News / Species Spotlight / Species Spotlight - Splendid Pin Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus isosceles) (02/17/17)

Species Spotlight - Splendid Pin Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus isosceles)

Species Spotlight - Splendid Pin Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus isosceles)
Its not uncommon for the aquarium trade to become aware of a new species long before the scientific community has a chance to catch up, and such is the case with the eye-catching wrasse Cirrhilabrus isosceles. Specimens have been exported regularly (if infrequently) for at least the last decade, but it has only been in the last few years with increased collection in the Northern Philippines that this remarkable fish has been found in large enough numbers to be obtainable for the average aquarist.

We now know that this species is restricted almost entirely to Japan in relatively deep waters (around 100 feet). Described earlier this year by well-known aquarium blogger/photographer Lemon Yi Kai Tea, the Splendid Pin-Tail Fairy Wrasse combines some of the best features of this diverse genus. The unusually elongated shape of the caudal fin is one of its most noteworthy traits, and one which had caused some confusion regarding this fishs true identity,
Photo by Lemon Tyk
as it had long masqueraded as C. cf. lanceolatus, a rare Japanese species with an identical tail shape. Its wild mix of colors and patterns is equally remarkable, with nearly every color of the rainbow accounted for and a variety of stripes, lines, and spots adorning the males.

As with other fairy wrasses, it is the males that sport the nicest colors. Females and juveniles are instead mostly red, with some fine lines running along the body. As the females mature and become dominant, they begin a transition to the male sex and will eventually hold sway over a large group of group of females kept in a discrete territory, known as a harem. This is usually quite difficult to recreate in captivity, but, thankfully, this species does just fine on its own.

As a zooplanktivore, fairy wrasses are one of the most recommendable groups for the reef aquarium, showing no interest in bothering corals and content to dine on most frozen or dry foods. Their peaceful disposition makes them ideal for mixing with a wide range of tank mates, though care needs to be taken if attempting to mix multiple species of fairy wrasses together, especially in smaller tanks. In a diverse reef aquarium, this is one species that will shine above all others with its kaleidoscopic appearance.