A Pretty Name For An Equally Pretty Fish – The Rose-Veiled Fairy Wrasse

A beautiful new species of fish was just discovered in the Maldives.

The rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa) is equally as pretty as its name. Finifenmaa is Dhivehi, the Maldivian language, for rose, and it refers to the species’ wonderful coloration. And to add more meaning to its name, the national flower of the Maldives is the Pink Rose, or Fiyatoshi Finifenmaa.

PHOTO: Pixabay/David Mark

Technically, the species isn’t exactly new to researchers. Although it’s newly discovered, a specimen has been sighted and collected back in the 1990s already. It was just misidentified as another species, as they were previously thought to be just the adult form of the Red Velvet Fairy Wrasse. Read more about the reclassification of the species and their formal description in the researcher’s article published in the ZooKeys journal.

The discovery is even more meaningful for the Maldives because it is the first fish species to have been named and described by a local researcher and institute.

“It has always been foreign scientists who have described species found in the Maldives without much involvement from local scientists, even those that are endemic to the Maldives,” says article co-author and biologist Ahmed Najeeb.

“What we previously thought was one widespread species of fish is actually two different species, each with a potentially much more restricted distribution. This exemplifies why describing new species, and taxonomy in general, is important for conservation and biodiversity management,” says Yi-Kai Tea, the lead author of the study, in a press release.

Fun fact about fairy wrasses: they are sexual hermaphrodites, meaning that they are all born as females, but they can eventually mature into males. And males are considered more colorful than their female counterparts.

With how beautiful the new species is, it’s, unfortunately, no surprise that they are already being exploited in the aquarium trade.

“Though the species is quite abundant and therefore not currently at a high risk of overexploitation, it’s still unsettling when a fish is already being commercialized before it even has a scientific name,” says co-author Luiz Rocha.

The wrasse fish is even described as a “cherished aquarium fish” in the video below. Watch it to find out more about the new species!

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