Rhinoceros fish: description, habitat, food

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Rhinoceros fish: description, habitat, food
Rhinoceros fish: description, habitat, food

Rhinoceros fish is an amazing and unusual creation of nature. On the head of this inhabitant of the tropical seas there is a real horn, which can reach a length of up to 1 meter. This gives the stigma a resemblance to the muzzle of a rhinoceros. The article provides information about the living conditions of this fish in the wild and the possibility of keeping it in an aquarium.


Rhinoceros fish is the name of not one species, but a whole group of fish. They are also called nosy or unicorns.

The appearance of the proboscis is peculiar. This is one of the most unusual fish that cannot be confused with other species. At the top of the rhinoceros' head is a long, pointed process that looks like a horn. This growth is not an attack weapon. It helps the fish move quickly and easily in the water. The horn begins to grow from a young age, in adults it is approximately equal to the length of the head, but can grow up to 1 meter.

Head of a hornbill fish
Head of a hornbill fish

The body of the rhinoceros fish is oval in shape. Its length starts from 50 cm. Dimensions largely depend on the type of fish. Mosta large representative of this group is a real proboscis. It can grow up to 1 meter. Small rhinos have a body length of no more than 30 cm.

The color of the scales depends on the type of fish. Most often it is gray or brownish. Some noses are quite brightly colored. Body coloration is very variable. These fish can change their color in just a few seconds. The shades of the scales depend on the lighting and the environment. When proboscis go out into the open water for food, their sides turn silvery, their abdomens white, and their backs greenish.

These are typical members of the surgical fish family. What is the reason for this name? At the base of the surgeon's tail are sharp spikes, similar to a scalpel. They contain poison. With the help of these devices, fish defend themselves from enemies. Proboscis also have such means of protection.

Where probosci meet

Where does the hornbill fish live? It is found in the tropical latitudes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Distribution area - from the eastern coast of Africa to the Hawaiian Islands. Proboscis have also been found in the Red Sea and in the waters around Japan. This fish species is completely absent from the Atlantic.


Nosachi like to live near the coast. They keep close to coral reefs and rocks. These fish can be found at shallow depths - from 1 to 150 meters. In shallow water, fry usually swim. Adults descend to depths of more than 25 meters.

Adult fish keep in flocks. They lead a daily life. During the daytime, the proboscis swim in search of food. At night, the fish go to rest under the coralreefs. Juveniles live in lagoons and stay either alone or in small groups.

flock of noses
flock of noses


Probos have a very small mouth, but rather sharp teeth. It has to do with the way you eat. These fish love to eat brown algae. Only occasionally Proboscis eat small crustaceans and other small invertebrates. The device of the mouth apparatus allows fish to scrape algae from the surface of stones and corals.

Fry and juveniles feed on plankton. But as the fish mature, they switch to eating algae.

Hornbill fish among corals
Hornbill fish among corals


Proboscis spawn from December to July. Breeding occurs during the full moon. During this period, the fish rise up. The female spawns small eggs in the surface layers of the ocean waters. The period of maturation of the embryos is very short. Already five days after the fertilization of eggs by males, larvae are born.

Hatched larvae are completely different from adults. They have a disc-shaped transparent body with vertical ridges. For a long time, zoologists mistakenly considered the proboscis larva to be a separate species of marine inhabitants.

At the larval stage, fish live in the water column. They feed on small planktonic organisms.

After 2-3 months, the larvae appear in coastal waters. Soon they turn into fry and become similar in appearance to adults. The digestive tract of fish is significantly lengthened. This allows the juveniles to feed on algae. As soon as the body length of the fry reaches 11-12 cm, on the heada young fish begins to gradually grow a horn.

Young hornbill fish
Young hornbill fish

Aquarium keeping

Can I keep a rhinoceros fish in an aquarium? Some representatives of this group are quite adapted to life in a domestic pond. For keeping in captivity, the real proboscis is most suitable. This fish is quite unpretentious and hardy, and also has a peaceful character. But for her it is necessary to create comfortable living conditions.

For this fish you will have to purchase a large aquarium. The volume of the tank must be at least 1500 liters per individual. The aquarium should not only have enough space for free swimming, but also a considerable amount of algae and stones. Only in such conditions can a proboscis reach large sizes and grow a horn.

Hornbill fish in an aquarium
Hornbill fish in an aquarium

In the aquarium you need to put corals and equip shelters. This one will remind the noses of their natural habitat.

Tropical fish are thermophilic. Therefore, the water temperature should not fall below + 26-28 degrees. Nosers love light, so good aquarium lighting is required. It is also very important to provide powerful filtration and aeration. Rhinos require fast flow and clean, high-quality water without harmful impurities. Under good conditions, fish can live in captivity for about 5 years.

Proboscis are herbivorous fish. Therefore, they need to be fed algae. You can bring the feeding process as close as possible to the natural way of eating. To do this, put in the aquarium overgrown with algaestones. Fish will scrape vegetation with their teeth.

However, proboscis also need animal food. After all, in nature they sometimes eat small crustaceans. You can prepare a mixture of chopped seaweed and lettuce for fish. Add squid, shrimp and mussels to it.

Real proboscis is a calm fish. He is able to get along with many inhabitants of the aquarium, except for aggressive species. However, small fish should not be kept with the rhinoceros, as it may accidentally swallow them.

If proboscises live in the wild, then toxins accumulate in their tissues. Therefore, the meat of these fish is not eaten, it can cause severe poisoning. However, if the rhinoceros lives in your aquarium, then you can contact them without fear.