Regional Variation in Exquisite Wrasse

by Kevin Kohen on April 15, 2010

Exquisite Wrasse Variations

Exquisite Wrasse Variations

The Labrid Cirrhilabrus exquisitus had a very broad range in the Pacific Ocean, Coral Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. This is very unique when compared to the limited range of all other members of the Genus Cirrhilabrus. Exquisite Wrasse can be found in the Western Pacific Ocean from Japan down to Indonesia, in most parts of the South Pacific and Coral Sea region, as well as in most locales in the Indian Ocean from the East coast of Africa up to the Red Sea, and east over to Sumatra.

It is theorized by some Taxonomists that Exquisite Wrasse from the Indian Ocean are the true Cirrhilabrus exquisitus, where the ones residing in the Pacific Ocean are in fact a different species altogether. This has yet to be proven as fact, but when DNA analysis becomes more prevalent in the Taxonomy of reef fishes, I am sure we will see this happen along with seeing hundreds of new species, once thought to be just a variation of a recognized and identified species. 

The coloration of these fishes is highly variable, and is dependent on numerous factors. Their exact age or maturity, along with their gender and phase dictates the intensity of their coloration and exact markings. Juvenile fishes, regardless of their origin always have a white patch on their nose, where the leader of the pack or the Terminal Phase Males will always display the most vibrant coloration when compared to Initial Phase Males, females and juveniles in the group.

The exact Origin varies as well and there are slight differences between fishes from different regions. And to make matters even more complex, there are variations in these fishes even from one locale to another in the same region.

In general, when comparing the coloration of Terminal Phase Males from different regions, the characteristics listed below regarding variations in both coloration and markings holds true for most of these fishes.

West Pacific Ocean – Japan to Sulawesi and Indonesia:
Fishes from this area display far more lime green to yellow coloration on most of the dorsal, caudal, and anal fin. Most have blue and black markings on the soft dorsal fin and trailing edge of the anal fin. A distinct black blotch is outlined in red behind the pectoral fins, and a dark area along the anterior of the lateral line.

South Pacific/Coral Sea Region:

Fiji Variants: Mostly vivid green in coloration with vibrant red on edge of the latter part of the hard dorsal fin, and on the edge of the entire soft dorsal. On the face of the fish is a jagged red stripe from the mouth to the first dorsal spine just above the eye. The pelvic fins are usually mostly red with yellow at the base where they connect to the underside of the fish. The anal fin is mostly red with blue spots along with some yellow where it joins the body. The caudal fin is mostly red as well, with specks of black on the edges. An electric blue stripe runs down the length of the back half of the body below the lateral line.

Solomon Island, Vanuatu, Australia and Coral Sea Variants:
These fish are very similar to Fijian variant, but usually have yellow patches in the dorsal fin along with red. The underside if the fish is lighter and sometimes cream coloration.

Indian Ocean Region:
Maldives, Sri Lanka, Africa Variants:
These fish normally do not have mostly red fins unlike fishes from the South Pacific, but they do have red on their head down to the base of the pectoral fins. There is also a good amount of red patches scattered down the length of the fish. The line under the black spot at the base of the caudal fin is usually pink or red, as opposed to blue, which is prevalent on fishes from the Pacific.

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About the author: Kevin earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Wright State University, and is an avid marine life photographer, lifelong aquarist, and marine fish enthusiast. He has worked in the aquarium industry since 1983. He launched the web site in 2000 and designed and oversaw the installation of the Drs. Foster and Smith Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility, which opened in July of 2005. Kevin is currently the Director of LiveAquaria at Drs. Foster and Smith. See more articles by Kevin Kohen.

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What makes the different variations of techno?
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