Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Acanthuridae
(Surgeonfishes, tangs, unicornfishes) > Acanthurinae
Etymology: Acanthurus: Greek, akantha = thorn + Greek, oura = tail (Ref. 45335).
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; reef-associated; depth range 0 - 15 m (Ref. 27115), usually 1 - 3 m (Ref. 37792). Tropical; 24°C - 30°C (Ref. 27115); 36°N - 36°S, 27°E - 137°W
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 18.0  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 38.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3145); common length : 25.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 30573)
soft rays: 25 - 28. Upper 3/4 of body with alternating black-edged blue and yellow bands; lower 1/4 of body gray. Erectile spine on each side of caudal peduncle is sharp, strong, forward-pointing, and venomous. Upper part of head with yellow, oblique stripes. Pectoral fins pale with dusky rays; pelvic fins light yellowish brown with black outer margin; vertical markings in caudal fin. Gill rakers 14-16 anterior row, 13-15 posterior row. Minute scales. Philippine specimens demonstrate different color patterns.
Indo-Pacific: East Africa, including the Mascarene Islands (Ref. 37792) to the Hawaiian, Marquesan and Tuamoto islands, north to southern Japan, south to the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia. Replaced by the closely related Acanthurus sohal in the Red Sea.
A territorial species (Ref. 167) which is common in surge zones of exposed seaward reefs. The large male controls well-defined feeding territories and harems of females (Ref. 1602, 48637). Benthopelagic (Ref. 58302). Adult usually forms schools and commonly found in shallow gutters. Juvenile solitary and secretive on shallow rubble habitats (Ref. 48637). The species is almost continually in motion. Herbivorous but also feeds on crustaceans (Ref. 5503). The venomous caudal spine can cause painful wounds. Forms spawning aggregations (Ref. 27825).
Randall, J.E., 1986. Acanthuridae. p. 811-823. In M.M. Smith and P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths' sea fishes. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Fisheries: commercial; aquarium: commercial
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on empirical models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.02042 (0.01283 - 0.03250), b=2.98 (2.85 - 3.11), based on LWR estimates for species & Genus-BS (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 2.0 ±0.0 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (tm=4).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low vulnerability (23 of 100) .