Powderblue Surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon Bennett 1833

Other Names: Blue Surgeonfish , Powder Blue Surgeonfish, Powder Blue Tang, Powder-blue Tang

Powderblue surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon, at Banda Aceh, Indonesia, February 2009. Source: Ian V. Shaw / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

A bright blue surgeonfish with a blackish face, a white area on the chin and chest, a white band at the base of the lips, a yellow dorsal fin and caudal peduncle, and white pelvic and anal fins. The caudal peduncle has a single spine on each side that folds into a groove.
The Powderblue Surgeonfish occurs at Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Acanthurus leucosternon in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/4959

Powderblue Surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon Bennett 1833

More Info


Recorded from the Australian territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indian Ocean eastwards to Bali, Indonesia.
Inhabits inshore and outer reef habitats, sometimes forming large aggregations.


Dorsal fin IX, 28-30; Anal fin III, 23-28; Pectoral fins 15-16; Gill rakers(first arch) 16-18..
Body deep, compressed fish, depth 1.7-1.9 in SL; mouth small; teeth spetulate, close-set, with denticulate edges; caudal fin emarginate, the caudal concavity 10 to 16 times in SL; lancet-like spine on side of caudal peduncle which folds into deep horizontal groove, length of caudal spine 2.1-3.3 times in HL.


Body blue with a broad white band crossing anterior thorax from pectoral fin base; caudal peduncle and spine yellow; head black; a vertical white line extending from chin to above corner of mouth; dorsal fin yellow with a white margin and a black submarginal line; anal fin grey with a white margin and a narrow white band at base; caudal fin black with a large crescentic central white region and a white posterior margin; pectoral fins clear with yellowish rays; pelvic fins grey with a white margin. 


Herbivore - feeds on benthic algae. At Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean, adults defend permanent territories that contain microalgal turfs on which they feed (Robertson et al. 1979).


The specific name leucosternon is from the Greek “lef̱kó” (= white) and “sternó” (= chest or breast) in reference to the white chest of this species.

Species Citation

Acanthurus leucosternon Bennett 183, Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London 1832 (2):  183. Type locality: Sri Lanka (as Ceylon).


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Powderblue Surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon Bennett 1833


Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Nanola, C., Myers, R., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Acanthurus leucosternon. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T178000A1516737. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T178000A1516737.en. Downloaded on 16 July 2019.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Bennett, E.T. 1833. Characters of new species of fishes from Ceylon. Proceedings of the General Meetings for Scientific Business of the Zoological Society of London 1832(2): 182-184. See ref at BHL

Comeros-Raynal, M.T., Choat, J.H., Polidoro, B.A., Clements, K.D., Abesamis, R., Craig, M.T., Lazuardi, M.E., McIlwain, J., Muljadi, A., Myers, R.F., Nañola Jr., C.L., Pardede, S., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B., Sanciangco, J.C., Stockwell, B., Harwell, H. & Carpenter, K.E. 2012. The likelihood of extinction of iconic and dominant components of coral reefs: the parrotfishes and surgeonfishes. PLoS ONE http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039825, open access

Hobbs, J-P.A., Frisch, A.J., Allen, G.R. and Van Herwerden, L. 2009. Marine hybrid hotspot at Indo-Pacific biogeographic border. Biology Letters 5: 258-261 https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2008.0561 

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

Randall, J.E. 1956. A revision of the surgeon fish genus Acanthurus. Pacific Science 10(2): 159-235 See ref online, open access

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

Randall, J.E. 2001. Zanclidae, Acanthuridae. pp. 3651-3683 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Robertson, R., Polunin, N.V.C. & Leighton, K. 1979. The behavioral ecology of three Indian Ocean surgeonfishes (Acanthurus lineatus, A. leucosternon and Zebrasoma scopas): their feeding strategies, and social and mating systems. Environmental Biology of Fishes 4(2): 125-170 https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00005448.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37437054

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-25 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:23 cm TL

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