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Temporal range: 55–0 Ma

Eocene to Present[1]
Blue Tang.jpg
Atlantic Blue tang surgeonfish (Acanthurus coeruleus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Acanthuridae
Genus: Acanthurus
Forsskål, 1775

See text

Acanthurus is the type genus of the family Acanthuridae. Approximately half of all members of the family are members of the genus Acanthurus. They are found in tropical oceans, especially near coral reefs, with most species in the Indo-Pacific, but a few are found in the Atlantic Ocean. As other members of the family, they have a pair of spines, one on either side of the base of the tail, which are dangerously sharp (hence the name "surgeonfish"). Depending on species, they grow to a maximum length of 15 to 50 centimetres (5.9 to 19.7 in). Many are very colourful and consequently popular in the marine aquarium trade.


There are currently 38 recognized species in this genus:[2]

Manini Acanthurus triostegus

Fossil species[edit]

The four fossil species known from the Lutetian epoch, of the Eocene lagerstätte of Monte Bolca, have recently been placed in their own genus, Proacanthurus, and are considered ancestral to Acanthurus.[4]

  • Proacanthurus Blot & Tyler 1990
    • P. bonatoi Blot & Tyler 1990
    • P. elongatus Blot & Tyler 1990
    • P. ovalis (Agassiz 1844)
    • P. tenuis (Agassiz 1835)


  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: 560. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Acanthurus in FishBase. December 2012 version.
  3. ^ Bernal, M.A., & Rocha, L.A. (2011). "Acanthurus tractus Poey, 1860, a valid western Atlantic species of surgeonfish (Teleostei, Acanthuridae), distinct from Acanthurus bahianus Castelnau, 1855." Zootaxa 2905: 63–68.
  4. ^ Tyler; Blot (1990). Stud Ric Giacimenti Terziari Bolca 6 (45).