Long-nosed butterflyfishForcipiger longirostris

  • Patch Reef
  • Fish
  • Butterflyfish


Forcipiger longirostris belongs to the order of Perciformes and family of Chaetodontidae (Butterflyfishes), it is commonly known as Big long-nosed butterflyfish, Black long-nosed butterflyfish, Long-beaked butterfly fish, Long-nosed butterflyfish, Longnose butterflyfish or Long-snouted coral-fish.

This species has a compressed body which is bright yellow in colour. Its fins are also yellow. It possesses a small mouth found at the end of a long snout, which is silvery white. The upper portion of the head is black or grey in colour. A black patch is present at the rear of the anal fin, below the caudal peduncle. A black streak runs from the beginning of the dorsal fin to the rear part of the gill cover to the pectoral fin base. There are rows of black flecks or spots on its sides. It has a total of 10 to 11 dorsal spines, 24 to 28 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 17 to 20 anal soft rays. It can reach a maximum length of 22cm.

Habitat and ecology

This species is present across the Indo-Pacific region. The recorded depth range of Forcipiger longirostris is between 3 to 208 m. It dwells in seaward reefs at depths below 60m and is found near drops offs. It can often be seen, solitary or in pairs.

Its diet consists of small crustaceans, that it sucks from crevices using its pointed snout. It feeds also on plankton.

This butterflyfish is oviparous and usually forms monogamous pairs during breeding. During spawning season, thousands of eggs are released in the water column. Larvae hatch from eggs after about 30 hours. Larvae spend about 40 days in planktonic form, before metamorphosing.


Conservation and management

According to the IUCN Red list, Forcipiger longirostris is categorized as being of ‘Least Concern’. However, this species is not common and localised declines have been documented. It is seldom collected for aquarium trade. No conservation measures are in place for this species, but it is present in many MPAs within its range. Its dependence on coral has not been entirely established therefore it has been suggested that alongside coral monitoring, this species needs to be monitored as well.

Did you know?

This species has the ability to move its entire jaw anteriorly, maximising its chances to feed on elusive prey.

The larvae of this species possess a long, armoured snout.