Rhinecanthus aculeatus Linnaeus, 1758, India.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Picassofish; English and Hawaiian: Humu humu; French: Poisson picasso sombre; German: Gemeiner Picassodrьcker.
Body compressed and somewhat oblong or rhomboid. The forehead slopes upward past the eye to just anterior to the dorsal fin. There are three spines and 23–26 soft rays in the dorsal fin and 21–23 soft rays in the anal fin. The color pattern is gray to grayish brown on the head and just below the dorsal fin and brown to brownish gray along the upper flank, with two thick and two thin oblique stripes of the same color extending down, in alternation, onto the lower flank and belly. An orangish brown bar extends from midflank up and back to the base of the soft rays of the dorsal fin. The lower flank and belly are white. A thin yellowish line runs from the mouth back to just past the lower part of the operculum. There is a black to brown blotch extending from the posterior portion of the flank onto the white caudal peduncle and a black blotch around the anus. The fins are pale to light gray. Reaches 11.8 in (30 cm) in total length.
Tropical and subtropical Indo-West Pacific from the Red Sea and East Africa; south to South Africa; east to the Tuamotu Archipelago, Marquesas, and Hawaiian Islands in Polynesia; south to northern Australia and Lord Howe Island; and north to southern Japan. Also reported from the eastern Atlantic from Senegal south to South Africa.
Coral and rocky reefs, mainly on reef flats or in shallow lagoons on rubble and sand. Depth range is 3.3–13 ft (1–4 m).
Highly territorial, especially when guarding a nest. Excavates or utilizes a small hole for shelter, where it can lock itself in by extending its first dorsal spine. It sleeps on its side there. Patrols a territory and may inflict a painful bite upon intruders or passersby. Produces a whirring sound when alarmed.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Omnivorous. Feeds upon mollusks, crustaceans, worms, sea urchins, corals, small fishes, tunicates, foramniferans, fish eggs, algae, and detritus.
The mating system is single male/multiple female polygyny, but facultative monogamy occurs occasionally. Spawning takes place on a semilunar cycle. Spawning is paired, and eggs are deposited on the substratum within a territory. The eggs are demersal and guarded. The larvae are pelagic.
Not listed by the IUCN.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
An important fish in the aquarium trade but also taken as food in minor commercial and subsistence fisheries.
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