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Marine Monday: Bignose Unicornfish

bignose unicornfish

The bignose unicornfish. [Image via Wikimedia Commons]

The bignose unicornfish gets its name from its large, rounded nose, but you might be disappointed to learn that this fish doesn’t have a horn.

Others, like the spotted unicornfish, have a clear horn, and some, like the whitemargin unicornfish, have at least a stubby horn. The bignose unicornfish is also a member of the surgeonfish family, which means it has ‘cutting keels,’ or perpendicular bony plates near its tail that can act as knives to protect the fish.

This fish is typically yellow-brown, although it can change color when being groomed by a cleaner wrasse. It also has a long blue hair attached to each end of its tail.

The bignose unicornfish lives in deep reefs in the Eastern Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. Although they are typically found alone or in pairs, these fish sometimes form larger groups while feeding on zooplankton.

These fish are widespread and not facing any serious threats, though they are occasionally eaten and are caught for inclusion in aquaria. Even better, they have seen population increases in and near marine protected areas, where fishing and other harmful activities are severely regulated.

Learn more about the bignose unicornfish and other fascinating animals at Oceana’s marine encyclopedia.


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