Beloved for her striking colors, the ornate wrasse would be a strong contender for most aliases, with some 22 names bestowed upon her over the years, including lunate-tailed wrasse, peacock wrasse, Christmas wrasse, and pa’awela. In Hawaii, awela means “hot”, and the coloration of this species is definitely fire. She could also be called copycat, as studies have shown these fish mimic each other to communicate. When it comes to breeding, monogamy is not their thing, as both males and females have multiple partners throughout the breeding season.
The ornate wrasse changes colors throughout her life, and male and females have different colorations. All pa’awela start out as females and have a green body with red patterns, dark vertical lines along the scales and five blue vertical bands. The dominant female changes into a male when the time is right, and will transform to have a red head with patterns of sky blue, a vertical blue line with red trim just behind the pectoral fin, and a green body with vertical, crescent shaped spots. Ornate wrasse are found in lagoon and seaward reefs in areas of rich coral, in Hawaii, Polynesia and parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and can grow up to 17 cm.• Rubber sole
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