Paracheilinus alfiani, P. paineorum and P. xanthocirritus are three new species joining the ranks of flasher wrasses. The description of these three new Paracheilinus is part of a massive review of the genus overall and it sorts out a few of the loose forms of flasher wrasses that recreational divers have documenting in recent years.
Before we dive into all the different species, we want to emphasize that these new description are part of a very thorough publication which is a “Review of the Indo-Pacific Flasher Wrasses of the genus Paracheilinus” by Allen, Erdmann and Yusmalinda in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. This free download gives an in depth look at all 20 species of Paracheilinus from East Africa and the Red Sea, through the Indo-Pacific and out to Fiji and the Marshall Islands. If you’re into flasher wrasses at all, this 79 page review is essentially a free booklet on this iconic group of reef fish.
Paracheilinus alfiani is perhaps the most striking of the three new species of flasher wrasse. This striking flasher wrasse from the Lesser Sunda Islands has tall rounded fins and is one of just four species without any filaments emanating from its margin.
The rounded tail and fins of Paracheilinus alfiani gives it a distinctive bullet shaped outline and it is nearly identical in shape to the relatively new Paracheilinus rennyae. Both P. alfiani from Alor and P. rennyae from Flores are separated by only a few hundred miles but surveys have only turned up these species in very restricted areas, but none in between. Despite having different male coloration, it’s clear that these two species are pretty closely related and future work could synonymize these two fish in the future.
The second new species in this review of flasher wrasses is Paracheilinus paineorum from Manado Sulawesi, and throughout central Indonesia. This new species of flasher wrasse has been erected to contain what was previously discovered to be one of the cryptic species within the Filamented flasher wrasse species complex, Paracheilinus filamentosus. The ‘true’ filamented wrasse is now restricted to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and is replaced by P, paineorum in the Southwest of its range.
The third new flasher wrasse species, Paracheilinus xanthocirritus, is also formerly of the P. filamentosus complex. It is found in the extreme northwest of Indonesia, north and west of Borneo and nearly to Singapore. Like P. paineorum the new Paracheilinus xanthocirritus has the same highly lunate caudal fin and copiously filamented fins but it is distinguished primarily on the coloration of the male’s dorsal fin which is primarily yellow. [JOSF]