Queen coris

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Queen coris
Queen coris (Coris formosa).jpg
Scientific classification
C. formosa
Binomial name
Coris formosa
  • Labrus formosus J. W. Bennett, 1830
  • Coris frerei Günther, 1867
  • Coris halei F. Day, 1888

The Queen Coris (also known as Sand Wrasses, Queen Coris Wrasse, Formosan Coris, Formosa Coris Wrasse, Formosa Wrasse, Indian Ocean Wrasse, Indian Sand Wrasse) is a species of wrasse native to the Indian Ocean from the Red Sea and the coast of Africa to Sri Lanka. The Coris Formosa often subject to aquarium trade due to its vibrant colors. A special feature about this species is how much they change from juvenile to adult form, in color, behaviour, and diet.  [edit]


Similar in appearance to its cousin, the Red Coris Wrasse, the Coris Formosa can measure between the range of 20 cm when young, but can grow up to approximately 60 cm.  The Coris Formosa coloration usually varies within three different color patterns, generally it tends to be redish to lavender in vibrant, striking color. Its general color ranges. When adults is blue-greenish with dark edges and dark blue spots, covering its body mainly towards the tail, and a red-orange line on its posterior margin  towards the tail. [2] Towards the rostrum, adult Queen Coris also display vibrant, light blue organic lines. The fish has nine dorsal spines, twelve dorsal soft rays, and three anal spines. When young Coris Formosa are orange and brown in the bottom, with long white spots on dorsal part of body, one can say it resembles a Clown Fish's color.[3] However, the vibrant, blue features develop in adulthood.. It is hypothesized that their variation on color depends on the depth at which they are found, but it mainly has a marked variation between juvenile and adulthood. Color is a crucial feature for Coris Formosa because it is for social display purposes, used to attract potential mating partners and combative relationships between males. The fish have small protruding teeth for feeding mostly on hard-shelled organisms.

Distribution and Habitat[edit]

Adults of this species are inhabitants of neritic oceanic coral reefs and can be found at depths from 2 to 50 m (6.6 to 164.0 ft),meaning they are found in tropical waters within 24°C to 27°C in temperature. While juveniles are commonly found in tide pools adults can be found usually on rocky and coral areas, sometimes in weeds. The species is distributed along the Western Indian Ocean, Southern Red Sea, South Africa and east to Sri Lanka. [4]


Queen Coris feed on hard-shell prey, such as crustaceans (shrimps, crabs and amphipods) and  echinoderms (sea urchin and small molluscs). As their teeth develop in adulthood, these fish are very efficient in predating hard shells, and can become very aggressive and destructive.[5] The young ones feed mainly on other smaller organisms, such as krill until they become able to prey on hard-shelled organisms.


Similar to most fish, Queen coris is oviparous, which means it produces its offsprings from various eggs. It is a protogynous fish meaning  it is semi-hermaphrodite. A semi-hermaphrodite can change gender from female to male. In this case, a female’s reproductive parts develop before its male reproductive parts, and in most cases populations are mainly female. However when a male is needed, then one of the females will turn into a male for reproduction purposes. Queen Coris display polygamy or distinct pairing during breeding; Consequently males are dominant and usually are in charge of a large female harem or various harems, especially during reproduction.  This situation can occur even though they are a solitary species. It is hypothesized that males pursue females by swimming along them and fluttering their fins.


Queen Coris are a very aggressive species because they are very dominant, especially males during mating season. Aggression in fish is mostly due to territorial  purposes and the Queen Coris is no exception. It can be a big threat to small fish, and it is a very effective invertebrate hunter. In aquariums, it has a habit of rearranging sand and rocks, and it tends to dig itself down in sandy substrate. [6]The digging may serve for various purposes, such as breeding as they may lay eggs and protect them under the sand. Another reason for the digging could be in foraging for food, considering that most of the Queen Coris’ preys are buried in the sand. They may also be digging in soft substrate either to sleep or to build some sort of cave as a home[7]. It is a solitary fish and is extremely destructive in captivity, especially when it grows particularly large. It requires a lot of space for swimming and when in captivity, it tends to hide under the sand at first while they acclimatize[8].[9] When adult Queen Coris’ are too large, they tend to hide in small cracks between corals or rocks.


It is of minor importance to local commercial fisheries and can also be found in the aquarium trade.[10] The species lay in the category of least concern, their major threats is aquarium trade. However the trade does not sufficiently attempt to harm the fish and consequently, they are currently in a very low risk of extinction.[11]


  1. ^ Craig, M.T. 2010. Coris formosa Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. www.iucnredlist.org Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Downloaded on 05 November 2013.
  2. ^ Sutton, Alan (2018-12-02). "Queen Wrasse- Facts and Photographs". Seaunseen. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  3. ^ "Coris formosa summary page". FishBase. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  4. ^ Sutton, Alan (2018-12-02). "Queen Wrasse- Facts and Photographs". Seaunseen. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  5. ^ "The Queen Wrasse - Whats That Fish!". www.whatsthatfish.com. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  6. ^ "Queen coris (Coris formosa) in aquarium". Reef App. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  7. ^ "The Queen Wrasse - Whats That Fish!". www.whatsthatfish.com. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  8. ^ "Formosa Wrasse, Formosan Coris Wrasse - Coris formosa". www.bluezooaquatics.com. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  9. ^ "Queen coris (Coris formosa) in aquarium". Reef App. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  10. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Coris formosa" in FishBase. August 2013 version.
  11. ^ "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2019-04-03.