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Naso hexacanthus (Bleeker, 1855)
Blue-tail Unicorn; Sleek Unicorn; Priodon hexacanthus Bleeker, 1855

Life   Vertebrata   Fish   Acanthuridae   Naso

Naso hexacanthus
© Copyright John Rangall, 2006 · 0
Naso hexacanthus

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Main identification features
  • no horn
  • blue-grey back, yellowish below
  • tail base: 2 keels
Body elongate, oval, strongly compressed; no horn on forehead, upper and lower body profiles symmetrically convex; teeth small, conical, with tips slightly depressed, smooth or with slight denticulations; 2 pairs of large cutting keels on plates on narrow tail base; pelvics I, 3; dorsal VI, 27-29; anal II, 27-30; pectoral 17-18 rays; tail margin straight, without filaments, concave in juveniles.

Blue-grey to brown above, shading to yellowish brown ventrally; rear margin of operculum and preopercle often dark; tongue black; dorsal olive; tail blue grey, broad olive margin; anal and pelvics yellow-olive; pectoral blue grey, dark margin; courting males can abruptly develop upper head and upper front of body blue, blue lines and spots on front flank.

Size: 75 cm.

Habitat: reefs and rocky shores; juveniles on reef crests in sheltered habitats; adults in midwater around exposed reef fronts.

Depth: 0-150 m; juveniles usually 5-35 m; adults usually 10-40 m.

An Indo-Pacific species recorded as a vagrant at Clipperton and Cocos Islands.

Abundance: Common.
Cites: Not listed.
Climate Zone: Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo).
Depth Range Max: 150 m.
Depth Range Min: 0 m.
Diet: pelagic fish larvae; zooplankton; benthic microalgae.
Eastern Pacific Range: Northern limit=11; Southern limit=6; Western limit=-110; Eastern limit=-87; Latitudinal range=5; Longitudinal range=23.
Egg Type: Pelagic; Pelagic larva.
Feeding Group: Omnivore; Planktivore.
FishBase Habitat: Reef Associated.
Global Endemism: All Pacific (West + Central + East); Indo-Pacific only (Indian + Pacific Oceans); TEP non-endemic; "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific); All species.
Habitat: Corals; Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom); Rocks; Reef (rock &/or coral); Reef only.
Inshore Offshore: Inshore; Inshore Only.
IUCN Red List: Not evaluated / Listed.
Length Max: 75 cm.
Regional Endemism: Island (s) only; Island (s); Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic; Eastern Pacific non-endemic; All species.
Residency: Vagrant.
Salinity: Marine; Marine Only.
Water Column Position: Bottom; Mid Water; Near Bottom; Bottom + water column;

Scientific source:

Links to other sites

  • Allen , G.R. and Robertson, D.R., 1997., An Annotated Checklist of the fishes of Clipperton Atoll, Tropical Eastern Pacific., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 45:813-843.
  • Bleeker,., 1855., Zesde bijdrage tot de kennis der ichthyologische fauna van Amboina., Natuurkd. Tijdschr. Neder. IndiŰ, 8:391-434.
  • Robertson , D.R. and Allen, G.A., 1996., Zoogeography of the shorefish fauna of Clipperton Atoll., Coral Reefs, 15:121-131.
  • Smith , M. M. and Heemstra, P., 1986., Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg: Macmillan South Africa. 1047 pp., Macmillan South Africa:1047pp.


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Naso hexacanthus, Sleek unicornfish : fisheries, gamefish, aquarium
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Common name (e.g. trout)

Genus + Species (e.g. Gadus morhua)

Naso hexacanthus ( Bleeker , 1855 )

Sleek unicornfish Add your observation in Fish Watcher
Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2050
This map was computer-generated and has not yet been reviewed.
Naso hexacanthus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
Upload your photos  and  videos
Pictures | Videos | Google image Image of Naso hexacanthus (Sleek unicornfish) Naso hexacanthus
Picture by Randall, J.E.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes( genus , species ) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Acanthuriformes (Surgeonfishes) > Acanthuridae (Surgeonfishes, tangs, unicornfishes) > Nasinae
Etymology: Naso: Latin, nasus = nose (Ref. 45335 ) .
More on author: Bleeker .

