Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis (Redfin wrasse)

cirrhilabrus rubripinnis

Last updated on June 22nd, 2022 at 07:12 am

The Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis (Redfin wrasse) is a colorful, marine fish that makes an excellent addition to the reef aquarium. They are found in the western Pacific Ocean, ranging from southern Japan to the Ogasawara Islands, and the Mariana Islands. This fish has an interesting pink-red color, which makes it instantly recognizable as one of the Cirrhilabrus wrasses.

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis should be provided with plenty of swimming rooms and live rock rubble or hiding places. They can be territorial and aggressive at times, so other fish of similar size should not be kept with them. Feeding them live or frozen shrimp, squid, and marine meaty foods will ensure they are receiving adequate nutrition to remain healthy and active.

Let’s assume your Redfin wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis) has been enjoying your saltwater aquarium for many days and now you want to give the fish the care he deserves. You are well aware of the fact that these creatures require quality food, clean water, and proper aquarium conditions, but you would like to know more about this specific species so you can provide him with an even better environment than before.

This article will provide you with everything you need to know about Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis in order to properly care for your pet as well as some tips on how to make his life in captivity enjoyable.

First, let’s get a little background on the Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis species of fish.

Origin and description

cirrhilabrus rubripinnis

Found in tropical and subtropical waters, Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis is generally found at depths of less than 18 feet. It prefers water temperatures between 72 degrees and 79 degrees, but can tolerate a range from 61 to 83 degrees. The redfin wrasse will eat snails, small invertebrates such as worms and anemones, other crustaceans, fish eggs, and algae. Juveniles feed mostly on plankton.

When breeding, females deposit up to 10,000 orange-red eggs which are guarded by their male counterparts until they hatch into free-swimming larvae. Redfin wrasses live for approximately six years.

Species profile

cirrhilabrus rubripinnis

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis is a colorful marine fish that can grow to a maximum of eight inches in length. Cirrhilabrus is derived from cirri or hair-like and labrum meaning upper lip and these species are known for their protruding lips. This wrasse gets its name from its brilliant red body coloration.

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Rubripinnis means with fins colored red in Latin, it belongs to the Labroidei family. Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis are non-migratory species native to tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. They inhabit seaward reef slopes and lagoons close to shore.

It uses its relatively largemouth to seize prey including small benthic invertebrates such as crabs and shrimp.

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis also feeds on pelagic crustaceans and polychaetes. Due to its feeding habits, it becomes one of the top predators on coral reefs.

Although they are commonly known as the Red fin wrasse or the Red fin, they should never be confused with true wrasses of family Labridae; instead, Cirrhilabrus is a member of Labrisomidae – close relatives of goatfish and puffers which share similarities in appearance with other members of its family.

Redfin fairy wrasse habitat

The Redfin Wrasse can be found in a variety of habitats within its natural range, including mangrove forests, reef flats, and lagoon walls. The greatest abundance of Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis occurs in coastal areas between depths of 8 to 30 feet, with these fish often venturing into lagoons to feed and breed. Juveniles are commonly found in seagrass beds while adults will occupy deeper reefs up to 33 feet deep.

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis size

Around 2 inches when born, and eventually grows to around 4 inches long.

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis tank size

For a small group of these fish to thrive, an aquarium of at least 40 gallons is ideal. That said, with frequent water changes, smaller aquariums can house a group of Redfin Wrasse. Reef tanks need to be at least 72 long to accommodate a group of six. Some hobbyists have managed to keep groups in tanks as small as 24 but only when very young and well-fed. The key factor is regular water changes and filtration, so bigger is better!

Redfin fairy wrasse tank set up

A 40 gallon long tank with a heater and thermometer, filter, live rock, and live sand is recommended. There should be plenty of hiding places provided for your redfin. They like to be in groups so adding more than one will make them happy. The substrate can be anywhere from 50/50 sand/pebbles down to 80/20 fine grain sand (better flow).

The Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi)

It may take up to a month or longer for your Red Fin Wrasse to settle in but once it does, they’re very hardy fish and need only minimal feeding. A cocktail mix of frozen shrimp and krill about every other day can also be fed to them depending on how aggressive they are at feeding time. Water quality is important; a stable pH between 8.0 to 8.5 and water temperature 78 to 82F (25 to 28 degrees C) seems to work best.

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis tank mates

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis can be kept with other peaceful fish. Some of these are Labridae, Balistidae, Scaridae, Callionymidae, and Apogonidae. This fish is not safe to keep with seahorses.

