Inshore Surgeonfish (species: Acanthurus grammoptilus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Acanthurus grammoptilus
Inshore Surgeonfish

©Andy Lewis: A sub-adult Inshore Surgeonfish
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Acanthuridae
Genus Acanthurus
Species Acanthurus grammoptilus



Distinguishing features

A medium sized, dark brown fish which appears almost black underwater when viewed from a distance. The white tail ring is distinctive. Distinguish from the other Acanthurus species by the yellow outer margin of the pectoral fins, the white tail margin, the small yellow spots on the cheek, and the lack of a distinct yellow band or blotch near the eye.


  • Up to 35 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.


Similar taxa


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of turf algae and coral rubble on sheltered lagoonal reef flats and slopes.

Found in most reef habitats around the island, although most abundant in sheltered back-reef areas.


The Inshore surgeonfish is a roving herbivore, moving around the reef in schools and feeding on the fine turf algae. The surgeonfish are a very long lived group of fishes - after settlement to the reef, juveniles grow quickly and reach 80% of their maximum size in about 3 years, and then grow very slowly thereafter. Many of them live from 30-50years. They spawn in groups during the warmer months, when fast running tidal currents coincide with dawn and dusk.

Web resources


  • unspecified - There are a pair of poisonous bony knives at the base of the tail, which can be used to inflict a painful stabbing wound if the fish is handled.


  • Choat, J.H. and L.M. Axe (1996). Growth and longevity in acanthurid fishes; an analysis of otolith increments, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 134: 15-26. LIRS catalog number 460.
  • Clements, K.D. (1991). Gut microorganisms of surgeonfishes (Family Acanthuridae), Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University, Townsville. LIRS catalog number 321.
  • Clements, K.D., G.R. Russ, D. McB. Williams and A.M. Ayling (1988). A species list of the family Acanthuridae (Pisces) of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with notes on latitudinal distribution patterns,manuscript only. LIRS catalog number 242.
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