 1930
Thalassoma quadricolor Whitley, 1937
Thalassoma purpureum Fowler, 1938
Thalassoma purpurea (Forsskal, 1775)
Scarus purpureus Forsskal, 1775
Julis umbrostygma Ruppell, 1835
Julis semicoeruleus Ruppell, 1835
Thalassoma semicoeruleus (Ruppell, 1835)
Thalassoma umbrostigma (Ruppell, 1835)
Thalassoma umbrostygma (Ruppell, 1835)

Common Name (s)
• Hikkae (Mahl)
• Nihola (Malayalam)
• Surge Wrasse (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Fisheries, marketed fresh, aquarium, gamefish)

Habitat:  Reef Associated, Rocky, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Tertiary Consumer
Prey:  Zoobenthos, finfish, bony fish, sea urchins, crabs


• Lakshadweep, Kavaratti Atoll (Lat: 10.55) (Long: 72.63) INDIA (Record: 01/1991-06/1992)
• Tamil Nadu, Tuticorin Coast INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Wafar, MVM (2003) Checklists of reef fauna Available at -
  • Rao, DV; Devi, K and Rajan, PT (2000) An account of ichthyofauna of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bay of Bengal Occasional paper no 178 Records of the Zoological Survey of India ZSI, Calcutta 1-434 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Rouphael, T; Turak, E and Jon, B Seagrasses and mangroves of Yemen's Red Sea 41-89
  • Heemstra, E; Heemstra, P; Smale, M; Hoopers, T and Pelicier, D (2004) Preliminary checklist of coastal fishes from the Mauritian island of Rodrigues Journal of natural history Taylor and Francis 38(23-24) 3315 - 3350 Available at - index/
  • Letourneur, Y; Chabanet, P; Durville, P; Taquet, M; Teissier, E; Parmentier, M; Quero, JC and Pothin, K (2004) An updated checklist of the marine fish fauna of Reunion Island, south-western Indian Ocean Cybium 28(3) 199-216
  • Froese, R and Pauly, D (2000) Fishbase 2000: Concepts, design and data sources ICLARM 344 pp Available at -
  • Anand, PEV and Pillai, NGK (2005) Community organization of coral reef fishes in the rubble sub-habitat of Kavaratti Atoll, Lakshadweep, India Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India The Marine Biological Association of India, Cochin, India 47(1) 77-82 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Discover life Available at -
  • Anand, PEV and Pillai, NGK (2003) Habitat distribution and species diversity of coral reef fishes in the reefslope of the Kavaratti atoll, Lakshadweep, India Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India The Marine Biological Association of India, Cochin 45(1) 88-98 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Beaufort, LF (1940) The fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago A. J. Reprints agency, Karol Bagh, New Delhi 8 508 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Fischer, W and Bianchi, G (Eds.) (1984) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Western Indian Ocean (Fishing Area 51) FAO, Rome 2 Available at -
  • Kumar, RR and Edward, JKP (2005) Comparative study on the fish assemblages in natural and artificial reefs in Tuticorin, Gulf of Mannar, Southeast coast of India Proceedings of the National Seminar on Reef Ecosystem Remediation SDMRI Special Research Publication No.9 99-104 Available at -
  • Talwar, PK (1990) Fishes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A synoptic survey Journal of the Andaman Science Association Andaman Science Association, Port Blair 6(2) 71-102 Available at - NIO,Goa
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -

Page last updated on:2011-12-05

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