Discovering The Exotic Longfin Bannerfish

Longfin bannerfish, also known as Black and White Heniochus, are a beautiful species of marine fish that live in the waters of the Indian Ocean. They flaunt a long, elegant dorsal fin, thick black and white bands, and just a touch of striking yellow coloring on the tail fin. As exotic as their fins are lengthy, these fish delight divers and snorkeling visitors alike.

Often confused with two other species of tropical fish, there are a handful or discreet differences between the three. A seasoned diver will tell you that the longfin bannerfish does not boast the same long snout that its look-alike, the Moorish idol, does. However, the longfin bannerfish’s snout is more pronounced than that of its other look-alike, the schooling bannerfish.

Other small differences – like a more rounded anal fin, smaller chest, and a very slight difference in the length of a black band – separate the two. In fact, if you are not specifically looking for the dissimilarities, you would never be able to determine which species is which. Because the longfin bannerfish and Moorish idol are so strikingly similar, the longfin bannerfish is often called “The Poor Man’s Moorish Idol.”

Now that you know exactly what divides the longfin bannerfish from the Moorish idol and the schooling bannerfish, you can put your knowledge to the test the next time you go snorkeling or diving in the Andaman sea. At a decent size of just under 10 inches, you should be able to distinguish the inconspicuous dissimilarities of the longfin bannerfish – if, that is, he will grant you an audience of more than just a few moments.

For an up close and personal encounter with these fish – why not join our Similan Liveaboards – or even a Surin Snorkeling tour?. You might also chance a meeting if you dive between Southern Japan and Lord Howe Island in the Pacific. Then delve into the crisp waters – longfin bannerfish thrive in temps between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit – but we still have them in Thailand with higher average water temps. This fish provides a good range of territory to explore as it lives in depths of 7 to 246 feet.

As you snorkel, prepare for the striking contrast of the longfin’s black, white, and yellow scales against the ocean’s blue waters. The graceful longfin bannerfish will make the global trip worth the effort, and might even convince you to add some of the creatures to an aquarium of your own.