Ballan wrasse

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Ballan wrasse
Labrus bergylta.jpg
Scientific classification
L. bergylta
Binomial name
Labrus bergylta
Ascanius, 1767
  • Labrus comber Bonnaterre, 1788
  • Labrus ballan Bonnaterre, 1788
  • Labrus maculatus Bloch, 1792
  • Labrus neustriae Lacépède, 1801
  • Labrus balanus J. Fleming, 1828
  • Labrus variabilis W. Thompson, 1837
  • Crenilabrus multidentatus W. Thompson, 1837
  • Labrus reticulatus R. T. Lowe, 1839
  • Labrus donovani Valenciennes, 1839
  • Labrus nubilus Valenciennes, 1843

The Ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) is a species of wrasse native to the northeastern Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Morocco, including the islands of Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands. They can be found at depths from 1 to 50 m (3.3 to 164.0 ft) amongst rocks, seaweed and reefs. It can grow to 65.9 cm (25.9 in) in total length (though most do not exceed 50 cm (20 in) standard length), and the greatest recorded weight of this species is 4.4 kg (9.7 lb). All Ballan wrasses are female for their first four to 14 years before a few change into males. Large Ballan wrasses are almost certainly male.[2]

This species is popular as a food fish in the Orkney Islands and in Galway,[3] although it is not highly regarded as a food fish in much of the UK and Ireland.[4]

In recent years, it has become a popular catch-and-release target for sport fishermen using light fishing tackle, particularly those employing soft plastic lures.[5][4]

It can also be used to clean sea lice from Norwegian farmed salmon;[6] the technique is also being developed in Scotland.[7][8]

This species can also be found in the aquarium trade.[2]


  1. ^ Pollard, D. 2010. Labrus bergylta. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. < Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine>. Downloaded on 10 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Labrus bergylta" in FishBase. August 2013 version.
  3. ^ Alan Davidson, North Atlantic Seafood, 1979, ISBN 0-670-51524-8
  4. ^ a b "Wrasse". 23 November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  5. ^ David Erwin, Bernard Picton, "Guide to Inshore Marine Life" The Marine Conservation Society 1987 ISBN 0-907151-34-5
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