Species Index

Zanclus cornutus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Common Name: Moorish Idol

Distribution: Common in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region: from East Africa to Rapa Islands, north to southern Japan and the Hawaiian Islands, south to Lord Howe Island. In the eastern Pacific from the southern Gulf of California to Peru. In Australia recorded from around Exmouth in Western Australia, across the tropical north, the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, south to southern New South Wales and including Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.

Ecological Notes: Frequents turbid inner lagoons, reef flats, and clear seaward rocky and coral reefs. Depth 3 – 182 m.

Additional Notes: Colourful, easily recognised. Usually seen in pairs or small groups. Feeds on algae, small invertebrates and small encrusting animals. Has a long pelagic larval stage (post larva to juvenile is 7.5 cm) which is the reason for the wide distribution and no geographical variation in colour form. Grows to 23 cm.

References: R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.421.

Atlas of Living Australia website at Accessed 12/07/18.

FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. Accessed 12/07/18.