Forcipiger flavissimus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Forcipiger flavissimus
Species Authority: Jordan & McGregor, 1898
Common Name(s):
English Big long-nosed Butterflyfish, Forcepsfish, Forceps Fish, Long Nose Butterfly, Long-nose Butterflyfish, Longnose Butterflyfish, Longnose Butterflyfish, Longnose Butterfly Fish, Long-nosed Butterflyfish, Longnosed Butterflyfish, Long-nosed coralfish, Longsnouted Butterflyfish, Yellow Long Nose Butterfly
French Chelmon à long bec, Papillon longnez
Spanish Hachita, Mariposa hocicona, Mariposa nariz larga, Mariposa narizona
Foreipiger flavissimus Jordan & McGregor, 1898

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-09
Assessor(s): Myers, R. & Pratchett, M.
Reviewer(s): Elfes, C., Polidoro, B., Livingstone, S. & Carpenter, K.E.
This is the most widespread of all butterflyfishes and occurs in coral reef and temperate reefs. It is quite heavily collected for the aquarium trade, but this does not seem to be substantially impacting the population. There do not appear to be any current threats to this species and it is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This is the most widely distributed of all butterflyfishes (Range size ~106 million km2) from values estimated by Jones et al. (2002) based on projections of distribution maps from Allen et al. (1998). It occurs throughout the Indo-Pacific from central Red Sea to Durban, South Africa to the west coast of central and northern South America north to southern Japan and the Hawaiian islands, south to central New South Wales, Lord Howe, Rapa and Easter Islands, including virtually all intervening tropical islands. It is absent from the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea north of northern Yemen and the Laccadive Islands (India). It has been recorded at depths of 2-145 m.

American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Chile (Easter Is.); Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Colombia; Comoros; Cook Islands; Costa Rica; Djibouti; Ecuador (Galápagos); El Salvador; Eritrea; Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam; Honduras; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Japan; Kenya; Kiribati (Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Mexico; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Réunion; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is generally common (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). There is no evidence of population declines.

There is a small resident population in the tropical eastern Pacific. It is moderately common at Clipperton, but is only occasionally seen elsewhere in tropical eastern Pacific. According to Robertson and Allen (1996), this species is observed frequently enough to have a resident population at Clipperton Atoll.  According to Aburto-Oropeza and Balart (2001), it is one of the rarest species at Los Islotes, Gulf of California, having an occurrence frequency below 10%. In Cabo Pulmo, Gulf of California, this species was not found, even though it was previously recorded there (Villarreal-Cavazos et al. 2000). This species was not observed during a survey conducted at the Galapagos archipelago (Edgar et al. 2004).

Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species typically inhabits exposed outer reefs (particularly the crests) with abundant coral growth and caves and ledges. It is occasionally found within lagoon reefs. This species usually occurs in pairs, but may also be encountered as solitary animals or in small groups. It feeds on a wide variety of animal prey including hydroids, fish eggs, and small crustaceans, but prefers tube feet of echinoderms, pedicilaria of sea urchins, and polychaete tentacles (Myers 1991). This species may settle in live coral but is not not likely to be reliant on corals given its' latitudinal distribution beyond that of coral reefs. It is found on outer reef flats at various depths from shallow flats to very deep along walls (Kuiter 2002).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is frequently exported through the aquarium trade (Pyle 2001). Approximately 30,000 individuals traded between 1988-2002 (Global Marine Aquarium Database 2009).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There appear to be no major threats to this species. Collection is limited and is not considered to be impacting the global population.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known species-specific conservation measures in place for this species. It occurs within marine protected areas. Monitoring of the population trends and habitat status of this species is required.

Citation: Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Forcipiger flavissimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 30 March 2015.
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