The top photo above shows a flasher wrasse that I photographed on the “house reef” at Kungkugan Bay Resort, Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi. When I first took the shot I thought it was simply a filamented flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus filamentosus). (It is not actually flashing, but has its fins spread as it is being cleaned by a juvenile tubelip wrasse [Labropsis].) While it is no doubt similar to P. filamentosus (it has the lunate tail, has multiple dorsal fin filaments and the color pattern is similar overall), after further analysis I am convinced it is an undescribed species.
Why do I say that? Compare the size of the dorsal and anal fins of the two species above. In the Lembeh fish these fins are much deeper than those of the "true" Papua New Guinea P. filamentosus. Also, note the dorsal filaments and how close some of them are together – they almost appear to be paired, while those of the "true" P. filamentosus are more randomly distributed along the fin edge. There are similarities in the general coloration, but yet there are certainly differences. Neither individual in the photos above are exhibiting their “flashing” colors. Note the red on the dorsal and anal fins of the male Lembeh flasher. Also note the ventral coloration – the "true" P. filamentosus has a pinkish-white belly, while that of the Lembeh flasher is orangish yellow. It will take the collection of the Lembeh fish and some closer examination, as well as DNA analysis. What do you think? Different or color morphs of the same fish?
Copyright (2008) Scott W. Michael