Tuesday, June 10, 2008


A large male Cirrhilabrus roseafascia - the redtripe fairy wrasse - displaying at a rival. Photo Scott W. Michael.

The splendid fairy wrasse is certainly worthy of its name! Scott W. Michael.

How about that for an amazing fairy wrasse! This is a large male Cirrhilabrus roseafascia Randall & Lubbock, 1982, which is known commonly as the redstripe, roseband or pink-banded fairy wrasse. It gets around 20 cm in length and is known from New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Palau and the Philippines. (Most of those in the aquarium trade are coming from Vanuatu and Tonga.) This large, beautiful fairy wrasse is found on deep reef slopes and drop-offs. It has been reported from 30 to 113 m, although juveniles may occur at lesser depths. It is a spectacular display animal (as you can see from the photograph).

The redstripe fairy wrasse tends to acclimate readily, but may acclimate more quickly if housed in a deepwater reef or dimly lit aquarium. They are not particularly aggressive, but because they tend to be larger than most congeners, they are usually the dominant fairy wrasse in the tank. It is a good jumper. Mostly females and small to medium-sized males found in the trade. The large males are ostentatious! Male C. roseafascia tend to be pink overall with an orange line along the back, often with a yellow dorsal and anal fin. It is distinguished by close relatives by the pelvic fins, with have a blue and or black and blue patch. The male in the photo above is displaying toward another fish.

There is another, closely related form that sometimes comes into the aquarium trade. It is apparently undescribed and is commonly known as the splendid or pintail fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus sp.). It differs from C. roseafascia in that is has a lanceolate caudal fin (a pointed tail). This species is also known from the Izu and Ryuku Islands, Taiwan, and the Philippines and reaches a maximum length of 12 cm. It has been reported from deepwater (32 to 40 m).While it has been referred to as Cirrhilabrus cf. lanceolatus in the past (Kuiter 2002), it is no doubt a distinct species. It makes it into the aquarium trade on rare occasions and does well in captivity. I have seen it available at www.liveaquaria.com on rare occasions. In fact, the specimen in the photo above was in the tank of the manager of liveaquaria.com, my fish buddy, Kevin Kohen. You can regularly find C. roseafascia at this website (click on the link on the right side of the page), although large males are less frequently available.
Copyright (2008) Scott W. Michael

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