The Queen wrasse (Coris Formosa) is also known as the Queen Coris and the Formosa wrasse. They are not a common wrasse on Tanzanian reefs and the large adult males are quite rare. As with many wrasses the colouration changes dramatically from the adults to the juveniles. The images below show the changes from a small juvenile below all the way through to a large adult male.
The juveniles pictured above and below have an orange body with five white saddles ringed in black. As they age a black eye spot develops on the dorsal fin. At the juvenile stage from a distance it is very easy to confuse them with the African Coris ( Coris cuvieri). The easiest way to distinguish them is that the third saddle from the front extends all the way down onto the belly of the Queen wrasse. This can be seen in the two images below. The Queen wrasse is in the upper image.
The African Wrasse (Coris cuvieri) below is of similar age to the Queen wrasse above. Note the middle white bar does not extend onto the belly. The caudal fin also has a vertical blue purple and black line rather than a black and white line. As the African wrasse ages so the blue becomes more predominant.
In the next stage the body of the Queen Wrasse begins to darken and turns almost black as in the image below. The white vertical bars disappear and the whole body darkens.
From here as the fish ages the head yellows and the body turns a green colour with black dots on it. A prominent light blue slash appears across the face.
The background colour goes white and at this stage the fish is a mature female. A red line appears around the body which thickens in the caudal area.
Some larger specimens based on social cues turn into males and vertical lines develop on the body. Spots develop on the tail and green lines on the face.
QUEEN WRASSE IN THE WILD
The Queen Wrasse is an active fish at all stages of its life, . Surprisingly in Tanzania on the mainland the adults seem more common on the shallower coral rich semi protected reefs rather than on the deeper reefs. We have seen more of the adults at a four to six meter depth than on the deeper reefs.
The Queen Wrasse, is found across the Western Indian Ocean from the bottom of the Red Sea down to South Africa and across to India and Sri Lanka including parts of Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius. They seem most common between 4 meters to 10 meters in Tanzania but are occasionally seen much deeper.
The Queen Wrasse feeds exclusively on benthic crustaceans and mollusks.
The Queen Wrasse is a Protogynous hermaphrodite, they first develop into females. Some specimens based on social cues transform into males. They are Oviparous, with the dominant male running a harem or possibly several harems of females. Little is known of their breeding habits but occasionally a male will be seen pursuing a female. We witnessed the large male below swimming alongside a female, fluttering alongside the female as they swam along.
Queen Wrasse juveniles make an attractive addition to aquariums and are easy to keep and feed. However given the possible 60cm size of an adult, one needs a large tank for them to grow into.