The beautiful Red-eyed Solar Fairy Wrasse sports a variety of colors, and is always gorgeous!

The Solar Fairy Wrasse Cirrhilabrus solorensis is an eye catching wrasse species that can be found in a multitude of colors. There are a number of names that this wrasse fish is known by. They are all about its coloration with each an attempt to describe it. Names it is commonly referred to include Red-eyed Fairy Wrasse, Redheaded Fairy Wrasse, Solar Fairy Wrasse, Clown Fairy Wrasse, and Tricolor Fairy Wrasse.

With its great looks and ease of care, this Redheaded Fairy Wrasse is one of the most popular wrasse fish. It does great in a reef tank and is is also good in a community aquarium. It is generally peaceful and it gets along well with many other types of fish as well as other fairy wrasses. It is considered reef safe because it generally will not bother corals, ornamental shrimp, or other bottom dwelling invertebrates. There are a few types of fish it doesn’t tolerate, like dottybacks and basslets that are similar in size and feeding habits. Some others to avoid are slow feeders like seahorses, and large aggressive or predatory fish.

This Red-eyed Fairy Wrasse is very friendly and smart. They have a curious and active nature, and will eventually even eat from your hand. Those great qualities along with being easy to care for, make this fish a wonderful addition for any marine enthusiast.

For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium

Solar Fairy Wrasse

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The Solar Fairy Wrasses (Cirrhilabrus solorensis) swiming behavior shows its natural curiosity!

The Solar Fairy Wrasse is a great addition to any reef! It is in the middle range of the Cirrhilabrus group for size and braveness. They do not do well with aggressive fish, but can be housed with others of the same genus with relative ease. They jump when they are afraid and in a smaller tank with more aggressive fish like tangs, they can be chased right out of the tank! They will spin a cocoon in the rocks to sleep in at night. Be sure to have the scientific name handy when obtaining this fish, because although its confusing, this wrasse is often errpneously called the Red Head Wrasse or Clown Wrasse too. And both these names are actually attributed to other wrasses!

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Labridae
  • Genus: Cirrhilabrus
  • Species: solorensis
Solar Fairy Wrasse – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L)
  • Size of fish – inches: 5.1 inches (12.95 cm)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 78.0° F (22.2 to 25.6&deg C)
  • Range ph: 8.1-8.4
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Solar Fairy Wrasse Cirrhilabrus solorensis was described by Bleeker in 1853. A male was first collected as a holotype in Solor Island, Indonesia. They are found in the indo/pacific, ranging from northeastern Sulawesi south to the Banda Seas and Flores, and west to Bali, and possibly Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.Common names they are known by includeSolar Fairy Wrasse, Red-eyed Fairy Wrasse, Redheaded Fairy Wrasse, Clown Fairy Wrasse,andTricolor Fairy Wrasse.

They inhabit outer reef faces and fore-reef slope, coastal to outer reef lagoons, on coral and rubble habitats. Wrasses in the Cirrhilabrus genus are often found in moderately shallow areas, but also inhabit depths to 66 feet (20 m).

This species is often confused with other similar species. It is very close in appearance to, and sometimes confused with, the Goldback or Orangeback Fairy Wrasse C. aurantidorsalis (Indonesia) and the Bluehead Fairy Wrasse C. cyanopleura (West Pacific). The outstanding blue body in males is unmistakable but females with a red body cause much confusion. C. solorensis usually has a bluish abdomen in female form, and C. cyanopleura a white one. It is also close to Yellow Streaked or Yellow-band Fairy Wrasse C. luteovittatus (Mariana & Marshall Islands) and Randall’s or Shoals Fairy Wrasse C. randalli (off shores of Western Australia).

  • Scientific Name: Cirrhilabrus solorensis
  • Social Grouping: Groups – They live in their natural habitat in small or large groups, occasionally mixed with other fairy wrasses. They usually form a larger group, and a harem. Large females can make an aggregation as well.
  • IUCN Red List: DD – Data Deficient – There is no data on population trends or status, this species is considered common.


