Pintail fairy wrasses are one of the latest additions many people are incorporating into their aquariums. More and more, they are becoming available. They span a range of colors that include yellow, orange, and pink.
They’re excellent at hunting prey and they have some cool yet quirky habits. They have an easy temperament and aren’t too difficult to care for. But, they have some feeding and husbandry requirements for them to thrive well in captivity.
There are over 500 species of wrasse and all are part of the Labridae family. Fairy wrasses are small, reaching between three and six inches long. They’re very dexterous, agile, and swift swimmers with pectoral, caudal, dorsal, and anal fins. They have elongated bodies with smooth scales, pointed snouts, large lips, and prominent canine teeth.
Wrasses have large eyes for added visual acuity to spot predators and quickly nab their tiny, translucent prey. Fairy wrasses have an advanced eye structure with a divided, round double pupil that acts as a fine-focus lens.
Out of both genders, the males are more colorful and larger. Males can make their coloring more intense or change their color patterning when trying to court females. You can indicate a male by its unpaired fins being much longer than a female’s.
Females are hermaphrodites and often change sexes. Some will change into males when they reach adulthood or, if they’re a dominant female, change sexes when the alpha male dies. But some male fairy wrasses will change back into females under the right conditions.
Fairy wrasses come from the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. You can find this bright colored fish from Hawaii to the Philippines to southern Japan.
They are often seen hovering over rubble or back reef slopes at a depth of anywhere between three to 600 feet. They love tropical and subtropical waters around coral reefs, coastal areas, tidal pools, sandy seafloor, and rocky shores. But they are also seen jumping out of the water on occasion.
Food ; Eating Habits
They are often at 20 feet above the seafloor, catching and feasting on their most common food source, copepods. They are “pickers” when they eat, meaning they pick at their prey as it swims by with conscious determination. Their excellent eyesight relies on sunlight to eat so they can see prey.
They are most active in the daytime, meaning they’re diurnal, and often bury themselves in the sand to avoid predators. Pintail fairy wrasse is very wary of predators and ever-ready to swim to safety at the onset of perceived danger.
At night, they create a cocoon with thick, heavy mucus secretion. This cocoon hides its identity and scent from nocturnal predators while they sleep. Pintail fairy wrasses will change their patterning and color while they sleep or when stressed. Indeed, these fish can change colors according to their mood.
They are active and social with a harem-like hierarchical structure. There’s usually one male surrounded by many females and young wrasses. They also mingle with other midwater fish like anthias, damselfish, and flasher wrasses.
Fairy Wrasses in Aquariums
Most fairy wrasses adapt well to aquariums and are very resistant to diseases and fungal infections. But they come with a hefty price tag; one pintail fairy wrasse can cost around $150.
Because they are so active, they have to eat several times a day and they require at least a 90-gallon tank or larger to be happy. Plus, in order to thrive, they have to mate. Ample space to swim around and a continuous food source are essential to this.
If they feel cramped, don’t have enough food, are too excited during feeding, or find their environment stressful, they will fling themselves out of the tank. They may do this on accident because they also like to jump. So, you must keep a tight lid on the tank at all times.
One way to ensure they eat a healthy, well-balanced diet is having a continuous source of copepods. This should always be their main food source, even though they will consume other aquarium foods. Pintail Fairy Wrasses can eat vitamin-rich Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, and high-quality marine flakes and pellets.
But copepods are their favorite and full of nutrition. This helps them with color enhancements and to maintain good digestion. So, it’s a good idea to create a well-established copepod population within the tank. Besides, it will be more practical for you and the fish because they have to eat several times a day.
They don’t eat huge meals between long periods of rest; they snack throughout the day. If they’re a little plump and healthy, their colors will shine through and change even better than when in their native habitat. This is because they don’t have the stress of predators and inclement oceanic activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Fairy Wrasse Aggressive?
No, fairy wrasses aren’t aggressive. They tend to be very easy-going and peaceful. They won’t bother corals or invertebrates, which makes them excellent tankmates for a reef-safe aquarium.
Can You Keep Wrasse Together?
Yes, you can keep wrasses together. It would be best to get one male and many females so they can maintain their harem-like structure. If you have two males in your tank, the smallest one will change into a female.
Do Fairy Wrasses Bury Themselves?
Yes, fairy wrasses bury themselves. They do this to escape predators and other dangers. Fairy wrasses dig into the sand on the seafloor and stay there until the coast is clear.
Pintail Fairy Wrasses Make Great Pets
These little fish are great for any reef aquarium. They are somewhat easy to take care of; they just have to have enough room to swim and plenty of other fish to socialize with. They also have a carnivorous diet that must be constant. If you can satisfy all their needs, they’ll be happy and colorful, providing hours of interesting exploration and observation.