Joan's Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus joanallenae)

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Joan's Fairy Wrasse
Cirrhilabrus joanallenae
Joan's Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus joanallenae)
Name Joan's Fairy Wrasse
Name Lat. Cirrhilabrus joanallenae
Family Wrasses
Family lat. Labridae
Order Wrasses & Relatives
Order lat. Labriformes
Origin Indian Ocean, Sumatra
Habitat Coral reefs
Diet Planktivore
pH 8,1-8,4
Hardness 8-10 °KH
Behavior Peaceful
Keeping Pair, group
Reef Compatible Yes
Care Level Moderate
Life Span N/A
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 9 cm
Temperature 24-28 °C
Salinity 33-36 ‰
Aquarium ~ 350 l
US Units
Size 3"
Temperature 75-82 °F
Salinity 1.020-1.025 sg
Aquarium ~ 90 gal

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of Cirrhilabrus joanallenae is exclusively the coast of North Sumatra and the island of Palau Weh (Indonesia). There they live mostly in groups over rock and scree bottoms at the edges of lagoons and outer reefs with dense coral growth.


They require a well-structured aquarium with plenty of swimming space and a reef structure (hiding, resting and retreat possibilities) with living stones that act like a biological filter. Only lime-rich, heavy metal-free substrates may be used as substrate.

Filters, skimmers and heaters are necessary to ensure water quality, as well as pumps to simulate tides, swells and bottom currents. Lighting must match the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals

Salinity: 33-36 ‰ pH value: 8.1-8.4
Carbonate hardness: 8-10 °KH Nitrate content: 2-8 mg/l
phosphate content: 0.01-0.1 mg/l nitrite content: 0.0-0.05 mg/l

For salinity, an average value should be aimed for, which may only vary slightly by +/- 0.5 ‰. Ammonia and ammonium must not be measurable. Special attention must be paid to constantly good water quality.


In nature they feed mainly on zooplankton. The feed change usually succeeds without problems. The food supply for these slow eaters should consist of a commercially available, vitamin-enriched frozen special food mix for plankton eaters or a combination of chopped shrimp and crab meat with live and frozen foods such as mysis, krill, bosmids, cyclops and Artemia. High quality flake and granular foods are also often accepted after a period of acclimation. It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day (3-5 times). This also reduces intra-species aggression.

Regular and varied feeding promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

The young fish, mostly females, are peaceful among themselves and can be kept without problems. With the sex change to male, the aggression increases. A group can be socialized well, if they are introduced into the aquarium at the same time. Towards other fish they behave peacefully.

Sex dimorphism

They are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning most males develop from functional females. The caudal fin is round in juveniles and females. In males, the pectoral fins are extended and the caudal fin is diamond-shaped.

Reproduction and breeding

There are no known reports of successful breeding in the aquarium.


They are easily confused with the Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis. They do not burrow like other wrasses and coloration may vary according to their mood. Since they occasionally jump, make sure the aquarium is well covered

They do very well in a reef aquarium with corals and invertebrates and should not be kept in a fish-only aquarium

If different species are kept together, care should be taken to match the fish in terms of water quality and temperature requirements and social behavior, and to ensure that the setup meets the needs of all species kept together. New fish to be introduced must be acclimated slowly to the water in the aquarium

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: KUITER, DEBELIUS (2007): Atlas der Meeresfische: Die Fische an den Küsten der Weltmeere, Kosmos Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF