The family Acanthuridae, which includes surgeonfishes and tangs, was first described by the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1801.
The name Acanthuridae is derived from the Greek word “akantha” meaning “thorn,” and the Latin suffix “-idae,” which is used to denote a family. This name refers to the sharp spines that are found on the caudal peduncle (the area just in front of the tail) of many species in this family. These spines are used for defense against predators and as a means of asserting dominance over other fish.
Acanthuridae Genera and species
The family Acanthuridae is a diverse group of marine fish that includes six genera and around 84 species.
The six genera within the Acanthuridae family are Acanthurus, Ctenochaetus, Naso, Paracanthurus, Prionurus, and Zebrasoma. These genera can be distinguished from each other based on a variety of physical characteristics, including coloration, body shape, and the presence or absence of certain spines.
Acanthurus is the largest genus in the family and includes around 35 species. These fish are commonly found in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region and are known for their distinctive triangular body shape and sharp, scalpel-like spines.
Ctenochaetus is a genus that includes around 20 species of surgeonfish, which are primarily herbivorous and are often found grazing on algae. These fish are known for their distinctive, elongated snouts and vibrant coloration.
Naso is a genus that includes around 17 species of tangs, which are primarily found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These fish are known for their elongated snouts and protruding foreheads..
Paracanthurus is a genus that includes two species, the blue tang and the palette surgeonfish. These fish are known for their bright blue coloration and are popular in the aquarium trade.
Prionurus is a genus that includes around nine species of surgeonfish, which are primarily found in the Atlantic Ocean. These fish are known for their distinctive, triangular body shape and bright coloration.
Zebrasoma is a genus that includes around 13 species of tangs, which are primarily found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These fish are known for their distinctive, striped coloration and are popular in the aquarium trade.
Overall, the Acanthuridae family is an important component of coral reef ecosystems, as many species are herbivores that help to control algal growth and maintain the health of the reef. However, many species in this family are also threatened by overfishing and habitat degradation, highlighting the need for conservation efforts to protect these important marine species.