Reef Species & Ecology

Puddingwife Wrasse

We took this picture of a Pudding wife in Aruba one of the first times we ever snorkeled in the Caribbean. I didn’t know at the time what I was seeing or how hard it would be to get another great picture of this fish. I’ve seen them in Bonaire and Belize but never been able to get another picture good enough to share.

I do know that the first time I saw it, I thought, “the reef is a truly astonishing and beautiful place!”

Puddingwife (Halichoeres radiatus), photo by Erica or Chuck Lauer Vose, Aruba, 2013.
  • Common Name: Puddingwife
  • Genus, species: Halichoeres radiatus
  • Family: Wrasses – Labridae
  • Size: 12 – 15 inches ( max: 18”)
  • Depth: 10 – 50 feet
  • Distinctive Features:
    1. Bright yellow to greenish-yellow margin on tail
    2. Small dark spot on the upper pectoral fin base
    3. (Initial and juvenile phase) five white bars or dots upper back
    4. (Juvenile phase) two yellow and gold stripes down mid body with white stripes between
    5. Large navy blue spot on upper tail base ringed with white to pale blue
  • Abundance & Distribution: Occasional Florida, Bahamas , Caribbean; also Gulf of Mexico, north to North Carolina, Bermuda and south to Brazil.
  • Habitat & Behavior: Constantly swim just above the bottom near reefs. Juveniles take refuge near structures in the shallows.
  • Humann, P. , Deloach, N. 2014. Reef Fish Identification; Florida Caribbean Bahamas. 4th Edition. Jacksonville, Fl, New World Publications inc.
Juvenile Puddingwife (Halichoeres radiatus), photo by Erica or Chuck Lauer Vose, Aruba, 2013.