Heniochus acuminatusWimple fish

Geographic Range

Heniochus acuminatus, commonly known as the Long-fin Bannerfish, occurs in the Indo-Pacific, from East Africa and the Persian Gulf to the Society Islands, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island. It has also been observed in New South Wales, Western Australia, and New Guinea (Steene, 1977).


Butterflyfishes live in tropical marine waters. They associate with coral reefs and sheltered coastal bays. These fish tend to inhabit deep protected lagoons and channels, and deeper parts of reef slopes, between 30°S and 35°N (Eli, 2000).

Physical Description

This fish is recognized by its elongated dorsal spine and the bony protuberance on the forehead, differentiating it from other butterflyfish. This coral dwelling fish is laterally flattened and oval in shape. Most juvenile coloration and characteristics are retained in the adult, but the dorsal spine length increases as the fish matures (Steene, 1977). Heniochus acuminatus has a white body with two broad black bands running vertically behind the eye. Soft yellow dorsal and caudal fins are also characteristic features. They have a long snout/jaws, and bristlelike teeth allowing them to reach their main food source present in crevices in coral reefs. These fish grow to be between approximately 15-20 cm in length (Bailey, 1998).

Butterflyfish have a specific larval stage, called the tholilicthys stage. It is characterized by head bones that are expanded, covering the larvae in bony plates. These larvae can remain for several weeks to several months, and are planktonic.


Not much is known about reproduction in this species. However, they do produce small buoyant eggs that float to the surface after they are released. Hatching time ranges from 18-30 hours at about 29 degrees Celsius. The larvae then remains planktonic, with expanded bony plates (see Physical Characteristics) for an amount of time ranging from few weeks to few months (Paxton, 1994).


Juvenile and adult behavior differ. Juveniles are often solitary while adults tend to occur in pairs. Grouping in large and small groups has also been recorded (Eli, 2000).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Long-fin Bannerfish are coral reef feeders, feeding on both coral and small invertebrates living in the reefs (Steene, 1977). As aquarium fishes they eat a variety of foods including flakes, and pellets (Bailey, 1998). Juveniles sometimes eat parasites off of other fish.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Heniochus acuminatus is a very beautiful and popular fish that is fairly easy to care for, and thus is sold commercially (Bailey,1998).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative


Conservation Status


William Fink (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Katrina Rumbold (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


Pacific Ocean

body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.


uses touch to communicate


"Australian museum fish site" (On-line). Accessed October 30, 2000 at http://www.austmus.gov.au.

Bailey, M., G. Sanford. 1998. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Aquarium Fish and Fish Care. Oxford England: Sebastian Kelly.

Eli, A. 12/10/00. "Species Summary for Heniochus acuminatus Pennant coralfish" (On-line). Accessed October 24, 2000 at http://www.fishbase.org.

Paxton, J., D. William. 1994. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Steene, R. 1977. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. W. Germany: MERGUS Publishers.