Forcipiger flavissimus

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See Talk:Forcipiger flavissimus for individual experiences with this species, Forcipiger flavissimus. Feel free to add your own personal experiences.

Common Name
Long Nose Butterfly
Binomial Name
Forcipiger flavissimus
Forcipiger flavissimus 1.jpg
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Chaetodontidae
Genus: Forcipiger
Species: flavissimus

Common Names

  • Long Nose Butterfly
  • Long-Nosed Butterflyfish



Has a compressed disc shaped body and a long snout. The body is bright golden yellow, with a black segment on the head that extends from above the mouth, and past the eye. The bottom half of the head is off white. A black horizontal band helps camouflage the eye, while a false eye-spot to distract predators is near the tail. Can change colour dramatically according to its mood; raises its spines when threatened.

Similar Species

Sometimes mistaken for F. longirostris but F. flavissimus has a shorter snout, larger mouth and the black mask does not completely extend over the eye. Importantly it does not have small spots on the chest.

Maximum Size

22cm [1]

Associated Organisms

Anything that lives in symbiosis, parasitic or opportunistically with it.


F. flavissimus generally ignores other fish in the tank and should be housed with reasonably passive fish so it does not get bullied. Anecdotal reports suggest it gets on with other butterflys (though this is likely to vary among individuals and species).

Enjoys foraging among live rock and quickly recognises its owner. Has an endearing habit of spitting water at the surface when the hobbyist is nearby.

Captive Care

Tank Size

Not recommended for tanks less than 4'.

Water Flow





To maintain body weight, small multiple feeds are ideal, since these fish use their elongated snouts to continuously search crevices for food. Their natural diet includes live mysids, polycheates, 'pods, hydroids and small [[invertebrates] it finds on liverock. Initially they may be tempted by frozen blood worms, fine DIY mix and may be try larger foods such as partially open pipi (mussel).

They can learn to feed from the water column but may be out competed by other fish, as these butterflys have small mouths.

Growth Rate

How quickly it will grow under various conditions.


Protozoans, gill flukes & bacterial infections. Before purchase make sure the snout is undamaged and avoid fish with any red areas, or emaciated specimens.

Quarantine is advised.


Hardy and easy to keep - for a butterfly. High water quality, suitable tankmates and regular feeding is important for long term success. Aggressive fish or bold feeders can intimidate the butterfly and stop it from eating.




Adults can be found as monogamous pairs in the wild, but in captivity it may be wise to keep one adult to a tank unless the system is large.

May be unwise to introduce the fish to an established yellow tang, as there is good chance the tang will perceive it as a threat and react accordingly. Similarly, there may or may not be a problem with an established Copper Banded Butterfly, C. rostratus.


Usually coral safe.


Though infrequently reported by hobbyists, a long nose butterfly may eat the tubefeet of seastars and pedicularia of urchins ( May eat tubeworms; forages for small invertebrates & worms in the live rock.


Broadcast spawner.

Local Ecology


Found throughout the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea and East Africa across to the Hawaiian and Easter islands, through to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island. F.flavissimus is also found in Micronesia and the Eastern Pacific and is a very wide ranging species. [1]


Reef associated.

Additional Information

Some additional notes on it that don't fit in the above sections.



  1. 1.0 1.1 ( Froese, R., Pauly, D. Fish Base, World Wide Web electronic publication, 2008, Retrieved: 11 March 2011.