Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus) Information

Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish Information

A fairly hardy, but sensitive species.
Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus). Image by Keoki and Yuko Stender

Family: Chaetodontidae

Scientific Name: Forcipiger flavissimus (Gordon & McGregor, 1898).

Other Common Names: Forceps Fish.

Hawaiian Names: La-u wi-li-wi-li nu-ku-nu-ku 'o-i 'o-i, and La-u ha-u.

This very common Butterflyfish and its rather uncommon relative, the Big Longnose (Forcipiger longirostris) have one of the longest Hawaiian fish names. Its meaning, leaf (lau) of the wili-wili tree with a long or sharp ('oi-'oi) nose (nu-ku nu-ku).


The Yellow Longnose species has a shorter snout with a larger mouth at the end than its Big Longnose Butterflyfish counterpart. The two species can also be separated by counting their dorsal spines. This fish usually has 12 spines and from 22 to 24 soft rays, while the Big Longnose usually has 12 spines and from 25 to 28 soft rays.


Extends from Hawaii and the Revillagigedo Islands southward into eastern and central Polynesia and then westward across the tropical Pacific Ocean, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa and the Red Sea.

Average Size:

To about 8 inches.

Suggested Minimum Tank Size:

75 gallons.


Provide with plenty of shelter and room to move around. This is a fish that is sensitive to even the lowest levels of ammonia, as well as touchy to other changes in its environment relating to poor water quality issues.

Reef Tank Compatibility:

Unpredictable. This fish seems to ignore corals in reef tanks, but nonetheless has been known to feed on stony and soft coral in the wild. Will eat fan and tubeworms and pick at sea urchin tube feet.


Behaves in the typical Butterflyfish manor, but is a species that is best kept singly or in larger aquariums as a mated pair.

It does better with other non-aggressive fishes, but can be placed into a moderately-aggressive community if introduced into the aquarium first.

Diet & Feeding:

A carnivore, the Yellow Longnose will adapt to eating typical aquarium Butterflyfish fares rather quickly. However, because it is such as thin bodied fish, if it is not provided with an adequate and ample diet it can easily starve in captivity.

Suggested Feedings: At least 3 times a day.

>> Read more Butterflyfish Species Profiles