Thalassoma cupido 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Labridae

Scientific Name: Thalassoma cupido
Species Authority: (Temminck & Schlegel, 1845)
Common Name(s):
English Cupid wrasse
Julis cupido Temminck & Schlegel, 1845

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2008-06-12
Assessor(s): Shea, S., Liu, M. & Sadovy, Y.
Reviewer(s): Craig, M.T. & Carpenter, K.E.
This species is found in Tawian, Japan and Korea, and is likely abundant throughout its range. There are no known major threats to this species. It is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in the northwest Pacific, including the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
Countries occurrence:
Japan; Korea, Republic of; Taiwan, Province of China
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – northwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):10
Upper depth limit (metres):3
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no population information available for this species. It is likely abundant throughout its small range.

It is one of the most common shore-fish in Igaya Bay, southern Japan (Moyer 1974).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs in coral and rocky areas from 3-10 m (R. Myers pers. comm. 2008). It has been observed in coral atolls (Nanami and Nishihira 2004). Juveniles feed on small crustaceans including copepods, isopods, tanaids and cumaceans from algal mats, while adults consume polychaetes, sipunculids, gastropods, chitons and crustaceans including crabs, shrimps and hermit crabs (Shibuno et al. 1993).

It was reported to spawn during mid-morning, before 10:00 am (Moyer 1974, Meyer 1977), group or aggregate spawning (Meyer 1977) by the terminal phase was observed in the Japanese waters. There was no evidence of spawning during late morning and afternoon, and the observations of spawning were four days prior to the new moon (Moyer 1974). Breeding ground of this species is approximately 200 m2, varying from nine to 11 m in depth. Water temperature was 27 °C (Moyer 1974).

Spawning begins with the arrival of large numbers of initial-phase fish at the coral or rocky areas, where they begin to mill about in increasingly tighter aggregations (Thresher 1984). The size of aggregations varies from a dozen to as many as several hundred individuals with different-sized aggregates. In addition, it has been reported to perform a “bobbing” motion while swimming with the entire body arcing up and down (Moyer 1974, Meyer 1977).

Moyer (1974) described the spawning behaviour of T. cupido in detail. During the first day of spawning, this species aggregates close to the rocks, and split periodically into three or four groups of close to 100 individuals each. Larger fish appeared to be about 10-13 cm in length and were obviously the aggressors. Only one or rarely two or three fish in each group dash up to discharge their reproductive clouds. Second day, the number of fish participating had decreased remarkably compared to the first day. On the fifth day, reproductive activity has almost ceased, but small individuals of about fifteen fish were sighted. Little herding and no clouds of reproductive materials were observed.

Hatched in a captivity laboratory environment, eggs of this species were found to be buoyant and spherical with a single spherical oil globule. Diameters ranged from 0.54 mm to 0.65 mm and spawning was observed from June to August in the morning between 0800 to 1200 (Kimura et al. 1998).

It exhibits similar colour patterns with T. purpureum, T. trilobatum, T. quinquevittatum and T. heiseri (Bernardi et al. 2004). It has been reported to be a protogynous hermaphrodite (Devlin and Nagahama 2002), however, gonadal histology has not been studied in any detail (Sadovy de Mitcheson and Liu 2008). It has been noted as one of the cleaner fishes in Japan (Kuwamura 1976).
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is utilized as food and is also collected for the aquarium trade. In Taiwan, it is caught for food and for the aquarium trade (Shao 2008). In Japan, labrids are caught by both commercial and recreational fishing (Kimura et al. 1998), but there is no information on the catches of this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats known to this species, although it is caught in both recreational and commercial multi-species fisheries.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no specific conservation measures in place for this species. Its distribution overlaps several marine protected areas within its range.

This species was recorded in the Saikai National Park, including Fukue and Wakamatsu Marine Parks, Japan (DINRAC 2007). However, most of the MPAs situated in southeast Asia are considered to be poorly managed and subjected to heavy illegal fishing pressure (Chou et al. 2002).

