Wrasse Experts! Inconsistent Colors on Flasher Wrasses + Recommendations?

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cdw79

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I've been on the precipice of finally adding my last fish to my 65 gallon, another wrasse to go along with my Blue Star Leopard Wrasse. After two didn't fit the bill (a labouti because apparently they look meh under blue lighting, and a Madagascar flasher because I learned tank is too small), I'm poking around for my next candidate.

I paged through my ol' faithful, Scott W Michaels' "Reef Aquarium Fishes" encyclopedia, and I see the most amazingly colored flasher wrasses. I look at the scientific name and I see they are McCosker's and Carpenter's, of all things. I've seen these guys a million times at LFS and they look nothing like these pictures. I've continued to run into the same situation the more I dive into flasher wrasses in particular (and fairy wrasses to a lesser degree)- some are drop dead gorgeous, while others are bland and even almost unrecognizable at times.

I'm aware of the fact that any specimen that isn't a mature male will be more muted, if not look different altogether, but I'm pretty familiar with most of these differences. But the sheer extent of the differences in some of these fish is giving me a really hard time making a choice. Is it a matter of the location they're originating from? I really can't tell. Here's what I mean:

1649901944717.png
1649901973769.png
1649901990579.png

The above are all listed as Carpenter's flasher wrasse males, yet they could all be totally different fish from what I can tell! I have basically only ever seen any that look like #3


1649902096834.png
1649902126576.png
1649902172221.png

Same here for McCosker's- all labeled males, but I've only ever seen individuals that look like the last picture! This seems to be the case with other species too.

Basically, I want the pretty ones lol. I wonder if it's a matter of having a female to bring out these colors, but which bright color version do you "get?" Maybe in that case a fairy wrasse might be the better choice (the tank is pretty stocked right now)? I love the Linneatus but heard they can be hard to get settled in and can also fade without a female though. Any thoughts from the Wrasse Masters here? Any other recommendations if the intense colored specimens aren't really realistic? Thanks all!
 
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All I can tell you is that many of the fish images you'll see online are either heavily photoshopped and/or taken of exceptional specimens. I've yet to get a fish that met or exceeded the coloration of anything I'd seen online.

That being said, newly-arrived fish are going to be stressed - so their colors are going to be slight muted. After they acclimatize and get used to the tank, they will perk up a bit.

Good feeding, fish vitamins and supplements (along with good water parameters) can also really improve the coloration and overall health of your fish.
 
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cdw79

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Yeah the ones I see tend to look like yours @Greenstreet.1 , if anything it seems like you have a nice one. Has anyone ever seen the more intense colorings? I assumed many of the photos I'd see were touched up, but seeing them in an acclaimed encyclopedia made me think they must be real. I've just literally never seen them lol
 

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My orange back fairy-wrasse looks like the pictures. Most of the ones at the store I would agree look like the one above. They do tend to color up a bit once you have had them awhile though. That being said I doubt as much as the above pictures. My blue throat was pretty dull at first but started to look gorgeous after 6months. Then he committed suicide and I bought a new lid lol. Was the wife's favorite fish of course as well.
 
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1649901944717.png
1649901973769.png
1649901990579.png

The above are all listed as Carpenter's flasher wrasse males, yet they could all be totally different fish from what I can tell! I have basically only ever seen any that look like #3


1649902096834.png
1649902126576.png
1649902172221.png
I just want to mention, some of these seem to be misidentified. Especially the top photos of the carpenteri, Only the last one is a definite carpenters. The others are Flavianalis - The yellow fin flasher wrasse - and mccoskeri. The best way to see is, Carpenteri has 3 elongated filaments on their dorsal fin usually whereas mccoskeri has 1. The top photo of mccoskeri is that species flashing and displaying their best colours. The other two photos are that species either edited, under a certain light or they’re exceptional specimens that are extremely rare in captivity. That very top photo of the “Carpenters” in the top right corner that’s the normal colours of mccoskeri normally.
 

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All the fish in the OP's pics except one, have a single elongated fin ray, which says McCosker wrasses to me. Carpenter wrasses have three elongated fin rays, which I only see one in those pictures.

