Redhead Fairy Wrasse

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Cirrhilabrus solorensis - Bleeker, 1853
Redhead Fairy Wrasse

A stunning and hardy fairy wrasse. Scott W. Michael


Once a rare sensation, this species has become relatively common in reef aquariums in recent years.

The colors of this species are highly variable. The large males are brilliantly hued, sometimes appearing with a rich-orange body and scarlet face and head.

Adult male, variant.

Females and small males, with duller coloration, are most common in the aquarium trade but will readily acclimate to captivity and will develop brilliant colors with proper care and feeding.

This species was once considered to be a color variant of C. cyanopleura, the Bluehead Fairy Wrasse. Cirrhilabrus solorensis males generally, but not always, have a dark red head, a purple crescent-shaped mark along the edge of the gill cover and onto the throat, greenish flanks, and a white belly. Small females are red with a small, black spot on upper caudal peduncle and a white ventrum and larger females have a reddish head, yellowish orange back, and purplish or blue ventrum.

It is thought that C. cyanopleura and this species may hybridize with odd or unusual color variants resulting.

Family: Labridae

Other common name(s):

  • Solar Fairy Wrasse
  • Red-eye Wrasse

Native range:

Habitat: The Redhead Fairy Wrasse occurs in lagoons, on the reef face, and on fore-reef slopes of coastal reefs. It is found at depths from 3 to 20 m (10 to 66 ft.) over stony corals and rubble.

Maximum length: 13 cm (5 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 209 L (55 gal)

Water: Marine 23 °C (73 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)


Meaty foods, including finely shredded frozen seafood, Mysis shrimp, frozen preparations, pigment-enriched flake food, and Cyclop-eeze. Feed at least twice a day or preferably more often.

Aquarium Compatibility

Keep only one male per tank. Harems (one male, several females) can be accommodated in larger tanks (180 gallons [684 L] or larger). While they typically ignore unrelated species and are of no threat to most invertebrates, these fairy wrasses may pick on other zooplanktivores and other ''Cirrhilabrus'' spp.


Larger males are a bit more prone to shipping maladies than the smaller males or females, but they are more durable than some of the larger Cirrhilabrus species.

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