Cirrhilabrus sanguineus, the red-blotched fairy wrasse is a very rare, deepwater species of fairy wrasse from the Indian Ocean that we’ve never personally seen in the aquarium trade. A few lonely specimens of Cirrhilabrus sanguineus have made their way to Asia before but a nice crop of specimens was recently found and collected by Tim Bennett in Mauritius.
While not quite as flashy as some species of fairy wrasses, the red blotched fairy wrasse is quite distinct and easily identified by dark purplish maroon marking on its side that appears as if it has been wounded, giving it another name of wounded fairy wrasse. A reddish face is followed by a dark greenish black saddle above the pectoral fins but otherwise the fish is mostly a very light pink.
When excited Cirrhilabrus sanguineus becomes even more pale contrasting its existing markings even more and displaying a bright pair of yellow-orange pelvic fins. It might not be quite as colorful as other super exotic fairy wrasses likeC. claireorC. lanceolatusbut its remote distribution and deepwater habitat certainly makes this one of the most expensive fairy wrasses that we’ve yet seen in the aquarium hobby.
Small groups of the red blotched fairy wrasses have been shipped to rare fish specialists Iwarna in Singapore and Blue Harbor in Japan and we expect the hyper exoticCirrhilabrus sanguineusto sell for upwards of five digits per pair. This collecting trip to Mauritius yielded a few other super exotic fish including theuber rare Debelius angelfishand we look forward to seeing how these fish shine in their future aquarium homes.