Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Acanthuridae
(Surgeonfishes, tangs, unicornfishes) > Acanthurinae
Etymology: Acanthurus: Greek, akantha = thorn + Greek, oura = tail (Ref. 45335). More on author: Valenciennes.
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; reef-associated; depth range 2 - 15 m (Ref. 90102). Tropical; 31°N - 34°S, 25°E - 156°W
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 45.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 48637); max. reported age: 35 years (Ref. 52229)
soft rays: 24 - 25. Color in life bluish grey with numerous yellowish brown spots which tend to form irregular longitudinal lines; head with narrow irregular stripes; behind eye a yellow spot; brown pectoral fins; base of caudal fin with white bar. Caudal spine large, 3 - 4.4 in head. Stomach gizzard-like. Differs from A. dussumieri by having vertical stripes instead of spots on the blue central area of the caudal fin, from A. mata by having a lunate caudal fin, and from A. xanthopterus by having plain brown to blue-grey pectoral fins (Ref. 1602). The white ring around the base of the tail varies in intensity and may occasionally be absent (Ref. 1602).
Indo-Pacific: East Africa, including the Mascarene Islands (Ref. 37792) to the Hawaiian and Society islands, north to Ryukyu Islands, south to Lord Howe Island.
Adults occur in outer lagoon and seaward reefs, usually seen in small groups and school in some oceanic locations (Ref. 48637). Benthopelagic (Ref. 58302). They feed primarily on the algal film covering compacted sand, ingesting the usual component of sand which probably aids in the trituration of the algal food in the thick-walled stomach, also feed on diatoms and detritus (Ref. 3921).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Randall, J.E., 1987. Three nomenclatorial changes in Indo-Pacific surgeonfishes (Acanthurinae). Pac. Sci. 41(1-4):54-61. (Ref. 1921)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: commercial; aquarium: commercial
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01950 (0.01236 - 0.03076), b=2.99 (2.86 - 3.12), based on LWR estimates for this species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 2.0 ±0.00 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tmax=35; K=0.25).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate vulnerability (38 of 100) .