The flame wrasse is a case in point for the saying “behind every good man is a great woman.” The male flame wrasse has incredible coloration potential – more vivid and beautiful than his female counterparts – which is only fully realized in the presence of one or more females. Although the female flame wrasse is no ugly duckling with her pinkish-red body, yellow accents and pink back and caudal fin, she is outshined by a fully formed male with his bold red coloring on top of his back extending in a line to his mouth, contrasted with a brilliant yellow lower body. He has a short red stripe below the eye on his yellow to orange head, with red dorsal and caudal fins and yellow anal and pelvic fins. Since all flame wrasse are born as females, and males only develop when there are no others present, there is literally a female behind every male.
Also known as Jordan’s fairy wrasse, the flame wrasse are found in seaward reefs in the Hawaiian Islands. They reach up to 10 cm in length and are known to be jumpers with a reputation for escape attempts when captive. Like others in their genus, the cornea in their eye is split into two parts, and it is believed that the center of the cornea allows the wrasse to zoom in on small prey. They make their own sleeping bags at night, surrounding themselves in a protective cocoon.
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