Flame Wrasse Care Guide

Scientific NameCirrhilabrus jordani
Minimum Tank Size80 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

The Flame Wrasse, also known as the Flame Fairy Wrasse, is an absolutely beautiful fish that is sure to steal the spotlight of any tank it enters. Their dorsal fin, tail fin and the top of the body have a bright red color while the rest of their body is a rich yellow. Combine these looks with their easy enough care and voracious appetite and you have a great fish for peaceful, mid sized tanks.

Here is a quick rundown on what you should know about the Flame Wrasse:

  • They are completely reef safe
  • Will not harm inverts over half an inch in size
  • Are mildly aggressive to similar wrasse
  • Take prepared foods easily
  • Sleep in a mucus cocoon
  • Can escape through small holes in the tank
  • Are prone to ich, white spots, that can be treated with copper

Bullet points are fine for quick information, but they miss the details of the upcoming sections.

Is the Flame Wrasse Reef Safe?

The Flame Wrasse is completely reef safe. Like most wrasse they will hunt the rocks of the tank, looking for tiny crustaceans and any food scraps they can find. Unlike other non reef safe wrasse they will not pick at or dig through corals for food. Likewise they do not swim aggressively and will not knock over any corals.

The only inverts you will need to be careful of are new additions to the tank that have not gotten to sufficient size. This is less specific to the Flame Wrasse and more of a general note. Any invert that is small enough to fit inside of a fishes mouth is likely to be eaten, even if the fish is not known for hunting inverts. Realistically the only invert that may be in danger is an hermit crab that has no shell or babies from an existing invert. Things like cleaners, coral banded and peppermint shrimp are safe, as are crabs and sea stars.

Flame Wrasse diet

The Flame Wrasse diet should consist of:

  • Finely diced shrimp
  • Prepared foods, such as flake and pellets
  • Frozen brine or mysis shrimp
  • Live baby brine shrimp
  • Copepods
  • Nori/seaweed

The Flame Wrasse is very easy to get to eat. They will swim up to just about any food and try it without hesitation. Like most wrasse they have adapted to have very short digestive tracts. They will need to be fed at least three times a day, but will not eat as much at a time as other fish. Feeding them around big eaters may result in over feeding the tank, which is part of why wrasse can be an issue to keep.

Still their feeding behavior makes them one of the best wrasse to keep with fish who fail to notice feeding time, as they draw a lot of attention to the food. If a well established Flame Wrasse stops eating you should check the water parameters and check the wrasse for any signs of sickness. A healthy Flame Wrasse will always eat.

Flame Wrasse Tank Requirements

The Flame Wrasse needs a large amount of rocks with caverns they can swim between and sleep in during the night. They like to sleep resting in a cavern, coating themselves with a mucus cocoon. This keeps them from damaging their scales or being blown around the tank while also conserving energy. If they do not feel safe hiding in the rocks they will swim in place for rest during the night. For this reason they should not be kept with eels unless the tank is large enough for both the Flame Wrasse and eel to have their own caverns far away from each other.

Because they use a mucus cocoon they can often look dead or mummified if you peek into the tank at night. Do not be alarmed and disturb them while they are sleeping. You want your wrasse to feel safe in their caverns. Additionally, as they sleep in the rock work, they do not require a sand bed. Keeping the Flame Wrasse in a bare bottom tank will help you remove uneaten food from the tank, but it will leave your rocks more prone to moving around. Consider adding sand or gravel anyways. If you do want a bare bottom aquarium for the Flame Wrasse the rocks should be glued together so they do not shift while the fish is hiding in them.

These fish are often sold at one inch or smaller. As they are frequent jumpers, the Flame Wrasse requires a closed top tank with all holes covered. This includes small cut outs around power cords and filtration tubes. Anything that their head can fit into is large enough for them to escape. Even a third of an inch hole is a threat to the Flame Wrasse while they are small.

Adding the Flame Wrasse

Flame Wrasse are just as prone to shipping stress as other fish. The difference is these guys show a big change in color when stressed out. If you order a Flame Wrasse and they show up very dull or seem like they are the wrong color you should not be worried. They will regain their normal colors after being in the tank for a short while.

The Flame Wrasse is hardy and should acclimate to the tank easily. You should still use a slow drip method, where tank water is slowly added to the wrasses bag. Once the bag is half tank water, which should take at least ten minutes, you can add the Flame Wrasse to the tank. Be sure to net them out of the bag and avoid adding any water they were shipped with to the tank. Using a stores water can bring illness to your tank.

The Flame Wrasse is prone to ich, which can be seen as white spots on the sides of the fish. There are a lot of medicines to treat this. Copper is a common solution, but do not does this into your display tank if you have inverts in the tank. They are very sensitive to copper and can die easily when you add copper based medicine to the tank.

Flame Wrasse Tank Mates

These wrasse are peaceful with long, flowing fins. They are easily bullied and can have their fins nipped by quick swimming fish. The Flame Wrasse should only be kept with peaceful, community fish that do not resemble them.

Good tank mates for Flame Wrasse are:

  • Tangs
  • Chromis
  • Dotty Backs
  • Blennies
  • Gobies
  • Basslets
  • Cardinalfish
  • Rabbitfish

Some tank mates to avoid are:

  • Other Cirrhilabrus Wrasse
  • Damselfish
  • Eels
  • Dragonets

Most aggressive or semi aggressive fish are off the table but an important note is that you should not keep fish dependent on copepods. The Flame Wrasse will hunt down pods in the tank even when well fed. Fish who depend on pods, which are fish like dragonets, pipefish and sea horses, have trouble surviving in tanks of 150 gallons even if they are the only pod eater in the tank. Trying to keep one with the Flame Wrasse will almost surely result in the starvation of the copepod eater. If you do keep them together you will need a large refugium for the copepods to breed in or to constantly supplement the aquarium with pods. Both of these are pretty big tasks, so I strongly suggest just not keeping the two together.

The Flame Wrasse can be kept with other wrasse who are not bright red or yellow and do not have flowing fins. They will be aggressive to wrasse that are similar to them. Most peaceful wrasse will do fine in the same tank as a Flame Wrasse.

They should not be kept in pairs. In the wild the male will be fine with several female as well as sub-males. The sub-males will not turn full male unless they want to challenge the super male or if there are far more females. However wrasse will almost always become male when kept in the home aquarium. This will lead to fighting until only one of the two remains in the tank. If you have two tanks that you want a Flame Wrasse you can keep them together for a while, but never expect to keep them in the same tank for good.

Breeding And Gender

Only male Flame Wrasse will display the red flame top and yellow body that the fish is known for. The female will have its entire body be a light red, almost pink color. This makes purchasing a Flame Wrasse a bit difficult, as they can blend in with normal wrasse. Due to their high cost it is unlikely you will ever find one for sale labeled as anything else.

The female will change into a male several months after moving into the aquarium, often remaining female long enough to begin breeding with males.

While they have been seen spawning in the home aquarium they have not yet been successfully raised to maturity. The Flame Wrasse will only breed in large tanks, at least three feet in height. They require a long stretch, both vertically and horizontally, to perform their courting display and spawn. The male will dash quickly in one direction, flaring his fins and coloration to the females. If the female responds and is ready to spawn she will dart to the top of the tank near the male, who will follow closely behind. The two will release their eggs and sperm near the top of the tank and swim back down into the aquarium.

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