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Body laterally flattened. Upper body in shades of gray to olive to brown, with brown to orange below. Snout whitish. Dorsal and anal fins are translucent yellow; tail dark. The belly has a noticeably extended appendage. Base of tail with orange spines, these are larger in male than in female. Two distinguish phases: one with large, whitish spots (C. macrocerus), the other without spots (C. macrocerus no spots). Size up to 46 cm.
Inhabit coral reefs or rocky bottoms, down to 25 m. They do not swim in open water, but are found among gorgonians and sponges. Occur in pairs. Feeds mainly on sponges, gorgonians and algae, but also eats hydroids and stinging coral.