Wrasse, Rock Cook

by David Proudfoot

Centrolabrus exoletus

species ID rock cook

Other Names

Small mouth wrasse

Distinguishing features

The rock cook is a small deep-bodied wrasse with thick lips on a small mouth, it’s also known as the small mouth wrasse. The mouth extends to less than half the distance to the eye. It only has one row of small teeth. The anal fin has 4 to 6 rays with spines at the anterior and 6 to 8 softer ones to the posterior. Its colour varies from green through brown to red on the upper back fading into yellow on the underside. Larger males have extensive blue blotches particularly on the head and on the upper fins. There is a dark semi-circular mark on the tail with a lighter band adjacent to this and on the edge of the fin.


The maximum size for a rock cook is around 15cm.

British Record Fish List

UK Mini Record: 109gms

This wrasse can to be found around European waters including the western coasts of the UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It is commonly found near to rocks and reefs with algae growths and in eel grass beds from around 2 metres to depths of 25 metres. It is known to act as a cleaner fish for other species.


The rock cook feeds heavily on small crustaceans and other benthic invertebrates.


Small crab and worm baits are effective for this wrasse although they are normally taken when targeting other species.

species ID rock cook

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