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The Rare and Striking Monsoon Fairy Wrasse, Cirrhilabrus hygroxerus

One of the most exciting new wrasses to become available to hobbyists recently is the Monsoon Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus hygroxerus).  When it was first discovered, it stumped researchers until they realized they were at a newly discovered species. The fish was found by Monsoon Aquatics in Australia. They worked closely with the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) and the Western Australian Museum to identify the unique creature as a new species.

The Monsoon Fairy Wrasse comes from a small patch of reef in the Timor Sea. The Timor Sea is in between Southern Indonesia and Northern Australia. The region is prone to seasonal monsoon rains and it takes collectors days just to reach this area, making it difficult to collect this fish.

Appearance

The females of the Monsoon Fairy Wrasse are a peachy red with blue body stripes, while the male has a black body speckled with iridescent blue, and large red pelvic fins. Unique color combinations help to distinguish the monsoon fairy wrasse from close relatives isolated in pockets of habitat in the western Timor Sea in Western Australia and Timor-Leste.

About Monsoon Aquatics

While the Monsoon Fairy Wrasse has been written and talked about in the reef keeping community, little is known or mentioned about the company that found this lovely fish. I was able to connect with Daniel Kimberly, the owner, to get a few more details.

The first Monsoon Wrasse was found by Timothy Green our head diver and Skipper, they were caught in amongst other fairy wrasse and we didn’t realize how different they were until we unloaded them and saw them in our tanks.  We first discovered them about two years ago now and had to wait almost a year to get confirmation they were a new species.  The area is mainly a sloping rubble bottom with some large coral heads not dense coral cover about 15 to 30 meters deep.”

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Owned and operated by Daniel Kimberly since 2008, Monsoon Aquatics collects marine fish and coral, native Australian fish and land hermit crabs from some of the Northern Territory’s most remote locations. The products are then exported around Australia and internationally to a wholesale market. Monsoon Aquatics were named Winner of the 2013 and 2014 Northern Territory Export Awards.

Who has it

Our friends over at Quality Marine have recently acquired some of these amazing fish.

“We wouldnt be excited about getting this fish if it didnt happen to also be drop dead gorgeous. Separating this species from a sea of gorgeous and strikingly hued members of this family is its unusual coloration. While most of these Fairy Wrasses display a spectrum of rich jewel tones and delicate pastels, C. hygroxerus possesses a beautifully mismatched color palette, with murky shades along its flank that are quite unlike anything else in the popular fairy wrasse genus, contrasting vividly against a stark white underbelly. The bright red pelvic fins and reflective blue tail of males hints at the close relationship this species has with another of our favorites in the genus, C. rubriventralis from the Red Sea. In the height of its nuptial display, the Monsoon Fairy Wrasse must be a breathtaking sight.”

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