The Chinese Trumpetfish has a long, thin, inflexible body, up to 80 cm in length, with a long tube-like snout, chin barbel, and very small teeth.
Chinese Trumpetfish exhibit three basic colour phases: uniform grey with a white spotted/black area toward the rear, grey and brown vertical stripes, or uniform yellow. The pelvic fins are located closer to the middle of the body and have a black spot at their base.
The rounded tail fin usually has two black spots, one on the top and sometimes a second spot on the low part. Even when grey/brown colour, the tail often retains a slight yellowish colour in parts. Individual fish have the ability to change their colours very quickly.
Chinese Trumpetfish cleverly employs two distinct methods to catch their prey of small fish and crustaceans.
The first hunting method is as an ambush predator, lying in wait close to hard corals or beside/within gorgonian fan corals to stalk prey or patiently wait for a target to appear. They often approach their prey in a vertical, head down position.
The second hunting method is to swim very close to another, larger fish, such as a grouper or pufferfish, or even a hawksbill turtle, allowing it to approach and attack its unsuspecting prey.
When darting in to catch prey, the extendable mouth can be rapidly thrust outward, and the mouth widened almost to the same diameter as the body. This process creates huge suction which rapidly draws the pray into the mouth.
As with many other species, reproduction involves the release of eggs and sperm into the water column, with pelagic larvae. Juveniles develop in the epipelagic zone, later moving to coral reefs.