Acanthurus fowleri


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Acanthurus fowleri
Species Authority: de Beaufort, 1951
Common Name/s:
English Horseshoe Surgeonfish, Fowler's Surgeonfish

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2010-05-03
Assessor/s: Abesamis, R., Choat, J.H., Clements, K.D., McIlwain, J., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B.
Reviewer/s: Davidson, L., Edgar, G. & Kulbicki, M.
Acanthurus fowleri is rare in most of its range and is found in deeper waters (up to 50 m) on steep drop-offs. It is rarely seen in fish markets and is a minor component of the aquarium trade. It is found in several marine protected areas in parts of its range and is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Acanthurus fowleri is found in the Coral Triangle Region from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia to the Solomon Islands, and Scott Reef off northwestern Australia (Randall 2001a).
Australia (Ashmore-Cartier Is.); Indonesia; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Solomon Islands; Timor-Leste
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Acanthurus fowleri is rare in most of its range (J.H. Choat pers. comm. 2010). This species was recorded as occasional in terms of relative abundance in the northern Bismarck Sea, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea and Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Allen 2003, 2003b, 2009). In the central Visayas, Philippines, A. fowleri has only been recorded during fish visual censuses in Balicasag Is. and Tubbataha Island. It has not been observed in fishers' catch and is not commonly found in fish markets (R. Abesamis and S. Conales, Jr. pers. comm. 2010).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Acanthurus fowleri is generally found solitarily on deep outer reef slopes, usually in more than 20 m. It is easily confused with other similar species. It is classified as a grazer/detritivore (Choat and Bellwood pers. obs. in Green and Bellwood 2009). 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).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Acanthurus fowleri is a targeted food fish in parts of its range. It is found in areas where illegal fishing practices are known to occur.

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.

Bibliography [top]

Allen, G.R. 2003. Appendix 5. List of the reef fishes of Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. In: Allen, G. R., J. P. Kinch, S. A. McKenna, and P. Seeto (eds), A Rapid Marine Biodiversity Assessment of Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea?Survey II (2000), pp. 172. Conservation International, Washington, DC, USA.

Allen, G.R. 2003b. Appendix 1. List of the Reef Fishes of the Raja Ampat Islands. In: Donnelly, R., D. Neville and P.J. Mous (eds), Report on a rapid ecological assessment of the Raja Ampat Islands, Papua, Eastern Indonesia, held October 30 ? November 22, 2002. The Nature Conservancy - Southeast Asia Center for Marine Protected Areas, Sanur, Bali.

Allen, G.R. 2009. Coral Reef Fish Diversity. In: Hamilton, R., A. Green and J. Almany (eds), Rapid Ecological Assessment: Northern Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea. Technical Report of survey conducted August 13 to September 7, 2006, The Nature Conservancy.

Blue Zoo Aquatics. 2010. Tangs and Surgeonfishes- Horse-shoe Surgeonfish. Available at: (Accessed: 22 March).

Comeros-Raynal, M.T., Choat, J.H., Polidoro, B., Clements, K.D., Abesamis, R., Craig, M.T., Lazuardi, M.E., McIlwain, J., Muljadi, A., Myers, R.F., et al.. 2012. The likelihood of extinction of iconic and dominant components of coral reefs: the parrotfishes and surgeonfishes. PLoS ONE

Green, A.L. and D.R. Bellwood. 2009. Monitoring functional groups of herbivorous reef fishes as indicators of coral reef resilience ? A practical guide for coral reef managers in the Asia Pacific region. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Hamilton, R., T. Potoku and M. Matawai. 2009. Fisheries Resources: Food Fish and Benthic Cover. In: Hamilton, R., A. Green and J. Almany (eds), Rapid Ecological Assessment: Northern Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea. Technical report of survey conducted August 13 to September 7, 2006, pp. 17-47. The Nature Conservancy.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.2). Available at: (Accessed: 17 October 2012).

Randall, J.E. 2001a. Surgeonfishes of the world. Mutual Publishing and Bishop Museum Press, Hawai'i, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Reeson, P.H. 1983. The biology, ecology and bionomics of the surgeonfishes, Acanthuridae. In: J.L. Munro (ed.), Caribbean coral reef fishery resources, pp. 178-190.

Russ, G.R., A.C. Alcala, A. P. Maypa, H. P. Calumpong and A. T. White. 2004. Marine Reserve Benefits Local Fisheries. Ecological Applications 14(2): 597-606.

Citation: Abesamis, R., Choat, J.H., Clements, K.D., McIlwain, J., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Acanthurus fowleri. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 23 April 2014.
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