Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

Acanthuridae: <I>Acanthurus</I>

Acanthuridae: Acanthurus

<I>Acanthurus grammoptilus</I>

Acanthurus grammoptilus

Acanthuridae: <I>Naso</I>

Acanthuridae: Naso

Acanthuridae: <I>Prionurus</I>

Acanthuridae: Prionurus

<I>Prionurus maculatus</I>, Norfolk Island

Prionurus maculatus, Norfolk Island

Acanthuridae: <I>Zebrasoma</I>

Acanthuridae: Zebrasoma


Regional Maps

External Links

CAAB: 37437000


Bristletooths, Surgeon Fishes, Surgeonfishes, Tangs, Unicornfishes

Compiler and date details

3 May 2013 - Gerald R. Allen, Douglass F. Hoese, Norbert J. Cross, Connie J. Allen, & Matthew M. Lockett

20 December 2006 - Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross, Connie J. Allen & Douglass F. Hoese


Worldwide, the Acanthuridae comprise 80 species in six genera (Nelson 2006). The Australian fauna includes 46 or 47 species and six additional species from Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island and all the known genera.

Surgeonfishes are mainly inhabitants of tropical coral reefs worldwide, although species of Prionurus are associated with rocky reefs in temperate or upwelling tropical areas. They are schooling fishes that graze on benthic algae. The body is ovate and laterally compressed, but the most distinctive feature is a spine on the caudal fin base that folds into a groove when not erect or, in Naso and Prionurus, a series of 1–6 fixed keel-like spines. The maximum length is about 50 cm.

Acanthurids have been reviewed in a series of generic papers by Randall (1955a, 1955b — Ctenochaetus, 1955c — Zebrasoma and Paracanthurus, 1956 — Acanthurus) and Smith (1966, Naso). The majority of species have been diagnosed and illustrated in colour by Randall et al. (1990, 1997) and all species have been dealt with in Randall (2001a) and Kuiter & Debelius (2001). Randall (2001b, 2001c) presented keys to species and treated some Australian species. Winterbottom (1993) and Guiasu & Winterbottom (1993) discussed relationships between genera.

Because many of the genera and species were some of the first fishes described, there are numerous problems relating to nomenclature in this family. For stability we have largely followed the nomenclature outlined by Randall (1955a,b, c, 1956).


General References

Guiasu, R.C. & Winterbottom, R. 1993. Osteological evidence for the phylogeny of recent genera of surgeonfishes (Percomorpha, Acanthuridae). Copeia 1993(2): 300-312

Kuiter, R.H. & Debelius, H. 2001. Surgeonfishes, Rabbitfishes and Their Relatives. A comprehensive guide to Acanthuroidei. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 208 pp.

McCulloch, A.R. 1918. Four Queensland fishes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 6: 91-96 figs 27-30 [pl.28]

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Randall, J.E. 1955a. An analysis of the genera of surgeon fishes (family Acanthuridae). Pacific Science 9(3): 359-367

Randall, J.E. 1955b. A revision of the surgeonfish genus Ctenochaetus, family Acanthuridae, with descriptions of five new species. Zoologica (New York) 40(4): 149-166 figs 1-3 pls 1-2

Randall, J.E. 1955c. A revision of the surgeon fish genera Zebrasoma and Paracanthurus. Pacific Science 9(4): 396-412 figs 1-8 pl. 1

Randall, J.E. 1956. A revision of the surgeon fish genus Acanthurus. Pacific Science 10(2): 159-235 figs 1-23 pls 1-3

Randall, J.E. 2001a. Surgeonfishes of Hawai'i and the World. Honolulu : Mutual Publishing and Bishop Museum Press 125 pp.

Randall, J.E. 2001b. Zanclidae, Acanthuridae. pp. 3651-3683 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Randall, J.E. 2001c. Naso reticulatus, a new unicornfish (Perciformes: Acanthuridae) from Taiwan and Indonesia, with a key to the species of Naso. Zoological Studies 40(2): 170-176

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E. & Struhsaker, P. 1981. Naso maculatus, a new species of acanthurid fish from the Hawaiian Islands and Japan. Copeia 1981: 553-558

Smith, J.L.B. 1966. Fishes of the sub-family Nasinae with a synopsis of the Prionurinae. Ichthyological Bulletin, Department of Ichthyology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 32: 635-682 figs 1-13 pls 103-104

Winterbottom, R. 1993. Myological evidence for the phylogeny of recent genera of surgeonfishes (Percomorpha, Acanthuridae), with comments on the Acanthuroidei. Copeia 1993(1): 21-39


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
11-Jun-2013 11-Jun-2013 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)