There are two pintail fairy wrasses, the large Cirrhilabrus lanceolatus usually from Japan and the smaller Cirrhilabrus cf. lanceolatus which is known from Japan and the northern Philippines. In regards to the smaller dwarf pintail, this is an undescribed species sometimes referred to as Cirrhilabrus sp. 1 but there is a lot to describe on this exquisite little reef fish.
We have to confess that when it comes to aquarium wrasses, we very much enjoy many different species of labrids, especially Flashers and Fairies in other people’s aquariums. That is, except for the dwarf Cirrhilabrus like C. johnsoni and this C. cf. lanceolatus. Like C. squirei, these “dwarf” fairy wrasses have a lot more patterning than their larger brethren and the females are especially endowed with delicate, beautiful markings on both the face and the body.
ABout four years ago there was a minute trickle of this species of the pintail fairy wrasse and the demand was so great and immediate that very few made it to the United States, and we recall one specimen at LiveAquaria approaching $1000 at the retail level. The good news is, that divers employed by RVS Fishworld Inc. have discovered a honey pot in the northern Philippines where they are finally starting to find the dwarf pintail fairy wrasse in decent numbers.
Like so many reef fish species before it, what was once a holy grail once a year specimen is now going to be enjoyed by a greater swath of fairy wrasse enthusiasts. The new honey pot of the Cirrhilabrus cf. lanceolatus are being found at rubble bottoms at a very reasonable 90 ft depth which means that not only are the fish easier to catch and divers can collect more, but the fish are responding well in decompression and arriving at dealers tanks in extremely good condition.
If you should happen upon some dwarf pintail fairy wrasses at your local fish store, this is one sweet species to consider for a reef tank. They’re hardy, they stay small and don’t “overgrow” the way that the large fairy wrasses can, and a mature adult male will reward you with color and pattern to knock your socks off. What we particularly love about the dwarf pintail fairy wrasse is no matter how long you’ve been keeping reef tanks and saltwater fish, you’ll remember the first time you see this species in full glory.