Every flasher wrasse I've gotten has been pretty drab at first. Mostly just orange/red, but not much other color. After a few months though, they start to develop the blue lines, and distinct other colors. The colors on their fins start to come in. They always end up looking much better as they mature given a proper diet. None of mine have been the yellow color you see in some of those above pics, but still beautiful fish.
 

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Get a Pintail fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus isosceles). They are gorgeous as adults and keep their colors well in captivity. They are also one of the smaller and more peaceful species of fairy wrasse.
 

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All the fish in the OP's pics except one, have a single elongated fin ray, which says McCosker wrasses to me. Carpenter wrasses have three elongated fin rays, which I only see one in those pictures.

Every flasher wrasse I've gotten has been pretty drab at first. Mostly just orange/red, but not much other color. After a few months though, they start to develop the blue lines, and distinct other colors. The colors on their fins start to come in. They always end up looking much better as they mature given a proper diet. None of mine have been the yellow color you see in some of those above pics, but still beautiful fish.
They probably weren’t as yellow as some of them are actually Paracheilinus flavianalis, the yellow fin flasher wrasse.
 

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2 additional things to consider, those pics were taken under curtain lighting staged for the best possible picture, and camera saturation adjusted to increase colors for the wow factor. Lighting them with blue light will not highlight their colors like it does the Florence of corals.

Consider running a period of the day under a whiter spectrum to be able to enjoy the fishes full beauty
 
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2 additional things to consider, those pics were taken under curtain lighting staged for the best possible picture, and camera saturation adjusted to increase colors for the wow factor. Lighting them with blue light will not highlight their colors like it does the Florence of corals.

Consider running a period of the day under a whiter spectrum to be able to enjoy the fishes full beauty
+1 to this, my nano has a 10 hour period of heavy whites (57% white, 37% blue normally) and it really brings out the colours of the fish and actually boosts the natural colours of the coral.
 

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+1 to this, my nano has a 10 hour period of heavy whites (57% white, 37% blue normally) and it really brings out the colours of the fish and actually boosts the natural colours of the coral.
I've held the white light helping coral colors argument more then you can imagine. Glad to hear another person has the same experience as i.
 

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You guys aren't alone there. Whiter lighting helps many fish look better though, it's not just wrasses that benefit from being viewed under whites. I think all my fish look better under whites than blues.
yeah, it’s the same here. I actually think my clam looks a lot better under whites then blues too. I also loved a lot of the nasties under whites as it didn’t look as ugly as blues made it look.
 
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cdw79

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Thanks everyone for all the replies! Admittedly I'm a little too in love with my blue spectrum to change it (the corals look incredible) but am starting to add a whiter period for fish viewing!

Every flasher wrasse I've gotten has been pretty drab at first. Mostly just orange/red, but not much other color. After a few months though, they start to develop the blue lines, and distinct other colors. The colors on their fins start to come in. They always end up looking much better as they mature given a proper diet. None of mine have been the yellow color you see in some of those above pics, but still beautiful fish.
Interesting to hear that, so when they are settled and begin to mature (regardless of the presence of females, hopefully) they grow into their colors a little more? Any pics you have by chance?

I just want to mention, some of these seem to be misidentified. Especially the top photos of the carpenteri, Only the last one is a definite carpenters. The others are Flavianalis - The yellow fin flasher wrasse - and mccoskeri. The best way to see is, Carpenteri has 3 elongated filaments on their dorsal fin usually whereas mccoskeri has 1. The top photo of mccoskeri is that species flashing and displaying their best colours. The other two photos are that species either edited, under a certain light or they’re exceptional specimens that are extremely rare in captivity. That very top photo of the “Carpenters” in the top right corner that’s the normal colours of mccoskeri normally.
I've definitely taken a look at the yellow fin, but frankly the ones I've seen also look that more drab color (the majority of a quick google image search). Is it just a matter of waiting like @LeftyReefer said and hoping they color up? What's the "usual" developed male form they will take?

Also, more broadly, is it true that it's better to buy juveniles / undeveloped males due to shipping reasons? I was reading they settle better as young specimens for at least some species of fairy / flasher wrasses
 
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Thanks everyone for all the replies! Admittedly I'm a little too in love with my blue spectrum to change it (the corals look incredible) but am starting to add a whiter period for fish viewing!


Interesting to hear that, so when they are settled and begin to mature (regardless of the presence of females, hopefully) they grow into their colors a little more? Any pics you have by chance?


