Acanthuridae – Surgeonfishes Tangs

Tangs or Surgeonfish belong to the family of Acanthuridae. They are classified into six genera which include Acanthurus, Paracanthurus, Ctenochaetus, Naso, Zebrasoma, and Prionurus. Tangs are usually referred to as Surgeonfish or Doctorfish. They can be identified by their characteristic spine or spines on the side of their bodies near the tail.

Each side bears either a single, sharp, hinged spine, or one or two immobile, keel-like, razor sharp plates. This family uses these spines as a means of protection by rubbing or brushing up against their aggressors in a quick sideways motion. Extreme caution should be used when handling this fish family. The characteristic razor sharp spines can inflict deep cuts or wounds, especially from that of larger specimens. The potential for minor or serious infections to arise from a cut to one’s self warrants paying close attention to them and treating them properly.

Speceis of this family normally remain small or medium, with a few adult species reaching larger sizes to about 15 inches. However, the Unicornfishes (named for the single horn-like spine on the front of their heads) reach an average length of 15 to 20 inches, with the Naso unicornis species sometimes growing to 24 inches.

Common NameScientific Name
Powder Blue Tang/SurgeonfishAcanthurus leucosternon
Lieutenant SurgeonfishAcanthurus tennenti
Lined Surgeonfish/Clown TangAcanthurus lineatus
Convict SurgeonfishAcanthurus triostegus
Dusky/Brown SurgeonfishAcanthurus nigrofuscus
Whitespotted Surgeonfish  Acanthurus guttatus
Epaulette Surgeonfish Acanthurus nigricauda
Twospot SurgeonfishCtenochaetus binotatus
Brown TangZebrasoma scopas
Sailfin TangZebrasoma veliferum/desjardinii
Orange-spine UnicornfishNaso lituratus
Bignose UnicornfishNaso vlamingii
Spotted UnicornfishNaso brevirostris
Bluespine UnicornfishNaso unicornis
Spotted surgeonfish/Goldring BristletoothCtenochaetus strigosus
Palelipped/Whitespined surgeonfishAcanthurus leucocheilus
Black-spot/Eye-spot surgeonfishAcanthurus bariene
Indian Ocean mimic surgeonfish     Acanthurus tristis
White-freckled Tang/Spotface surgeonfishAcanthurus maculiceps

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Pellentesque sapien purus, sagittis eu accumsan convallis, vehicula ut lectus. Fusce accumsan purus pretium ligula vehicula, interdum nisl vulputate