True to its name, the Purplelined Fairy Wrasse sports some of the most distinctive colors and patterns of the Fairy Wrasses!

   The Purplelined Fairy Wrasse or Lavender Fairy Wrasse is a very handsome pet. As you can see from the pictures both above and below, it has a distinct coloration in its genus. All of the Cirrhilabrus species (now 43 species are recognized) usually are very attractive, variably colored, and are easy to keep for a long period if properly maintained. But they do sometimes suffer from “ich” (white spot disease) or other infectious diseases. They can be treated successfully with medical care or copper drugs.

   Accepting almost any food, the Purplelined Fairy Wrasse or Lavender Fairy Wrasse is an easy fish to maintain. It will become a hardy pet, though at first it may not come out from its hiding places. It can do well kept together with larger non-aggressive species. A group of several individuals of the fairy wrasses might also be kept successfully, but they would fight at first.

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: lineatus
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Habitat: Natural geographic location:

    The Purplelined Fairy Wrasse or Lavender Fairy Wrasse is found in the Southwestern Pacific; Great Barrier Reef, New Caledonia, and Loyalty Islands where it inhabits outer reef slopes at a depth of 20 – 55 meters. A female was collected as a holotype from Mato Pass, New Caledonia in 1979, and Cirrhilabrus lineatus was described by Randall & Lubbock in 1982.


   These fish are not listed in the IUNC Red List.


   The Purplelined Fairy Wrasses or Lavender Fairy Wrasses are sexually dimorphic. The body of the males is bluish overall with many lines around the head, numerous fine dots on the sides, and the abdomen is yellowish. There are long blue stripes on back and abdomen and a short blue stripe at the caudal peduncle. The head is yellowish; the caudal fin is yellowish with many fine dots, and the dorsal and anal fins are bright yellow. There is a prominent black spot on the anterior base of dorsal fin. The pectoral fins are translucent while the pelvic fins are very long and yellow, and bluish black posteriorly.

   As you can see from the pictures on the right, the males will change colors while displaying. The body will become greenish blue, the dorsal and anal fins dramatically turn white, and caudal fin bright pink. Also the pectoral fins will exhibit an orange coloration
   Females are pinkish with numerous dots and lines, whitish ventrally; the fins are yellow, and the dorsal and caudal fins have a reddish margin.
   Juveniles overall are red, with a bright yellow eye and a black spot on upper side of caudal peduncle.

Picture of a Purplelined Fairy Wrasse male in usual colors
Male – in usual colors
Picture of a Purplelined Fairy Wrasse male in display colors
Male – in display colors Photos Courtesy: Hiroyuki Tanaka

Length/Diameter of fish:

   Purplelined Fairy Wrasse or Lavender Fairy Wrasse adults will reach 12 cm (4.7 inches).

Maintenance difficulty and compatibility:

   No technical care is needed to keep this wrasse in captivity; it will accept almost any food and is easy to feed. 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 providing many hiding places. It may jump out of the tank and so it should be firmly covered on the top..
   It would be a good choice for any reef-type aquarium, doing well in 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 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 several specimens of this species; all males in a fish only tank with some several fairy and flasher wrasses without any problem.


   Meaty foods, dried flakes, and dried shrimps are favorable foods 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 Purplelined 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 tank mate for reef 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.

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 Purplelined Fairy Wrasse can be seen solitarily or in a small group but is a deepwater dweller. They are not uncommon in their natural habitat and dwell in waters of 20-55 meters.

Sex: Sexual differences:

   The Purplelined Fairy Wrasses are sexually dimorphic. While the males body is more bluish, the female has a pinkish body. See the description section above for more detailed information.


   It has not yet been aquacultured.


   This species is not uncommon at retailers. Specimens often available range 7 – 10 cm (2.8 – 4 inches) long. It is available at a price of about US $80.00.