You see the Moorish Idol in ones, twos or large groups in
the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It’s not found in the
Northern Red Sea though. They are very easy to recognise,
with their daytime black, white and yellow colours. They
also have a distinctive orange band over the long nose
which they poke into cracks and crevices on the reef to
feed on coralline algae and sponges.

Moorish Idols change to a darker colour at night, to
reduce their chances of being spotted by nocturnal
predators. The darker hues blend in with the gloom and
help to break up their outline.

The common name, Moorish Idol, is said to originate
from the Moors of Africa who purportedly believed the
fish to be a bringer of happiness. It is the only species
in the family Zanclidae.

Like the butterfly fish, Moorish Idols mate for life.
They live at depths of 3 to 180 m.

Further Reading:
Coral Reef Fishes, Indo-Pacific and Caribbean


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