Longnose Butterflyfish, Forcipiger flavissimus

The longnose butterflyfish has a wide distribution range. In the Indo-Pacific it is found in the Red Sea, East Africa, around the Hawaiian and Easter Islands, also from southern Japan to Lord Howe Island, and throughout Micronesia. In the Eastern Pacific it is found in southern Baja California, Mexico and from Revillagigedo to the Galapagos Islands.

The longnose butterflyfish can swim alone, but as adults it is found usually in pairs, or even in groups of up to five fish. Commonly it will swim in and around shoreline reefs up to 100 feet in depth, but also in lagoons which harbor reef structures.

The longnose butterflyfish, has a long snout similar to needle nose pliers, with a yellow body, and the head color is divided horizontally. The top half of the head is black and the lower half is white. The dorsal fin (top fin) has 12 – 13 spines that are long and jagged while the anal fin (bottom fin) has 3 spines. It will grow in the wild up to 8.5 inches but in captivity it will stay around 4.5 – 5.5 inches. This is a very popular aquarium fish and easy to keep.

The longnose butterflyfish is considered a grazer and will use the long snout for picking out food in the crevices of the coral and reefs. The diet of this fish contains a variety of crustaceans, worms, tiny shrimp, sea urchins, fish eggs and larvae.

There is very little differences between the male and female of this species, the male is slightly larger. When paired the longnose butterflyfish are monogamous, spending the lifespan of the fish together. The mating season is when the water temperature is between 73 – 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and will generally stay within the area it feeds.

During this time the pair will swim in circles head to tail forming an arc. The eggs are released and fertilized several feet above the sea floor; sometimes another male will join the fertilization process. Within 30 days of fertilization the eggs will hatch. The larva is covered with a bony plate and a spiny head; it will remain this way for up to several months until morphing into a juvenile longnose butterflyfish.

The longnose butterflyfish was also featured in the Disney computer animated film ‘Finding Nemo.’

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Chaetodontidae

Image Caption: A longnose butterflyfish captured in waters off Papua New Guinea. Credit: AquaImages/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)