The Surgeonfish are tropical marine fishes found on coral reefs, along with the butterflyfish. Fish in this family (order Perciformes, perch-like fishes) have oval-shaped bodies, steep sloping foreheads, and some extremely bizarre facial decorations. Another physical characteristic that most share is the presence of one, sometimes two, sharp spines.
It takes little imagination to appreciate what damage these “scalpels” can do to anything that they come in contact with (including the aquarist’s hand or net) when held erect from the side of the fish and moved like a razor-sharp scythe as it flexes its body.
This species belongs to family Acanthuridae. There are many species in this family containing several variations on the basic shape. The genus Naso develops a long “nose” in the adult, and species in the genus Zebrasoma have very high dorsal and anal fins.
The Smoothhead unicornfish (Naso lituratus) lack the prominent projection above the mouth. The beautiful colors of this fish are assumed as adults.
The Short-nosed unicornfish (Naso brevirostris) juvenile species do well in the aquarium. They lack the projection of the adult. They will eat prepared foods as well as live brine shrimp. Adults in nature are particulate plankton feeders. In the wild, this species can reach a foot and a half in length. In captivity, it is much smaller.