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Fish to Spot at Molokini: Moorish Idol

Moorish Idol: The Reef Fish

The moorish idol is a favorite reef fish that is the sole representative of the Zanclidae family. You might recognize it from it’s popular role, “Gill” in the move Finding Nemo.  It is said the moorish idol got its name from the Moors of Africa,  who believed the fish to be a bringer of happiness.

With distinctively compressed and disk-like bodies similar to a butterfly fish, moorish idols stand out in contrasting bands of black, white and yellow which make them look very attractive to aquarium keepers. The fish have relatively small fins, except for the dorsal fin whose 6 or 7 spines are  elongated to form a trailing, curved-shaped crest that actually shortens with age. Moorish idols have small mouths at the end of long, tubular snouts, with many long bristle-like teeth line the mouth.  Moorish idols usually reach anywhere from 7-9 inches and often are confused with the similar looking pennant coralfish.

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