Acanthurus leucosternon

Acanthurus leucosternon is a marine tropical fish belonging to the surgeonfish family, Acanthuridae. Its common names are powder blue tang and powder-blue surgeonfish.

Powder-blue surgeonfish
Acanthurus leucosternon 01.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Acanthuridae
Genus: Acanthurus
A. leucosternon
Binomial name
Acanthurus leucosternon


The fish can reach an average size of 23 cm (9 in) in length.[1] The body has an oval shape and is compressed laterally. Like other surgeonfishes, Acanthurus leucosternon swims with its pectoral fins. The caudal fin has a crescent shape. The fish has a "surgeon's scalpel," an erected part of the spine located at the base of the tail.[2] The mouth is small and pointed in a beak-like manner with tiny and sharp teeth for reaching narrow spaces of food.[3] Its sides are blue;[3] its dorsal fin and the base of caudal fin are yellow;[3] the head is black;[3] the mouth, the throat area, the anal and pelvic fins are white.[4] The pectoral fins are transparent with yellow reflections. The intensity of its blue color shows off if the fish is healthy or not.[citation needed] The fish does not undergo color changes as it matures; as some tangs, surgeonfish and unicornfish do.

Distribution and habitatEdit

Acanthurus leucosternon is found in tropical waters from the Indian Ocean.[5] The species inhabits shallow and clear coastal waters always associated with a reef. It prefers flat top reefs and areas along seaward slopes.[5]


The powder blue tang, like most fish in the family Acanthuridae, is herbivorous, eating mostly benthic algae.[6] Acanthurus leucosternon has a diurnal activity. It is solitary, territorial and aggressive with other surgeonfish.[1] In cases where food is plentiful, it may feed in shoals, but in cases of scarcity, it may compete individually for food.[3] It may use its surgeon's scalpel as a defensive weapon.[1]

Economic valueEdit

Acanthurus leucosternon shoaling in the Maldives, Indian Ocean

The powder blue tang is rarely harvested for anything other than the marine aquarium industry. It is a commonly sold fish that is moderately difficult to care for, although its popularity is easily exceeded by the Blue tang and Yellow Tang.[citation needed] They are very prone to Cryptocaryon irritans.[1] They are reef safe and are compatible with most species except other species of fish in the genus Acanthurus.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lougher, Tristan (2006). What Fish?: A Buyer's Guide to Marine Fish. Interpet Publishing. p. 111. ISBN 0-7641-3256-3.
  2. ^ Clipperton, John (1 September 2013). "Powder Blue Tang – Acanthurus leucosternon". Marine Habitat magazine. Fish Junkies Ltd. Archived from the original on 14 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e DK Publishing (17 January 2011). Animal Life: Secrets of the Animal World Revealed. DK Publishing. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-7566-8886-8.
  4. ^ Andreas Vilcinskas, La vie sous-marine des tropiques, Vigot, 2002, 475 p. (ISBN 2711415252), p. 366
  5. ^ a b "Facts about Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon) - Encyclopedia of Life". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2004). "Acanthurus leucosteron" in FishBase. January 2004 version.

Further readingEdit

  • Robertson, Ross; Polunin, Nicholas; Leighton, Kimberley (1979). "The behavioral ecology of three Indian Ocean surgeonfishes (Acanthurus lineutus, A. leucosternon and Zebrusoma scopes): their feeding strategies, and social and mating systems". Environmental Biology of Fishes. 4 (2): 125–170. doi:10.1007/BF00005448.

External linksEdit