Orange-spine unicorn

(Naso lituratus / elegans)


Orange-spine unicorn IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

The orange-spine unicorn reaches a length of up to 46 cm. In spite of ist name, it lacks a protrusion on the forehead. It is the most strikingly coloured species of the genus Naso and is characterized by its angular head with black and yellowish-orange facial marks, yellow dorsal fin with a blue margin, and two prominent yellowish-orange knife-like keel plates at the base of the tail. The male develops long filamentous tail lobes.

Orange-spine unicorns live singly, in pairs or in small groups. Juveniles sometimes in small aggregations mixed with other acanthurids of similar size. They feed predominantly on leafy algae.

Did you know?
that the orange-spine unicorn is also called lipstick tang, or blonde tang, and that it sells for about 40 to 60 USD in aquarium trade?


Name (Scientific) Naso lituratus / elegans
Name (English) Orange-spine unicorn
Name (French) Nason à éperons oranges
Name (German) Kuhkopf-Doktorfisch
Name (Spanish) Pez cirujano naso
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by



Range Naso lituratus: Western Pacific Ocean from Japan south to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, and east to Hawaii and Polynesia. The closely related species Naso elegans occurs in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Both species meet in the region of Bali.
Habitat Coral reefs from surface to 90 m depth
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population Considering that most public aquaria are not part of the WAZA system and do not register their collections with ISIS, available ISIS data are not significant.

In the Zoo

How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 51 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.

Fish must be unpacked carefully and under low illumination.


Find this animal on ZooLex

Why do zoos keep this animal

Orange-spine unicorns are not an endangered species but their habitats, coral reefs, are threatened in many places. They are thus presented by zoos and aquariums as an ambassador species for reef protection.