A most striking fish, the Flame Fairy Wrasse is possibly one of the most popular of the Fairy Wrasses!

   The Flame Fairy Wrasse is quite a pretty aquarium pet. It is similar superficially to some other members of the genus, especially to Kato’s Fairy Wrasse Cirrhilabrus katoi from southern Japan, but it is identifiable by color pattern. There are now a total of 43 known species in the genus Cirrhilabrus (Allen, 2006).

   Easy to keep in captivity, the Flame Fairy Wrasse will accept almost any food and is easy to maintain. It will become a hardy pet but at first it may not come out from hiding places. It can do well together with larger non-aggressive species. A group of several individuals of the fairy wrasses might be kept successfully but they would fight at first. All of the Cirrhilabrus species often are very colorful and are easy to keep for a long period if properly cared for. But they sometimes suffer from “ich” (white spot disease) or other infectious diseases. They can be treated successfully with medical care or a copper drug.

For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Labridae
  • Genus: Cirrhilabrus
  • Species: jordani
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Habitat: Natural geographic location:

    The Flame Fairy Wrasse is found in the Eastern Central Pacific; Hawaiian Islands, Midway, and Johnston Atolls, where it inhabits the seaward reefs. First collected from Hawaii, Cirrhilabrus jordani was described by Snyder in 1904.


   These fish are not listed in the IUNC Red List.


 The Flame Fairy Wrasses are sexually dimorphic. The males upper 1/3 of their body and back is red, the rest of body is yellow. There are two stripes just above and below eye with the upper stripe beginning at the upper snout and extending onto the back. The dorsal and caudal fins are red, the anal and pelvic fins are yellow.
   Females are entirely pinkish red; whitish ventrally, and the chest is white. The fins are reddish yellow.

Length/Diameter of fish:

   Flame Fairy Wrasse adults were long thought to grow to 10 cm (3.9 inches) at most, but divers recently found and collected some 13 cm (5.1 inches) individuals in deeper waters.

Maintenance difficulty and compatibility:

   No special care is needed to keep the Flame Fairy Wrasse in captivity; it will accept almost any food and is easy to maintain. It is not a shy fish but it will quickly dart into a crevice when a danger approaches. The tank should be well decorated with rocks/ corals with many hiding places even if it is an adult. It may jump out of the tank so be sure to cover the top of the tank firmly.
   It can be a very good choice for any reef, doing well in a coral-rich tank with sessile inverts and/ or a fish community tank, but it may harm some small species of shrimps. Select tank mates that are larger and not very aggressive. Larger and rather territorial angelfishes like the members of Centropyge, Apolemichthys, Genicanthus, Chaetodontoplus and Pygoplites will be acceptable. Smaller cardinalfishes, gobies, tilefishes, butterflyfishes, fairy basslets, other fairies and flasher wrasses, etc. can be kept together.
   I have kept three specimens of the species; one female and two males, in a fish only tank with some other fairy and flasher wrasses without any problem.


   Meaty foods, dried flakes, and dried shrimps are acceptable and it will also feed on tablets.If kept with too large or aggressive fish species it may not take any food, except perhaps in the corner or behind rocks.


   Like all wrasses, the Flame Fairy Wrasse is very energetic so needs frequent feedings. Feed at least twice a day. As it does not harm any polyp of stony or soft corals, it is an excellent candidate for reef-type aquariums. Make sure there is open space for free swimming and many crevices to hide in. Frequent water changes are not needed. When doing water changes, it will tolerate a sudden small change but the water temperature should be kept the same.

Picture of a female Flame Fairy Wrasse
Female Flame Fairy Wrasse Photo Courtesy: Hiroyuki Tanaka

Aquarium Parameters:

Minimum Tank Length/Size:
   The tank size of at least 60x30x30 cm should be provided.
Light: Recommended light levels
   It can be kept under strong lights or in a dim-light tank..
   Keep the water temperature at around 75 – 79° F (24 – 26° C). This species lives in tropical to subtropical areas, but higher than 84° F (29° C) or below 68° F (20° C) would not be good.
Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong
   Water movement is not a significant condition, but slow-moving water is recommended as it needs a slow flow in the tank to feed.
Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom
   It usually is actively swimming near the bottom and it will venture to the surface for foods.

Social Behaviors:

   The species of Cirrhilabrus live in their natural habitat by forming a harem of one dominant male, several females and juveniles. The Flame Fairy Wrasse can be seen solitarily or in a small group but is a deepwater dweller. Though not uncommon in their natural habitat it loves deeper waters of more than 30 meters, there skillful divers can encounter the species on occasion.

Sex: Sexual differences:

  The Flame Fairy Wrasses are sexually dimorphic. The males upper 1/3 of their body and back is red the rest of their body is yellow, while the females body is entirely pinkish red.


   It has not yet been aquacultured.


   This species can be seen at retailers on occasion. Specimens available range between 4 – 10 cm (1.6 – 3.9 inches) long, and on rare occasions very large individuals nearly 13 cm (5 inches) are obtainable. It is available at a price of about US $100.00.