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.7. Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.2. Marine Intertidal - Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.3. Marine Intertidal - Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.1. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Bernardi, G., Bucciarelli, G., Costagliola, D., Robertson, D.R. and Heiser, J.B. 2004. Evolution of coral reef fish Thalossoma spp. (Labridae). 1. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography. Marine Biology 144: 369-375.

Chou, L.M., Tuan, V.S., Reefs, P, Yeemin, T., Cabanban, A., Suharsono and Kessna, I. 2002. Status of southeast Asia coral reefs. In: C.R. Wilkinson (ed.), Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2002, pp. 123-152. GCRMN Report, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia.

Devlin, R.H. and Nagahama, Y. 2002. Sex determination and sex differentiation in fish: an overview of genetic, physiological, and environmental influences. Aquaculture 208: 191-364.

Froese, R. and Pauly, D. 2008. Fishbase. World Wide Web electronic publication. Available at:, version 6/2008.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.4). Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2010).

Izawa, K. and Kurifuji, K. 1981. Studies on the artificial fish-reefs in Kata Bay, encrusting organisms and fish community. Bulletin of the Faculty of Fisheries, Mie University 8: 31-48.

Kimura, S., Nakayama, Y. and Kiriyama, T. 1998. Comparison of laboratory-reared eggs, embryos and larvae of five labrid fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 52(1/3): 187-201.

Kuwamura, T. 1976. Different responses of inshore fishes to the cleaning wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, as observed in Sirahama. Publications of the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory 23: 119-144.

Masuda, H., Amaoka, K., Araga, C., Uyeno, T. and Yoshino, T. 1984. The fishes of the Japanese Archipelago. Tokai University Press, Tokyo, Japan.

Meyer, K.A. 1977. Reproductive behavior and patterns of sexuality in the Japanese labrid fish Thalassoma cupido. Japanese Journal Ichthyology 24(2): 101-112.

Moyer, J. 1974. Notes on the reproductive behavior of the wrasse Thalassoma cupido. Japanese Journal Ichthyology 21(1): 40-42.

Nakata, N. 1988. The distribution of demersal fish, crustacea and molusca off Yokohama and Kawasaki in Tokyo Bay. Bulletin of the Kanagawa Prefectural Fisheries Research Institute 9: 67-74.

Nanami, A. and Nishihira, M. 2004. Microhabitat association and temporal stability in reef fish assemblages on massive Porites microatolls. Ichthyological Research 51: 165-171.

North West Pacific Action Plan Data and Information Network Regional Activity Centre (NOWPAP DINRAC). 2007. Regional Overview and National Reports on Marine and Coastal Nature Reserves in the Northwest Pacific Region. DINRAC Publication No.7. Data and Information Network Regional Activity Centre (DINRAC), Beijing, People's Republic of China.

Sadovy de Mitcheson, Y. and Liu, M. 2008. Functional hermaphroditism in teleosts. Fish and Fisheries 9: 1-43.

Senou, H., Kobayashi, Y. and Kobayashi, N. 2007. Coastal fishes of the Miyako Group the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. Bulletin of Kanagawa Prefectural Museum (Natural Science) 36: 47-74.

Shao, K.T. 2008. The Fish Database of Taiwan. Available at:

Shibuno, T., H. Murakami, H. Hashimoto and Gushima, K. 1993. Growth-related changes in diet and foraging behavior of the wrasse Thalassoma cupido at Kuchierabu-jima. Journal of the Faculty of Applied Biological Science Hiroshima University 32(2): 93-100.

Shinohara, G., Sato, Y. and Matsuura, K. 2000. Coastal fishes of Ishima Island, Tokushima, Japan. Memoirs of the National Science Museum Tokyo 33: 175-186.

Thresher, R.E. 1984. Reproduction in reef fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Ltd.

Wood, L. 2007. MPA Global: A database of the world’s marine protected areas. Available at:

Citation: Shea, S., Liu, M. & Sadovy, Y. 2010. Thalassoma cupido. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187446A8537893. . Downloaded on 16 January 2017.
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