Marsa Alam, Egypt – Bluespine Unicornfish

The bluespine unicornfish (Naso unicornis) or short-nose unicornfish is a tang from the Indo-Pacific. It occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade. It grows to a size of 70 cm in length. It is called kala in Hawaiian, and dawa in New Caledonia.

Acanthuridae (“thorn tails”) is the family of surgeonfishes, tangs, and unicornfishes. The family includes about 80 species in six genera, all of which are marine fish living in tropical seas, usually around coral reefs. Many of the species are brightly colored and popular for aquaria.

The distinctive characteristic of the family is the spines, one or more on either side of the tail, which are dangerously sharp. The dorsal, anal and caudal fins are large, extending for most of the length of the body. The small mouths have a single row of teeth used for grazing on algae.

Surgeonfishes sometimes feed as solitary individuals, but they also often travel and feed in schools. It has been suggested that feeding in schools is a mechanism for overwhelming the highly aggressive defense responses of small territorial damselfishes that vigorously guard small patches of algae on coral reefs.

Most species are relatively small and have a maximum length of 15–40 cm (6–16 in), but some members of the genus Acanthurus, some members of the genus Prionurus, and most members of the genus Naso can grow larger, with the whitemargin unicornfish (N. annulatus), the largest species in the family, reaching a length of up to a metre (3,3 ft).


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