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|Moon wrasse, Thalassoma lunare, a typical wrasse|
They are typically small fish, mostly less than 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, although the largest, the Humphead wrasse, can measure up to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft).
Wrasses can put their jaws forwards, usually with separate jaw teeth that jut outwards.
Many species can be recognized by their thick lips. The inside of these lips is curiously folded, which gave rise the German name of Lippfische. The dorsal fin has 8–21 spines and 6–21 soft rays, usually running most of the length of the back.
Wrasse are sexually dimorphic. Many species are capable of changing sex. Juveniles are a mix of males and females (known as Initial Phase or IP individuals) but the largest adults become territory-holding (Terminal Phase or TP) males.
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