Whip Fin Wrasse Care Guide

Scientific NameCirrhilabrus filamentosus
Minimum Tank Size55 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
AggressionPeaceful to non wrasse

The Whip Fin Wrasse is an interesting member of the Cirrhilabrus family. They are peaceful and even skittish around other fish but will show a lot of aggression towards any other wrasse in the tank, especially those of its own family. They should not be kept with other fairy wrasse but also cannot be kept with aggressive tank mates. A good way to describe the Whip Fin Wrasse is a beautiful small fish that eats pests but has selective aggression.

While young the Whip Fin Wrasse will have an orange body with red fins. As they  mature their bodies will become more red on the top, white on the bottom, yellow on their dorsal and anal fin with a blue tail fin. They are spectacular looking in both colorations, making the Whip Fin Wrasse a great addition for saltwater aquariums.

Is the Whip Fin Wrasse Reef Safe?

This wrasse is a fantastic addition to reef tanks. They will not harass any coral, do not swim aggressively enough to knock over loose frags and will not harass any inverts. Even feather duster worms are safe with the Whip Fin Wrasse.

Wrasse are great fish for tanks with a lot of coral, as pests and small crustaceans will hind in the rock work, coming out to either eat parts of the corals, steal food from them or just plain cause corals stress. Whip Fin Wrasse are experts at hunting these pests down, scraping the pests from the rocks using a small set of teeth on their bottom jaws, keeping corals healthy and stress free.

Whip Fin Wrasse Diet

Members of the Cirrhilabrus family are very easy to feed. The Whip Fin Wrasse will accept most foods right away and does not shy away during feeding time. Slow eating fish may have trouble keeping up. Luckily wrasse are not able to eat excessive amounts of food and should leave food for their tank mates.

They are more demanding due to their small digestive tracts, which require three feedings per day. This is fairly easy to do with automatic feeders, however when kept with other fast feeding fish you may have to over feed your tank to ensure the Whip Fin Wrasse gets enough food each day. If this is the case you should use a protein skimmer in your tank. These help remove proteins from the water before they have a chance to break down into waste, reducing the bio-load on your tank. Excessive waste will lead to algae blooms.

A good Diet for the Whip Fin Wrasse includes:

  • Copepods
  • Frozen Mysis shrimp
  • Prepared foods
  • Finely Diced Shrimp
  • Nori | Seaweed

While they are carnivores offering the Whip Fin Wrasse seaweed, otherwise known as nori, is a good way to balance out their diet. They will often refuse to eat the seaweed directly but will catch any scraps of seaweed other fish let loose in the tank. If no other fish bites the seaweed you can try cutting it and feeding it as if it were a prepared food.

Prepared foods are fish flakes, pellets and tablets. The Whip Fin Wrasse has its mouth located at the middle of their face, meaning they do best when fed slow sinking pellets. They are fine with flakes that stay at the top of the tank but will have to ‘strike’ at the surface for these foods.

Whip Fin Wrasse Tank Requirements

While many wrasse burrow for the night members of the Cirrhilabrus family will instead create a mucus cocoon and sleep inside caverns created by rocks. This makes the Whip Fin Wrasse a prime choice for owners who want a wrasse with a bare bottom tank.

A minimum of two unoccupied caverns should be in the tank before adding the Whip Fin Wrasse to the aquarium. This means you should check where your other fish spend their nights. Their peaceful tank mates should not create much of an issue for the Whip Fin Wrasse however territorial fish like clownfish can greatly reduce the space a wrasse can settle in for the night.

Do not be alarmed with the looks. They are perfectly fine sleeping in these cocoons. Many aquarists think they are sick as the strands floating around them do not look normal.

Semi-aggressive and aggressive eels are also a big concern when it comes to mucus cocoon wrasse. The Whip Fin Wrasse will be incredibly stationary over night, making them easy targets for hungry eels. I do not recommend keeping them with any eels, even small dwarf eels.

A second note is their personality. While the Whip Fin Wrasse is aggressive towards fish who look like them and their fellow Cirrhilabrus family members, they are very skittish around other fish. When uncomfortable in a tank, such as when first joining the aquarium, they are highly prone to jumping. Ensure that the lid is well fitted to the tank with no small openings left around the heaters power cord or any filtration tubes.

When adding the Whip Fin Wrasse to a tank they will likely lose a lot of their color. This is normal as their family is prone to shipping stress, even if the trip from the store to your tank is under ten minutes. They should regain their color within two days. It is very common for these wrasse to be added to tanks only to go into hiding and not be seen for a day. They are hardy fish so you should not be worried when adding them to the aquarium as long as they were properly acclimated.

Whip Fin Wrasse Tank Mates

These wrasse can be treated like any other fairy wrasse when selecting tank mates with the exception of other wrasse. They are much more aggressive towards similar wrasse. Otherwise they are very skittish and will not harass any of your existing fish.

Good tankmates for the Whip Fin Wrasse include:

  • Clownfish
  • Gobies
  • Tangs
  • Blenniers
  • Basslets
  • Rabbitfish
  • Chromis
  • Dottybacks
  • Cadinalfish
  • Butterfly Fish

Fish that you should not keep with the Whip Fin Wrasse would be anything that depends on copepods to survive or other wrasse that look similar. Even wrasse that look nothing like the Whip Fin Wrasse could make them aggressive. Their temper is very random when it comes to other wrasse but easy to spot. They will almost always fight with their own family, so no Cirrhilabrus wrasse.

Do not keep any aggressive fish with this wrasse.

Whip Fin Wrasse Gender

Female and juvenile Whip Fin Wrasse will be orange with red fins. Their colors will become brighter as they age. All wrasse being their lives as female, meaning they will always have this look while they are young.

Eventually they will begin to transition to male, darkening their top and fading their stomach to a grayish white color. The end result is the red top half, white stomach with yellow fins and a blue tail fin. Again these colors will develop more as they age. Wrasse that have strong coloration will be referred to as super males, which are more dominant and will generally inhibit other wrasse from making the transition from female to male.

All captive wrasse eventually become male, making more than one Whip Fin Wrasse in the same tank temporary at best. Even in large tanks I would suggest extreme caution be taken if you want to have more than one in the tank.

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