If you see this popular beauty at your fish retailers… pick it up quick, as the Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse won’t stay there for long!

With its very distinct coloration, the Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse (also known as the Deep-sea Fairy Wrasse, the Holmes Fairy Wrasse, and the Hooded Fairy Wrasse), is quite an attractive aquarium fish. It is very similar to another Cirrhilabrus species (currently unnamed) from the Fiji / Tonga region.

Easy to keep in captivity, the Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse will accept almost any food and is easy to maintain. It will become a hardy pet but it may not come out from hiding places in the beginning. This fish is not aggressive or territorial but a large male may fight with new comers of the tank or dart quickly into a crevice when an aggressive fish approaches. 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

Rosy-Fin Fairy Wrasse males, Cirrhilabrus bathyphilus

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Lively Rosy-Fin Fairy Wrasse males feeding, also called the Hooded Fairy Wrasse.

The Rosy-Fin Fairy Wrasses (Cirrhilabrus bathyphilus) are beautiful fish that are great for any reef! They are on the smaller side of the Cirrhilabrus Wrasses at about 4″ in length, so should not be housed with aggressive or territorial fish. Larger ones that get up to 6 or 7″ can hold their own with most tangs and angelfish. They can be more prone to attacking others in their genus and should be kept with larger fairy wrasses that are not aggressive. This is another beautiful fish that is often collected from deeper levels in the ocean. They are very easy to care for once acclimated, but make sure you get a healthy specimen that has been properly decompressed.

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

The Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse is also known as the Hooded Fairy Wrasse (see below), the Deep-sea Fairy Wrasse, and the Holmes Fairy Wrasse. It is found in the Western Pacific; in the Holmes and Flora Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Chesterfield Bank, and Vanuatu. A male was collected as a holotype from Holmes Reef in 2001, the first collection was made in the Chesterfield Bank in 1984, and Cirrhilabrus bathyphilus was described by Randall & Nagareda in 2002.
This species was first collected in the Chesterfield Bank, near New Caledonia and the collection was made by trawling at the depth of 60-217 meters. No living specimens were known until 2001 when some living specimens were caught, and then their coloration in life was reported. These specimens were collected at the depths of 6-8 meters.
Recent shipments from Vanuatu contain many individuals of the species that have a distinct coloration; males differ in having a red portion on the anterior part of body, and a red dorsal fin with a dark area posteriorly. The Vanuatu specimens are called “Hooded Fairy Wrasse” by native divers in Vanuatu. Females of both areas (Holmes Reef & Vanuatu) are almost identical. Coloration of males from the Chesterfield Bank is not known as mentioned above. Those from Vanuatu have two populations. Males from Efate Island (northern part) and those from Tanna Island (southern part) are somewhat distinct; the latter has an orange-red band on middle of body extending from anterior part.
The Vanuatu males will change colors while displaying; their caudal fin turns red and a brilliant blue stripe appears on the edge.

Picture of a Hooded Fairy Wrasse from VanuatuHooded Fairy Wrasse (from Vanuatu) Photos Courtesy: Hiroyuki Tanaka


These fish are not endangered.


The Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse is a true species from the Holmes and Flora Reefs, and it is sexually dimorphic. Males are red in the upper 2/3 portion of body, the rest is yellow to orangish yellow with the anterior part of abdomen slightly yellowish. The dorsal fin is yellow posteriorly with a broad purple band on the 2/3 basal part of fin, black distally, and with a black area around first and second spines. The pectoral fins are reddish, pelvic fins are yellowish, the caudal fin is yellowish with a black sub-margin and purple outer margin, and the anal fin is yellow with a purple outer margin.
Females are overall orange-red, the abdomen is yellow, and there are several lines on the side. The base of the pectoral fin is orangish and ther is an outstanding black spot around first spine of dorsal fin, the fins are slightly yellowish.
Juveniles are similar to females.

Length/Diameter of fish:

Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse adults will grow to just over 10 cm (4 inches).

Maintenance difficulty and compatibility:

Very easy and no special care is needed to keep the Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse or Hooded Fairy Wrasse in the aquarium, and it will accept almost any food. It is not aggressive or territorial but a large male may fight with new comers of the tank or dart quickly into a crevice when an aggressive fish approaches. The tank should be well decorated with rocks/ corals with many hiding places. It may frighten and jump out, so the aquarium should be firmly covered on the top. It will do well kept together with larger but non-aggressive species.
The Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse or Hooded Fairy Wrasse would be a good choice for any reef-type aquarium, doing well in coral-rich aquariums 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 six specimens of this species of 7-8 cm long males (from Vanuatu) and a 3 cm long female (from Holmes Reef) in a fish only tank with some other several fairy and flasher wrasses without any trouble.


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 Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse or Hooded 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.

Picture of a female Rosy-fin Fairy WrasseRosy-fin Fairy Wrasse (female) Photos Courtesy: Hiroyuki Tanaka

Aquarium Parameters:

Minimum Tank Length/Size:
The tank size of at least 60x30x30 cm should be provided for large males.
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 Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasse or Hooded Fairy Wrassese can be seen solitarily or in a small group. They are not uncommon in their natural habitat and dwell in waters of 25-52 meters.

Sex: Sexual differences:

The Rosy-fin Fairy Wrasses or Hooded Fairy Wrasses are sexually dimorphic. While the males body is red in the upper 2/3 portion of body and the rest is yellow to orangish yellow, the female has an overall orange-red body and the abdomen is yellow. See the description section above for more detailed information.


It has not yet been aquacultured.


This species is rarely seen at retailers. Specimens available range 7 – 8 cm, and juveniles will be shipped on very rare occasions. It costs at least US $250.00.