Thalassoma quinquivittatum or the ‘Kinky’ wrasse is a very common, cheap and small species which deserves some attention for many reasons. The Thalassoma genus is diverse and large, containing about 28 species. Sometimes referred to as moon or lunar wrasses, these long slender fish swim in a bird like fashion by flapping their pectoral fins which they primarily use for locomotion. Like Cirrhilabrus and Paracheilinus, male Thalassoma wrasses are more gaudily colored and can display enhanced coloration during courtship. Many species are offered to the trade and most are generally affordable and Thalassoma quinquevittatum is one such species.
Thalassoma quinquevittatum is commonly offered to the hobby and comes out of the Indian Ocean. Full grown males are gorgeous and very affordable, yet sometimes avoided due to their size. In their unaroused state, males are greenish-blue with sinuous magenta markings on the face. The purple-pink coloration belts down equatorially across the body, and looks much like a ladder with closely fitted rungs.
The nuptial coloration for this species is spectacular. The magenta stripes and markings intensifies to a deep violet, and the body takes on a lustrous yellow coloration. All previously green body stripes are then enhanced to a turquoise coloration. The nuptial display is best observed in a large tank with multiple females.
Thalassoma quinquevittatum is colored similarly to two other species – Thalassoma schwanenfeldii and the Red Sea endemic, Thalassoma rueppellii. It can be easily differentiated from the other two by its unique facial markings. If you’re looking for a big bold wrasse, do consider the Thalassoma moon wrasses. They’re beautiful, practically un-killable and affordable. Just be sure you have a big enough tank for them to feel comfortable in.