Exquisite Wrasse Care Guide

Scientific NameCirrhilabrus exquisitus
Minimum Tank Size90 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

The Exquisite Wrasse, also known as the Exquisite Fairy Wrasse, makes for a unique addition to any tank. They have a wide range of colors that do not remain consistent. Each Exquisite Wrasse has their own pattern with small variations from fish to fish but a big difference depending where they are collected from.

The main similarity the Exquisite Wrasse has is they all have a green body with a white stomach and red eyes. There is also a black dot just before their tail fin. Depending on the location they are found they will have a varying amount of red splotches and stripes, blue hues across their green body and yellow accents.

Exquisite Wrasse
Photo credit to Rickard Zerpe on Flickr

Additionally their patterns and colors will change as they mature, making it nearly impossible to know how a particular Exquisite Wrasse will end up looking. Combine this with their flashy personality, ease of care, medium cost and general peacefulness and you have a great addition to any non aggressive aquarium.

Is the Exquisite Wrasse Reef Safe?

Their is no question that the Exquisite Wrasse is reef safe. They do not target inverts unless they are starving and will not bother even the smallest of corals. They will look at live rocks and the sand bed for food, but should never pick at corals or inverts. They are one of the smarter genus of wrasse and enjoy eyeing other fish/inverts and watching them work , but they do not harass them.

A note that is not about the Exquisite Wrasse but fish in general is to be careful when adding new, small inverts to the tank. Shrimp or non shelled inverts will always be at risk when placed with larger fish. In general you do not want to add an invert to the tank when they are smaller than an existing fish’s mouth. If an invert can be eaten in one or two bites even a peaceful fish may strike them. If you must add a small invert do so at night, at least one hour after feeding time.

Exquisite Wrasse Diet

Wrasse of the Cirrhilabrus family are excellent feeders, eating just about any food put into the tank. The Exquisite Wrasse is likely to accept prepared foods as their first meal, seaweed when offered and any small meaty foods placed in the tank. The main foods an Exquisite Wrasse should be offered are:

  • seaweed, also known as nori
  • Live baby brine shrimp
  • Finely diced shrimp
  • frozen mysis/brine shrimp
  • Prepared foods, such as pellets or flake
  • Copepods or Amphipods

Live foods are best used to get new fish eating if they are rejecting other foods. They do come at the cost of being more expensive, which is why most aquarist will transition their fish to prepared foods by feeding both at the same time. As the fish become accustomed to feeding you may reduce the amount of live foods while increasing the amount of prepared foods until their entire diet is frozen or prepared foods.

Like most wrasse the Exquisite Wrasse expects at least three meals a day. They do not need to be large meals, but the Exquisite Wrasse has a very short digestive tract and cannot hold as much food as most other fish can.  This makes them prone to malnutrition, which will reduce color and lead to excessive hunting as they cannot sustain themselves off one or two meals a day.

To avoid over feeding a tank try feeding in different spots with smaller amounts at the same time. This ensures that one fish will not be taking all of the food and lets you use less food to feed the same number of fish. In the end you should use about the same amount of food for three or four meals as you would for two big meals. This is much easier to accomplish using automatic feeders than by hand.

Exquisite Wrasse Tank Requirements

The Exquisite Wrasse is usually sold no smaller than two inches in length, almost half of their full size. Despite this they are slender fish that can easily escape tanks through small openings. Make sure all cut outs in the top of the tank are covered. These fish are easily startled and will jump often when first introduced to the tank.

The Exquisite Wrasse uses a mucus cocoon to sleep at night which helps keep them in place, reducing the energy they use. When they wake they will usually eat the cocoon. To do all this they will need a large amount of rocks in the tank to create a series of caverns. The more space available to all the fish in the tank, the more likely the Exquisite Wrasse will get to pick their own cavern out and use their mucus cocoon to sleep at night.

A minor drawback of the cocoon usage comes from uninformed aquarists that think the Exquisite Wrasse is dying, as they will look mummified  with grey strings floating around them at night. Do not be worried when seeing this, they will sleep like this most nights and wake up just as healthy as the previous day. Their eyes are easy to see still keeping an eye on the tank, but they do not have to swim around to stay in place.

Acclimating the Exquisite Wrasse

Fairy wrasse like the Exquisite Wrasse are prone to shipping stress and will see dramatic color loss when shipped. Even when taken from a local fish store only a few minutes from your home you can expect to see them fade to a much lighter color. Their colors will return once they are placed in their new tank and get comfortable.

The Exquisite Wrasse is prone to ich, which can be seen as white spots on the side of the fish. Keep an eye on them while acclimating them to your display tank. If they show signs of ich you should treat them before adding them to the tank. Doing so will keep your tank in better condition and does not risk killing beneficial bacteria or small crustaceans that are sensitive to copper found in ich medicine.

Overall these are hardy wrasse and should acclimate quickly and with a high survival rate. use a slow drip method, adding your own tank water to their container until they are ready to be added to the main tank. This should take no less than thirty minutes. When it is time to add them net them out of their container to avoid bringing in any sickness that could be hiding in the stores water.

Exquisite Wrasse Tank Mates

This Exquisite Fairy Wrasse is peaceful to almost every fish, even other wrasse that look similar to it. They have a great chance to get along with males of the same genus, especially when place into a large tank over 150 gallons. For those looking to keep multiple wrasse most fairy wrasse are a solid choice, especially those in the Cirrhilabrus family.

Good tankmates for the Exquisite Wrasse are:

  • Chromis
  • Blennies
  • Firefish
  • Dotty Backs
  • Dwarf Angelfish
  • Rabbitfish
  • Tangs
  • Gobies
  • Basslets

Avoid fish who depend on copepods. The Exquisite Wrasse will keep the pod population of a tank very small. Adding in any fish who depends on copepods for food will leave them starving without the consistent addition of more pods. This is true for even well fed wrasse. they simply enjoy hunting pods on the rocks no matter how full they are.

Eels are also not the best tankmates, as the Exquisite Wrasse sleeps extremely stationary. While wrasse are not usually on the menu for eels the stationary cocoon sleeping wrasse makes for an easy target.

Breeding and gender

The Exquisite Wrasse’s gender is easy to discern, as the males will be significantly more colorful than females, with a larger head. That being said almost all wrasse kept in captivity will turn into males even when kept with other male wrasse. It is only a matter of time. Additionally females are collected far less frequently. This is due to their more dull color and the need for female to breed in the wild, similar to the way female deer are not often hunted.

Females can be expected to have a more blurred appearance, with brown, blue and green blending together on their bodies. They will still have the patters the males will, but they will be far less visible.

The Exquisite Wrasse, despite its small body and peaceful nature, has not been known to breed in the home aquarium and is not an aquacultured wrasse. This is part of what drives up their price, but the wide range of locations they are found keeps them a mid priced wrasse.

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