Horseface Unicornfish, Naso fageni Morrow 1954

Other Names: Blunt Unicornfish, Horseface Unicorn, Horse-face Unicorn

A Horseface Unicornfish, Naso fageni, on Ningaloo Reef, North West Cape, Western Australia, November 2018. Source: Alex Hoschke / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale grey to greyish-brown surgeonfish becoming paler below, with a short rounded protuberance on the snout above the upper lip (absent in juveniles), two immovable bony plates on either side of the caudal peduncle. Adults have small dusky spots on the body and juveniles have a white band around the caudal peduncle between the caudal plates.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Naso fageni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2024,

Horseface Unicornfish, Naso fageni Morrow 1954

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Houtman Abrolhos to NE of the Monte Bello Islands, and possibly Rowley Shoals, Western Australia. Elsewhere the species is widespread but uncommon in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific, from East Africa to central Japan, south to the Philippines and Flores, Indonesia. Inhabits coral and rocky reefs, often deeper outer reef slopes.


Dorsal fin V, 24-26; Anal fin II, 23-25. Body ovate, compressed; snout with a short bony protuberance above upper lip in large individuals; two immovable bony plates on either side of the caudal peduncle; caudal fin strongly concave with filamentous outer rays in large individuals. 


Occasionally taken as bycatch in commercial trawls.

Species Citation

Naso fageni Morrow, 1954, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 12 7(83): 799. Type locality: Bugsuk Island, Philippines. 


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Horseface Unicornfish, Naso fageni Morrow 1954


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Arai, H. 1991. First record of the acanthurid fish, Naso fageni, from Japan. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 38(3): 319-322., Open access

Borden, W.C. 1998. Phylogeny of the Unicornfishes (Naso, Acanthuridae) based on soft anatomy. Copeia 1998(1): 104-113

Borden, W.C. 1999. Comparative myology of the unicornfishes, Naso (Acanthuridae, Percomorpha), with implications for phylogenetic analysis. Journal of Morphology 239(2): 191-224<191::AID-JMOR6>3.0.CO;2-2, open access

Ho, H.-C., Shen, K.-N. & Chang, C.-W. 2011. A new species of the unicornfish genus Naso (Teleostei: Acanthuridae) from Taiwan, with comments on its phylogenetic relationship. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 59(2): 205-211. See ref online, open access

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66. 

Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. pp. 239-253 in Wells, F. (ed.) The Marine Fauna and Flora of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270.

Hutchins, J.B. 2003. Checklist of marine fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. pp. 453-478 in Wells, F.E., Walker, D.I., & Jones, D.S. (eds). Proceedings of the Eleventh International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.

Kuiter, R.H., 1992. Tropical reef-fishes of the western Pacific Indonesia and adjacent waters. Gramedia Pustaka Utama, Jakarta. 314 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Debelius, H. 2001. Surgeonfishes, Rabbitfishes and Their Relatives. A comprehensive guide to Acanthuroidei. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 208 pp.

 Morrow, J.E. Jr 1954. Fishes from East Africa, with new records and descriptions of two new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12 7(83): 797-820

Randall, J.E. 2001. Surgeonfishes of Hawai'i and the World. Honolulu : Mutual Publishing and Bishop Museum Press 125 pp.

Russell, B., Choat, J.H., Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., McIlwain, J., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Naso fageni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T177962A1503835. Downloaded on 15 July 2019.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37437027

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-70 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:80 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map