Our very own Tony Vargas recently scored with a most unusual lab rid. The unusually colored fairy wrasse appears to be C. brunneus, a species recently described and previously thought to be a dark color form of Cirrhilabrus lunatus, which it is closely related to. C. brunneus is the most far out wrasse we know currently, with a color scheme unlike any other. The predominantly black body with blue highlights and that bright red eye makes for a real sleek and cool looking fish. With an appearance like that, we’re surprised it wasn’t named Cirrhilabrus diablo, or Cirrhilabrus batman.
C. brunneus was described officially by Allen in 2006, and was long thought to be a variation of C. lunatus. As far as we know, the only specimens photographed in captivity belonged to Dr. Hiroyuki Tanaka, an expert on Cirrhilabrus in his own right. Unlike all other fancily colored fairy wrasses, this species is entirely black sans the blue highlights on the fins and the yellow belly. It can vary the amount of black displayed according to its mood, and can turn jet black as seen in the picture above. The type specimen came from north-eastern Kalimantan, Indonesia, but aquarium specimens were collected in Sulawesi, and an adult was photographed underwater in Liloan, Cebu.
Tony acquired his gorgeous Philippine specimen from RVS Fish World, which came together with a Cirrhilabrus lunatus pictured above. C. lunatus is a japanese denizen and specimens caught from Indonesia and Philippines are decidedly different looking, and may one day turn out to be a separate species as well. Regardless, the two rare fairy wrasses are now happily living in the care of Tony Vargas, and that means they are living in nothing short of luxury.