7" - 11"
The Yellowcheek Wrasse, also known as the Lightning Wrasse is a small fish species with vibrant coloring. It has a bright blue to light blue-green body with a yellow band covering its back. As a juvenile, its coloring leans more towards purple, but this fades to a blue upon maturation. Juveniles and females of this species are also characterized by having yellow with a broad blue stripe from their eyes to the center of their caudal fin.
The Yellowcheek Wrasse is a relatively small fish species. Upon maturation, it can grow up to 11 inches in length. The Yellowcheek Wrasse juvenile is considered a cleaner. It cleans the fins and margins of client fish, picking off ectoparasites, tissues, gnathiid isopods and copepods off its clients. Its clients include reef fishes such as damselfishes, goatfishes, and surgeonfishes.
As adults, the Yellowcheek Wrasse is often found grazing above the surface of coral reefs looking for food, mostly worms, small crustaceans, and algae. It has a set of small protruding teeth. It grinds down the hard coats of its food with its pharyngeal jaws. It is also known to bash its food objects against hard objects before ingesting them.
The Yellowcheek Wrasse is not a popular game fish because of its small size. However, anglers fishing for them can catch them with a size 6 or 4 tackle and a light leader. They will take fresh mussels or worms. It’s not advisable to use shrimp or crabs as they will just nibble on them.
The Yellowcheek Wrasse is a good fish for young anglers as most piers will have a population of them. It is better to practice catch and release when fishing for this fish species, though. To catch and release, release it at water level as it cannot survive a big drop.
The Yellowcheek Wrasse is known to settle on the lower or bottom parts of the water column, usually over substrates. It is usually found in waters with depths between 65 to 300 feet.
Its juveniles, which are known to be specialized cleaners, have specific cleaning stations on gravely or sandy bottoms.
This fish species is reported to live in the western waters of the Atlantic Ocean and is commonly found on the reefs of the Caribbean. It ranges from the coasts of Florida, Antilles, to Brazil.