Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Acanthurus coeruleus, Blue Tang, Blue Tang Surgeonfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

blue, + thin wavy lines on side
juv: yellow/blue/ blue + yellow tail

Acanthurus coeruleus Bloch & Schneider, 1801

Blue Tang, Blue Tang Surgeonfish

Body a deep, strongly compressed oval; head profile steep; eye high on side of head; mouth small, protrusible, low on head; teeth on jaws fixed, with flattened, notched tips, 18 on top jaw, 20 on lower; gill rakers 13-14; dorsal fin IX, 26-28, not very high, no notch after spines; anal fin III, 24-26; pectoral rays 16-17; pelvic fin I, 5; a single depressible spine fits into a groove on the side of the base of the tail; tail fin edge concave, with sharp tips.

Adults blue, sometimes with thin wavy lines along sides; juveniles blue, or yellow, or blue with a yellow tail.

Reaches 36 cm; up to at least 22 years.

Found on reefs and in nearby seagrass beds.

Depth range: 0-76 m.

Massachusetts to Brazil; also the central Atlantic islands of Ascension and St Helena.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Corals
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Herbivore
  • Data
  • Benthic macroalgae/seagrasses
  • Benthic microalgae
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 36
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 76