Prionurus maculatus

Spotted sawtail | Spotted Sawtail Surgeonfish | Yellowspotted Sawtail
Prionurus maculatus
Prionurus maculatus, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Photo: Ian Shaw
Prionurus maculatus
Prionurus maculatus, Sydney, NSW, Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith
Prionurus maculatus
Prionurus maculatus, juvenile, Port Stephens, NSW, Photo: Tom Davis
Prionurus maculatus
Prionurus maculatus, Lord Howe Island, NSW, Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith
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Prionurus maculatus
Prionurus maculatus
Prionurus maculatus
Prionurus maculatus


Temperate Australasia, Tropical Indo-Pacific


Olive-grey with a dense covering of yellow spots and bars on head and body, and a row of three dark tail spines. P. microlepidotus (Sawtail) with which it sometimes mixes, lacks markings on body and has five or more tail spines. Sometimes displays white band on tail base.


Max Size: 45 cm

Sea Temperature Range: 16.1-25.4°C

Depth: 2-30m

Habitat Generalization Index: 12.01

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: Common (39.1% 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: Many (27 per transect)

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

Edit by: Joe Shields