wrasse


wrasse
/ras/, n.
any of various marine fishes of the family Labridae, esp. of the genus Labrus, having thick, fleshy lips, powerful teeth, and usually a brilliant color, certain species being valued as food fishes.
[1665-75; appar. orig. a pl. of dial. (Cornwall) wrah, wraugh, wrath < Cornish wragh, lenited form of gwragh lit., old woman, hag; cf. Welsh gwrach(en), Breton gwrac'h, also with both senses]

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Any of some 300 species (family Labridae) of slender, often brilliantly coloured, fishes, found worldwide in tropical and temperate seas, often on coral reefs.

Species range from 2 in. (5 cm) to 7 ft (2 m) long. Wrasses have thick lips, large scales, long fins, and large, often protruding, canine teeth. Most eat invertebrates; some species, called cleaner wrasses, pick off and eat the external parasites of larger fishes. The tautaug (Tautoga onitis) is an edible species.

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fish
      any of nearly 500 species of marine fishes of the family Labridae (order Perciformes). Wrasses range from about 5 centimetres (2 inches) to 2 metres (6.5 feet) or more in length. Most species are elongated and relatively slender. Characteristic features of the wrasses include thick lips, smooth scales, long dorsal and anal fins, and large, often protruding canine teeth in the front of the jaw.

      Wrasses are found throughout the world in tropical and temperate seas. They are often abundant among coral reefs. Most wrasses are carnivorous and prey on marine invertebrates. Some small wrasses, however, such as young blueheads (Thalassoma bifasciatum) and Labroides species, act as cleaners for larger fishes. They pick off and eat the external parasites of groupers, eels, snappers, and other fishes that visit them periodically. This cleaning service is also performed by various other small fishes and by certain shrimps.

      Some wrasses are male and female throughout life; however, most are protogynous hermaphrodites (that is, they function first as females before transforming into males). In addition, some species may have primary males, as well as sex-reversed females.

      Some wrasses, such as the tautog (Tautoga onitis) of the western Atlantic, are drab or dusky in colour, but many, such as the rainbow wrasse (Coris julis) of the Mediterranean, are brilliantly and often intricately coloured or patterned. Coloration within a species may be confusingly variable, depending on age and sex. In some species, furthermore, a change in colour accompanies a change in sex, from female to male.

      Though often abundant, wrasses as a group are of no great commercial importance. Among the better known, or more valuable, species are the hogfish, or capitaine (Lachnolaimus maximus), a western Atlantic food species growing to a weight of about 7 kilograms (15 pounds); the moon wrasse (Thalassoma lunare), an Indo-Pacific species, green, red, and purplish in colour; the cuckoo wrasse (Labrus ossiphagus), an eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean species that is blue and orange if male, orange or reddish if female; and the tautog, or blackfish, a common western Atlantic food fish growing to a maximum of about 90 centimetres and 10 kilograms (22 pounds).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wrasse — Wrasse, n. [W. gwrachen.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous edible, marine, spiny finned fishes of the genus {Labrus}, of which several species are found in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coast of Europe. Many of the species are bright… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • wrasse — [ras] n. pl. wrasses or wrasse [Corn wrach, gwrach] any of a family (Labridae) of percoid fishes having thick lips, spiny fins, strong teeth, and bright coloring, found esp. in tropical seas: some species are valued as food fishes, as the tautog …   English World dictionary

  • wrasse — (n.) 1670s, from Cornish wrach, related to Welsh gurach …   Etymology dictionary

  • wrasse — ► NOUN (pl. same or wrasses) ▪ a brightly coloured marine fish with thick lips and strong teeth. ORIGIN Cornish wrah; related to Welsh gwrach old woman …   English terms dictionary

  • Wrasse — For other uses, see Wrasse (disambiguation). Wrasses Moon wrasse, Thalassoma lunare, a typical wrasse Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • wrasse — noun (plural wrasses; also wrasse) Etymology: Cornish gwragh, wragh hag, wrasse Date: circa 1672 any of a large family (Labridae) of elongate usually brilliantly colored marine bony fishes that usually bury themselves in sand at night and include …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • wrasse — /ræs / (say ras) noun (plural wrasse or wrasses) any of various marine fishes of the family Labridae, having thick, fleshy lips, powerful teeth, and usually a brilliant colour, certain species being valued as food fishes, as the hump headed… …   Australian English dictionary

  • wrasse — noun Any one of numerous edible, marine, spiny finned fishes of the genus Labrus, of which several species are found in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coast of Europe. Many of the species are bright colored …   Wiktionary

  • wrasse — n. type of fish …   English contemporary dictionary

  • wrasse — [ras] noun (plural same or wrasses) a marine fish with thick lips and strong teeth, typically brightly coloured. [Family Labridae: numerous species.] Origin C17: from Cornish wrah; related to Welsh gwrach, lit. old woman …   English new terms dictionary


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