Fun Yellowfin Surgeonfish Facts For Kids

Anamika Balouria
Oct 20, 2022 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Yellowfin surgeonfish facts about the fish with yellow pectoral fins.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

The yellowfin surgeonfish is a beautiful oval-shaped fish found in the Indo-Pacific region and eastern Pacific. They are commonly found in east Africa, on the Great Barrier Reef. In the eastern Pacific, they are found in the lower Gulf of California, Clipperton Island, Panama, and the Galapagos Islands. These species are well known for their color-changing qualities. They change their color as they grow older. They have long, narrow dorsal and anal fins.

Their name comes from the yellow pectoral fins and a dark yellow narrow stripe near their eyes. Their caudal fins are purple to blue in color. They are semi-aggressive fish but cannot tolerate species of their own kind. They are venomous surgeonfish with spines on their tails. They live on coral reefs in the tropical water region. The adults can be found in protected bays and lagoons.

These species are omnivores and scavengers as they feed on left-out food such as fish, filamentous algae, snails, and worms. Mostly, these surgeonfish are found in groups near coral reefs where the juveniles protect themselves. They are not rare and are on the Least Concern list by the IUCN.

If you really enjoy reading this article, then do read some interesting facts about other fish, such as lungfish and swai fish.


Yellowfin Surgeonfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a yellowfin surgeonfish?

The yellowfin surgeonfish, Acanthurus xanthopterus, is a beautiful oval-shaped fish that changes color as it grows older. They are well known by the names cuvier surgeonfish, purple surgeonfish, yellow masked surgeon, and ring-tailed surgeonfish.

What class of animal does a yellowfin surgeonfish belong to?

The yellowfin surgeonfish belongs to the class of Actinopterygii and the family Acanthuriformes. They are from the genus Acanthurus.

How many yellowfin surgeonfish are there in the world?

The exact number of purple surgeonfish has not been estimated and is unknown globally.

Where does a yellowfin surgeonfish live?

The yellowfin surgeonfish is native to the Indo-Pacific region of east Africa, the Hawaiian Islands, and French Polynesia. They are also spotted near northern and southern Japan, south of the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia. In the eastern Pacific, they are found in the lower Gulf of California, Clipperton Island, Panama, and the Galapagos Islands.

What is a yellowfin surgeonfish's habitat?

The yellowfin surgeonfish habitat is such that they are close to the environment of coral reefs, sheltered bays, and lagoons in the open ocean. The young juvenile habitat is deep, protected, turbid inshore waters, whereas, adults are deeper into the sea of up to 400 ft (122 m) depth under protected bays and lagoons.

Who do yellowfin surgeonfish live with?

The Acanthurus xanthopterus is often found in groups and in pairs. During their spawning period, they isolate themselves and join the group again. The same is with the young juveniles who join the reef for their protection.

How long does a yellowfin surgeonfish live?

The yellowfin surgeonfish can live up to 34 years of age. Their age is estimated at between 30-40 years old, depending upon the environment they are living in.

How do they reproduce?

The yellowfin surgeonfish, Acanthurus xanthopterus, is well known as an open water breeder and forms pairs. The pair also live in groups. The male is often dominating the rival males. They change their color in order to lure the females during spawning. If they are in large groups, they move upward on the surface away from the group and release gametes. The spherical-shaped eggs float on the surface and measure around 0.006 in (0.017 cm). The small larvae take around 42-68 days to grow into juveniles. Until that time period, they look like small kites with a long snout and a small mouth. This time period is very difficult for them as they are mostly predated by other marine fishes and animals. Once they turn into juveniles, they join the coral reef for protection. Their spawning is even evident in big aquariums, but the survival of young larvae is difficult.

What is their conservation status?

These species' conservation status is stable and is on the Least Concern list by the IUCN. They are not rare and are commonly found in the Indo-Pacific region.

