Surgeonfishes are known for the sharp, scalpel-like spines on either side of the tail. These can be used to defend against predators.
  • Size

    8.3 inches (21 cm)
  • Diet

    Algae and other plant matter
  • Range

  • Habitat

    Coral reefs and in clear lagoons

Physical Characteristics

  • Long white patches mark the face, from beneath the eye to the snout.
  • Most of the body is a slate gray to powdery brown, with bright yellow accents running along the bases of the dorsal and anal fins. These fins are very dark in color, edged in white. The dorsal fin also shows a red steak. The caudal fin is pale blue or white.
  • The eye is high, large, and round.
  • Individual reaches a maximum length of 8.3 inches (21 cm) in length.
  • Mouth is terminal and downward-facing.

Animal Fact

The whitenose surgeonfish is almost entirely vegetarian: it grazes on algae and seagrass.

Diet / Feeding

  • Primarily herbivorous, grazing on algae and other plant matter. Sometimes ingests very small invertebrates during feeding.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Indo-West Pacific from Indonesia to the Philippines and the Ryukyu Islands.
  • Found on coral reefs and in clear lagoons at depths to 66 feet (~20 m).

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Usually found in aggregations, but may also be encountered alone.
  • Also called the “Japan surgeonfish,” and the “powder brown tang.”


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