Whitefin Surgeonfish, Acanthurus albipectoralis Allen & Ayling 1987

Other Names: White-fin Surgeon

A Whitefin Surgeonfish, Acanthurus albipectoralis, in Bali, Indonesia. Source: Anders Poulsen / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC by Attribution-ShareAlike

A pale bluish-grey to dark brown or almost black surgeonfish lacking blue lines on the body, with the outer half of the pectoral fins abruptly white.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Acanthurus albipectoralis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/1019

Whitefin Surgeonfish, Acanthurus albipectoralis Allen & Ayling 1987

More Info


Northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea, to at least the Solitary Islands, New South Wales, with juveniles to Sydney, New South Wales; also in the Lord Howe Island region, Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species occurs in the western-central Pacific.
Adults inhabit exposed outer-reef slopes, usually in small aggregations feeding on zooplankton high above the bottom.


Dorsal fin VIII-IX, 22-33; Anal fin II-III, 18-31; Pectoral fin 16-17; Gill rakers 4-5 + 9-14; Vertebrae 22. Least depth of caudal peduncle 3.1 to 3.3 times in head length.
Body oblong, laterally compressed, snout rounded. Dorsal and anal fins relatively long and low, their posterior profiles, angular; caudal fin lunate with pointed tips; entire head and body covered with small cteniod scales, those of head partially embedded; a shallow groove, about equal to eye diameter in length, present in front of eye; teeth of jaws uniserial, club-shaped or spatulate with serrated edges, about 20-24 in each jaw.

Similar Species

The Whitefin Surgeonfish is most similar to Acanthurus mata, which has a similar slender shape (compared with other species of Acanthurus) and is also a plankton feeder. A. albipectoralis differs most notably in the colour of the pectoral fins, which are blackish basally and abruptly white on the distal half. A. mata is generally brown overall with numerous fine bluish or purple striations on the sides, with a prominent yellow area extending forward from the eye and pale pectoral fins.


The specific name albipectoralis is from the Latin albus (white) and pectoralis (pectoral), in reference to the distinctive fin coloration which is highly visible underwater and served to distinguish it from the similar Acanthurus mata.

Species Citation

Acanthurus albipectoralis Allen & Ayling  1987, Mem. Mus. Vict. 48(1): 15, fig. 1. Type locality: Swains Reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Whitefin Surgeonfish, Acanthurus albipectoralis Allen & Ayling 1987


Allen, G.R. & Ayling A.M. 1987. New Australian Fishes. Part 5. A new species of Acanthurus (Acanthuridae). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 48(1): 15-16 DOI:https://doi.org/10.24199/j.mmv.1987.48.05 Open access

Kuiter, R.H. & Debelius, H. 2001. Surgeonfishes, Rabbitfishes and Their Relatives. A comprehensive guide to Acanthuroidei. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 208 pp. 

Oxley, W.G., Emslie, M., Muir, P. & Thompson, A.A. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve, March 2004. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Science i-vii, 1-67 pp. 

Randall, J.E. 2001. Surgeonfishes of Hawai'i and the World. Honolulu : Mutual Publishing and Bishop Museum Press 125 pp. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Russell, B., Stockwell, B., Nanola, C., McIlwain, J., Choat, J.H., Clements, K.D., Rocha, L.A., Abesamis, R. & Myers, R. 2012. Acanthurus albipectoralis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T178007A1519102. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T178007A1519102.en. Downloaded on 18 June 2018.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37437004

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:33 cm TL

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