Pearly razorfish

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Xyrichtys novacula
Labridae - Xyrichtys novacula.JPG
Xyrichtys novacula, a Mediterranean Sea specimen at the Civic Aquarium of Milan
Xyrichtys novacula.jpg
Xyrichtys novacula in the Atlantic Ocean, Southeast U.S.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Suborder: Labroidei
Family: Labridae
Genus: Xyrichtys
Species: X. novacula
Binomial name
Xyrichtys novacula
(Linnaeus, 1758)

See text

The pearly razorfish or cleaver wrasse, Xyrichtys novacula, is a species of wrasse. It is of minor importance to local commercial fisheries and is popular as a game fish. It can also be found in the aquarium trade.[2]


Xyrichtys novacula can reach 38 cm (15 in) in total length, though most do not exceed 20 cm (7.9 in). Its body is elongate and very compressed laterally, head is flattened, with a steep profile and sharp teeth. Its long dorsal fin extends along most of its back, as well as anal, pectoral, and pelvic fins. It has 9 dorsal spines, 12 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 12 anal soft rays. This wrasse has a yellow-orange or reddish-pink color that is darker on the back and lighter on the belly, sometimes marked with green and gray stripes. Head shows vertical narrow light blue lines and there are scales with brisk reflexes on the abdomen. Upon capture, this fish has been known to turn its mouth and sharp protuding teeth past 90 degrees to either side in relationship to its own body as an attempt to be released from capture.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The pearly razorfish is widespread throughout the western and eastern subtropical and tropical Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. It inhabits clear, shallow littoral areas with sandy or muddy bottoms, at depths of 1 to 20 m. In winter it migrates to greater depths, up to 90–150 m.

Behavior and diet[edit]

Xyrichtys novacula buries itself rapidly in the bottom when disturbed. It feeds on small invertebrates such as crustaceans, mollusks and echinoderms.[2]

X. novaculae caught in Santorini, Greece


A large number of specific names have been determined to refer to this species as junior synonyms:[2]

  • Coryphaena novacula Linnaeus, 1758
  • Hemipteronotus novacula (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Novacula novacula (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Coryphaena psittacus Linnaeus, 1766
  • Hemipteronotus psittacus (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Xyrichthys psittacus (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Coryphaena lineata J. F. Gmelin, 1789
  • Novacula lineata (J. F. Gmelin, 1789)
  • Coryphaena lineolata Rafinesque, 1810
  • Novacula lineolata (Rafinesque, 1810)
  • Amorphocephalus granulatus S. Bowdich, 1825
  • Novacula coryphena A. Risso, 1827
  • Novacula coryphaena A. Risso, 1827
  • Xyrichthys uniocellatus Agassiz, 1831
  • Xyrichthys cultratus Valenciennes, 1840
  • Novacula cultrata (Valenciennes, 1840)
  • Xyrichthys vitta Valenciennes, 1840
  • Xyrichthys vermiculatus Poey, 1860
  • Xyrichthys argentimaculata Steindachner, 1861
  • Xyrichthys rosipes D. S. Jordan & C. H. Gilbert, 1884
  • Xyrichthys jessiae D. S. Jordan, 1888
  • Hemipteronotus copei Fowler, 1900
  • Xyrichthys binghami Mowbray, 1925


The Pearly razorfish has been shown to be successful bait for the Greater Amberjack species (aka reef donkey).


  1. ^ Pollard, D., Rocha, L., Ferreira, C.E., Francini-Filho, R. & Moura, R.R. 2010. Xyrichtys novacula. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Downloaded on 18 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Xyrichtys novacula" in FishBase. October 2013 version.

External links[edit]


  • Eschmeyer, William N., ed. 1998. Catalog of Fishes. Special Publication of the Center for Biodiversity Research and Information, n. 1, vol. 1-3. California Academy of Sciences. San Francisco, California, USA. 2905. ISBN 0-940228-47-5.
  • Fenner, Robert M.: The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Neptune City, New Jersey, USA: T.F.H. Publications, 2001.
  • Helfman, G., B. Collette y D. Facey: The diversity of fishes. Blackwell Science, Malden, Massachusetts, USA, 1997.
  • Hoese, D.F. 1986: . A M.M. Smith y P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths' sea fishes. Springer-Verlag, Berlín, Germany.
  • Maugé, L.A. 1986. A J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse y D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). Bruxelles; Vol. 2.
  • Moyle, P. y J. Cech.: Fishes: An Introduction to Ichthyology, 4th. ed, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA: Prentice-Hall. 2000.
  • Nelson, J.: Fishes of the World, 3rd. Ed. New York City, USA: John Wiley and Sons. 1994.
  • Wheeler, A.: The World Encyclopedia of Fishes, 2nd. Ed., London: Macdonald. 1985.