Members of the Acanthuridae family are the surgeonfish and the unicornfish. Both have gruesome spines and agonisingly sharp bony blades at the sides. These ‘scalpel-like weapons’ can cause injuries with surgical accuracy. On top of that these blades can fold into a groove and used both used  both offensively and defensively.

In essence, the diurnal members of this family are herbivorous. Some are planktivorous. Please bear in mind the spines are potentially dangerous to humans. The Acanthuridae prefer areas with bright reefs areas and where algae grow in abundance.

Family Members

Black Surgeonfish

Size up to 40 cm (1,31ft). Depth up to 40m (131 ft)

The body of this surgeonfish, sometimes called ‘ black-barred’   is oval-shaped and black. The tail is equipped with a white ring or a bar as you like. Like other family members, it creates locomotion with its pectoral fins. The tiny mouth is pointed and small. It absorbs invertebrates and algae. It circulates in sizeable aggregations in the vicinity of coral formations.

Sailfin Surgeonfish

Size up to 40 cm ( 1,31ft). Depth up to 30m (65 ft)

Its mouth is extremely ‘protuberant’, almost sticking out like the snout of a dolphin.  This species comes in colours of brown with vertical and semi-horizontal stripes. It’s a pretty familiar face in the Red Sea, especially in regions with lagoons and on the outer edges of coral reefs to find algae. It moves around in pairs during the day, poking in corals to feed on algae.

Sohal Surgeonfish

Size up to 40 cm (1,31ft). Depth up to 10m (32,8ft)

The sohal surgeonfish or sohal tang or Arabian surgeonfish is endemic to the Red Sea. Its body is decorated with blue and grey horizontal stripes . The blue-bordered fins are black.Together with its yellow spots the coloration of the sohal tang gives rise to the sweet reference of the Red Sea  ‘poster fish’. It feeds predominantly on algae, venturing upper and outer reef zones.

Blue Sailfin Tang

Size up to 22 cm ( 0,72ft). Depth up to 20m (65 ft)

This family member is also known as the blue sailfin tang. In contrast with the black surgeonfish and the brown surgeonfish, its tone borders on electric blue. The tail is plain yellow and the pectoral fins are a mix of electric blue and plain yellow. The blue sailfin resides on outer slopes of reef formations at depths of up to 20 meters. With its protruding mouth, it manages to catch the tiniest sized food .

Other Family Members

Brown Surgeonfish

Striped Surgeonfish

Yellowtail Surgeonfish