Novaculichthys taeniourus   (Lacepede,  1801) (Fish)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Actinopterygii

Image copyrights: Randall, J.E.

Max. size: 30.0 cm TL (male)

Color: More or less uniform brown with dark hind border for scales. A crescentic row of 3 scales posterior to base of pectoral black. A large black blotch between first and third dorsal spines. Dorsal and anal with oblique brown bands and narrow white border. Basal half of caudal light yellow; the distal half with dark brown vertical bars. Pectoral lighter with darker base. Ventral dark brown with narrow white distal margin. Juveniles with 1st and 2nd dorsal spines flexible and filamentous and the 5th spine often with a produced filament. 8-10 dark lines radiating from eye. Body orange colored with large white blotches bordered by dark. Dorsal, anal and caudal yellowish with irregular dark streaks.

Head 2.8-3.2 in standard length, 3.4-3.7 in total length. Depth of body 3.0-3.3 in standard length, 3.7-4.0 in total length. Snout about 4 in head. Eye diameter 1.6-2.0 in snout and 1.0-1.3 in highly convex interorbital space. Teeth small, in several rows in jaws, outer row enlarged with a pair of canines in front. A few rudimentary scales along hind border of eye and above opercle. Pectoral fin equal to postorbital part of head. Ventral fin equal to snout and eye together. Lateral line interrupted.
Number of spines and rays in the dorsal fin: IX, 12-13; number of spines and rays in the anal fin: III, 12-13; number of rays in the pectoral fin: i, 11; number of spines and rays in the ventral fin: I, 5; number of scale rows along the lateral line: 19-20+5-6; number of horizontal scale rows usually counted from origin of the dorsal fin to the lateral line and from anal origin to the lateral line: 2+1+9-10.

Juveniles shallow on rubble amongst large bommies or protected open patches on reef crests and swim as if were a leaf floating along the bottom; large adults move along over large reef section, usually in pairs and typically turn or shift large pieces of rubble or debris that they grab and pull with their mouth or push over with their snout. Often, while one works the piece, the other grabs exposed prey. They are sometimes called rock-mover wrasse, but they don't move real rocks. Highly territorial.

Remarks: Values in above description denote proportions.

Synonym (s)
Hemipteronotus taeniourus (Lacepede, 1801)
(Senior synonym)
Julis bifer Lay & Bennett, 1839
(Junior synonym)
Labrus taeniourus Lacepede, 1801
(Senior synonym)
Novaculichthys bifer (Lay & Bennett, 1839)
(Junior synonym)
Labrus taeniourus Lacepede, 1802
Novaculichthys taeniourus Smith, 1949
Novaculichthys taeniourus de Beaufort, 1940
Hemipteronotus taeniurus (Lacepede, 1801)
Labrus taeniours Lacepede, 1801
Novaculichthys taeniorus (Lacepede, 1801)
Novaculichthys taeniurus (Lacepede, 1801)
Novaculichtys taeniorus (Lacepede, 1801)
Xyrichthys taeniouris (Lacepede, 1801)

Common Name (s)
• Rockmover Wrasse (English)
• Balala (Malayalam)
• Pongan (Malayalam)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Fisheries, aquarium, ornamental fish)

Habitat:  Bentho Pelagic, Reef Associated
Prey:  Mollusks, sea urchins, brittle stars, polychaetes, and crabs


• Lakshadweep, Kavaratti Atoll (Lat: 10.55) (Long: 72.63) INDIA (Record: 01/1991-06/1992)
• Lakshadweep, Agatti INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Amini INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kalpeni INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kavaratti INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kilttan INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Minicoy INDIA
• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Amini Island (Lat: 11.08) (Long: 72.75) INDIA (Record: 03/1954)
• Lakshadweep, Kalpeni INDIA (Record: 06/03/1987-01/04/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Kadamatt INDIA (Record: 11/1993-01/1997)

Literature Source(s)
  • (2002) Lakshadweep Islands biodiversity strategy and action plan (Version: 3)
  • 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
  • Durville, P; Chabanet, P and Quod, JP (2003) Visual Census of the Reef Fishes in the Natural Reserve of the Glorieuses Islands (Western Indian Ocean) Western Indian Ocean J. Mar. Sci. WIOMSA 2 95-104
  • Chabanet, P and Patrick, D (2005) Reef Fish Inventory of Juan De Novas Natural Park (Western Indian Ocean) Western Indian Ocean Journal Marine Sciences 2005 WIOMSA 4 145-162
  • Mehdi, A; Yves, L; Michel, P and Salvat, B (1998) Factors influencing spatial distribution of fish communities an a fringing reef at Mauritius, S.W. Indian Ocean Environmental Biology of Fishes Kluwer Academic Publishers 53 169-182 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Allen, GR and Mohammed, A (2003) Coral Reef Fishes of Indonesia Zoological Studies 42(1) 26299 Available at - Digital Information Resource Center, Pune.
  • Froese, R and Pauly, D (2000) Fishbase 2000: Concepts, design and data sources ICLARM 344 pp 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
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Jones, S and Kumaran, M (1980) Fishes of the Laccadive Archipelago The Nature Conservation and Aquatic Sciences Service, Trivandrum, Kerala 760 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 -
  • Jones, S. (1969) Catalogue of fishes from the Laccadive Archipelago in the reference collections of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. Bulletin of Central Marine Research Institute CMFRI, Cochin 8 1-35 Available at -
  • Balan, V (1958) Notes on a visit to certain islands of the Laccadive Archipelago, with special reference to fisheries Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society Bombay Natural History Society 55 (2) 297-306 Available at -
  • Kumaran, M; Murty, VS and Lalmohan, RS (1989) Resources of ornamental fishes Marine living resources of the union territory of Lakshadweep: An indicative survey with suggestions for development Bulletin of Central Marine Research Institute CMFRI 43 46-64 Available at -
  • Murty, VS (2002) Marine ornamental fish resources of Lakshadweep CMFRI Special Publication CMFRI 72 1-134 Available at -

Page last updated on:2011-05-11

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