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Nothing is actually known about this fish. You don't know whether it's male or female, you would have to butcher it to find out and you don't want that. We don't know what it does with its long nose either. Not fighting, in any case. The unicorn fish fights with its fin, and the doctor fish to which it is related has a fold-out spike on its fin, only having one joint at this point, and that is his only weapon. Enemies? Probably any fish that is a little bigger. Friends: me.

Riot in the aquarium

I don't really care about fish. I just went to the aquarium for the sake of it and marched relatively quickly past around 5000 fish of 440 species, I also passed thousands of invertebrates as well as sharks, catfish and moray eels and also goldfish-like phenomena before I gave up and stopped.


Of course, there was an aquarium. A landscape aquarium, subgroup: coral reef. You can sit in front of it and press your face against the glass. You can use your hands like blinkers to hide everything to the right and left. And, bang, a little fish, the size of a pen, stuck to its side of the glass, about level with my nose, then level with my lips, then we were eye to eye. It had a beautiful scaly dress, in various hues of red, and wriggled excitedly and then, bang, three more eyes stuck to my face, this time of a fish the size of a frying pan, and if the glass had not been in between, one would have had to speak of inter-species love. Fish kisses journalist, Riot in the aquarium, only one stayed cool.


Species: Naso Unicornis


Home: Indo-Pacific (stretches from East Africa to Hawaii). Depth: 40 to 50 meters. Age: again, unknown. It was bought in a pet shop in 1995. Preference: likes to swim straight ahead. He doesn't care for curves, ellipses or roller coasters, nor my face. Every 20 seconds he passed my field of vision with a certain snootiness, as if I were a piece of coral reef.

The following fascinated me. First: the long nose. Second: the big cheeks. Third: the creepy, always slightly fluting mouth. The caricature of a human face trapped in the body of a fish. A mermaid? In addition, it changes color constantly. Its scales must be so silver that they react like mirrors to their surroundings. I can't explain it to myself any other way. Sometimes it is light blue on the one side and moss green on the other, sometimes it is just one colour, and when it swims into the coral reef decoration of the aquarium, it suddenly becomes red-brown spotted.


Are nose fish an endangered species?



Indirectly, as a result of coral reefs dying. The oceans are warming up, every degree more means less oxygen in the water. First the corals will die and then (maybe) the nose fish will die.


Back to the aquarium. The water temperature is an ideal 25 degrees, and the seawater mixture is species-appropriately prepared with 76 different salts. On the subject of over-crowding, its aquarium holds 24,000 liters, that is 170 bathtubs. Additionally, they swim in schools in the open sea, and nobody has more space there than here. For six years the unicorn fish with the long nose has been swimming its straight line from pool edge to pool edge and believes it is in the Caribbean, or the Maldives, or somewhere around Hawaii. He doesn't even notice that he's trapped. What are we humans to him? Shadows. This is how he recognizes his carers. A large shadow feeds differently than a small, wider one.


The fish philosopher


Again, the caricature of a human face. Who does he remind me of? I visited him three times and couldn't figure it out. Ok, he looks nice, like someone who lives in a small attic. Single. No manager. But: philosopher.

The unicorn fish, called nose fish by me, could also be called Heinz-Rühmann-Fisch, or Heinz for short, but the nickname of the great philosopher Heidegger (Martin) would also work. Then he would be the fish of pure being.


He doesn't do anything, he doesn't feel anything, he doesn't think anything - he just is. I don't know if that can be called luck. Is it about luck with a fish? Or is it about being tasty? One does not know.

author Helge Timmerberg

Hornfisch 01 90x60.jpg


This image is available to buy.

75 x 50cm Alu-dibond photo print, acrylic glass.  

450,- €

One of 11 prints



Frank Zauritz

Porträt und Reportage Fotograf

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Translator Artemis Meereis

Proofreading Nadia Ratti

Many thanks to 

Wolfgang Neumann / Solibro Verlag

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The meaning of UTIYA

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