Though a small fish, the Yellow-fin Fairy Wrasse is a multicolored beauty… a striking addition to the marine aquarium!

One of the more attractive aquarium fishes, the Yellow-fin Fairy Wrasse is lavishly colored. It closely resembles and is very similar to C. lubbocki from almost the same region that was described at the same time.

Very easily kept in captivity, the Yellow-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. It will not harm any polyp of stony or soft corals, so it would be an excellent tank mate for reef aquariums. 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

Yellow-Fin Fairy Wrasse adult, Cirrhilabrus flavidorsalis

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Just keep swimming…..

The Yellow-Fin Fairy Wrasse is a pretty chill customer, getting along with pretty much everyone! They are great with any peaceful fish, and even get along with others in their genus, as long as they are similar in size when added and all added at the same time as juveniles. A 50 gallon tank will suit them just fine and they will quickly adapt to prepared foods. Fairy wrasses love mysis shrimp and can hide if they are added after other larger or more aggressive fish. Add your Yellow-Fin first along with any other fairy wrasses and let them settle in before adding other fish. Put a lid on the tank as they can jump if startled. They are great in a reef or fish only tank and are easy to care for!

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

The Yellow-fin Fairy Wrasse is found in the Western Central Pacific; in the Philippines, Indonesia, Palau, and eastern Malaysia. A male was first collected as a holotype from Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia in 1978, and Cirrhilabrus flavidorsalis was described by Randall & Carpenter in 1980.
The species was known mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia from where many individuals have been exported. Several Japanese divers reported it from Palau, and males were only recently photographed also in Mabul, eastern Malaysia (rare).


These fish are not listed in the IUNC Red List.


The Yellow-fin Fairy Wrasse is sexually dimorphic. Males are red in the upper 2/3 – 3/4 portion of their body, the abdomen is pinkish to white, and there are three vertical whitish bands on the side. The dorsal fin is yellow distally, red basally, and transparent posteriorly. Pelvic fins are white, the caudal fin is pinkish, and the anal fin is white to bluish.
Females overall are orange-red with a white abdomen and a black spot on the upper side of caudal peduncle. Their fins are transparent.
This species is distinguishable from its close relative C. lubbocki by color pattern; the yellow part of dorsal fin in males of C. flavidorsalis is restricted to base of the fin, while in C. lubbocki the fin is overall yellow. C. lubbocki is variable in coloration and some have a yellow dorsal fin but some possess a pinkish orange one. Females of these species are almost identical.

Length/Diameter of fish:

Yellow -fin Fairy Wrasse adults will grow to 8 cm (3.1 inches).

Picture of a female Yellowfin Fairy WrasseYellowfin Fairy Wrasse (female) Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Hiroyuki Tanaka

Maintenance difficulty and compatibility:

Very easily kept. No special care is needed for this species 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 Yellow-fin Fairy Wrasse 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 over ten specimens of this species of 3 – 8 cm long males and females (from the Philippines and Indonesia) in fish only tanks and reefs with some other several fairy and flasher wrasses, and they did very well without any trouble. Two males of the same size did well without any serious fighting.
Males will exhibit a more vivid white coloration on their sides when excited. One 8 cm long male had an entirely whitish fat body with four pinkish bands on the side, and it might be called a ‘super male’. It kept its coloration without any change.


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 Yellow-fin 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 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 Yellow-fin Fairy Wrasse can be seen solitarily or in a small group. They are not uncommon in their natural habitat and dwells at depths of 6 – 40 meters.

Sex: Sexual differences:

The Yellow-fin Fairy Wrasses are sexually dimorphic. While the males body is red on the upper portion of the body with three vertical whitish bands on the side, the female has an overall red-orange body. See the description section above for more detailed information.


It has not yet been aquacultured.


This species is commonly available at retailers. Specimens often seen range 5 – 6 cm, and are priced around US $20.00 – $25.00. Females are also available on occasion but due to their almost identical appearance, females or juveniles sold as C. flavidorsalis could be those of C. lubbocki.