Paracanthurus hepatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Acanthuridae

Scientific Name: Paracanthurus hepatus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Palette Surgeonfish, Blue Surgeonfish, Blue Tang, Dory, Flagtail Surgeonfish, Hepatus Tang, Indo-Pacific Bluetang, Regal Blue Surgeonfish, Wedgetail Blue Tang, Wedge-tailed Tang
French Chirurgien Bleu
Acanthurus hepatus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Acanthurus theuthis Lacepède, 1802
Paracanthurus theuthis (Lacepède, 1802)
Teuthis hepatus Linnaeus, 1766

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2010-05-07
Assessor(s): McIlwain, J., Choat, J.H., Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B.
Reviewer(s): Edgar, G. & Kulbicki, M.
Paracanthurus hepatus is widespread in the Indo-Pacific and is relatively rare in most of its range. It is a targeted aquarium species. There are no indications of any population declines due to harvesting and no clear trends of catch information over time. It is found in numerous marine protected areas in parts of its distribution. It is therefore listed as Least Concern. We recommend further monitoring of the harvest levels and population trends.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Paracanthurus hepatus is found from East Africa to Micronesia, Line Islands and Samoa Islands, northwards to Kochi Prefecture, southwards to New South Wales, Australia. Two instances of vagrants found in Hawaii are probably aquarium releases.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Brunei Darussalam; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Cook Islands; Disputed Territory (Paracel Is., Spratly Is.); Fiji; French Southern Territories (Mozambique Channel Is.); Guam; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Japan; Kenya; Kiribati (Gilbert Is., Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Réunion; Samoa; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., US Line Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):40
Upper depth limit (metres):2
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Paracanthurus hepatus is a targeted aquarium species in the Solomon Islands. Total purchases from Rarumana from 2002 to May 2004 were recorded at 7,697 individuals. In Vonavona Lagoon, purchases of this species were recorded at 5,568 individuals (Kinch 2004). It was recorded as occasional in terms of relative abundance in the northern Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea and in Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Allen 2009, 2003b).  It is occasional in the American Samoa National Park (National Park of Samoa Checklist of Fishes accessed 21 April 2010). It is occasional in Tubbataha (Conales, S., Jr. pers. comm. 2010) and generally rare in most of the Philippines (R. Abesamis and C. Nanola pers. comm. 2010) and in Guam (J. McIlwain pers. comm. 2010). It is relatively common in Christmas Island and rare elsewhere in Australian waters.

On the reef systems of Tanzania, mean density was recorded at 0.63 per 500 m2 (McClanahan et al. 1999). It is the 8th most traded species worldwide. 74,557 individuals were traded from1997-2002 (Global Marine Aquarium Database accessed 19 March 2010).

Kinch (2004) estimated CPUE rate for aquarium fish at Rarumana, Solomon Islands at one fish caught per minute. Juvenile blue tangs are the main size group targeted, and are easy to collect as they school on certain Acropora spp. for shelter.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Paracanthurus hepatus is typically found in clear water on exposed outer reef areas or in channels where there is consistent moderate to strong current.

The sexes are separate among the acanthurids (Reeson 1983). Acanthurids do not display obvious sexual dimorphism, males assume courtship colours (J.H. Choat pers. comm. 2010). It forms spawning aggregations around outer reef slopes and is believed to spawn all year during the new/full moon (Johannes 1981). It was observed to form spawning aggregations in January, February and March at Escape Reef, northern Great Barrier Reef spawning in the late afternoons (Robertson 1983, Squire and Samoilys unpub.).


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This highly-prized species is targeted by roving collectors from Bali, Indonesia, (Reksodihardjo-Lilley and Lilley, 2007) and is a targeted aquarium species in other parts of its range.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overexploitation and destructive fishing practices are threats in some parts of its range (Kinch 2004, Reksodihardjo-Lilley and Lilley 2007).

Surgeonfishes show varying degrees of habitat preference and utilization of coral reef habitats, with some species spending the majority of their life stages on coral reef while others primarily utilize seagrass beds, mangroves, algal beds, and /or rocky reefs. The majority of surgeonfishes are exclusively found on coral reef habitat, and of these, approximately 80% are experiencing a greater than 30% loss of coral reef area and degradation of coral reef habitat quality across their distributions. However, more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of coral reef habitat loss and degradation on these species' populations. Widespread coral reef loss and declining habitat conditions are particularly worrying for species that recruit into areas with live coral cover, especially as studies have shown that protection of pristine habitats facilitate the persistence of adult populations in species that have spatially separated adult and juvenile habitats (Comeros-Raynal et al. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for this species. However, its distribution overlaps several marine protected areas within its range.

Citation: McIlwain, J., Choat, J.H., Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Paracanthurus hepatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T177972A1507676. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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