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; brackish; reef-associated; depth range 0 - 150 m (Ref. 30573 ), usually 10 - 137 m (Ref. 27115 ). Tropical; 25°C - 28°C (Ref. 27115 ); 31°N - 32°S, 30°E - 122°W (Ref. 57251 )

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa (Ref. 9710 ), including the Mascarene Islands (Ref. 37792 ) to the Hawaiian, Marquesas and Ducie islands, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: L m 45.0   range ? - ? cm
Max length : 75.0 cm FL male/unsexed; (Ref. 1602 ); common length : 50.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 30573 )

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 6; Dorsal soft rays (total): 26-29; Anal spines : 2; Anal soft rays : 27 - 30. This species is distinguished by the following characters: body moderately deep and compressed, its depth 2.6 to 3.2 times in standard length (SL); dorsal profile of body uniformly convex, without any bony horn-like projection or protuberance anteriorly on head; mouth small; incisiform teeth very small, somewhat pointed, finely serrate on edges, as many as 80 in upper jaw and 100 in lower jaw of large adults; continuous unnotched D VI (rarely V or VII),26-29; A II,27-30; pectoral-fin rays 17-18 (usually 17); pelvic fins I,3; caudal fin slightly emarginate in young, becoming truncate in adults; caudal peduncle slender, subcylindrical, with a pair of bony plates on each side that develop large sharp antrorse keels with age; body colour dark brownish grey, shading ventrally to yellowish (life colour may vary from dark brown to light blue-grey); edge of operculum and preopercle usually dark brown; dorsal and anal fins yellowish with faint diagonal brown bands and a blue margin; tongue black at lengths of 25 cm or more (Ref. 9808 ).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Inhabits clear lagoon and seaward reef slopes (Ref. 9710 , 48637 ). Benthopelagic (Ref. 58302 ). Usually seen in large schools (Ref. 90102 ). Mainly diurnal, it feeds on zooplankton such as crab larvae, arrow worms, pelagic tunicates, and occasionally filamentous red algae. The species is never poisonous (Ref. 4795 ). Minimum depth reported taken from Ref. 128797.

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Spawn in pairs (Ref. 240 ).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Randall, John E. | Collaborators

Myers, R.F. , 1991. Micronesian reef fishes. Second Ed. Coral Graphics, Barrigada, Guam. 298 p. (Ref. 1602 )

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435 )

  Least Concern (LC)  ; Date assessed: 06 May 2010


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361 )

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Harmless (Ref. 4887 )

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial FAO - Publication: search | FishSource | Sea Around Us

More information

FAO areas
Food items
Food consumption
Common names
Spawning aggregation
Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Summary page | Point data | Common names | Photos

Internet sources

AFORO (otoliths) | Aquatic Commons | BHL | Cloffa | BOLDSystems | Websites from users | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | Catalog of Fishes : genus , species | DiscoverLife | ECOTOX | FAO - Publication: search | Faunafri | Fishipedia | Fishtrace | GenBank: genome , nucleotide | GloBI | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | IGFA World Record | MitoFish | National databases | Otolith Atlas of Taiwan Fishes | PubMed | Reef Life Survey | Socotra Atlas | Tree of Life | Wikipedia: Go , Search | World Records Freshwater Fishing | Zoological Record

Estimates based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 123201 ): 22.1 - 28.9, mean 27.5 °C (based on 2224 cells). Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804 ):  PD 50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high]. Bayesian length-weight: a=0.02188 (0.01362 - 0.03514), b=2.99 (2.85 - 3.13), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245 ). Trophic level (Ref. 69278 ):  3.1   ±0.33 se; based on food items. Generation time: 5.0 ( na - na) years. Estimated as median ln(3)/K based on 1 growth studies. Resilience (Ref. 120179 ):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tm=7; K=0.221; Tmax=44;). Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153 ):  Moderate vulnerability (42 of 100). Price category (Ref. 80766 ):   Medium . Nutrients (Ref. 124155 ):  Calcium = 26.9 [15.5, 50.5] mg/100g; Iron = 0.53 [0.26, 0.94] mg/100g; Protein = 19.1 [18.0, 20.1] %; Omega3 = 0.152 [0.094, 0.288] g/100g; Selenium = 43 [22, 76] ╬╝g/100g; VitaminA = 73 [25, 209] ╬╝g/100g; Zinc = 1.14 [0.78, 1.63] mg/100g (wet weight);

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