I've definitely taken a look at the yellow fin, but frankly the ones I've seen also look that more drab color (the majority of a quick google image search). Is it just a matter of waiting like @LeftyReefer said and hoping they color up? What's the "usual" developed male form they will take?

Also, more broadly, is it true that it's better to buy juveniles / undeveloped males due to shipping reasons? I was reading they settle better as young specimens for at least some species of fairy / flasher wrasses
For the more finicky specimens such as Cirrhilabrus lineatus will be best as a small juvenile/male. Usually with flasher wrasses they stay the orangey/yellow and only truly colour up when they flash. For the rest of it they’ll stay that “dull” colouration.
 
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cdw79

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For the more finicky specimens such as Cirrhilabrus lineatus will be best as a small juvenile/male. Usually with flasher wrasses they stay the orangey/yellow and only truly colour up when they flash. For the rest of it they’ll stay that “dull” colouration.
So by this you mean they basically will stay the muted color going forward but that the color you do see will be on their fins when they flash then, right?

I'm trying to figure out, then, for other species what their "standard" colors are as opposed to the exceptional specimens / edited pictures that are available online- been quite the challenge for some species!
 

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I've been on the precipice of finally adding my last fish to my 65 gallon, another wrasse to go along with my Blue Star Leopard Wrasse. After two didn't fit the bill (a labouti because apparently they look meh under blue lighting, and a Madagascar flasher because I learned tank is too small), I'm poking around for my next candidate.

I paged through my ol' faithful, Scott W Michaels' "Reef Aquarium Fishes" encyclopedia, and I see the most amazingly colored flasher wrasses. I look at the scientific name and I see they are McCosker's and Carpenter's, of all things. I've seen these guys a million times at LFS and they look nothing like these pictures. I've continued to run into the same situation the more I dive into flasher wrasses in particular (and fairy wrasses to a lesser degree)- some are drop dead gorgeous, while others are bland and even almost unrecognizable at times.

I'm aware of the fact that any specimen that isn't a mature male will be more muted, if not look different altogether, but I'm pretty familiar with most of these differences. But the sheer extent of the differences in some of these fish is giving me a really hard time making a choice. Is it a matter of the location they're originating from? I really can't tell. Here's what I mean:

1649901944717.png
1649901973769.png
1649901990579.png

The above are all listed as Carpenter's flasher wrasse males, yet they could all be totally different fish from what I can tell! I have basically only ever seen any that look like #3


1649902096834.png
1649902126576.png
1649902172221.png

Same here for McCosker's- all labeled males, but I've only ever seen individuals that look like the last picture! This seems to be the case with other species too.

Basically, I want the pretty ones lol. I wonder if it's a matter of having a female to bring out these colors, but which bright color version do you "get?" Maybe in that case a fairy wrasse might be the better choice (the tank is pretty stocked right now)? I love the Linneatus but heard they can be hard to get settled in and can also fade without a female though. Any thoughts from the Wrasse Masters here? Any other recommendations if the intense colored specimens aren't really realistic? Thanks all!

Some of those fish are heavily excited. The photo was probably caught at the right time when they are in full flash mode. I had a mcosker many years ago in one of my first tanks. He almost was a bit dull normally except when he would flash. He wasn’t bright yellow but did become a brighter orange with neon blue lines that shined like was bioluminescent and a very bright belly.

So you could say he was 90 percent of the time… a plain orange-ish fish (if you don’t have your nose pressed to the glass to see details)… and 10 percent of the time he was a glowing torpedo.
 
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cdw79

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Ahhh ok I see, I didn't realize the flashing behavior literally brightened the fish up like that! That's pretty cool, and I see now why that could be part of the difference in the pictures, as well as the other reasons others have mentioned.

I'd say I'd probably look past those two flashers then if that tends to be the case, anyone have recommendations for a "wow factor" wrasse to be the final addition? Like I said I'd considered Linneatus but would want (at least eventually) a superman, but I hear you have to keep a female. Ideally I'd like to avoid two more fish and go for one instead, if possible. I loved watching Naoko's wrasse but I've also heard they can be a little mean in a tank like mine, or even not considered at all.

So any wrasse recommendations that look great in person? I've kept my blue star leopard wrasse with no issues so I'm up for a challenge too!
 
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