Slippery dick

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Slippery Dick
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Labridae
Genus: Halichoeres
Species: H. bivittatus
Binomial name
Halichoeres bivittatus
(Bloch, 1791)
  • Labrus bivittatus Bloch, 1791
  • Labrus psittaculus Lacépède, 1801
  • Labrus multicostatus Gronow, 1854
  • Julis humeralis Poey, 1860
  • Choerojulis grandisquamis T. N. Gill, 1863
  • Choerojulis arangoi Poey, 1876
  • Platyglossus florealis D. S. Jordan & C. H. Gilbert, 1882

The slippery dick, Halichoeres bivittatus, is a species of wrasse native to shallow, tropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean.

Physical description[edit]

The species has three color phases. Adults have two dark to black lateral stripes, one extending from the snout and via the eye to the base of the tail, with a second, paler lateral stripe further below. The upper stripe incorporates a bicolored spot where it crosses the edge of the gills (this is present in all phases).[2] Intermediates vary greatly, from shades of light purple to dark brown. Juveniles are usually white and have two dark stripes, but the lower (abdominal) stripe may be faint.[3] The slippery dick reaches about 35 cm (14 in) in total length.[2]


This species can be found from North Carolina and Bermuda to Brazil.[2] the Gulf of Mexico, Antilles, and the coasts of Central and South America.


The slippery dick is generally found on shallow reefs and grass beds at depths from 1 to 15 m (3.3 to 49.2 ft).[2]


This species feeds on benthic invertebrates, including crabs, sea urchins and ophiuroids, polychaetes, and gastropods. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite.[2] These fish form leks while breeding.[2] In North Carolina, males defend temporary territories with peak spawning in May and June. Pair spawning typically occurs between females and terminal phase males; initial phase males occasionally try to insert themselves into the spawning event.


  1. ^ Rocha, L., Francini, R. & Craig, M. 2010. Halichoeres bivittatus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <>. Downloaded on 09 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Halichoeres bivittatus" in FishBase. August 2013 version.
  3. ^ Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Bocas del Toro Species Database