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Acanthuridae
SURGEONFISHES
Tangs; Unicornfishes family; Unicornfishes; Sawtails

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Acanthurus
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Acanthurus
Acanthurus achilles
© Copyright John Rangall, 2006 · 0
Acanthurus achilles

Acanthurus nigricans
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Acanthurus nigricans
Acanthurus triostegus triostegus
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Acanthurus triostegus triostegus

Acanthurus xanthopterus
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Acanthurus xanthopterus

Acanthurus guttatus
© Copyright Photographer/SFTEP, 2002 · 0
Acanthurus guttatus
Acanthurus guttatus
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Acanthurus guttatus

Naso
© Copyright John Rangall, 2006 · 0
Naso
Naso annulatus
© Copyright John Rangall, 2006 · 0
Naso annulatus

Naso hexacanthus
© Copyright John Rangall, 2006 · 0
Naso hexacanthus
Naso lituratus
© Copyright John Rangall, 2006 · 0
Naso lituratus

Naso brevirostris
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Naso brevirostris
Naso vlamingii
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Naso vlamingii

Acanthuridae
© Copyright Roger Steene, 2006 · 0
Acanthuridae
español

Overview
Main identification features
  • eye high
  • 1 simple d
  • dorsal fin and a: long bases
  • small mouth
  • body deep, compressed
  • tail base: knife or cutting keels
FAMILY ACANTHURIDAE

SURGEONFISHES, UNICORNFISHES, SAWTAILS, TANGS

The surgeonfishes common name is derived from the sharp, scalpel-like spines located on the sides of the tail base. There is a single collapsible spine on each side in Acanthurus and Ctenochaetus. However, in Prionurus and Naso there are fixed keel-like spines or knobs on each side. Other family characteristics include a deep, compressed body with the eye placed high on the head, a single unnotched dorsal fin with IV to IX spines and 19-33 rays, an anal fin with II or III spines (only Naso with II spines) and 18-28 rays, very small rough scales, and a small mouth with close-set teeth which may be flattened with toothed edges or numerous and comb-like with expanded incurved tips. Many species Naso have a long horn projecting forward from the forehead.

Surgeonfishes are one of the primary algal feeding groups on tropical reefs. Large grazing schools of Prionurus surgeons are frequently sighted in our area. Schooling behavior is an adaptation that serves to thwart the aggressive attacks of territorial bottom dwellers such as damselfishes. It is virtually impossible for the latter to repel the invading hoardes of surgeons. A few species of Acanthurus and most Naso (an Indo-W. Pacific genus), that characteristically swim high above the bottom in areas of strong currents, feed on planktonic organisms.

Worldwide there are 73 species belonging to six genera of surgeonfishes, which are tropical to warm temperate fishes. The genera Acanthurus and Ctenochaetus were revised by Randall (1955 and 1956), and Smith (1966) presented a synopsis of eastern Pacific Xesurus (now Prionurus). In our region 12 species from four genera are known, 2 endemic one genera, three Pacific species and 8 Indo-Pacific species.


References
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Acknowledgements

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