The Solar Fairy Wrasse Cirrhilabrus solorensis is highly variable in color and was once considered to be a color variant of the Bluehead Fairy Wrasse Cirrhilabrus cyanopleura. This wrasse fish has a very colorful body with a yellow to light orange face and an orangish/red forehead. The scales just below its colorful dorsal fin are a velvet/blue, then turning green until reaching the belly area which is white. They are also sexually dimorphic, meaning they can change sexes.

The color of this species can vary, but all of the color forms have bright red eyes. Juveniles have basically the same coloring. Some Cirrhilabrus species may cross breed, but the general look with the red head tends to stay apparent. They can also change sex if needed.

In-depth descriptions of these fish:

  • Males
    The males are a greenish blue, abruptly becoming white or yellowish ventrally. They have a red area on head and yellow around the eye. There is a black band along the back and a broad vertical black band at the gill opening. There is a dark spot on head in some specimens. The dorsal fin mostly black, reddish distally; the pelvic fins are long and bluish; and the caudal fin is blue-black basally and yellowish distally.
  • Females
    The females are generally reddish-orange with the head being more red than the body, and the fins are slightly reddish.. There can be a faint yellowish green area centrally in some specimens. The pelvic fins are shorter than the males, and are duskier to reddish. Females can also have the same coloring as the males, just muted.
  • Size of fish – inches: 5.1 inches (12.95 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 years – They can live 5 to upwards of 10 years in captivity.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Solar Fairy Wrasse is easy to keep. These fish are generally very easy to care for and are hardy. They are generally disease free when kept and maintained in the proper environment. Avoid overcrowding, underfeeding, and poor water quality.

These wrasse fish recognize the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp for cleaning and will also tolerate the Neon Goby for parasite removal. When sleeping they spin a slime cocoon which helps keep them free from parasites that may live in the rock or sand.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy – These are generally hardy fish as long as tank parameters and water quality is met.
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – They are a moderately hardy fish.

Foods and Feeding

Like all members of the Cirrhilabrus genera, the Solar Fairy Wrasses are planktivores, adapted to feed and survive from eating mostly plankton. They eat meaty foods. Start with brine shrimp, live or frozen, and offer other protein foods as well, such as mysis, shaved shrimp and fish flesh. Feed all kinds of live and frozen foods such as squid, shrimp (the same kind people eat), mussels, and all kinds of chopped up fish.They love fresh uncolored uncooked raw salmon. A good commercial formula for wrasses is Pro-salt marine. Flake and pelleted food can also be occasionally offered. Pelleted food can be presoaked to remove any possibility of air. They will also help themselves to the copepods living in your live rock.

They have a high metabolism and require regular feedings during the day. When acquired, the Solar Fairy Wrasses are generally young. It is best to feed small amounts several times a day. Young specimens should be fed at least three times a day to ensure proper growth and health, and adults at least two times a day. Feeding several times a day will help keep the natural copepod population going, or you can add copepods every 6 weeks.

You can use prepared liquid garlic to soak food in for optimum immune health. Tubifex worms soaked in garlic is a great treat. It is worth noting that many people have reported success with feeding garlic supplements, to both combat and prevent parasitic infections such as the common marine “ich” or “white spot” (also referred to as ‘crypt’ spots). Garlic, known to have therapeutic qualities for humans is suggested to also be useful for fish, helping the fish’s immune system recognize and react to parasites.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore – In the wild these wrasse fish are planktivores, adapted to feed and survive from eating mostly plankton, so require meaty foods.
  • Flake Food: Occasionally
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet – Brine shrimp, mysis, and other types of small protein foods will be well received.
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet – Provide meaty foods including brine shrimp, live or frozen, as well such as mysis, shaved shrimp and fish flesh, squid, mussels, and all kinds of protein foods.
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Young specimens should be fed at least three times a day and adults at least twice a day.

Aquarium Care

Provide basic marine aquarium care of a 20% water change monthly or 10% twice a month unless there is presence of ammonia and/or nitrites, then an immediate water change is necessary. In a non-reef situation, they can handle higher nitrates like most fish.

  • Water Changes: Monthly – Water changes of 10% bi-weekly or 20% once a month.

Aquarium Setup

Make sure there is open space for free swimming and many crevices to hide in. It does not need a sand bed as it does not burrow, but rather it will produce a cocoon while it is sleeping among or under rocks or corals. It does not harm any live corals or small inverts. Lighting and water movement are not really significant conditions. Basically they do well under any lighting and can tolerate fast or slow water, but slow-moving water is desirable for feeding.

