Redtail Flasherwrasse, Paracheilinus rubricaudalis Randall & Allen 2003

Other Names: Red-tail Flasher Wrasse

A male (Terminal Phase) Redtail Flasherwrasse, Paracheilinus rubricaudalis (approx 55 mm SL), at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea - showing nuptial-male display. Source: Gerald R. Allen in Allen, Erdmann & Yusmalinda (2016) Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation 19: 18–90.. License: CC BY Attribution

Males are orange-red to yellowish with three pale blue stripes along the sides (including a short 'wavy' anterior line on middle of body), three similar blue bands diverging posteriorly from the eyes, soft dorsal fin with a broad red outer area, a yellow dorsal-fin filament, and a red caudal fin with a narrow blue margin.
The smaller females are mostly reddish with a pale underside, and faint dark reddish stripes along the sides.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Paracheilinus rubricaudalis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2020,

Redtail Flasherwrasse, Paracheilinus rubricaudalis Randall & Allen 2003

More Info


Known in the Australian EEZ from the Ribbon Reefs near Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef, and reefs in the Coral Sea (Holmes Reef and Osprey Reef). Elsewhere, the species occurs in the southwest Pacific, including Fiji, Vanuatu, and eastern Papua New Guinea (Manus and Bismarck Archipelago).
Inhabits rubble areas on outer reef slopes. 


Lateral-line (pored scales) 15-16 + 5-7; Gill rakers (first arch) 12–15; 
Body depth 3.1–3.6 in SL; head length 2.9–3.1 in SL; snout 3.5–4.0 in HL; eye diameter 3.5–5.4 in HL; interorbital width 3.7–4.6 in HL; least depth of caudal peduncle 2.1–2.4 in HL; caudal peduncle length 1.6–2.0 in HL. 
Soft dorsal fin of males with a single filamentous extension, containing an elongate first and, to a lesser degree, second, and sometimes third soft ray, longest dorsal-fin soft ray 1.5–2.8 in SL; pelvic fin length 1.8–2.6 in HL; caudal fin rounded in both sexes; only the first dorsal soft ray of males prolonged as a filament; caudal fin slightly rounded; pelvic fins 1.75-2.0 in head length. 


Terminal-phase (TP) males are orangish-red to yellowish-orange with reddish-to-blue stripes on head and body; dorsal fin straw yellow to orange or pale brown on spinous anterior portion of fin, dark red on most of soft dorsal fin except narrow basal band, filamentous extension can be yellowish to orange to red depending on location and individual; anal fin broadly red to orange without blue markings except a narrow margin; caudal fin reddish, usually with only a narrow blue posterior margin but sometimes a blue band or rows of blue spots across basal portion; pelvic fins reddish with narrow anterior blue margin; male nuptial-display pattern showing intensified yellow body with blue stripes and bright red median fins. 


The Redtail Flasherwrasse is a protogynous hermaphrodite - all individuals start life as females, and the dominant female may change sex into a male during her life cycle. This transformation from female to male may take a couple of weeks.
Flasherwrass are broadcast spawners, releasing eggs and sperm into the water column. 


Before they sleep, flasherwrasses produce a protective mucous cocoon over their bodies. They are named for the male's brilliant and rapid colour changes during courting and mating. 

Species Citation

Paracheilinus rubricaudalis Randall & Allen 2003, aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 7(3): 106, figs. 2–4. Type locality: Beqa Island, Fiji.


Dianne J. Bray

Redtail Flasherwrasse, Paracheilinus rubricaudalis Randall & Allen 2003


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2006. Paracheilinus walton, a new species of flasherwrasse (Perciformes: Labridae) from Papua, Indonesia, with a key to the species of Paracheilinus. aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 12(1): 11-18.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2008. Paracheilinus nursalim, a new species of flasher wrasse (Perciformes: Labridae) from the Bird's Head Peninsula of western New Guinea with a key to the species of Paracheilinus. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 13(3-4): 179-188.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R., Erdmann, M.V. & Yusmalinda, N.L.A. 2016. Review of the Indo-Pacific Flasherwrasses of the genus Paracheilinus (Perciformes: Labridae), with descriptions of three new species.Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation 19: 18–90.  doi: 10.5281/zenodo.46267 PDF Open Access

Kuiter, R.H. 2010. Labridae Fishes: Wrasses. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia, 398 pp.

Liu, M. & To, A. 2010. Paracheilinus rubricaudalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187791A8630705. Downloaded on 22 February 2016.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E. & Allen, G.R. 2003. Paracheilinus rubricaudalis, a new species of flasherwrasse (Perciformes: Labridae) from Fiji. aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 7(3): 103-112.

Quick Facts

Biology:Able to change sex

Conservation:IUCN Least concern

Depth:15-46 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish (rare)

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:6 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map