This is a public service announcement for all Fairy Wrasse aficionados. As you may have known, we are embarking on a cursory phylogenetic review of the genus Cirrhilabrus in all its intimate and baroque detail. As fun as it is comparing morphological data, we are unable to fully understand the genus due to this limitation. Molecular analysis of genetic material will undoubtedly help us unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the more intractable groups. And this is where YOU come in!
Because the genus is so large, it is nearly impossible for the few of us to collect genetic material of every species possible. That is why we need your help. Consider this a recruitment drive. Dr. Luiz Rocha from the California Academy of Sciences is in need of samples – as many as possible from as many species as possible. The more species we have, the more we are able to sequence and therefore compare against. This would inevitably help us in confirming some of our hypotheses in our current phylogenetic review as well.
All we need from you is a little clip of your fish. Any part of the fin would work, but we find working with the caudal fin the easiest and most convenient. Your fish will regenerate its fin in a couple of days.
Here’s what you need to do:
1) Gently cradle your wrasse in your palm.
2) With a pair of clean and sharp scissors, gently and swiftly snip a small portion of the fin. Be sure to cut only the soft portions of the fin. Severing the spinous rays on the anterior dorsal fin for example will not result in proper and full regeneration. The caudal fin and the posterior soft dorsal fin are the best places to obtain fin clippings. A small clip of <1 cm is sufficient.
3) Quickly place the severed fin portion in a clean vial of 75-90% ethanol (ethyl alcohol). It is important to ensure that the concentration of alcohol is within this range, and ensure that it is lab grade. Do not use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Do not preserve your specimen in formalin as this will denature the DNA, rendering it useless. *you may need to approach a scientific institution or a laboratory to obtain alcohol.*
4) Label your specimens as accurately as possible. Species name, size, date of preservation, location of collection (if you know) are very important documentations. Make sure that each vial contains only one specimen, so as to avoid mix ups and confusion.
5) Bring them over to MACNA!
* We understand that identifying fairy wrasses can be tricky. We strongly advice you to take a photo of your fish that you are sampling as well. In the event where you are unable to identify it, label your sample vial with a number corresponding to the photo of the same fish. Label the photo with the same number as well, and show this to us at MACNA or email it to us.
All Cirrhilabrus fin clips are welcomed, but here are a list of more urgently needed specimens:
– Cirrhilabrus brunneus
– Cirrhilabrus lunatus
– Cirrhilabrus cf. lunatus
– Cirrhilabrus sp. “pintail”
– Cirrhilabrus claire
– Cirrhilabrus pylei
– Cirrhilabrus cf. pylei
– Cirrhilabrus katoi
– Cirrhilabrus luteovittatus
– Cirrhilabrus solorensis
– Cirrhilabrus sp. “Bali red head”
– Cirrhilabrus scottorum (all regional forms)
– Cirrhilabrus exquisitus (all regional forms)
– Cirrhilabrus rubrimarginatus (all regional forms)
Better yet, if you have any deceased specimens in your freezer, or chance upon and fresh deaths from this period on, do not throw them away. Just stick the entire fish in sufficient amount of ethanol and label the sample.
Come on up to the reef builders booth at MACNA and drop your fin clippings into our “DNA Box”. Citizen scientists like you can help us better understand these fish that we’ve come to know and love.