Straight away let’s state that the picture above has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject fish! The truth is that I haven’t a picture of the fish so have used one from the internet, the link is given at the end.
The fish in question is unusual in shape and bright in colour, two of the requisites often looked for by many marine aquarists. It goes beyond that though. The fish is a butterfly and this could put off some aquarists as they are often viewed as probably too difficult. It’s correct that many butterfly fish are difficult and good that aquarists are wary.
In this case we are looking at a fish that is similar in shape to the copperband butterfly (Chelmon rostratus). The copperband is a beautiful fish, there isn’t any doubt about that. There isn’t any doubt either that there is a good chance this fish will be problematic, very often with feeding. Some lucky aquarists have little trouble, many others do. So a copperband is not one to choose when a beginner and one to be wary of even as an experienced aquarist.
The fish being considered is the long-nosed butterflyfish properly called Forcipiger flavissimus. As the name indicates it has a long nose as does the copperband. The similarities end there though. The longnose has a mainly yellow body with a large dark patch running along the upper side of the snout and a little past the eye. This patch then travels vertically upwards and ends just before the dorsal fin, making it more or less triangular. There is also a circular dark patch near the clear tail fin. The overall effect is that it creates a very attractive fish, the dark front patch even suggests ‘Hey man, I’m cool’. The longnose could grow to circa 6 or 7″ (around 15 to 18 cm).
The longnose will eat or try to eat just about any food that enters the aquarium, be this flake food, de-frozen food or whatever. It’s important to ensure that the food supplied is suitable for the size of mouth as with any fish. The longnose can surprise with the size it can eat considering the perhaps delicate looking snout. As the snout suggests, the fish will spend a good time poking into rocks trying to find food. Naturally it eats smallish organisms from within crevices etc and of course this means that it should receive meaty foods regularly as part of its diet. On purchase it is best, as with all fish, to see them feeding and to note the food offered so this can be duplicated at home for a short time if needed as the fish settles in.
A reef aquarium is the best home for the longnose as this will provide the hiding places it needs to feel secure. Though not particularly timid aggressive tankmates are not good, this is usually not a problem as it applies to most fish. If another fish shows some aggression towards the longnose it will raise its dorsal spines and tip them towards the other fish.
One point to note is that when aquarium ‘dawn’ arrives (the lights on sequence) the longnose could look pasty coloured or even white. This is not a cause for alarm, the colour returns as the fish awakens. If during the aquarium day the fish looks poorly coloured the seawater quality should be checked. The longnose is not particularly delicate but could show this symptom. In a well managed aquarium with regular partial seawater changes this is unlikely to occur. A colour change could be noticed if there is excessive aggression from another fish, stress in other words. Finally, when being taken from the container for introduction to the home aquarium this colour change could be seen.
The long-nosed butterfly is a colourful differently shaped addition to the aquarium. It usually settles very well with the usual proviso that the seawater is of high quality and there are hiding places, which of course there should be in a reef system that is not overstocked.
Here is the link to have a look: