Acanthurus xanthopterus

Yellowmask Surgeonfish | Purple Surgeonfish | Yellowfin Surgeonfish
Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith
Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus, adult, Bali, Indonesia, Photo: Ian Shaw
Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus, Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Qld, Photo: Andrew Green
Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith
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Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus
Acanthurus xanthopterus


Temperate Australasia, Tropical Indo-Pacific


Large bluish-grey body, yellowish pectoral fins, yellow band through eye, black tail base spine with pale border, crescent-shaped tail with black margin, dark longitudinal stripes along dorsal and anal fins, occasionally with white bar across inner tail. Less strongly tapering body shape, and humped head profile in larger individuals distinguishes it from similar A. mata (Pale Surgeonfish) and A. albipectoralis (Whitefin Surgeonfish).


Max Size: 70 cm

Sea Temperature Range: 23.2-31.5°C

Depth: 1-100m

Habitat Generalization Index: 16.31

Also referred to as the SGI (Species Generalisation Index), this describes the habitat niche breadth of the species. Species with values less than 15 are found in a relatively narrow range of reef habitat types (specialists), while those over 25 may be found on most hard substrates within their range (generalists). Learn more here.

Conservation and Rarity

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Occurrence: Frequent (10.0% of sites)

Occurrence describes how often the species is found on surveys within its distribution. It is calculated as the % of reef sites surveyed by RLS divers across all the ecoregions in which the species has been observed

Abundance: Several (10 per transect)

Abundance is calculated as the average number of individuals recorded per RLS transect, where present.

Edit by: RD Stuart-Smith, GJ Edgar, AJ Green, IV Shaw. 2015. Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland