Acanthurus guttatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Acanthuridae

Scientific Name: Acanthurus guttatus Forster, 1801
Common Name(s):
English Whitespotted Surgeonfish, Mustard Surgeonfish, Mustard Tang, Spotband Surgeonfish, Spotted Surgeonfish, Spotted Tang
French Chirurgien moucheté
Harpurus guttatus (Forster, 1801)
Hepatus guttatus (Forster, 1801)
Rhombotides guttatus (Forster, 1801)
Teuthis guttatus (Forster, 1801)
Zabrasoma guttatus (Forster, 1801)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2010-05-03
Assessor(s): Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B.
Reviewer(s): Davidson, L., Edgar, G. & Kulbicki, M.
Acanthurus guttatus is widely distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific. It is moderately common throughout its range. It is not specifically targeted in any fishery.  There are no major threats known for this species and it occurs in marine protected areas in parts of its distribution. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Acanthurus guttatus is found from the Hawaiian Islands and Pitcairn Islands, westwards to Maldive Islands, Chagos Archipelago, Mascarenes and the Seychelles, northwards to the Ryukyu Islands, Japan and southwards to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and New Caledonia. It has been recorded from Rapa Island.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Cook Islands; Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam; Indonesia; Japan; Kiribati (Gilbert Is., Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius (Mauritius (main island), Rodrigues); Micronesia, Federated States of ; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Réunion; Samoa; Seychelles; Solomon Islands; Taiwan, Province of China; Timor-Leste; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., Midway Is., US Line Is., Wake Is.); Vanuatu; 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):6
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Acanthurus guttatus was recorded as occasional in terms of relative abundance in the northern Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea (Allen 2009). It is common in the American Samoa National Park (National Park of Samoa Checklist of Fishes accessed 21 April 2010). It is also common on the exposed coast of Guam. It is a minor component of the fishery in both Guam and Saipan (J. McIlwain pers. comm. 2010).

In American Samoa, landings of acanthurids (surgeonfish) totalled 13,431 lbs or 9% of the total catch. 27 lbs were landed in study areas from July 1990 through to June 1991. Densities are most likely underestimated as these were harvested primarily by night divers (Ponwith 1991).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Acanthurus guttatus inhabits the surge zone in exposed reefs or rocky shores, usually in small schools. It is non-territorial (Craig 1998).  It browses mainly on filamentous algae, but ingests some calcareous algae such as Jania (Randall 2001).  It is classified as a grazer (Choat and Bellwood pers. obs. in Green and Bellwood 2009).


The sexes are separate among the acanthurids (Reeson 1983). This species was observed to spawn year round in American Samoa. Spawning occured in or adjacent to the outlet channel of the reef flat where water currents flowed in a seaward direction. It migrated to a specific area in the outer reef channel and spawned above several large coral blocks in waters 4-7 m deep. Groups of 50-500 fish began spawning near sunset (Craig 1998). It forms spawning aggregations (Sadovy et al. 2008).


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Acanthurus guttatus is harvested for food. In Atafu, this species is captured by hook and line mainly around reef channels (Ono and Addison 2009). In Nauru, it is caught by spear and cast nets (Dalzell and Debao 1994). It is also a minor component of the aquarium trade (Global Marine Aquarium Database accessed 19 March 2010). Online prices range from $128.98-$219.99 (L. Rocha pers. comm. 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats known for this species.

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. Its distribution overlaps several marine protected areas in parts of its range.

Citation: Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Acanthurus guttatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T177995A1515633. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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