Naso lituratus

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Common Name
Lipstick Tang
Binomial Name
Naso lituratus
Naso literatus 2.jpg
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Acanthuridae
Genus: Naso
Species: lituratus

Common Names

  • Lipstick Tang
  • Orangespine Unicornfish
  • Clown Unicornfish



The Lipstick Tang has an elongated body (to some 46 cm, Fishbase) with adults ranging from grey through tan or brown, with a distinct black and yellow "mask" with yellow mouthlining. It has black to blue lining extending from its head along its dorsal fin and yellow on its underside, and yellow margins highlighting its caudal peduncle. Large males also develop caudal "streamers".

Similar Species

N. elegans, once considered the same species.[1]

Maximum Size

46 cm [1]

Associated Organisms

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


As with other Naso species, they are typically placid and docile but extremely active. They are also capable of colouration changes depending on conditions (threatened, submission, anger, etc).

Captive Care

Tank Size

As the Lipstick is large (46 cm, Randall) and attains approximately 80% of its final size in the first 15% of its lifespan, it requires a large living quarters. A realistic startpoint should be considered 8-10x2x2' as this will allow some room to swim and space to turn as it grows, however larger is preferable.

Water Flow

Moderate/Lagoonal. This species is typically found in deep lagoons or on seaward reefs.


The Lipstick is found across a range of depths from 0 - 90 m (Lieske & Myers) and will adapt to all lighting offered.


This species primarily feeds on various leafy algaes (Dictyota, Lobophora, and Sargassum are cited examples - Randall), occasionally congregating in small groups and feeding on zooplanktons.

To best recreate this diet in a captive environment, the Lipstick should be offered various types of Nori/leafy algae as a staple. Meaty fare should also be included, DIY mixes or frozen foods to mimic zooplanktons are ideal.

Growth Rate

Research has shown that it will achieve approximately 80% of full-grown size in the first ~15% of its lifespan (Choat & Axe, 1996). This can unfortunately also lead to stunting if their needs are not fully met (see Schultz for further reading).


As this species is exclusively wild caught, they are susceptible to most marine diseases.


Addition things / items that are important for care in captivity.




Owing to its size and active nature, smaller or timid fish should be added first. However, being relatively passive most fish will cohabitate with the Lipstick Tang peacefully.


Rare anecdotal accounts have suggested it may consume certain species of soft coral (Xenia, et al). These are potentially linked to dietary conditions.


Will typically be oblivious to the presence of most invertebrates.


Group spawning has been observed in nature, however as yet captive spawning is extremely uncommon. (Fishbase)

Local Ecology


Pacific Ocean: Honshu, Japan south to the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia and east to the Hawaiian Islands, French Polynesia, and Pitcairn. Eastern Pacific: Clipperton Island.[1]


Lagoonal reefs and seaward reefs.

Additional Information

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



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 ( Froese, R., Pauly, D. Fish Base, World Wide Web electronic publication, 2008, Retrieved: 15 Sep 2009,