Cirrhilabrus claire is quite possibly the world’s rarest and least known fairy wrasse and holy grail is all but a plastic cup to this species. Since its discovery in 2001, there has only been two dead holotype pictures and absolutely zero information on it. The pair above from BlueHarbor is the first ever specimens to be photographed alive, and is also the first pair to enter the trade.
For years, the existence and actual appearance of C. claire have painfully eluded even the most hardcore wrasse aficionados. Based on the dead specimen and description of the fish, males are yellow dorsally fading to a pale lavender pink below with a dusky yellow head with purple bands. The facial markings and overall coloration suggests a close resemblance to the Hawaiian and Johnston atoll endemic Cirrhilabrus johnsoni, the Flame wrasse.
With the first ever male female pair to enter the trade, we finally have an actual idea what this highly elusive species looks like. Like in the original description, males are yellowish dorsally and overall a light lavender pink. The head is yellow above but lavender just below the eye, giving it a very unusual and unique two-toned appearance. Although not the most colorful and visually stunning wrasse, this species is still spectacular in its own way and has eluded everyone for the longest possible time. Even Rudie Kuiter’s giant wrasse bible listed this species as “N/A”, since there was basically no information or pictures available.
It is almost certain that this pair of C. claire was collected along side the Narcosis Angelfish. If so, then like the Peppermint Angelfish and the Narcosis Angelfish, C. claire just had its range extended beyond the deep reefs of Rarotonga where it was first discovered. We cannot wait for BlueHarbor to release more pictures and hopefully a video of this breath taking fish when it settles down. For now, wrasse lovers can sleep well knowing that C. claire is the final member of the genus to have its picture taken and digitized forever.