Like all wrasses, the Solar Fairy Wrasse may jump from an open tank when going for food, or if scared. So a lid of some kind is a must. Rock work, or live rock in a reef tank, with holes to swim in and out and around are appreciated. Substrate is inconsequential, since the Cirrhilabrus genus will spin a cocoon at night. They do not hide or sleep in the sand like the Halichoeres genus.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places – They like to have many crevices to hide in.
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Any – They have no problem with light in the aquarium.
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 78.0° F (22.2 to 25.6&deg C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.020-1.025 SG
  • Range ph: 8.1-8.4
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Any – Water movement is not a significant condition and it can be kept in a stronger flow or still water, but it needs a slow flow in a tank to feed on
  • Water Region: All – They will jump at food or if scared, so a covered top is suggested.

Social Behaviors

A good community fish, the Solar Wrasses are generally not aggressive towards other fish or bottom dwelling invertebrates. Smaller and non-aggressive fish as well as wrasses of other genera can be kept, if these are as active or larger. Dwarf angelfish can be good mates as well as the more docile angelfish genus, including Centropyge , Apolemichthys , Genicanthus , Chaetodontoplus and Pygoplites .

Larger and rather territorial angelfishes like Pomacanthus and Holacanthus are not recommended even when these angelfish are juveniles. They are also intolerant of some other small planktivores and highly territorial fish such as some basslets and dottybacks. These wrasse fish are also too busy and too aggressive in feeding to be put with seahorses or pipefish. Do not house them with eels, sharks, rays ,or groupers either, as these fish will eat your wrasse.

The Solar Wrasse can be kept in pairs as one will morph to the appropriate sex, however three males of their own species will be intolerant of each other. One male can be kept with four or more females. They can also be kept with other Cirrhilabrus species, yet they are one of the more aggressive fairy wrasses and may bully other fairy species. Introduce them at the same time or change the rock arrangement when introducing new Cirrhilabrus wrasses. There may possibly be tiffs, with a circular chasing on and off for the first few weeks. Feeding twice a day will also help reduce aggression.

A group of several individuals of the flasher and fairy wrasses will do successfully but they might fight at first but they would settle down soon. Keeping three different species of colorful male wrasses together has been known to prevent the eventual fading that many wrasses do in captive situations.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful – Will get along with similar sized Cirrhilabus Wrasses, and also with smaller, non-aggressive fish.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – They may be kept in pairs, as one will morph to the appropriate sex, however three males of their own species will be intolerant of each other. One male can be kept with four or more females.
    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Safe
    • Threat – They are also intolerant of some other small planktivores and highly territorial fish.
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Threat
    • Threat – They are too aggressive in feeding to be kept with seahorses or pipefish.
    • Anemones: Safe
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Safe
    • LPS corals: Safe
    • SPS corals: Safe
    • Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Safe
    • Leather Corals: Safe
    • Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Safe
    • Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Safe
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Safe
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe – May eat very tiny shrimps.
    • Starfish: Safe
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Safe
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Safe
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Threat

Sex: Sexual differences

The males have much longer pelvic fins than the females and their gill has a hard blue outline. The females can be a general reddish-orange with the head being more red than the body. Yet the colors of the Cirrhilabrus solorensis can be quite variable, and sometimes the females may be colored the same as males, just more muted.

Breeding / Reproduction

Unknown in captivity as of yet. It may be the same as other members of the genus, where a male will move rapidly with more gorgeous coloration to attract and invite its mate to spawn and push out sperm in the water column.

  • Ease of Breeding: Unknown

Fish Diseases

Cirrhilabrus wrasses in general are not prone to disease. As with all Cirrhilabrus members, these wrasses are hardy against most infectious diseases. They spin a cocoon at night so most parasites don’t get a chance to attach, but on occasion they suffer from “ich” (white spot disease). They can be treated successfully with medicine or a copper drug. At times, they may injure themselves and get an infection at the site of the injury if the water is not in good condition.

To learn all about fish problems and find specific answers, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Solar Fairy Wrasse is available most of the year from pet stores and on the internet. Females are more often seen in the aquarium trade than males.