Redfin fairy wrasse breeding

cirrhilabrus rubripinnis

Redfin wrasses are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they can change sex at any point in their life. Before spawning, these fish will switch to females. In captivity, these fish have been known to spawn during a period of just two weeks and females can produce thousands of eggs each week.

Due to some species being protogynous and others being protandrous, you may want to double-check which sex is first if you plan on breeding them for yourself. This makes owning Redfin wrasses easier than it may seem because you don’t need to invest in additional tanks. The males will move into an existing female-only tank and breed with her while she slowly changes into a male if there’s no male available with lots of females.

The male won’t mate with other males or become violent toward his new tank mates, so there isn’t much that needs to be done aside from feeding him enough protein pellets once he has moved over into your main tank. The only requirement you’ll need when preparing to house these fish together is a source of fresh, flowing water; as mentioned above, they require high-oxygen levels and will not do well in still water.

They also prefer alkaline water with a pH between 7.5 and 8.5; making minor adjustments like using limewater can be helpful for reaching their ideal parameters.

Red Coris Wrasse And Yellowtail Coris

Are Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis aggressive or peaceful?

They are relatively peaceful and should get along with most fish. However, they will nip at invertebrates, so keep an eye on them if you have invertebrates in your tank. Otherwise, they will get along well with other fish! Some of their best tank mates include clownfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, damselfish, and tangs. Just be careful because Redfin wrasses have a habit of following their food.

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis care

cirrhilabrus rubripinnis

In an aquarium environment, Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis is a moderately easy fish to care for. While Redfin wrasses do best in larger tanks with plenty of open swimming rooms, they can be kept comfortably in smaller aquariums as well. A minimum tank size of 25 gallons is recommended if you plan on keeping them with other more boisterous fishes that may harass them.

They are excellent jumpers and need to be kept away from anything that could potentially fall onto their tank or glass tops. Given these requirements, it’s also important to make sure your aquarium has no overhanging objects above it such as lights that could cause damage if knocked over. Avoid all sand substrates due to their abrasive nature and instead, use smooth gravel at about 3 inches deep for optimal swimming conditions.

Lastly, their diet should consist primarily of marine flake foods, with supplemental brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp occasionally provided once every few days when possible.

The Redfin wrasse will also eat almost any prepared carnivore food. It also eats small crustaceans which it can catch by itself. Sometimes, they get inside holes in live rock and feed on amphipods or copepods that are living inside or have made a home in the rock.

When feeding your fish, make sure you offer only as much as it can consume within 3 minutes to avoid overfeeding and water quality issues that may arise from too much uneaten food sitting in your aquarium for extended periods of time. They should also be offered fresh seaweed once per week for optimal health and coloration purposes.

Water parameters

The ideal water temperature should be 75 to 78 degrees F, pH of 8.1 to 8.4, specific gravity of 1.020 – 1.025, water movement should be moderate to strong current, 10% weekly water changes of aged reverse osmosis water using de-chlorinator and additive to eliminate trace elements and copper. A high-quality salt mix will be used for specific gravity of 1.021 at 80°F.

Rose Band Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus Roseafascia)

Some hobbyists have reported success with a low dose of iodine/iodide when adding new fish, but others maintain it is still too much of a risk factor for introducing parasites into their tanks. Redfin also benefits from an anaerobic filter that promotes beneficial nitrifying bacteria; some owners will use activated carbon in moderation as well as ozone treatments.

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis lifespan

The average lifespan of Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis is 6 years or more. Redfin wrasses can live for a number of years if well cared for and healthy. However, it is important to note that fish that are kept in unnatural environments or poorly cared for will not be able to reach their full lifespan potential.

Parasites and diseases

Redfin wrasses are susceptible to a number of different parasites and diseases, making regular checkups at a fish clinic critical. A variety of external parasites like ich, flukes, and marine velvet can be treated with medication; internal parasites like worms are more difficult to treat because you may have to feed them directly to your fish through food. If redfin develops skin lesions or bloody patches on their body, it could be indicative of Marine Velvet disease which is deadly if left untreated.


Redfin Wrasses are prone to be eaten by larger predatory fish that dwell in their environment. Sharks, large grouper, and large eels will normally make a meal out of these delicate reef dwellers.

Does Redfin fairy wrasse make good pets?

The simple answer is YES, they make excellent pets. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they are one of my favorite reef fish.