Thursday, January 24, 2013

Moorish Idol


Moorish Idol | The Moorish idol is a small marine fish, the only existing representative of the family Zanclidae (from the Greek zagkios, "oblique") to Perciform. A common inhabitant of tropical to subtropical reefs and lagoons, the Moorish idol is notable for its wide distribution across the Indo-Pacific. Some Coral Butterflies (genus Heniochus) closely resemble the Moorish idol. It is closely related to, if not a direct descendant of the extinct Eozanclus brevirhostris, from the Middle Eocene of Monte Bolca. The Moorish idol was named by the Moors of Africa who supposedly believed the fish on a bringer of happiness. Moorish idols are popular aquarium fish, but despite their popularity, they are notorious for short life aquarium and sensitivity.

Scientific classification
Kingdom:     Animalia
Phylum:     Chordata
Class:     Actinopterygii
Order:     Perciformes
Family:     Zanclidae
Genus:     Zanclus, Cuvier in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1831
Species:     Z. cornutus

The Moorish idol is one of the most strikingly beautiful examples of marine life. It has a compressed disc-shaped body with a widespread pattern of vertical stripes. Their bodies are bright white. There is an orange triangle bordered in black marker on their tubular snout. They have a thick black stripe behind the head, half body and mid-third white tip on their tail. A liberal amount of yellow pigment between the vertical bars compliments of the white background. Their long flowing sickle-shaped weapon called the philosophia mantis extend far beyond their tail fin. Legend has it that the Moorish idol got his name because the Moors of Africa believed that the fish is a bringer of happiness.

Often seen alone, Moorish idols also form pairs or occasionally small schools, especially when young. They are fishing during the day, sticking to the bottom of the reef at night, the adoption of a dull color. Like butterfly fish, they mate for life. Adult male aggression back toward a another. Sponges, tunicates and other aquatic animals, soils form the bulk of the diet of the Moorish idol in the wild. Captive Moorish idols are typically very picky eaters. They will either eat nothing (common) and perish or eat anything (sometimes). Small portions of avocado and banana are sometimes fed in captivity.


This is not a timid species. It falls more in the moderate category peaceful. In a community setting Moorish idols should be housed with non-aggressive species. Adults generally do not tolerate other members of their kind in the confines of an aquarium. Although a male female couple together can be held without incident. Moorish idols are ill suited for marine reef aquariums. In nature, his diet consists of invertebrates reef Coraline algae and sponges. This species is notorious for its generally destructive to surface and anchored aquarium species.


The coral fish streamer (Heniochus acuminatus) looks amazingly like a Moorish idol. They are easy to maintain a rating and will probably even survive in the hands of an inexperienced aquarist. They are also considerably cheaper. They are in fact known in the aquarium industry as "The Poorman's Moorish Idol." This particular species is also marketed under the names Heniochus black and white, black and white butterfly fish, banner fish and longfinned.

1 comment:

  1. You have photos of both Pennant Butterfly's and Moorish Idols on your page here.