Epibulus insidiator (Pallas, 1770)
Slingjaw wrasse

This appropriately named wrasse is common on lagoon, pinnacle and seaward reefs. It feeds on small prey by rapidly extending its jaws into the shape of a tube. I have seen them use this slurpgun technique to extract small prey from between the branches of living coral. It comes in several color forms, the adult males usually a combination of red, black and white, while the females are usually all gray or all yellow.

Having its gills cleaned by Labroides dimidiatus.

Possibly transitioning from female to male.


This one is shadowing a goatfish, possibly to get closer to prey or to take advantage of any items scared up by the goatfish's digging.

Sometimes they have a yellow form as they grow.

Being cleaned, they often stretch out (sling) their jaw to expose parasites for picking.

When anchored over some shallow lagoon pinnacles, small slingjaws tend to rise up off the bottom and hang around the engines.

Created 26 May 2014
Updated 27 March 2017

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