The Ballan Wrasse is perhaps one of the most flamboyant species of fish found within the British Isles. It is found in an array of different colours that one would expect to see on a tropical coral reef instead of the cooler waters around the North West Atlantic. It is heavy bodied with a broad head and thick lips with a distinctive reddish or brown colour often complimented by variable stripes and/or spots.


It lives fairly close to shore, particularly in areas with a coverage of seaweed. The Ballan Wrasse rarely exceeds depths of 30 meters, making it a great animal to see whilst snorkelling or diving.


The Ballan Wrasse possesses a strong jaw that is lined by teeth which are used for grasping and crushing small shellfish and crustaceans.

Predators & Threats

There is little commercial value for this fish and it has only been targeted by fishermen in recent years in response to their popularity within Japanese restaurants. However, the species are currently unmanaged and could be threatened in the future.


  • All Ballan Wrasse are female to begin with, they breed as females until they are around 6 years old. At this age, some begin to change into males.
  • Younger fish can be easily distinguished by a distinctive-bright emerald green colour.


Common Name(s)Scientific Name
Ballan WrasseLabrus bergylta
 Up to about 50cm in length
≤ 30 years

Best Time to Look

All year round.

Where to find Ballan Wrasse