Yellowfin Surgeonfish Fun Facts

What do yellowfin surgeonfish look like?

The yellowfin surgeonfish is one of the marine fish species that change their color as they grow into adults. They are beautiful grayish-blue fish with a narrow yellow stripe near their eyes. They have a small yellow color on the outer third of the pectoral fin, a long fork like a blue-purple caudal fin, and a narrow yellow-grayish dorsal and anal fin. Their caudal fin spine is small. They have eight to nine dorsal spines with 25-27 soft rays, and three anal spines with 24-25 soft rays. The young juveniles have longer dorsal and anal fins. They are beautiful fish with a thin body shape, which even has some glitter and shine on their bodies. The male changes its color in order to attract the female. The eggs of these species are spherical in shape and look like small kites with a narrow, long snout and a small mouth.

The yellowfin surgeonfish has purple color caudal fin.

How cute are they?

These fish are indeed cute and very attractive because they have beautiful color combinations that keep on changing gradually as they get older. Their mouths are such that they appear to be smiling and create a positive aura around them.

How do they communicate?

These marine fish communicate by their physical behavior changes. The male occasionally changes its color in order to lure the female during the spawning period.

How big is a yellowfin surgeonfish?

The yellowfin surgeonfish is 15-27.5 in (39-70 cm) long. The bonito fish is longer than these fish.

How fast can a yellowfin surgeonfish swim?

The exact speed of how fast they swim is not estimated, but in general, their movement in water is very fast and quick. They swim deep, up to 400 ft (122 m).

How much does a yellowfin surgeonfish weigh?

The purple surgeonfish weighs 100-120.6 oz (2.8-3.4 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for the male and female species.

What would you call a baby yellowfin surgeonfish?

The baby yellowfin surgeonfish, Acanthurus xanthopterus, are called larvae.

What do they eat?

These fish species are omnivores and scavengers on the basis of their food habits, unlike the blobfish. The yellowfin surgeonfish edible consist of filamentous algae, snails, worms, diatoms, hydroids, hard corals, and phytoplankton.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, they are dangerous and venomous. These fish are semi-aggressive and do not tolerate their own fish species. This is evident during the spawning period when they dominate the other males while luring the female. They have spikes on their tails and cannot be handled bare-handed.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, these fish are kept as pets in many house aquariums with large tank sizes, but they should not be kept with fish species of their own kind as they can not tolerate them at all. They are less aggressive toward other species. A lot of care and precaution is needed while handling them because they are considered to be venomous as they have Ciguatoxin.

Did you know...

This species was first described by French zoologist, Achille Valenciennes in 1835.

Their scientific names have been taken from Greek mythology. Acanthurus is divided into two words. The word 'akantha' means 'thorn' and 'oura' means 'tail'. The last name xanthopterus is also divided into two Greek words – 'xanthos' means 'yellow' and 'ptero' means 'fin'.

Can you eat yellowfin surgeonfish?

No, Acanthurus xanthopterus are ideally not considered good to be eaten as they are venomous and have Ciguatoxin. Most of the surgeonfish found outside the eastern Pacific are venomous.

Why is it called yellowfin surgeonfish?

This fish species is called yellowfin surgeonfish because they have small pectoral fins with a yellow color on their outer third fin. They even have a yellow-colored narrow stripe, which makes them more unique and beautiful.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these clownfish fun facts and drum fish interesting facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable yellowfin surgeonfish coloring pages.

Yellowfin Surgeonfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Diatoms, filamentous algae, hydroids, pieces of fish

What Type of Animal were they?

Scavengers and omnivores

Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

100-120.6 oz (2.8-3.4 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

reef, seagrass, lagoons, tropical water

Where Do They Live?

indo-pacific region, east africa, gulf of california

How Long Were They?

15-27.5 in (39-70 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Acanthurus xanthopterus

What Do They Look Like?

Yellow, blue, gray, purple

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

large fish and snakes

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
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