Blue Flasher Wrasse

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Paracheilinus cyaneus - Kuiter & Allen, 1999
Blue Flasher Wrasse

Flashing—and flashy—male. Scott W. Michael


A newcomer to the aquarium trade and first described just 10 years ago, The Blue Flasher Wrasse is a wonderful reef fish that can be the highlight of a peaceful community tank.

Males are most spectacular when they "flash" (display) toward other fishes or their reflections in the aquarium glass.

In Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, it often mixes with Filamented Flasher Wrasses (P. filamentosus) and Tono’s Fairy Wrasses (Cirrhilabrus tonozukai). In other regions, it has been reported from shallow reef crests and on sheltered reefs at depths of 6 to 35 m (20 to 114 ft.). It will hybridize with P. filamentosus.

Variant male; note lyretail.

With the possible exception of their close relatives (e.g., fairy wrasses) or other small planktivores (e.g., fire gobies), flasher wrasses are rarely aggressive toward other fishes. These infrequent bouts of aggression usually consist of displaying or, on rare occasions, chasing a newly introduced fish.

These wrasses are not a threat to invertebrates, with the possible exception of small anemone shrimp (Periclimenes spp.), and for this reason they are welcome introductions to the invertebrate tank.

They are also great for reef tanks because they spend most of their time in the water column and serve as “dither” fish, encouraging other small, shy fish to spend more time in the open.

They can be kept in groups and, in fact, in some cases they do best if a male and one or more females are kept together. One of the most rewarding things about keeping flasher wrasses in groups is that the males will display more. These colorful displays are important in courtship and defending females from neighboring rivals. Solitary males will occasionally “flash” at their reflections in the aquarium glass.

Family: Labridae

Other common name(s):

  • Peacock Flasher Wrasse

Native range:

Habitat: Should have rocky caves and crevices into which to bolt if it feels threatened, along with an expanse of open water above or in front of the reef.

Maximum length: 8 cm (3 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 76 L (20 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: Midwater.


Zooplankton feeders.

Flasher wrasses are not picky eaters but should be given a varied diet to ensure the maintenance of good health and vibrant coloration.

Finely chopped seafoods and frozen preparations with added amino acids and pigments are great staple foods for your wrasses. Avoid feeding them only brine shrimp or flake foods. Flasher wrasses should be fed at least once a day in order to maintain their body weight. Since they feed on zooplankton and rarely pick at organisms on live rock, they will not thrive in the reef tank if they are fed infrequently.

Aquarium Compatibility

If you decide to keep more than one flasher wrasse in the same aquarium, it is important to introduce all individuals to the tank at the same time, or introduce the less aggressive females before the male(s). I have successfully kept more than one male in the same aquarium, but they must be introduced simultaneously, whether the males are of the same or different species. Your chances of successfully keeping two males together are greatly increased if the tank is of larger dimensions. I would not recommend keeping two males of the same species in a tank smaller than the standard 135 gallons, and in some cases a tank with this surface area may be too small.


Pelagic eggs and larvae. Captive rearing not yet reported.


Paracheilinus cyaneus is unique in have eight or nine filaments on the dorsal fin (some populations of Indonesian P. filamentosus have up to nine, but most have six or fewer), and fine lines or rows of spots between the larger violet lines on the body. Flashing males are bright iridescent blue to white over most of head onto the dorsal fin, although the dorsal filaments are red.

Reference: Reef Fishes Volume 5
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM