Maltese Rainbow Wrasse

After having found this unique predator of the dead organism world (the fireworm), I was sure that the Maltese waters couldn’t be too bad as I still haven’t quite found a large animal yet. The dive continued and low and behold COLOUR!


  • First Colourful Fish
  • The Primary Phase
  • The Secondary Phase
  • Where can they be found
  • Having Good Buoyancy

  • First Colourful Fish

    I think at this point my eyesight felt as though someone adjusted my lenses on my mask for a coloured filter lens to bring out the colours underwater. There were indeed colourful fish in Malta!  Small and inquisitive “Mediterranean rainbow wrasse (Coris Julis)” was playing in amongst the green grass and playing with some of the stones along the stony bottom. They were so quick with their movements and seem as though they were playing and stalking other marine life.

    Whilst hovering around them, taking in the beauty of such tiny fish, you start noticing the colours and significant markings they have. There is a difference between the older generation rainbow wrasse, known as the “secondary-phase” and the younger known as the “primary-phase”

    Maltese Rainbow Wrasse

    The Primary Phase

    The smaller primary-phase females and males are brown with yellowish sides and white bellies.

    Maltese Rainbow Wrasse

    The Secondary Phase

    The secondary-phase male is a lovely green and blue, or brown, with a white tummy and has a dark blue spot over the ventral fin, and a bright orange band on the side of its body. They have such ‘pouty’ lips and bulging eyeballs. 

    Whilst watching them in their natural habitat, you notice them staring at you then swiftly swim away and come back. If you flick some sand up from the bottom, they try to attack the tiny particles thinking it is food. They generally swim around larger animals in order to catch any remaining food that has fallen from their mouths. So initially, they think the smaller particles or silt could be a source of food.

    Maltese Rainbow Wrasse

    Where can they be found

    It can be found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the northeast Atlantic Ocean from Sweden to Senegal. 

    Maltese Rainbow Wrasse

    Having Good Buoyancy

    When divers have good buoyancy control and do not kick up silt, dead seagrass or sand then these tiny little guys will search underneath rocks, eat off the algae from the rocks, or try to get beneath loose objects in order to find small crustaceans and worms. 

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