News / Species Spotlight / Species Spotlight - Magma Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus shutmani) (12/26/17)

Species Spotlight - Magma Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus shutmani)

Species Spotlight - Magma Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus shutmani)
One of the most sensational new species to enter the aquarium trade in recent years has been the brightly colored Magma Fairy Wrasse. It was discovered little more than a year ago by divers working in the northernmost reefs of the Philippines. Specifically, it comes to us from an undersea volcano called Didicas, which, together with its fiery colors, gives this fish its common name.

However, up until quite recently, it had lacked a scientific name. In a recent paper, researchers finally were finally able to describe it based on a series of specimens collected for the aquarium trade. The brand new Cirrhilabrus shutmani is named for Barnett Shutman, who has helped to make this species available to aquarists. Barnetts talented team of divers had to descend to around 200 feet deep to collect these specimens, carefully using nets to corral these fishes in the limited bottom time available. As anyone who has ever had to capture a fairy wrasse in an aquarium can tell you, that is a truly impressive feat.

The Magma Fairy Wrasse belongs to a diverse subgroup of short-finned Cirrhilabrus that occurs all across the Indo-Pacific in mesophotic habitats. The most familiar of these is Hawaiis Cirrhilabrus jordani, which is thought to be a close relative of C. shutmani based on their similar color palettes. Other examples include C. earlei from Micronesia, C. lanceolatus from Japan, C. rubrisquamis in the Maldives and C. roseafascia from the West Pacific.

Compared to many of their cousins in the genus, these fairy wrasses are especially robust in stature, typically reaching around six inches in length (and longer for those that develop a highly lanceolate caudal fin). However, the largest known specimen of C. shutmani is only about half this length. This would seem to indicate that weve yet to see this species in its fully mature splendor. What would a six-inch Magma Fairy Wrasse look like? Aquarists fortunate enough to acquire this fish will someday find out.