Labout’s Fairy Wrasse

Cirrhilabrus laboutei

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© ‎Jokuyken15 / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

Females are sequential hermaphrodites, which means they can convert to males anytime during their life cycle.


Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Cirrhilabrus laboutei

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Conservation Status

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Locations

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Locations

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Facts

Zooplankton and invertebrates
Main Prey
Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Beds (like reefs)
Fun Fact
Females are sequential hermaphrodites, which means they can convert to males anytime during their life cycle.
Biggest Threat
Overfishing due to the exotic pet trade
Tuna, sharks, billiefish
  • Nocturnal
Common Name
Labout's fairy wrasse
Number Of Species

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Physical Characteristics

  • Yellow
  • Red
  • White
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Pink
Skin Type

View all of the Labout’s Fairy Wrasse images!

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Labout’s fairy wrasse occurs in small groups on the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia. These stunning fish have a distinctive pattern of colors ranging from red, yellow, and orange, with a blue head and nose.

While the males and females are similar in color, the males experience an increase in the intensity of their colors during courting. In addition, these colors may vary according to their mood.

These colorful fish are a welcomed site in any reef aquarium, which is why they are so popular among fish enthusiasts. But, it’s not just their colors that make them attractive; they also have a peaceful nature.

However, only one male can be kept with a group of females, and females need to be introduced into the aquarium before or at the same time as the male. In addition, they like to jump, so be sure to cover the tank with a tight-fitting canopy.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Facts

  • These fish are native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean but have spread to aquariums worldwide because of their popularity.
  • Females are sequential hermaphrodites, which means they can convert to males anytime during their life cycle.
  • Males have more vibrant colors and are bigger than females.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Classification and Scientific Name

The Labout’s fairy wrasses’ scientific name is Cirrhilabrus laboutei, and they form part of the order Labriformes.

This order consists of about 642 species of ray-finned fishes in 87 genera. Included in this group are parrotfishes and wrasse. Members of this order have sexual reproduction and rely on their pectoral fins to move around.

Labout’s fairy wrasse belongs to the family Labridae. Most species in this family have slender, colorful bodies with a single long-based dorsal fin. In addition, they have well-developed canine teeth, prominent pectoral fins, thick lips, and cycloid scales.

Several species in this family are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning females can convert to males at any point in their life cycle and have two sex-related color forms.

Fairy Wrasse Species

There are 61 species of fairy wrasse in the world, and while it would take forever to name them all, here are 4 of the most popular species:

Six-Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)

The six-line wrasse is a saltwater fish that is becoming more popular amongst fish enthusiasts every day. They are generally found in the Red Sea, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. These tiny fish are breathtakingly beautiful and named after the six colorful strips running down their bodies.

They are very small fish that only reach up to 3 inches in length when fully mature. Unfortunately, aquarists struggle to breed them in captivity. This may be due to the fact that they are all born female and choose when to switch to males based on their environment and other factors.

Pink-Streaked Wrasse (Pseudocheilinops ataenia)

The pink-streaked wrasse is considered one of the best reef wrasses in the aquarium community. In addition to being small and colorful, these fish are sexually dichromatic. This means that males have more pronounced yellow lines running down their bodies and blueish-gray patterns on their gill covers.

When introduced to an aquarium, pink-streaked wrasse is shy, but it will slowly come out of its shell and start to spend more time in the open. They are not fussy eaters and will feed on frozen or flake food.

Mystery Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus ocellatus)

The mystery wrasse is a beautiful fish, also known as the white barred wrasse, which is distinctly different from other lined wrasses. Instead of having horizontal lines, they have slender vertical white bars that become thinner as they age, sometimes fading altogether.

While scientists have known about this mysterious fish for several decades already, it is still very new to the aquarium scene

Leopard Wrasse (Macropharyngodon meleagris)

The leopard wrasse is a non-migratory fish found in temperate waters, with temperatures ranging from 75 to 82 F. They are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and significant populations occur in waters surrounding:

  • Cocos Keeling Island
  • Marquesas
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Northern and Southern Japan
  • Southern and southeastern Australia

Male and female leopard wrasse differ in appearance. Females have a blue, green, turquoise, or teal pattern of wavy lines covering their bodies. In addition, they have black spots, similar to a leopard. However, these spots vary in color from dark brown to mauve or black, and their anal fins and pelvic fins have yellow patches on them.

The males have a mixed orange and red base and yellowish-green spots. These spots are lined with a darker hue of black or blue.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Appearance

The Labout’s fairy wrasse have multicolored backs, which are made more prominent by their pale purple and white bellies. In addition, they display vibrant orange, pink, purple, and red stripes.

Their heads and the undersides of their gills are covered in dusky blue blemishes, and their fins are transparent with shades of red, yellow, and blue hues. Both sexes look similar, but the males’ color will intensify when courting.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Distribution, Population, and Habitat

Labout’s fairy wrasse is native to Australia and Melanesia, located in the Western Central Pacific Ocean. They prefer to occupy the coastal reef habitats where coral rubble substrate is abundant.

They tend to stay near small soft corals or coral mounds where they can quickly hide when danger lurks. However, some species have been spotted in clean oceanic reefs hunting for food like invertebrates.

Unfortunately, there is no accurate information regarding their population size; however, their numbers seem stable as Labout’s fairy wrasse is listed as Least Concern on IUCN’s Redlist.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Predators and Prey

Predators of the Labout’s fairy wrasse include nocturnal species like:

Labout’s fairy wrasse are carnivores, and in captivity, they eat fish pellets, enriched brine, Mysis shrimp, or zooplankton, which they eat in the wild.

How Often Should You Feed Them?

These fish should generally be fed 4 to 6 times a day! Because they are carnivorous, they need small meals frequently throughout the day to stay healthy. You can break this up into pellets 3 times a day and live meals two times a day.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Reproduction and Lifespan

The Labout’s fairy wrasse is a sequential hermaphrodite, meaning they can transform into males at any time throughout their life cycle. While this may be why they don’t breed well in captivity, you can try to encourage this transition by capturing the most dominant male in the tank.

These fish breed best when there is one male amongst several females in the tank. If there is more than one male, fights will typically break out, which kills the mood. Unfortunately, the Labout’s fairy wrasse’s breeding habits are relatively unknown, and it is very difficult to breed them in captivity.

They live quite long for fish, with an average lifespan of 6 to 8 years.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse in Fishing and Cooking

Humans do not eat the Labout’s fair wrasse, but they are fished in large numbers for the exotic pet trade.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse Population

There is no available information on their population size, but they are listed as Least Concern on IUCN’s redlist.

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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

Labout’s Fairy Wrasse FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are fairy wrasse reef safe?

Yes, they are one of the most popular reef-safe fish species out there.

How big do fairy wrasse get?

These are tiny fish that only measure 3 to 6 inches long.

Are wrasses easy to keep?

It depends on what specie of wrasse; some are very easy to maintain, while others are difficult.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. Aquatic Warehouse / Accessed September 28, 2022
  2. The Aquarium Guide / Accessed September 28, 2022
  3. Tank Facts / Accessed September 28, 2022
  4. IUCN Redlist / Accessed September 28, 2022