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Tropical Diver presented by Southwest

Palette surgeonfish

Palette surgeonfish

(Paracanthurus hepatus)

The palette surgeonfish is found on tropical reefs in the Indo-Pacific region from East Africa to the central Pacific Ocean. It is relatively uncommon and highly localized in its distribution. Adults are encountered in clear current-swept terraces of seaward reefs. Juveniles and sub-adults typically occur in groups in clear reef areas or channels where there is substantial current.

This fish is easily recognized by its bright blue coloration with distinctive black markings. It has a yellow tail with black upper and lower margins. As in all surgeonfish, this species has sharp, venomous spines on both sides of the caudal peduncle that can inflict a painful laceration to the unwary.

See if you can find the palette surgeonfish in the huge coral reef habitat in the Tropical Diver gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The palette surgeonfish is cast as “Dory” in the movie “Finding Nemo”.
  • When alarmed, juveniles will wedge themselves tightly among branches of coral.
  • This species is a popular and hardy aquarium fish.
  • It can reach about one foot in length.
  • The palette surgeonfish is the only genus in its species.
  • Download full fact sheet

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