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Labrus mixtus or L. bimaculatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

A specimen measuring 34,3 cm of (TL) length. Note the popped eyes due to quick rising from depth. Photo by MCH/Andreas I. Iliopoulos

Original drawing in "Guid d'identification des poissons marins Europe et Mediterranee" by Patrick Louisy

A reef associated territorial wrasse. The animals found in the coastal waters and at depths between 2 m and 200 m, but usually in the range of 40 m to 80 m. They mainly prey upon benthic invertebrate animals and fishes. They live solitary or in pairs.

     There is a very distinctive sexual dimorphism between sexes, as the ♂♂ grow larger – up to the (SL) length of 40 cm – while ♀♀ grow smaller – up to 30 cm – but more important are the colors of the animals. So the colorful ♂♂ show a striking électrique blue overall coloration with yellow horizontal stripes starting from their head and orange bellies, while ♀♀ show an orange yellowish coloration with three distinctive dark markings located on the rear of the dorsal and on the upper base of the caudal fin. There are color variations according the localities. The animals live in the wild up to about seventeen years.

     They are protogynous hermaphrodite and the change of sex is completed within a period of about seven months. They lay their eggs on the bottom into nests built of seaweed by the ♂♂.

     A quite interesting and impressive species for aquaria, which has already been kept successfully in captivity.

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