Cirrhilabrus Rubrisquamis (Red Velvet Wrasse)

cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis

Last updated on July 9th, 2022 at 08:55 am

A beautifully colored fish that’s known by many names, the Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis (Red velvet wrasse) is a deep-water species, which makes it difficult to observe in the wild. However, that doesn’t mean this species hasn’t captured the imagination of aquarists across the globe!

The Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis, also known as the red velvet wrasse, is easily identified by its red and pink color on its skin, and its size at maturity of 2 – 3 inches. The red velvet wrasse lives in the Western Pacific Ocean from the southern part of Japan south to Australia, New Caledonia, and possibly even further south to French Polynesia. It inhabits lagoon reefs at depths from 10 – 25 meters (30 – 80 ft) where it can grow to be up to 4 or 5 (max size) inches long at maturity.

Here are fascinating facts about this gorgeous fish you might not know.

Origin and description

cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis

This is a species of fish in the Labridae family. The genus name Cirrhilabrus comes from Latin cirrhosus meaning curved and labrus, which can mean wrasse or any of several other unrelated things, but here refers to its coral habitat. The specific epithet ‘rubrisquamis’ literally means ‘red-snouted’ in Latin.

It is commonly known as Red Velvet Wrasse or Red Snout Wrasse.  It occurs throughout most of the Indo-Pacific Ocean at depths between 3m and 55m. It grows up to 10 cm long though most are half that size.

The red velvet wrasse is a species of wrasse native to coral reefs in Australia and northern New Zealand, from southern Queensland to New South Wales. Like other Cirrhilabrus species, it can change sex if there are not enough males or females present in an area. The female can transform into a male. It feeds on small benthic invertebrates such as crustaceans, worms, mollusks, and echinoderms.

The red velvet wrasse lives in reef areas at depths between 3 and 130 feet deep where they inhabit ledges or crevices and overhangs with plenty of small holes for them to hide during the day under ledges, rock piles, or inside caves.

Zanclus Cornutus (Moorish Idol) Profile

Species profile

cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis

Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis is a species of wrasse endemic to Hawaii. It inhabits coral reefs at depths of 8 – 12 m and can grow up to 10 cm in length. This species can be found in the aquarium trade.

The specific name honours Mr William H. Redfield Jr., of Honolulu, for his part in making possible collecting trips that led to discovery of new Hawaiian fish species. Red velvet wrasse inhabit reef slopes and outer reef flats. They feed on small invertebrates such as crustaceans, bivalves, tunicates, and worms.

Cirrhilabrus Rubrisquamis, also known as red velvet wrasses, are a type of marine fish that live in coral reefs in their adult stage. In their larval stage however, they are invasive species and can be very destructive to reefs. Luckily for them and us however, they are only harmful during their larval stage, because when fully grown they make wonderful additions to reef aquariums. They have bright vibrant colors and learn very quickly which makes them good pets to have around.

The male’s vibrant colors seem to serve both an ornamental purpose — to display sexual fitness to females — and also a protective one.


Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis inhabit coral reefs from tropical to subtropical waters. They are associated with reefs containing Acropora and Pocillopora corals. They swim in pairs or small groups but generally avoid areas with high human activity such as scuba diving, snorkeling, or kayaking.

It is not uncommon for people to handle them without issue. The fish feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates, including sponges and sea squirts. Adults often feed at night when predators are less active than during the day.

Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis size

The cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis can grow up to 3 inches (8 cm) in length.

Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis tank size

This species should be kept in a tank of at least 10 gallons.

Red velvet wrasse tank set up

It can be kept in a small group, with at least 10 gallons per wrasse. It should have lots of swimming rooms and live rock to hide in and plenty of places for algae to grow. It will nibble on almost any aquarium plant, so provide some hardy, long-lasting varieties that won’t fall apart quickly.

Rose Band Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus Roseafascia)

Java fern is an excellent choice, as are leather or chain swords. A good substrate would be crushed coral or aragonite sand; medium-sized gravel would also work well. The addition of plenty of rocks will help give it things to hide behind and beneath when frightened. In addition, try to use driftwood or other decorations with crevices for it to swim through.

Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis tank mates

The Red Velvet Wrasse is a safe addition to most community tanks as long as it has enough rockwork or corals for cover. I have kept one in my reef tank for many years without any issues. If you don’t have rock work and corals, you should keep them in an active tank, not a reef tank. Small fish will become snacks, but larger fish usually ignore them. Of course anything that is too large may attack.

Some good tank mates are Tangs, butterflyfish, Cardinalfish, Clownfish, and Damselfish. All of these get along well with each other.

Red velvet wrasse breeding

cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis

Pairs are monogamous and aggressively territorial, often fighting off intruders from their own species. A female will lay approximately 150 eggs in a cave or crevice guarded by a male who cares for them until they hatch. Fry are large enough to be removed from their mother after two weeks and fed Artemia nauplii at that time. The fry grow quickly, reaching 3 to 4 inches within 8 months, but do not reach sexual maturity until 2 years of age.

Are Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis aggressive or peaceful?

This fish is highly aggressive, it is recommended to have many tank mates that are larger than 3 inches for them not to pick on them. If you have other fish that are small, I would recommend a much bigger aquarium or a marine aquarium. They have been known to be very aggressive towards each other, even if they’re bonded.

Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis care

cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis

Red velvet wrasse are very popular in aquariums due to their bright colors and attractive appearance. However, they are very delicate fish that need a lot of care. The water needs to be at or above 25 degrees Celsius and have a pH level between 8.1 and 8.4 which is rather difficult to maintain in an aquarium setting.

Pygmy Angelfish Care (Cherubfish)

A minimum tank size of 10 gallons is suggested for every cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis specimen as well as plenty of hiding places in order to ensure its safety from other predatory fish such as surgeonfish, hawkfish, etc… It feeds on worms, crustaceans and some sea grasses but may starve if not fed enough live feed. If you do intend on keeping one in your home make sure it has good filtration because it tends to produce more waste than most other marine creatures.

When first brought into captivity, redvelvet wrasse will sometimes hide, so don’t panic if you find yours lying motionless at first. They can also jump out of tanks so keep them covered with nets or glass lids. They tend to be skittish and enjoy being with others of their kind, although aggression can become a problem later down the road, so it’s best to buy 3 – 5 specimens of similar sizes together.

Red velvet wrasse lifespan

Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis has a lifespan of 10 years. It is recorded that females reach sexual maturity in 2 to 3 years and grow to an average size of 10 cm, whereas males develop in 4 to 5 years and grow to an average size of 8 cm. It is predicted that breeding occurs year-round. There is no recorded age at which Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis stop breeding.

Parasites and diseases

cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis

Parasites are common in wild-caught specimens, and are an important consideration when buying a red velvet wrasse. Avoid any fish that appear to be unwell, lethargic or not eating. If you have concerns about parasites, ask your local fish store to do a parasite check on your new fish before purchase.

A salt bath is an effective way of removing some types of internal parasites from your wrasse. You can use household aquarium salt for a freshwater treatment, or marine salt mix for a marine tank. You may need to repeat as many as three times over several days. Do not skip baths even if there is no visible evidence of disease; these will help guard against future problems with parasites.

European Sea Bass Fish (Dicentrarchus Labrax)

Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis are sometimes affected by sea lice and certain kinds of parasites. These ailments make it difficult for them to live freely in their usual environments. In some cases, finding these creatures is quite easy; you can spot them on a fish tank by their bright coloring and unusual body types.


Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis is preyed upon by larger fish species such as grouper and snapper. Their bright colors tend to attract predators, but their elongated bodies and bristled heads allow them to escape from predators by swimming into tight crevices. Juveniles are often plucked from seaweed beds or coral areas by larger fish, such as triggers and tangs, which will toss them around like toys before consuming them.

Do Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis make great pets?

While Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis are suitable for experienced aquarists, there are some things you should know before taking one home. These fish have a voracious appetite and must be fed live food three times a day. They will grow to more than 2 inches in length so care must be taken to make sure they do not outgrow their aquarium habitat.