Animal Species:Forceps Fish, Forcipiger flavissimus Jordan & McGregor, 1898
The Forceps Fish has a very long snout and a black spot on the anal fin. The species has a very wide distribution in tropical and some temperate waters.
Standard Common Name
The Forceps Fish has a very long snout and an operculum with a curved margin. The similar looking Longnose Butterflyfish, Forcipiger longirostris, has an even longer snout and an angular operculum.The head of the Forceps Fish is black above and silvery-white below. The body is bright yellow. There is a black spot on the anal fin close to the caudal peduncle.
The species grows to 22 cm in length.
The species has a very wide distribution in tropical and some temperate waters from the Western Indian Ocean through to the Eastern Pacific. In Australia it is known from north-western Western Australia and from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland to northern New South Wales.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
Feeding and Diet
Food items include the tube feet of echinoderms, tentacles of polychaetes, hydroids and crustaceans.
Other behaviours and adaptations
It is usually seen in pairs but can also occur singly or in small groups.
- Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
- Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Pp. 250.
- Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow